In The Know: State revenue failure expected; COVID-19 projection models; and more

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. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Savings and stimulus could mitigate Oklahoma revenue failure, shortfall: The gurgling global oil market plus other economic slowdowns attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a roughly $219 million revenue failure for Oklahoma’s current fiscal year and an estimated $450 million revenue shortfall for next year’s state budget, according to legislative appropriation leaders. [NonDoc]  The Board of Equalization is expected to meet in coming days to declare a revenue failure for fiscal year 2020, said Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson. [Tulsa World] Recreational marijuana could add $100 million for Oklahoma’s virus-shattered budget, lawmaker says of new proposal [Tulsa World] OK Policy: “This is the emergency we’ve been saving for.” 

Six more deaths bring Oklahoma to 23 with 565 cases reported: State officials reported six more deaths from COVID-19 in Oklahoma, totaling 23 deaths in less than two weeks. Officials have reported 565 cases of COVID-19 since around March 6; 83 confirmed cases are in Tulsa County. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 are not reflective of the disease’s spread. Gov. Kevin Stitt previously stated that the cases in Oklahoma were up to five times higher. [Tulsa World] OU Medicine Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Douglas Drevets estimates the actual number of cases may be around 5,000. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State still hasn’t finished COVID-19 prediction models: Oklahoma leaders Tuesday still hadn’t finished developing critical COVID-19 prediction models for planning for patient surges and deciding to deploy additional supplies and resources. But on Tuesday, a university in another state already finished modeling Oklahoma’s expected outbreak curve. [The Norman Transcript]

Opinion: I’m a red-state mayor and I ordered my city to stay home: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum: “Navigating that line between protecting people from a deadly virus and protecting them from poverty is one that elected leaders are grappling with at every level of government…. Most people are willing to sacrifice a bit of freedom and convenience to protect the lives of the people they love. And in the end, love of neighbor is more important at a local level than political party or ideology. This is what will get us through the current pandemic together.” [G.T. Bynum / New York Times Op-Ed]

  • Listen Frontier, March 31 (Audio): Host Ben Felder and Frontier reporter Kassie McClung talk about how officials in Oklahoma communicate with the public in a state where some are highly skeptical of both the government and science. [The Frontier]
  • From the Newsroom, March 31 (Audio): The Oklahoma City Council approves a small business relief package, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma delivers food for its backpack program, and a look back at the 1980 Olympics. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Models for Tulsa County project coronavirus peak between mid-May and early June, with scenarios of 75,000 to 350,000 infections: The Tulsa Health Department’s modeling of the coronavirus spread in the community projects a peak between mid-May and early June, with day-to-day life possibly returning to a somewhat normal state in July. Monica Rogers, THD’s information systems manager, cautioned there are caveats baked into the models. She emphasized the projections are only as good as the data inputs, which are hampered by limiting testing capacity for COVID-19. [Tulsa World]

State stockpiles protective equipment as ‘tough two weeks’ looms: Oklahoma made significant gains in stockpiling protective equipment on Tuesday while the state’s death toll from COVID-19 rose by a third. The state has received more than 60% of its personal protective equipment order from the federal government. [The Oklahoman] U.S. Sen. James Lankford said there are a lot of lessons to be learned from a nationwide shortage of personal protection equipment ignited by increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. sends letter to Governor opposing discriminatory medical rationing policies – expresses need for statewide guidelines preventing discriminatory allocation of life-saving medical care: Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. (ODLC) urges Governor Stitt to immediately adopt and disseminate mandatory statewide guidelines to ensure that life-saving care is not illegally withheld or removed from disabled residents. [Oklahoma Disability Law Center]

More Norman nursing home residents test positive: More residents of a nursing home here have tested positive for COVID-19 and are being treated — if conditions warrant — with an anti-malarial drug touted by President Donald Trump. Grace Skilled Nursing and Therapy announced the new positive test results Monday night but declined Tuesday to provide details. [The Oklahoman]

Many find no answers when seeking COVID-19 test: At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Oklahoma faced a shortage of testing kits which put a priority on testing those who were in the high risk category such as elderly or immunocompromised. But as Oklahoma got more batches of tests in, the supply still could not meet the demand. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Agency responsible for unemployment compensation asks applicants to use website to file claims: Heavy volumes on both the online and phone systems used by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to process unemployment insurance claims are stressing both. The online system at, however, is the one agency officials prefer applicants to use before attempting to reach a commission representative. [The Oklahoman] The OESC also warned of fake unemployment compensation websites and scammers. [Woodward News]

Online driver license renewal now available: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased efforts to encourage residents to stay in their homes to slow the spread of the virus, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety is announcing the launch of online renewals and replacements for Class D driver licenses and identification cards. [McAlester News-Capital]

Oklahoma agency seeks to make WiFi services available to public: The Oklahoma Universal Service Fund helps schools, public libraries and rural non-profit medical providers pay for internet access. Because of a Federal Communications Commission waiver last week, the Oklahoma fund wants that service to be more widely available during the COVID-19 pandemic. [KOSU]

