In The Know: OKC hospitals turn to overflow tents | Contract tracing needs to be redesigned | Taskforce address childhood trauma

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 City hospitals turn to COVID-19 overflow tents: St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City on Monday added overflow tents to increase its patient capacity at a time when the facility has more COVID-19 patients than open beds. One Oklahoma hospital official expects more facilities throughout the state could add overflow tents as the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to rise. [The Oklahoman]

Strained by surge, Oklahoma contact tracing operations ‘need to be redesigned’: When COVID-19 hit Oklahoma this spring, public health officials scrambled to ramp up the state’s contact tracing operations. But the scale of the pandemic has put a strain on capabilities, with outdated technology and a sometimes uncooperative public making it difficult to keep up with a process in which speed and thoroughness are key. As a result, Oklahoma’s top public health officer now says the state needs to rework its contact tracing system. [NonDoc]

  • Need for plasma from recovered COVID patients still great in Oklahoma [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Trauma-Informed Care Taskforce creates strategy to rebuild social supports through collaboration to address Adverse Childhood Experiences: Oklahoma’s social supports have eroded over time as budgets shrink, but a legislative task force is establishing framework to better coordinate and revive help for children and families across the state. The Oklahoma Trauma-Informed Care Taskforce on Tuesday released its second report in two years, which establishes a strategy to better leverage existing resources as it works to develop pilot programs and an overall plan in 2021. [Tulsa World] “Unfortunately, as the years have gone on and we’ve had tough budget years, we’ve seen those services maybe erode, particularly — and I can’t underscore this enough, even though I’m sitting in a metropolitan area – rural Oklahoma is struggling for services,” said Annette Wisk Jacobi, co-chair of Oklahoma’s Task Force on Trauma-Informed Care and Director of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Health News

OSDH recognizes World AIDS Day, importance of community orgs: The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) joins a number of community-based organizations and agencies in recognizing World AIDS Day, Dec 1, by strengthening the capacity and resilience of communities to address HIV prevention in the midst of a global pandemic. [OSDH / The Express-Star]

State Government News

Recovery from coronavirus-related job losses may be a slow process in Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s recovery from the recession triggered by the coronavirus pandemic may take some time. Lynn Gray is Economic Research and Analysis Director for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. He said during a Tuesday commission meeting the state lost 145,000 jobs from February through April. From May through October, fewer than 68,000 were recovered. [Public Radio Tulsa

Oklahoma train crossing law ruled unconstitutional: An Oklahoma City federal judge has permanently barred the state from enforcing a law that prevented trains from blocking streets for longer than 10 minutes. [The Oklahoman] BNSF Railway Co. sued Oklahoma last year after police officers in Edmond and Davis issued citations over blocked streets. [AP News]

Lawmakers to get update on medical marijuana industry: Lawmakers announced that they will hold a hearing on Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program on Dec. 14. The lawmakers plan to invite speakers from the industry and Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to present before relevant legislative committee members. [The Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Schaus to skydive to raise awareness about inmates released without ‘parachutes’: Former felons released from prison often are not prepared to face life, said Gospel Rescue Mission Executive Director Rich Schaus. Schaus will jump from an airplane at 11 a.m. Saturday at Muskogee-Davis Regional Airport to let people know about needs ex-inmates face when they are released from custody. [Muskogee Phoenix]

It’s DA Prater 1, Commish Calvey 0 in court ruling about County Jail: Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey had a bad day in District Court Monday when District Judge Cindy Truong ruled in favor of District Attorney David Prater’s motion. [OKC Free Press]

Economic Opportunity

Juggling pandemic constraints, shelters fear ‘catastrophic’ eviction spike in January: Oklahoma City shelters opened for several overnights this week as a winter storm hit the state. Because of the pandemic, shelters across the city removed about 300 of 900 overnight beds to allow for social distancing, according to Dan Straughan, the director of OKC’s Homeless Alliance. [News9] OK Policy and its Open Justice Oklahoma program have been tracking evictions in Oklahoma and noted that policymakers must do more to prevent evictions and foreclosures during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Education News

Poll: Voters would support Oklahoma education reform: A recent poll conducted by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates showed voter support for various education reform proposals in Oklahoma. The national education reform coalition, Yes Every Kid, commissioned the survey. Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, an education reform group, is part of this coalition and has also been tasked with dispersing millions of dollars in CARES Act funding for education. [NonDoc]

  • Tulsa Public Schools gearing up for enrollment push for 2021–2022 School Year [Tulsa World]

Epic Charter Schools settles teachers’ 2019 legal claims: Epic Charter Schools has made a nearly $29,000 payment to settle claims with three former teachers who sued the virtual school, alleging they were pressured to withdraw poor-performing students. Epic, the state’s largest virtual school, denied the allegations. [Oklahoma Watch]

General News

Historic Tulsa church begins restoration of stained-glass windows as ‘monument and memorial’ to 1921 Race Massacre survivors: Installed nearly a century ago in the aftermath of the 1921 Race Massacre, the stained-glass windows at Vernon A.M.E. Church will leave the state this week for a long-overdue restoration project. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa city attorney facing possible vote of no confidence from City Council [Tulsa World]
  • Enid passes mask mandate, set to go into effect Wednesday [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear Ezzell’s recall petition appeal [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Not staying afloat: Stormwater program is underfunded, Stillwater City Council learns [Stillwater News Press]
  • City of Lawton closes most offices, services to general public [The Lawton Constitution]
  • Comanche Nation run-off election this weekend [The Lawton Constitution]
  • PSO electric bills going up an average of $5 per month starting in January [Tulsa World]
  • Career center unveiled in Broken Arrow brings job-seeking to the fore [Tulsa World]
  • Peppered chub proposed by agency as endangered species [AP News]

Quote of the Day

“We have a history of resilience in Oklahoma because we have a history of adversity. What this means is that we’re also chasing problems, putting out fires. We’re not doing the prevention work or the universal coverage that we know is what will help all children develop those muscles for resilience so that whatever happens during their lifetime they have the capacity to respond flexibly and with strength and with support.”

-Jennifer Hays-Grudo, director of Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity (CIRCA) in Tulsa [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Latinx Oklahomans who live in households with children and who lost employment income since March 13, 2020, compared to 45% of all adults in Oklahoma.

[Source: KIDS COUNT Data Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

During COVID-19, 1 in 5 Latino and Black Households with Children Are Food Insufficient: Many Latino and Black households with children are struggling to obtain enough food to feed their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing recession. According to data from the Household Pulse Survey, 19 percent of Hispanic households and 22 percent of Black households with children experienced food insufficiency this summer, compared with 9 percent of White households with children. [Hispanic Research 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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