In The Know: State emergency status extended | Oklahoma bottom 10 for Census response | 100+ schools report virus cases

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.

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Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Governor extends emergency, ensures new voting rule: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt extended a statewide emergency declaration on Friday, ensuring Oklahoma voters can cast absentee ballots in November without having their ballots notarized or witnessed by two people. [AP News] For the Nov. 3 election, absentee voters will be able to choose between having their ballot notarized or submitting a copy of a valid identification card. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma in bottom 10 for Census response: With a month remaining to respond to the U.S. Census, Oklahoma ranks among the Bottom 10 nationally for its response rate. Roughly, 59% of Oklahoma households have completed the Census, making the state No. 41 for its response. Oklahoma ranks behind the national response rate of 64%. [The Oklahoman] Thousands of census takers across the country began going door to door this month to assist people in responding to the 2020 Census. [FOX25]

Families, long-term care facilities struggle through pandemic uncertainty: The past five or six months have been difficult for all Oklahomans. For the residents of long-term care facilities, the people who care for them, and the people who care about them, it has been especially so. The vulnerability of long-term care facility patients makes them particularly susceptible to COVID-19, which has caused them to be locked into virtual isolation from the outside world and even each other. In many facilities, residents are restricted to their rooms most of the time and common areas such as dining halls are closed. [Tulsa World]

More than 100 school districts in Oklahoma are reporting COVID-19 cases: After less than a month of instruction, about 20% of Oklahoma 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]

  • Schools have second-highest number of cases in Tulsa County [KTUL]
  • Norman Public Schools elementary students to return to in-person instruction Monday [Norman Transcript]
  • Springer Schools closing due to multiple staff members quarantined [KXII]

Reported coronavirus cases surpass 58,000 in Oklahoma: The number of reported coronavirus cases in Oklahoma has surpassed 58,000 and the number of related deaths is nearly 800, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said Sunday. There are now 58,020 reported cases and 799 deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, increases of 667 cases and two additional deaths, The true number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. [AP via Tulsa World]

  • Fort Sill, Stillwater among state’s COVID-19 hotspots [Oklahoma Watch
  • Women’s prison in Taft declared COVID-19 ‘hot spot’ [Tulsa World]
  • Virus continues to spread inside Oklahoma prisons [KOSU]

Health News

Survey finds many Oklahoma school children have suicidal thoughts: More than 1 in 5 Oklahoma adolescent school children who took a national survey reported seriously thinking about suicide within the prior 12 months. More than 1 in 9 reported actually attempting to take their own lives. [The Oklahoman] If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is available. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Carter County at the center of syphilis outbreak: The Carter County Health Department announced Thursday that they are seeing an outbreak of syphilis, and they are working to stop it. Health Department Regional Director Mendy Spohn says there has been an 800 percent increase of syphilis cases in the county over the past two years. [KXII]

After victories, Medicaid expansion revisited in Mississippi: After voters expanded Medicaid in conservative states like Missouri and Oklahoma, health care advocates are renewing a push for expansion in Mississippi and other Southern states where Republican leaders have long been opposed. [AP News]

State Government News

Capitol Insider: Oklahoma remains a COVID-19 red zone, but mitigation efforts lag (audio): Beginning in late June and continuing for several weeks, the White House Coronavirus Task Force warned state leaders that Oklahoma was in the “red zone” for coronavirus transmission. However, despite growing urgency from the White House for the state to adopt new, stricter policies, the recommendations have been largely ignored. [KGOU]

Oklahoma legislators ask court to reject Gov. Stitt’s bid for rehearing in gaming compacts case: Legislative leaders have asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to deny Gov. Kevin Stitt’s request for a rehearing in a case that invalidated two tribal gaming compacts he signed. Stitt earlier this month asked the state’s high court to revisit its July 21 decision that tossed out two compacts he inked with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

After SCOTUS decision, American Indians in Tulsa jail sometimes wait in limbo for weeks without bond or access to attorneys: While non-Indians who have been arrested on relatively low-level crimes usually receive a bond hearing within 24 hours, American Indians arrested on similar complaints could find themselves waiting days or even weeks while federal, state and tribal authorities decide who, if anyone, will pursue charges against them. [The Frontier]

‘I’m not the bad guy here’: Eastern Oklahoma mine operator stands firm against Clean Water Act legal challenges: A gravel mine operator who faces a contempt hearing over a Clean Water Act case that he lost in federal court, as well as a second lawsuit on the same grounds, is standing resolute. [Tulsa World]

Stitt suggests Native and Black Oklahomans for monument: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt recommended three Native Americans and two Black Oklahomans as national heroes who should be considered for inclusion in a new National Garden of American Heroes. [AP News]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County’s CARES Act funding decision could have lasting ramifications: In early May, Oklahoma County commissioners were debating how to spend their recently acquired $47 million in CARES Act funding. The federal government disbursed billions of dollars through the CARES Act for COVID-19 relief this spring, but the money came with strings. [The Oklahoman]