Head of Commissioners of Land Office resigns: The acting secretary of the Commissioners of the Land Office resigned earlier this month, after just nine months in the job. His appointment was called into question after Oklahoma Watch reported in September he lacked the advanced degree required under state law and his company had been involved in several legal disputes over oil and gas leasing. [Oklahoma Watch]

2 exceptions in Oklahoma County audit corrected: An annual audit by the State Auditor and Inspector’s office indicates that most Oklahoma County business is in compliance with auditing practices; however, there were two exceptions this year. Both issues have been corrected, according to the county. [The Edmond Sun]

State parks still open, but lodges and restaurants are not: State parks continue to remain open even though the governor has ordered most entertainment venues shuttered during the state’s spreading COVID-19 outbreak. [CNHI / The Ada News]

Federal Government News

What you need to know about economic impact checks: The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced Monday that they will begin distributing economic impact payments in the next three weeks. The economic impact payments are part of the CARES ACT — the $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress last week. [The Oklahoman]

Coronavirus small business loans available soon, Lankford and Hern say: Small businesses will probably be able to begin applying for coronavirus-related loans within a week, two members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegations said Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Law enforcement officers rising to the challenge of COVID-19: Law enforcement officials are facing challenges when it comes to their duties during the COVID-19 outbreak. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and Gov. Kevin Stitt released guidelines detailing “best practices” to keep officers safe. [Tahlequah Daily Press] The list of best practices was developed by Attorney General Mike Hunter, district attorneys, defense counsel, judges and law enforcement officials. [Public Radio Tulsa]  A coalition of Oklahoma groups, including OK Policy, have proposed 10 steps for lawmakers and officials to address the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails

Payne County jail issued new precautions during pandemic: The Payne County Jail is taking precautions to keep detainees and staff safe during the pandemic. “We are now taking the temperature of employees at the beginning of their shift by Medical,” Sheriff Kevin Woodward said. “Each person brought to the Detention Center is evaluated by medical prior to entering the facility.” [CNHI / Enid News & Eagle]

Economy & Business News

‘I don’t think things will just go back to the way they were’: Tulsa’s essential businesses discover ‘a new normal’ during pandemic: A large grocery store can have more than 200 door handles in the refrigerated and frozen-food aisles, which now have to be sanitized so obsessively that it has become a full-time job. [Tulsa World]

Education News

During Spanish flu pandemic, Oklahoma City’s teachers were ‘true heroes’: In a vote to close Oklahoma’s schools earlier this month, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister called the decision “historic.” And it was an unprecedented action. In order to find a time of mass school closures statewide, you’d have to go back more than 100 years. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Union Public Schools shares its plan to implement distance learning next week: Superintendent Kirt Hartzler announced the district’s approach to remote instruction in a letter to families Monday evening. He said the intent of the plan is to provide a positive academic experience for students without overwhelming parents while also meeting the needs of those lacking access to technology. [Tulsa World] OK Policy: Officials should be exploring all options that provide equitable education solutions to all Oklahoma students, regardless of the resources that they have available.

Sand Springs distance learning model focuses on digital instruction, offers home-based worksheet packets as needed: The Sand Springs Distance Learning Model, which aims to provide meaningful instruction to students for the remainder of 2019-20, will be delivered primarily through online instruction. However, home-based learning packets will be distributed — potentially through the mail — as needed. [Tulsa World]

General News

2020 Census: Oklahoma mayors challenge each other: While the COVID-19 pandemic dominates the news, there are other things happening in the country, including the 2020 census, which will have a lasting impact on Oklahoma. Today is National Census Day, which is meant to boost awareness of the 2020 census. [NonDoc] Together Oklahoma, OK Policy’s advocacy program, is working with groups across the state to get residents to complete the Census, which has huge implications for our state. 

The libraries are closed, but staff is working hard to provide a slew of resources to those in need: In a time where the “great equalizer” has been forced to close its doors to the public, library staff are working tirelessly to provide for their community in any way possible, remotely. “The digital divide is real,” said Kiley Roberson, chief strategy officer for Tulsa City-County Library. “So many people don’t have access to the internet or computers. When the library is closed, how do people continue to get that access? [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“Now is not a time to be cutting budgets or cutting services. We need to make sure that all the needs are met not only for the current crisis we are in, but also that we stabilize the budget going forward for the next fiscal year.”

-Senate Appropriations and Budget Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah [NonDoc]

Number of the Day

$1.8 billion

Amount of federal funding that Oklahoma could lose with an undercount during the 2020 Census. Today, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, is the official U.S. Census Day. When completing the Census, residents will tell the Census Bureau where they live as of April 1, 2020, and include everyone who usually lives and sleeps in your home. You can respond before or after that date. To learn more visit or

[Source: TogetherOK]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The importance of the 2020 Census, explained in dollars and cents: The 2020 Census is upon us. During this stressful time, the census may seem like a meaningless bureaucratic paperwork exercise, but counting everyone in the country is actually an essential government function and will have lasting impacts for the rest of the decade. [Project on Government Oversight]

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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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