In The Know: Medicaid expansion will address state’s uninsured rate | Return planned for youngest OKC students | 2,100+ inmates have tested positive

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma maintains second-highest rate of residents without health insurance: Oklahoma’s rate of residents with no health insurance remained the second-highest in the nation in 2019, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday that show 553,000 people in the state had no coverage for any part of last year. Carly Putnam, policy director for the Oklahoma Policy Institute, which has advocated for years for Medicaid expansion, said the data released Tuesday “confirms what we already know — that too many Oklahomans still can’t afford to see a doctor or fill a prescription, and Oklahomans deserve better. Implementing Medicaid expansion in 2021 should put a significant dent in these numbers.” [The Oklahoman]

Youngest OKCPS students will return to school sooner than anticipated: Some students and teachers in Oklahoma City Public Schools are expected to return to in-person classes on Monday, Oct. 19. OKCPS started its school year with distance learning for all grades Aug. 31, but at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting Superintendent Sean McDaniel discussed the district’s “return to campus” plan. [NonDoc] The district announced Tuesday that pre-K and kindergarten classes would resume in-person learning Oct. 19. Students will return in a hybrid A/B schedule that effectively cuts class sizes in half. [The Oklahoman]

  • More than 210 school districts in Oklahoma are reporting COVID-19 cases [KOSU]
  • Alcott, Longfellow middle schools each report a new COVID-19 case [Norman Transcript]
  • Enid COVID-19 numbers were down slightly again Tuesday besides Adams [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Chickasha Public Schools moves to ‘Orange Level’ amid pandemic [The Express-Star]

Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Current cases climb in state prisons: More than 2,100 inmates in state prisons have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the latest statistics from the Oklahoma Corrections Department. The count has jumped as more and more facilities experience outbreaks of the disease. The newest “hot spot” for COVID-19 is a minimum-security facility for men in Vinita. [The Oklahoman]

  • COVID-19: 1,091 new cases, 7 more deaths reported in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]

Health News

Internal documents show officials waved red flags before Trump’s Tulsa rally: At the time of a planned political rally in Tulsa with the president, the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s epidemiologist, sent an email titled: “How strongly do I speak out?” [The Hill]

Voting during the pandemic done safer by absentee ballot, senior groups advise: For senior adults planning to vote in the November election, the safest option is absentee, said officials with two of the state’s senior advocacy organizations. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects governor’s request for rehearing in tribal gaming case: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has denied Gov. Kevin Stitt’s request for a rehearing in a case where the court ruled the governor’s gaming compacts with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe were invalid. [The Oklahoman]

August collections for Oklahoma’s main fund exceed estimate: Collections to Oklahoma’s main government operating fund exceeded the estimate last month by about 1%, state finance officials reported Tuesday. Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Steven Harpe attributed the higher-than-expected collections to a couple of anomalies, including the timing of corporate income tax payments. [AP News via Public Radio Tulsa]

Conversion therapy supporters speak at study without opposition: A House lawmaker said Tuesday he plans to propose a bill protecting a controversial therapy practice that aims to counsel away same-sex attractions in lesbian, gay and transgender Oklahomans. [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press]

Ponca ambassador calls for tribes to unite and oppose Oklahoma’s environmental oversight request: A tribal leader is calling for Oklahoma’s Native Americans to unite as the federal government ponders the future of key environmental regulatory activities in Oklahoma’s Indian Country. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Horn pushes compromise relief package: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn helped launch a bipartisan proposal Tuesday to provide more direct assistance, unemployment aid and other coronavirus relief, while U.S. Rep. Tom Cole said Congress could approve a package quickly if a few people would “come off their high horses.” [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Tulsa police, federal law enforcement officials unveil Initiative 2150 to honor Sgt. Craig Johnson: Oklahoma’s top law enforcers are focusing on gun crimes with a new initiative named after Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson. Initiative 2150 focuses investigative and prosecution resources specifically to gun-related crimes. The initiative bears Johnson’s badge number. [Tulsa World] The gun used to fatally shoot a Tulsa police officer and critically injure another officer was traded for heroin just weeks prior to the shooting, prosecutors allege. [Tulsa World]

Editorial: Don’t think lower prison numbers mean the job of justice reform is done. It isn’t: First, the good news: The state’s prison population has dropped 15% in the past year. That really is something worth celebrating. It means, among other things, that smart-on-crime measures approved by voters and the Legislature are starting to work. Now, the bad news: We still have too many people in prison, and the number is about to go back up. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Hobby Lobby bumps minimum wage, joins retailers paying nearly double Oklahoma minimum: For those laid off in the midst of economic crisis, minimum wage might not be quite so minimal if you’re able to land a job among several retail giants. On Monday, Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby announced it would raise its minimum wage to $17 for full-time employees, an increase from $15.70 set by the Oklahoma City-based company three years ago. [The Oklahoman]

Census survey shows signs of improvement: More than a quarter of Oklahoma businesses continue to be negatively affected, and badly, by the COVID-19 pandemic, but an ongoing Small Business Pulse Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals Sooner State businesses faring better in many ways than counterparts in other states. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Harding Charter Prep sees record enrollment as it navigates pandemic: With a record-breaking enrollment of over 530 students, beginning a school year during a pandemic to meet the needs of all students has had its challenges, a Harding Charter Preparatory High School news release states. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Absentee ballots going out in Oklahoma County: The Oklahoma County Election Board on Friday began mailing absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 election. A few thousand absentee ballots will be mailed nearly every day in the coming weeks, said Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary Doug Sanderson. [The Oklahoman]

Choctaw Nation pushing for full census count: Millions of federal dollars for Native American tribes and their communities are on the line when it comes to the U.S. Census. The Choctaw Nation is trying to avoid being under-counted and underrepresented. Again. [KTEN] With the deadline just two weeks away, officials are encouraging Oklahomans to complete the U.S. Census. [News9]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“Too many Oklahomans still can’t afford to see a doctor or fill a prescription, and Oklahomans deserve better. Implementing Medicaid expansion in 2021 should put a significant dent in these numbers.”

-Carly Putnam, Policy Director for OK Policy, speaking about the number of Oklahomans without health insurance [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percent of Black children under 18 in Oklahoma who experience poverty, compared to 15 percent of Non-Hispanic white children.

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Racial economic inequality amid the COVID-19 crisis: Across the economy and society, the distributional consequences of COVID-19 are uneven: the pandemic and its broader economic and health consequences are disproportionately impacting Black Americans. The outsized challenges that Black Americans are facing are a reflection of the generally diminished economic position and health status that they faced prior to this crisis. [Brookings Institute]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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