Amid virus lockdowns, prison ministry groups had to adapt: Normally Teresa Stanfield spends her days in prisons talking with inmates about how she changed the course of her troubled life, and how they can do the same. But the coronavirus has locked her on the outside. [AP News]

Economic Opportunity

Amid COVID-19, Tulsa steps up efforts to find homes for the homeless: Social-distancing requirements have reduced the number of people that local shelters can hold. And even when there’s room, a lot of people are too afraid of the disease to stay in a shelter, officials say. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

As meat processing expands in Oklahoma, meat inspection shortage looms: Since the COVID-19 pandemic brought shortages of beef and pork and sent prices skyrocketing, revealing issues in the supply chain, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture used $10 million in CARES Act money to expand meat processing. But there’s another problem looming: a shortage of meat inspectors. [KOSU]

Oklahoma craft brewers increase production: Brewers in Oklahoma increased production 395%, or an annual average of 25.7%, from 2012 to 2019, according to the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma. Total economic impact in the state grew by 130%, or a 12.7% annual growth rate, and the economic impact per capita grew by 121%, or a 12% annual growth rate, over the last six years. [The Journal Record]

Millions of dollars in revenue lost in canceled events: The resulting collapse in events, tourism and meetings led to thousands of layoffs in the hospitality industry. Will Rogers World Airport began looking more like a ghost town than a transportation hub that had been seeing record annual passenger traffic. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Health department aims to reach almost all Oklahoma districts in 3 weeks for teacher COVID testing: The state health department wants to make it to almost all of Oklahoma’s 547 school districts over the next three weeks to offer COVID tests to teachers and support staff. The health department aims to visit larger districts twice in the next 30 days. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Technology delays making school year start ‘even harder’: Unexpected delays in technology deliveries have cut close to the start of the school year, potentially affecting hundreds of Oklahoma students. Orders of internet hot spots and home devices have arrived weeks later than expected in some districts, while others have orders still unfulfilled. [The Oklahoman]

College athletes add voices to those protesting injustice: College athletes across the country added their voices to those calling for an end to racial injustice riday with football players and others marching on campus or stepping away from practices to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. [AP News]

General News

March to state Capitol recalls March on Washington 57 years ago: Hundreds of people marched east along NW 23 from Tower Theatre to the state Capitol late Friday to commemorate the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. [The Oklahoman] Extra tension was added to the evening as an apparent social media hoax prompted those opposed to the march to believe it was part of a larger effort by “Antifa” to riot in Oklahoma City. A group of about 25 people carrying sidearms and long guns waited at the Capitol building supposedly to “defend” it even though a well-equipped troop of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is dedicated to protecting the Capitol complex full time. [OKC Free Press]

Council for Cherokee Nation approves record $1.52 billion budget: The $1.52 billion budget is considerably higher than the current fiscal year’s $1.16 billion budget which set the previous record. [The Oklahoman]

Did judge misuse campaign funds? On the eve of her ouster trial, Oklahoma County District Judge Kendra Coleman is facing a new criminal investigation, this time into whether she misused campaign funds. Her ouster trial before the Court on the Judiciary is set to begin Monday and is expected to last three weeks. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Ally or adversary: Following Tulsa mayoral election, Bynum, Robinson likely to face each other off the campaign trail [The Frontier]
  • Bynum won 8 in 10 Tulsa precincts to capture second term but support waned north of 21st Street, voting data shows [Tulsa World]
  • Listen Frontier: What played into the reelection of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum? [The Frontier]
  • Black Lives Matter OKC rallies for Julius Jones at Washington march [NonDoc]
  • Reaction to new councilman shows Norman polarization [Opinion / NonDoc]
  • Dollar General to expand in Ardmore [The Journal Record]
  • Duncan City Manager quarantined, positive for COVID-19 [Duncan Banner]
  • Court lifts order blocking spending of COVID-19 funds by Kiowa tribe [Gaylord News / Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“It’s 57 years later and we are still saying ‘We have a dream.’ Something is wrong.”

-Rapper and activist Jabee Williams speaking at an Oklahoma City march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

25 days

The voter registration deadline is 25 days prior to the date of an election.

[Source: Oklahoma State Election Board]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Universal vote-by-mail has no impact on partisan turnout or vote share: In response to COVID-19, many scholars and policy makers are urging the United States to expand voting-by-mail programs to safeguard the electoral process, but there are concerns that such a policy could favor one party over the other. We estimate the effects of universal vote-by-mail, a policy under which every voter is mailed a ballot in advance of the election, on partisan election outcomes. We find that universal vote-by-mail does not affect either party’s share of turnout or either party’s vote share. These conclusions support the conventional wisdom of election administration experts and contradict many popular claims in the media. Our results imply that the partisan outcomes of vote-by-mail elections closely resemble in-person elections, at least in normal times. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]

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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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