In The Know: State ranked 4th for virus positivity | One workers comp trust fund nearly out of money | ‘Skinny’ relief bill inadequate for 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: ‘Skinny’ relief bill is inadequate: As of Friday, it will have been 24 weeks since Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March. If executed correctly, that would have been the first of several relief packages to provide much-needed support for families harmed by the pandemic, while also shoring up the fiscal health of our state, local and tribal governments. In the months since the CARES Act passed, we kept looking to Washington for progress. Instead, all we’ve gotten is politics. [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma now ranked No. 4 for COVID-19 positivity rate: Oklahoma reported the fourth highest rate of test positivity for COVID-19 in the country in the seven-day period ending on Friday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said in its latest report, which again urged the state to take further action to slow the virus’ spread. Since the last report, the outbreak in Oklahoma has worsened, and the task force said the state is in the “red zone”, determined by its rate of new cases and test positivity. [The Frontier] Oklahoma also has the ninth-highest new COVID-19 cases daily rate per capita. The task force’s Sept. 6 weekly report, released Wednesday, marks the first time the state has ranked in the top 10 simultaneously for both of the statistics since the report began including state comparisons three weeks ago. [Tulsa World]

  • White House task force: Situation worsening, but statewide mask mandate now unnecessary [AP News / Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Stillwater Medical CEO more concerned than ever about community spread [Stillwater News Press]
  • COVID-19: Three from Tulsa County among 9 latest deaths in Oklahoma; 876 new cases reported [Tulsa World]

State trust fund warns injured workers it will be unable to make weekly payments in October: One of Oklahoma’s workers compensation trust funds is nearly out of money and will be forced to delay at least three weeks’ worth of payments to thousands of recipients in October, the fund’s director said Tuesday. The announcement comes a little more than a year after the Legislature passed a larger worker’s compensation bill that included a provision intended to shore up the fund’s finances. [The Frontier]

Opinion: Future of Oklahoma depends on this month’s census: The 2020 census has been underway since mid-March, and the deadline to complete it is Sept. 30 – only three weeks away. The data gathered through census responses help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds will be distributed to communities, cities and towns annually over the next decade. These federal funds are used to support a variety of government services, including education, infrastructure and health care. [Rep. Cynthia Roe / Pauls Valley Daily Democrat] Currently, the state of Oklahoma has a 79.3 percent total response rate, which includes self-response and Nonresponse Followup (NRFU) operations. [Pauls Valley Daily Democrat]

  • Lawton’s Census Week: The impact on Oklahoma DHS [KSWO]
  • OKC Councilmember Nice holding Census, voter registration drive in Sept [OKC Free Press]

Health News

Long-term care facilities facing financial ruin, closure: Without more federal support, nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide are on the precipice of financial ruin and closure, advocates for aging service providers said Wednesday. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle] More than half of nursing homes are currently operating at a financial loss after picking up extra costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to results of a recent survey conducted by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. [The Journal Record]

EMSA sues ambulance provider: EMSA has gone to court to try to extract $16 million that it says it’s owed from its ambulance service provider, American Medical Response Ambulance Service Inc. [Tulsa World] No interruption in ambulance service was expected. EMSA is a public trust providing emergency medical care in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

State updates resource guide for disability services: A recent update to the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Disability Resource Guide makes it easier for users to find more than 3,000 government agencies, community organizations and support groups for Oklahomans with disabilities. [Department of Rehabilitation Services / Muskogee Phoenix]

Federal Government News

New EPA office could help with mine cleanup in Oklahoma: Oklahoma officials hope to benefit from a new Environmental Protection Agency office tasked with coordinating mine cleanup west of the Mississippi River. The EPA’s Denver-based Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains will encourage Good Samaritan cleanup projects and other remediation not done by the agency itself. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Department Of Corrections touts virus response at board meeting: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said its staff is working hard and touted its achievements over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as more than 1600 inmates have been infected with the novel coronavirus. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Prison and jail population drops 15% from a year ago, board told: The state’s prison population has dropped 15% since a year ago, the Board of Corrections was told Wednesday. As of Aug. 31, the agency had 21,991 offenders, or 3,886 fewer than about the same time last year, said Jason Bryant, Oklahoma Department of Corrections population coordinator. [Tulsa World]

