In The Know: State to use app for vaccine distribution | Information sparse on future vaccine shipments | 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. 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

COVID-19 vaccine Phase 2: Appointments coming via app: Oklahoma is moving into the second phase of its four-step COVID-19 vaccination plan, but uncertain supplies and technological obstacles make it hard to predict how quickly or smoothly Phase 2 will unfold. [NonDoc] Oklahomans age 65 and older will begin receiving their vaccinations this week, and health officials announced Monday they plan to release a mobile phone application as early as Thursday that will allow residents to schedule an appointment to receive their vaccine. [AP News] The app will screen people for eligibility and help them schedule an appointment. First responders and adults over 65 are first in line for phase two. [Public Radio Tulsa] The state plans to rely on an internet application, which will be unveiled later this week, to handle its vaccine appointment signups. Large swaths of the state though don’t have reliable internet, smartphone or home computer access. [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press] Different parts of the state are at different stages when it comes to vaccine administration, Keith Reed, Deputy Commissioner for the State Department of Health, said at a Monday news conference. [The Oklahoman] State health officials clarified during the briefing that some counties had enough supply to move on to the next priority population. [KOSU / StateImpact Oklahoma

State can’t schedule COVID-19 vaccinations weeks out because of limited federal information on dose shipments: The state can’t open up COVID-19 vaccination appointments weeks in advance because it’s only notified by the federal government one week beforehand of how many doses it will receive. [Tulsa World] With COVID-19 case numbers soaring, Dr. Lance Frye, the state’s interim health commissioner, said nearly every available dose — more than 174,900 — already had been spoken for Monday by health care workers, long-term care residents, first responders and now Oklahomans age 65 years and older. [CNHI via Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma legislative leaders lay out priorities for 2021: The first session of the 58th Oklahoma legislature begins in four weeks, and lawmakers have their work cut out for them. House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) said one of the top priorities is finding a way to pay for Medicaid expansion after voters approved it through State Question 802 last June. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy: Oklahoma lawmakers have nearly $600 million of available options that can fund Medicaid expansion

State Government News

Broken Arrow legislator Nathan Dahm seeks to preempt local mask mandates: A Republican state senator from Broken Arrow has prefiled legislation for the upcoming legislative session seeking to prevent localities from imposing COVID-19 mask mandates. The legislation from Sen. Nathan Dahm could face a tough road in the Oklahoma Legislature, despite Republican supermajorities in both chambers. Senate Bill 224 would preempt Oklahoma cities and towns from imposing or enforcing local mask ordinances. [The Oklahoman]

Statewide seed-to-sale marijuana tracking system coming to Oklahoma early this year: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority expects to have a statewide seed-to-sale tracking system rolled out early this year. OMMA announced a contract with national company Metrc in September. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal Government News

Mullin says stopping Biden presidency would take ‘a miracle,’ but he’s still trying to do that: Second District Congressman Markwayne Mullin acknowledged that blocking Democrat Joe Biden’s presidency would take “a miracle” but said he’s determined to try. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Tommie Johnson sworn in as first Black sheriff of Oklahoma County: Tommie Johnson III officially became Oklahoma County’s first Black sheriff with his inauguration today. Johnson, who dethroned incumbent and former Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor in June’s Republican primary, defeated Oklahoma City Police Lt. Wayland Cubit — another Black man — in the Nov. 3 election. [NonDoc] Johnson is a former Norman police officer who won the county’s Nov. 3 general election by more than 16,000 votes, becoming the county’s first Black sheriff. [The Oklahoman] Johnson, who was elected in November, said the first issue he plans to tackle is finding funding to outfit deputies with body cameras. [AP News]

Escaping the path of prison: The Melrose Construction Trades Program at Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City is working to redirect young people from the path to prison onto the path to financial success with a trade in the construction industry. The idea is to divert millions of dollars away from prison expenditures to boost the area’s economy in the form of well-paying jobs and completed construction projects. [The Journal Record]

Supporters of Oklahoma death row inmate complete trek to McAlester: Death row inmate Julius Jones told supporters who gathered Sunday outside the entrance to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester that he could hear their chants through the walls. “I thank you all for traveling this far,” Jones said as he talked with supporters through phone. [McAlester Capital-News]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma senator seeks to reinstate the Earned Income Tax Credit: Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, filed a measure Sunday aimed to reinstate the refundability of the state earned income tax credit (EITC), which serves as an essential tax benefit for working families across Oklahoma. Senate Bill 220 would restore the refundability of the state EITC to 5 percent, meaning if the amount families receive from the EITC is more than the amount of state income tax they owe, they would collect the difference as a refund, according to a press release. [The Lawton Constitution] OK Policy: Restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit is necessary and overdue.

Burdened by pandemic restrictions, demand for food sustainability grows: Burdened by the restrictions of the pandemic, people across the nation are seeking environmental sustainability in the food they eat. Amanda Jane Simcoe, a Tulsa chef, has raised chickens virtually her entire life. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Midwest economy improving but businesses less optimistic: The economy continues improving in nine Midwest and Plains states but business leaders are less optimistic after the latest surge in coronavirus cases in the region, according to a new monthly survey released Monday. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Tulsa-area school districts return to virtual and in-person learning following winter break: Students and teachers of five Tulsa-area school districts will kick learning back into gear this week following winter break. Jenks, Owasso and Union school districts returned in-person and virtually on Monday, and Broken Arrow will return in-person on Tuesday after a day of distance learning Monday. [Tulsa World]

  • Tulsa Public Schools could get $50M to $60M in additional COVID-19 relief funds [Tulsa World]
  • TPS 8th graders can apply for new early college program during enrollment period [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Old OKC jail once again eyed for demolition [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Trump supporters heading to D.C. to continue pressing Congress to block presidential election [The Oklahoman]
  • Following BIA approval, Kiowa Tribe eyes entertainment venue in southwest Oklahoma [KOSU]

Quote of the Day

“(Vaccine distribution) is going to be a very difficult process. It’s going to be a long process, and there’s going to be a lot of challenges. In order to try to keep everything completely, completely fair on the same level that’s going to be a very difficult thing. Those that are quicker on the draw are likely to get the vaccine quicker, unfortunately, in some of these cases.”

-Keith Reed, Oklahoma Deputy Commissioner of Health [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press]

Number of the Day


Number of COVID-19 vaccine doses received in Oklahoma as of Jan. 5. All doses have been allocated for health care workers, long-term care residents, first responders, and Oklahomans age 65 years and older, while the state awaits new information from the federal government about upcoming distributions.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Health]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Covid ‘Decimated Our Staff’ as the Pandemic Ravages Health Workers of Color: COVID-19 has taken an outsize toll on Black and Hispanic Americans. And those disparities extend to the medical workers who have intubated them, cleaned their bedsheets and held their hands in their final days, a KHN/Guardian investigation has found. People of color account for about 65% of fatalities in cases in which there is race and ethnicity data. One recent study found health care workers of color were more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to test positive for the virus. They were more likely to treat patients diagnosed with covid, more likely to work in nursing homes — major coronavirus hotbeds — and more likely to cite an inadequate supply of personal protective equipment, according to the report. [The Guardian]


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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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