In The Know: Oklahoma top 5 for virus cases, positive rate | Evictions predicted to rise | Addressing poverty in Oklahoma

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: Poverty is an issue, now more than ever: There’s really no way to sugarcoat it. Despite our state’s abundance of natural resources and a population with a remarkable work ethic, Oklahoma is among the nation’s poorest states by many metrics. Even with these advantages, there is no denying that a higher percentage of Oklahomans live in poverty than nearly any other state in the nation. The Census Bureau this week is scheduled to release its latest American Community Survey data that looks at the change in poverty rate, median household income, health care coverage, and housing costs from 2018 to 2019. Because of the lag in reporting, this information will not be indicative of our current reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Ahniwake Rose / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

White House report places Oklahoma in top 5 for positive test rate and daily COVID-19 cases: Oklahoma continues to one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19, according to a new report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Oklahoma has the fourth-highest test-positivity rate in the nation as well as the fifth-highest new COVID-19 cases daily rate per capita, according to the report released on Wednesday. [The Oklahoman] The state’s rate of new weekly cases was 142 per 100,000 people, nearly doubling the U.S. average of 74 per 100,000 people. Its test positivity rate was at 10%, which is more than double the national average of 4.8%. [Tulsa World]

  • COVID-19 mortality rate continues to rise in rural Oklahoma [KOSU]
  • COVID-19: 970 new cases, 12 more deaths reported in Oklahoma [Tulsa World] | [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Medical experts say Oklahoma’s COVID alert system is deeply “flawed [KTUL] | [NewsOn6]
  • Latest White House virus report for Oklahoma: Better nursing home measures needed [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Minimum age for mask requirement should be 10, Tulsa Health Department official urges councilors [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]

Health Department: Prison outbreak continues to elevate local numbers: The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 215 active cases of COVID-19 in Pittsburg County with the majority attributed to an outbreak at a local prison. [McAlester News-Capital]

Evictions continue statewide; expected to get worse: Evictions continue in Oklahoma County and throughout the state, despite numerous efforts and announcements made by the federal government over the past several months. None of the measures taken thus far have protected all tenants, and the current moratorium is a delay at best on thousands more evictions to come in the winter. [The Journal Record] 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.

  • Tulsa’s anti-eviction program offers to pay future rent as well as overdue amounts [Tulsa World]

State & Local Government News

Law enforcement interim study: ‘It is important to have difficult discussions’: What changes to state law about police use of force might the Oklahoma Legislature consider during the 2021 session? Good question. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC) organized an interim study in the Senate Public Safety Committee today in an attempt to foster discussion about options on the topic and learn what other states have done in the past four months. [NonDoc] Treat said the key to a productive discussion on police reform is depoliticizing the issue that has become one of the most hot-button political topics this year following national calls for racial justice amid police killings. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmaker to propose bill that classifies violence against police officers as a hate crime: An Oklahoma Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, plans to file a bill to reclassify crimes targeting police, first responders and military personnel as hate crimes, he announced Wednesday [Tulsa World]

Health commissioner warns Oklahoma lawmakers to prepare public health system now for next pandemic: Interim State Health Commissioner Lance Frye told Oklahoma lawmakers while the state is now in a prolonged mitigation phase of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to start thinking ahead. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Interim study examines state phone hotlines aimed to help Oklahoma children: Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd, said there are about 80 phone hotlines operated by various state agencies and advocacy groups, including those designed to help Oklahoma children and youth. [FOX25]

State wants to ride electric vehicle revolution: Within a few years, “price parity” will be reached between new models of electric vehicles and traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines, and the transition to a world dominated by EVs will begin to accelerate rapidly, said contributors to an interim study at the Oklahoma legislature. [The Journal Record]

Plant-based foods company claims Oklahoma’s product label law violated First Amendment to protect meat-industry: A lawsuit is challenging the state’s new law governing labeling for some vegan products, alleging that it violates the First Amendment. [Tulsa World]

August collections for state’s main fund exceed estimate: Collections to Oklahoma’s main government operating fund exceeded the estimate in August, state finance officials reported. 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. [The Journal Record]

‘Oklahoma, this is your office’: New Capitol visitors entrance unveiled: State officials on Wednesday unveiled the new Capitol visitors entrance on the southeast side. [Tulsa World] The new entrance will provide expanded restroom access and more security stations. There also will be a state Capitol history museum. [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press]

Stuart Tate appointed to Osage County district judge position: Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday his appointment of Stuart Lee Tate as an Osage County district judge. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