Autopsy says blood clot likely caused death of Black man involved in jail altercation with Oklahoma City police: A 56-year-old Black man who died last May following an altercation with personnel at the Oklahoma County jail likely died because a blood clot moved into his lungs, according to a state autopsy summary report released Wednesday. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Sept. 10 is Hunger Action Day; Every Oklahoman can make a difference one helping at a time: September marks Hunger Action Month, a season that brings awareness to the issue of hunger in America. Sept. 10 is Hunger Action Day when hunger-relief advocates can focus their energy to re-ignite a commitment of providing food with dignity for every Oklahoman who is in need. The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, along with their parent organization, Feeding America, provides meaningful ways for everyone to engage. This year more than ever, addressing hunger requires decisive action. [Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma / Tahlequah Daily Press] The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us — our daily routines, our connections to family and friends, employment, health, and for so many, the ability to put food on the table. Before the pandemic, Oklahoma had one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation, with one in six Oklahomans facing hunger daily. [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

City of Tulsa’s homeless shelter now open in former juvenile center: The city of Tulsa has officially opened a new shelter to serve people who are homeless, the city’s housing director said Wednesday. A soft opening was held Tuesday for the old Tulsa County Juvenile Justice Center on Gilcrease Museum Road near Charles Page Boulevard, which has been converted for use as temporary housing and a drop-in shelter, said Becky Gligo. [Tulsa World]

  • Grant to go toward operating homeless warming shelter in Norman [Norman Transcript]

Economy & Business News

State’s distillers, brewers want tax break extended: On Wednesday, messages addressed to Oklahoma’s congressional delegation began popping up on local brewers’ social media pages. The messages were part of an effort made locally and nationwide to get lawmakers to extend a tax reduction for brewers, distillers and wineries that has saved those businesses thousands of dollars but is set to expire in December.  [The Journal Record]

Don’t count on a ‘Payroll Tax Holiday’ at your workplace; here’s why many employers are passing it up: I still don’t know whether or not I will have a “Payroll Tax Holiday” between now and the end of the year. Do you? Employers, it turns out, have the option on whether to opt in or out of the program authorizing them to defer collecting Social Security tax on wages earned by qualifying workers between Sept. 1 and the end of this year. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Mustang school employee dies from COVID-19 complications: A member of the Mustang Public Schools support staff has died from complications from COVID-19. The school district confirmed the employee’s death on Wednesday. The person was a member of district staff but wasn’t a certified teacher, a Mustang spokesman confirmed. [The Oklahoman] The Mustang Public Schools District will decide by Friday whether to return to full-time in-person classes for high school students. Meanwhile, the district announced Wednesday a staff member died from complications involving COVID-19. [News9]

Tulsa Public Schools to resume providing free meals to all students next week: Tulsa Public Schools will resume offering free meals to every student next week, the district announced Wednesday evening. TPS is returning to its summer meal service model on Monday, meaning all students 18 and younger will be able to receive breakfast, lunch and dinner meals free of charge until further notice. The prolonged service is possible due to the U.S. Department of Agriculture extending several waivers related to student meals. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Some of largest Tulsa City-County Library branches open to public with Express Service [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa regional tourism rolls out programs to support film, music industries [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Proposed water quality revisions draw some concerns [Muskogee Phoenix]

Quote of the Day

“I never in my life thought I would see the supply chain of our health care system fall flat on its face. That’s what it did. Because (Stillwater) is a town and a community that rallies behind each other, it didn’t happen at Stillwater Medical, but other hospitals were making face shields out of Krispy Kreme Donut boxes – in this state.”

-Stillwater Medical CEO Denise Webber, thanking community members who donated personal protection equipment to her hospital [Stillwater News Press]

Number of the Day

4 million

Expected number of state and local employees nationally who will be laid off without additional federal aid to governments, according to Moody’s Analytics

[Source: Market Watch]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How COVID-19 is Driving Big Job Losses in State and Local Government: Some temporary layoffs could become permanent if the pandemic hinders tax revenue for an extended period or if state and local budget gaps aren’t plugged by additional federal aid. [Pew Trusts]

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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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