In The Know: Nearly 1/3 of state school districts have reported virus cases | Muskogee a top national virus hot spot | Federal eviction moratorium announced

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

More than 170 school districts in Oklahoma are reporting COVID-19 cases: After less than a month of instruction, nearly a third of Oklahoma’s school districts have publicly reported a positive case of the coronavirus. The cases can be found in every corner and every type of school in the state. [KOSU]

Muskogee area becomes a top U.S. hot spot because of infections at prison: A COVID-19 outbreak has hit a minimum-security women’s prison here hard. Most of the more than 800 inmates at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center have tested positive, according to daily statistics released by the Oklahoma Corrections Department. The count of currently positive inmates stood at 626 at noon Wednesday. Most are asymptomatic, officials said. Three are hospitalized. The New York Times on Thursday listed Muskogee at No. 1 among metro areas in the nation with the greatest number of new cases, relative to their population, in the last two weeks. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma prisoner advocates say the conditions in a women’s prison in the east-central town of Taft are unacceptable during a pandemic. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections reports 626 COVID-19 cases inside Eddie Warrior Correctional Center as of Wednesday. It’s the most confirmed cases in a single prison since the start of the pandemic. [KOSU]

New federal eviction moratorium announced, will protect most renters through end of the year: The Trump administration announced a new federal eviction moratorium this week that is meant to keep renters housed through the end of the year and slow the spread of COVID-19. The moratorium will go into effect Sept. 4 and last until Dec. 31, though it could be extended, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was involved in ordering the moratorium. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa police officer who shot man in March is indicted by Multicounty Grand Jury: The Oklahoma Multicounty Grand Jury returned an indictment against a Tulsa police officer on Thursday, charging him with reckless conduct with a firearm related to his shooting of a man in March. [Tulsa World] The indictment comes at a time of increased scrutiny of law enforcement nationwide because of the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May. [The Oklahoman]

Making it count: The U.S. Census is about more – much more – than counting heads. To be precise, each person counted is good for federal funds totaling $1,675 per year – $16,750 over the next 10 years – for their community. [The Purcell Register]

Health News

Listen Frontier: Mask up, Oklahoma (audio): Frontier reporters Kassie McClung and host Ben Felder discuss the science and politics of mask mandates, which appear to be working. [The Frontier]

State Government News

Stitt’s office pays lobbyist for advice on federal COVID funds: One of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s first acts as governor was a moratorium on executive agencies using contract lobbyists, a nod to the 2018 gubernatorial campaign he ran as a political outsider. Eighteen months later, amid a global pandemic, Stitt’s office signed a lobbying contract with Washington, D.C.-based Capitol Ventures Government Relations LLC. [Oklahoma Watch]

Trend shows first-time unemployment claims continue to fall: The latest data on Oklahoma’s unemployment filings show roughly the same number of people filed their first claim as did the previous week. The data, which is current through Aug. 29, revealed 5,125 advance claims for unemployment benefits. A week earlier, 5,130 advance claims were reported. A look at the four-week average, however, shows a decline for both initial and continuing claims. [The Oklahoman] Continued claims totaled 108,965, dropping by 13,548 from the previous week’s 122,513. [The Journal Record]

Growing like a weed: Oklahoma’s medical marijuana taxes this year already nearly 1.5 times the amount in all of 2019: Collections of excise taxes from Oklahoma medical marijuana sales in August showed a nominal increase in revenue from the amount in July, but tax revenue so far this year already far surpasses what the state received in 2019. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Kendra Horn opposes congressional term limits; Stephanie Bice backs constitutional amendment: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn said this week she opposes term limits for members of Congress, putting her at odds with Republican rival, state Sen. Stephanie Bice, who has pledged to support a constitutional amendment limiting congressional terms. [The Oklahoman]

Horse racing groups write letters opposing Kialegee gaming compact: Two Oklahoma horse racing associations have written letters to Gov. Kevin Stitt and the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior voicing strong opposition to a tribal gaming compact negotiated by the governor that supports building a casino in eastern Oklahoma County. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Tempers flare after Oklahoma County sends CARES money to jail: Instead of putting more money into social safety nets, the county’s board of commissioners decided to transfer about $40 million in CARES funds to help its troubled jail. The jail has been struggling with severe defects for years and is now in the middle of a dangerous COVID outbreak. [StateImpact Oklahoma

Economic Opportunity

City of Tulsa says no action on Archer encampments pending emergency shelter availability: City of Tulsa officials say that people experiencing homelessness who have set up encampments on West Archer Street will not be pushed to move until the opening of an emergency shelter in the former Juvenile Detention Center on Gilcrease Museum Road scheduled for next week. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Supply chain disruptions slow homebuilding: Even during the best of years, delays in a new home’s construction can be a headache. But since March, homebuilders are seeing a new wave of delays due to disruptions in the supply chain when it comes to new home construction. [The Journal Record]

City of Tulsa tweaks incentive program meant to lure new businesses, help existing ones expand: The Economic Development Infrastructure Fund gets money from voter-approved sales tax measures. It’s used to pay for public improvements like roads and water lines companies want at new sites. The new requirements say companies must offer basic health insurance and paid time off to qualify, and they must pay at least Tulsa County’s prevailing average wage from the prior year. That’s $51,945. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Education News

State Regents: OU and OSU talk COVID on campus, Langston getting $15.8 million: During their Thursday meeting, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education heard presentations from University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University representatives on the institutions’ updated plans to combat COVID-19 amid rising cases on the state’s largest two campuses. [NonDoc] This week, Oklahoma State University reported it has 279 active cases while the University of Oklahoma has 137. Hundreds of students and staffers are in quarantine on both campuses because of possible exposure. [KGOU]

OSU, Langston agree to settlement of near two-decade long civil rights dispute: The roles of Oklahoma State and Langston Universities’ Tulsa campuses are expected to shift dramatically as the result of two agreements announced Thursday. Together, the two agreements are seen as a big step toward resolving a conflict over public higher education in Tulsa stretching back more than 40 years. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences have agreed to pay Langston University $15 million over 10 years as part of an academic agreement announced Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

Scrambling across state lines to play during the pandemic: Some high schools have postponed football seasons. Some are forging ahead. And others are in limbo, with young athletes desperate to find a way to avoid a lost season. [New York Times]

General News

Hoskin to cite year of ‘difficulties and triumphs’ in State of the Nation address: The Cherokee Nation was met with both “difficulties and triumphs” over the past year, with huge investments being made in language preservation, career readiness and elder housing, holding governments accountable for their promises, and emerging with a response plan to COVID-19 that is among the best in the country, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says in his upcoming State of the Nation Address. [The Cherokee Phoenix]

Oklahoma Local News

  • MAPS 4 board members: State Fair Arena’s ‘Big House’ nickname is racist [The Oklahoman]
  • City of Tulsa offers faster process for restaurants to set up outdoor dining spaces [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • New Broken Arrow elementary school brings excitement on first day of classes [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“What’s happening is inhumane.”

-Nancy Dalquest speaking about reports of conditions inside Eddie Warrior Correctional Center and its virus outbreak [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Number of justice-involved Oklahomans barred from participating in the 2018 federal elections.

[Source: Oklahoma Watch]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How to Fight Voter Suppression Nationwide: This year, Americans will choose their president, a person whose nominations to the Supreme Court will have an impact on voting rights and other important matters nationwide. Voters will also elect 11 governors, 7 states’ secretaries of state, and other officials who set and implement policies that impact our everyday life, including state voting rules. With looming uncertainty, we do not want to go into 2020 without all the available protections against voter suppression in place. [The Brennan Center]

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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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