House advances Lucas bill to improve STEM education in rural areas: The House passed legislation by Rep. Frank Lucas on Wednesday that would enlist various federal agencies in the effort to improve science, technology, engineering and math education in rural schools. [The Oklahoman]

What Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling means for Oklahoma’s Native tribes: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that much of eastern Oklahoma remains Native land. The decision granted jurisdictional control for most criminal justice cases to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and four neighboring tribal nations. [PBS News Hour]

Criminal Justice News

Federal contract saves Cushing corrections jobs: The City of Cushing and CoreCivic, the owner of Cimarron Correctional Facility, announced Tuesday that they had entered into a detention services agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service that will bring federal prisoners to the facility located about 3 miles southwest of Cushing. [McAlester News-Capital]

Judge Kendra Coleman testifies in her removal trial: Embattled Oklahoma County District Judge Kendra Coleman testified Wednesday that all her campaign finance disclosures to the state Ethics Commission are current and she is making payments on back taxes owed under an agreement with the Tax Commission, despite a pending charge for tax evasion filed against her by District Attorney David Prater. [NonDoc]

‘The silent sniper’: Law enforcement officers meet in Ardmore for PTSD, mental health training: In 2019, a record number of 228 United States law enforcement officers died by suicide. That number far outweighs the amount of line of duty deaths and the nation is on track to hit those kinds of numbers again this year. [The Daily Ardmoreite]

Economic Opportunity

Study points to steps Oklahoma can take to improve rural broadband internet availability: A study of seven years’ worth of data shows what states can do to improve broadband internet availability in rural areas. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy: Broadband is more important than ever — here is how Oklahoma can respond.

Economy & Business News

With extra food in their fields, farmers partner with nonprofits to help the hungry: While COVID-19 has hampered farmers this year by forcing many farmers markets and restaurants to close, usually it’s the weather that threatens crops. A practice called “gleaning” helps save crops from going to waste while feeding those in need. [Pubic Radio Tulsa]

National bankruptcies grow in wake of coronavirus public health crisis: COVID-19 has triggered several liquidation and bankruptcy filings as top companies seem to have fallen into financial limbo. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Stillwater School board could vote on new school protocols for in-person classes and sports in Thursday meeting: Stillwater Public Schools has called for a special meeting of the Board of Education that could further determine protocol on in-person classroom instruction and extracurricular activities. [Stillwater News Press]

  • Enid sees increase in number of COVID-19 quarantines, isolations [Enid News & Eagle]

OU forms community-led think tank in Northeast OKC: A community-led think tank in northeast Oklahoma City led by the University of Oklahoma will research anti-racist frameworks in education through engaging stakeholders and researching precedents. [The Journal Record]

General News

Several Tulsa houses of worship display ‘Black Lives Matter’ on anniversary of Terence Crutcher’s death: Religious leaders from Tulsa’s churches and temples gathered at a midtown church Wednesday to issue a proclamation: Black lives matter. [Tulsa World]

Census awareness raised in immigrant communities despite bureau troubles: Oklahoma may have been prevented from missing thousands of immigrants in the 2020 census when a federal judge temporarily stopped the Trump administration from ending the census early, according to civil rights groups. [NonDoc

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa City Council approves measure to add hate crimes section to municipal law  [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma City Council gives OK to completing MAPS 3 downtown park, core-to-shore connection [The Oklahoman]
  • OKC Park Commission approves privately-funded sculpture for Mesta Park [OKC Free Press]
  • Two Norman library staff members test positive for COVID-19 [Norman Transcript]
  • Norman council member to challenge colleague’s recall petition [The Oklahoman]
  • Unite Norman sends councilor ‘cease and desist’ letter [Norman Transcript]
  • Bierman’s attorney responds to ‘cease and desist’ [Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“The COVID alert system map here in Oklahoma is similar to a tornado alert system, except the sirens don’t sound until after the tornado hits. So, we need a system that alerts before things get really bad.”

-Dr. George Monks with the Oklahoma State Medical Association [KTUL]

Number of the Day


Poverty rate of LGBT people collectively, which is much higher than the rate for cisgender straight people of 15.7 percent.

[Source: Williams Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The human costs of the productivity paradox in the USA: “I find that the high costs of being poor or downwardly mobile in the U.S. are more evident in stress, insecurity, and hopelessness than in material deprivation. Most of these individuals are not able to choose the kinds of lives they want to lead and are instead experience high levels of stress related to insecurity and circumstances beyond their control. Not surprisingly, they are also typically much less optimistic about their futures, as they lack the capacity to plan for or conceive of those futures. In contrast, individuals who believe in their futures are much more likely to invest in them.” [Brookings]

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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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