In The Know: Oklahoma top 10 state for virus test positivity | Census count invaluable for rural Oklahomans | Virus impact on long-term care facilities

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.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Accurate census count invaluable for rural Oklahomans: During the next five weeks, the U.S. Census Bureau has a remarkable feat to attempt – getting an accurate count of every person living in our nation. The census is never easy, but it has been exponentially harder this go-round due to the global pandemic alongside political maneuvering from Washington, D.C., intended to undermine its important work. (It’s also worth noting its arbitrary Sept. 30 deadline could be extended if Congress shifted the statutory deadline for reporting apportionment and redistricting data from the 2020 census.) [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]

Oklahoma News

White House report: Oklahoma in top 10 for coronavirus test positivity: Oklahoma is still in the “red zone” for new COVID-19 cases per capita and on the cusp of being in the worst category for COVID-19 test positivity, according to a new report from the White House. Nationally, Oklahoma has the eighth-highest percentage rate of COVID-19 tests that are positive and ranks No. 12 for new daily cases per capita. The Aug. 23 report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force shows Oklahoma jumped three spots in both categories used to measure the severity of COVID-19 transmission across states. [The Oklahoman]

  • Trump administration continues push for Stitt to require masks statewide [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • 4 takeaways from Oklahoma’s latest White House coronavirus report [The Frontier]
  • 19 more deaths, 666 new COVID-19 cases reported across Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma Health Department developing new virus alert plan [AP News]

Oklahoma runoff takeaways: Stephanie Bice wins, incumbents fall: The lineup for November’s general election is set. Tuesday’s runoff election finalized Oklahoma’s high-profile congressional fifth district race. Meanwhile, several incumbent Republicans lost key seats in the Legislature and elsewhere, potentially setting up tight races this fall. As the dust settles on Oklahoma’s latest election, here is a look at how Tuesday will impact the general election. [Oklahoma Watch] With Bice nomination, Republicans get their much-anticipated shot at Horn [The Oklahoman]

Oklahomans urged to fill our Census before shortened deadline: The Census is ending a month earlier than originally planned, so if you haven’t filled yours out yet, now is the time. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this year’s count, so the deadline was pushed back from Aug. 15 to Oct. 31. However, the Trump administration announced this month it will stop operations Sept. 30. [KFOR] OK Policy: an accurate Census count in the state is vital for Oklahoma to secure its share of federal funding, have fair voting representation, and more. Visit to learn more. 

  • ‘Census Community Challenge’ seeks to boost responses: To help provide an element of competition, OICA is sponsoring the “Census Community Challenge” among the state’s schools. “Every school or community has a traditional rival,” Dorman explained. “Our goal is to put that rivalry to good use to see which school and which community can do a better job with its Census response.” [Duncan Banner]

Health News

Long-term care facilities disproportionately affected by COVID-19: Oklahoma’s long-term care facilities are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and need help from state leaders to shore up the ailing system, advocates testified Wednesday during a state Capitol hearing. [CNHI via McAlester News-Capital] Local, area nursing homes face rising cases, deaths and continued isolation [Enid News & Eagle]

  • Nursing home deaths attributed to loneliness: Lives lost to “lonely heart disease” in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are tragic consequences of the pandemic too easy to miss amid daily reports of mounting deaths attributed directly to COVID-19, state lawmakers were told Wednesday. [The Journal Record] Long-term care officials told Oklahoma lawmakers Wednesday that more needs to be done to allow in-person visitation at nursing homes and other facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

Ginnie Graham: During a pandemic, this Tulsa couple erased medical debt for the county: Tulsa couple Mark and Mona Whitmire delivered a rare gift during this pandemic: forgiving qualified medical debt for the entire county. That is about $28 million in debt wiped out for 28,321 families. The families are receiving notifications this week that their old medical bills are gone. Those amounts had been plaguing Tulsa County’s most struggling patients for years. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

State Government News

‘Sued every way and Sunday.’ New prison phone provider has troubled history: Inmates in Oklahoma state prisons will soon connect to the outside world through Securus Technologies, a Texas-based prison communications company that has paid out millions over the past four years to settle claims that it illegally recorded phone conversations between inmates and attorneys. [Oklahoma Watch]

Federal Government News

Democrats press federal judge to set aside Oklahoma’s absentee ballot notary requirement: Requiring mailed-in absentee ballots to be notarized in the November general election during the COVID-19 pandemic will disenfranchise many voters, according to testimony heard Wednesday in Tulsa federal court. [Tulsa World]

$8 million in grants to Oklahoma to combat domestic violence: The three U.S. attorneys in Oklahoma on Wednesday announced $8 million in federal grants to combat domestic and sexual violence against Native American women in Oklahoma. [AP News] Tribes, cities and nonprofits offering services to survivors are in line for funding. [Public Radio Tulsa] Alisa Henin shared her domestic violence survivor story Wednesday with media, prosecutors, investigators and advocates for survivors. [Tulsa World]

