In The Know: State COVID-19 deaths top 10,000 mark | Interim study on workers returning to workforce | State jobless claims

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

As Oklahoma Marks Its 10,000 COVID-19 Death, Lagging Areas Show Vaccination Progress: More Oklahomans are reaching fully vaccinated status in ZIP codes that have been lagging most of the summer, according to the latest biweekly vaccination data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The statewide COVID-19 vaccination rate was 46.6% this week, compared to 54.7% nationally, the health department said in its weekly epidemiology report. But pockets of the state, including some ZIP codes in the southeastern part and near the Interstate 44 corridor, moved closer to the state average, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of the vaccination data. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Oklahoma COVID-19 deaths top 10,000; ICU patients increase [AP News] | [Public Radio Tulsa] | [KOSU]
  • As Oklahoma’s COVID-19 toll hits 10,000, ‘it’s OK to ask for help,’ grief experts say [The Oklahoman]
  • When will vaccine boosters be available? COVID-19 information Oklahomans need to know [Tulsa World]
  • Young adults statewide hit hard by virus [The Journal Record]
  • Long Story Short Podcast: Teachers With Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases, Unemployment Overpayments [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Study addresses why workers aren’t back on the job during pandemic: Four plausible reasons for Oklahomans not returning to work after the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic were debated during a study hosted Tuesday by state Senator Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City. The interim study, held at the state Capitol, brought together business leaders, legislators and policy specialists. The study was conducted by the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee. [Southwest Ledger]

  • Lack of applicants for open jobs stoke worries in Oklahoma, nationwide [The Journal Record]

Initial Oklahoma jobless claims for week match pre-pandemic numbers: First-time jobless claims dipped to pre-pandemic levels last week in the state, according to a government report. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 1,843 initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits were filed by Oklahoma workers during the week ending Saturday, a 46% decline from the upwardly revised total from the previous week when 3,435 claims were filed. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma regulators struggle to enforce marijuana standards, assure quality control: Early last December, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority followed up on a tip and inspected a licensed marijuana lab suspected of malpractice. What regulators found alarmed them. Dirty dishes, open chemical containers and food cluttered the counters, inspectors said in court records. Some of the chemicals showed expiration dates in the 1990s. [The Oklahoman]

  • Cannabis businesses get to meet new OMMA director, discuss agency’s compliance priorities [Tulsa World]
  • The Source Podcast: Lack of oversight stirs trouble in medical marijuana industry [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

First Afghan refugees have arrived in Oklahoma, Catholic Charities of OKC says: A group of Afghan refugees have been welcomed to Oklahoma City by Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City and the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma chapter, a Catholic Charities leader said Thursday. [The Oklahoman] Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said the arrival of the first of roughly 1,800 refugees will benefit both new and current residents. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Private employers struggle to understand, scramble to comply with federal vaccine mandate: Some local employers that would fall under President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate are taking a wait-and-see approach before requiring their workers to take the COVID-19 shots. Lawton’s Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. issued a one-line statement about the mandate. [Southwest Ledger]

  • Proposed vaccine mandate draws criticism from state, federal lawmakers [Southwest Ledger]

Tribal Nations News

Organizations, foster families react to Indian Child Welfare Act challenge: Cetan Sa Winyan, director of the American Indian Movement’s Indian Territory Oklahoma chapter, said all tribes — not just the four already petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court — should stand together against potential changes to the Indian Child Welfare Act in a case the court has been asked to review. [NonDoc]

Citizen Potawatomi Nation And City Of Shawnee End Legal Battle, Strive To Attract New Jobs: The fight between the city of Shawnee and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation lasted for 60 years when leaders decided to call a truce this week. Now, they hope to work together on a venture known as “Shawnee Aligned.” It’s something both governments hope will bring economic development and better city services to the area’s residents. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Read the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office new body camera policy: The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office initiated its first body-worn camera program last week, with 40 new Axon Body 3 cameras designated for deputies in “divisions tasked with traditional law enforcement duties that involve a high frequency of enforcement contact with the public,” according to the OCSO’s policy statement. [NonDoc]

Rights of the Condemned: What Oklahoma Death Row Prisoners Can and Can’t Do In Their Final Hours: As Oklahoma prepares to carry out seven executions over a five-month stretch, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments in a case that could expand civil rights for the condemned. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economy & Business News

Out-of-state investors are gobbling up Oklahoma housing supply, driving up prices locally: Edwin Su lives in a rented apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area and had no connection to Oklahoma until he bought a house in Mustang — not that he intends to move here. He’s a real estate investor, the kind helping push home prices up in competition with buyers who do live here, or want to live here. [The Oklahoman]

Many restaurants here need loans to survive winter: About 40% of restaurants in Oklahoma are going to need a loan or a line of credit to make it through this fall and winter, Jim Hopper, CEO of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association told lawmakers on Thursday. [The Journal Record]

Normalcy returns to performing arts world, safety remains a priority: Tulsa Ballet was preparing for the opening night performance of its final production of the season when the company received news for which it had been waiting 15 months. No masks. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Oklahoma Schools Getting Funding To Conduct Surveillance Testing For COVID: A $119 million grant will amp up testing in Oklahoma schools In a call with superintendents across Oklahoma Wednesday, State Superintendent for Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced a $119 million grant to pay for surveillance testing for COVID-19 in schools. [KOSU]

General News

Goin’ to worship: Sunday is a lifeline of Greenwood’s legacy and future: Against big odds – including COVID-19 fears, decreased interest in organized religion among a younger generation – many residents of this primarily Black community consider church the only place to be on a Sabbath morning. While membership and attendance at many Northside houses of worship have declined, engagement in the church remains the most popular activity among Tulsa’s Blacks. Attending high school football games is a distant second. [The Oklahoma Eagle]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Muskogee school mask mandate passes [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Students who caught COVID have mostly recovered [Southwest Ledger]
  • Coalition Presses City Councilors For Transparency, Engagement As Tulsa Spends Virus Funds [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Newest candidate for Oklahoma County DA has arrest record [The Oklahoman]
  • Mayor G.T. Bynum’s ‘GT PAC’ has some city councilors wondering what he’s up to, and what’s his beef [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“This count represents the lives of our friends, neighbors and loved ones, and any number of deaths will always be too many.”

-State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye commenting on the state’s COVID-19 death toll passing 10,000 [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans older than 12 who are fully vaccinated, compared to 54.7% nationally, as of the week of Sept. 12-18  [Oklahoma State Department of Health]

Policy Note

COVID-19 continues to be a leading cause of death in the U.S. in August 2021: COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death across most of 2020, but in December 2020 and early 2021, the illness surged and briefly became the number one leading cause of death in the U.S., far surpassing even cancer and heart disease deaths in those months. With the rapid uptake in vaccinations in the months when vaccines first became widely available, COVID-19 deaths fell sharply. COVID-19 dropped to the number 8 leading cause of death in the U.S. in July 2021. However, with the more infectious COVID-19 Delta variant and insufficient vaccination rates, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are increasing again. Vaccination rates are particularly lagging for younger adults and people living in certain states. [Peterson-KFF]

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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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