Editorial: America depends on the U.S. Postal Service; undercutting it for political reasons is outrageous: The current controversy over the U.S. Postal Service has brought out one clear point: America still depends on the mail. Recently, President Donald Trump said he wasn’t interested in emergency funding for the Postal Service because he doesn’t want to aid vote-by-mail efforts. Ironically, Trump mailed in his own ballot for the Florida primaries last week. Meanwhile, we have seen reports of significant mail delays, a problem postal workers and Democrats have attributed in part to operational changes imposed by Trump’s postmaster general, Louis DeJoy. This is an issue that goes far beyond mail-in ballots, although that alone is enough for the nation to be deeply concerned about what is going on. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

74-year-old grandmother says police broke her arm; OKCPD confirms personnel investigation: A 74-year-old grandmother claims Oklahoma City police officers broke her arm and used extreme, aggressive force on her while arresting her son. Ruby Jones told KOCO 5 that she didn’t interfere with the arrest of her son at all aside from asking if the officers had a search warrant. [KOCO]

North Tulsa jaywalking case that drew attention to Tulsa policing heads to court: A Black teenager arrested on June 4 by white police officers in North Tulsa for allegedly jaywalking and assaulting a police officer will appear in court Thursday more than an hour from where the incident occurred. [KOSU]

Economic Opportunity

Family still being told to leave their apartment after getting CARES assistance: A day after getting her eviction case thrown out in court and getting approved for rent assistance, one woman says she was told to be out of her apartment by the end of the month anyway. [FOX25] 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.

Economy & Business News

Gas production to be limited for 6 more months: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission voted Wednesday to continue for another six months a 50% production limit on natural gas wells, yet all three commissioners agreed the time has come to reevaluate the practice of prorationing. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners decide electric territorial disputes, leaves natural gas cap on, for now: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Wednesday took up two cases of electrical service territorial disputes, taking the side of a cooperative in one case and the side of an investor-owned utility in another. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Oklahoma State Board of Education to discuss COVID-19 protocols for schools: Oklahoma’s State Board of Education will meet Thursday to talk about schools’ COVID-19 protocols and how reopening has gone across the state during the first few weeks of classes. Last month, the board passed on mandating masks in most Oklahoma schools. And they will certainly discuss the results of that decision in their regularly scheduled August meeting. [KOSU]

  • More than 90 school districts in Oklahoma are reporting COVID-19 cases [KOSU]
  • Almost twice as many Enid High School students now in quarantine [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Chisholm High School to stay closed for 3rd day after COVID-19 cases [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Norman private schools take different paths to tackle pandemic [Norman Transcript]

General News

OKC Thunder-Houston Rockets Game 5 postponed after Bucks walkout: The NBA stopped once again Wednesday night, not because of the coronavirus pandemic, but after the Milwaukee Bucks decided to not take the court for their playoff game in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. In a show of solidarity, the Thunder and Rockets, according to multiple reports, planned to sit out Game 5 of their series that was set to tip-off at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. But 90 minutes before the game, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced that all three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday night had been postponed “in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor.” [The Oklahoman

  • Tramel: NBA walkout is a message to people on their side of the gulf: I’ve heard from a bunch of you Thunder fans who say they were staging their own boycotts. They have refused to watch the games from Orlando and have said they will no longer darken the doors of Thunder home games. I assume every NBA market, some more than others, has experienced something similar. American empathy is in short supply. Which helps explains why first the Milwaukee Bucks, followed by the Thunder and Rockets, stepped away from Game 5’s, putting the playoffs in purgatory but the sport in the spotlight. [Berry Tramel / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Edmond mask mandate now in effect [KFOR]
  • Norman voters reject all four “Go Norman 2020” bonds [KGOU]
  • Politics, pandemic blamed for bond failures [Norman Transcript]
  • Norman Committee for Ward 2 replacement seeks applicants [Norman Transcript]
  • Tulsa Council holds off on discussion of ‘Black Lives Matter’ street painting [Tulsa World]
  • Construction set to begin soon on MAPS 3 senior health and wellness center expansion projects [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“This walkout, it seems to me, is a message to people on the players’ side. The people who understand what Black Lives Matter means. The people who know that Black parents feel they must educate their sons about being wary of police. The people who understand what Clippers coach Doc Rivers meant Tuesday when he said Blacks love America and America doesn’t love them back.”

-Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel writing about the NBA player walkouts in response to the Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Women represent about 62% of the adult Medicaid population nationwide. A state undercount could lead to a reduction in Medicaid funding for that state, which might restrict access and benefits—disproportionately affecting women and girls with low incomes.

[Source: Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Census count has implications for public health: Health funding, programs depend on accurate enumeration: For public health agencies, census data underscore just about every aspect of work, from research and surveillance to funding levels and policymaking. The data also impact many of the programs that target social determinants of health, such as funding for Medicaid, low-income housing vouchers and food assistance. According to a study published in February 2019 in APHA’s American Journal of Public Health, an inaccurate 2020 count could hinder public health planning efforts, impede work to eliminate disparities, and make it more difficult to respond to novel and emerging public health threats. [The Nation’s Health]

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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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