In The Know: State virus rate improves, but still top 10 | Historic demand for absentee ballots | State pandemic center announced

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

Oklahoma’s COVID-19 rankings improve, but White House task force says there have been ‘many preventable deaths’: Oklahoma’s national ranking improved to 10th highest for new cases and 5th highest for test positivity in the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report. But the task force’s first recommendation in the Oct. 4 report doesn’t sugar coat the pandemic’s effects in Oklahoma: “Community transmission has remained high across the state for the past month, with many preventable deaths.” [Tulsa World] Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office released a statement saying he “vehemently disputes the editorial opinion” in the task force’s report and said the same language is in several states’ most recent reports. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Are Oklahoma hospitals nearing ICU capacity due to COVID-19? [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma hospitalizations due to COVID surge above 700 [AP News]
  • Officials moving on from surge contracts as hospitalizations hit record in Oklahoma [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • COVID-19: Nine more deaths, 1,006 new cases reported in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s voter registration deadline coming up Friday: New Oklahoma voters seeking to cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 presidential election must register to vote by Friday. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma voter guide 2020: What you need to know for the Nov. 3 election [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa County Election Board works through historic absentee voting surge ahead of general election [Tulsa World]
  • Two Oklahoma voters discuss how protests, police budget cuts have impacted them [KOSU]
  • Voters to decide State Question 805 [Grand Lake News]
  • OK Policy has published non-partisan fact sheets and gathered other voting resources at

State Government News

‘We need help’: Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence announced: With hospitalizations from COVID-19 reaching an all-time high in Oklahoma, state leaders this morning announced the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence, a virtual umbrella for public health response now and in the future. [NonDoc] The center will house the state’s public health lab, which will move there by the end of the year. [Tulsa World] The state plans to spend millions to move its public health laboratory from Oklahoma City to “the middle of rural America,” officials announced Wednesday. [CNHI via Stillwater News Press] Local leaders said they weren’t part of the decision-making process and were taken by surprise by the announcement but were pleased. [Stillwater News Press]

Cannabis lab accused of falsifying test results surrenders Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority license: A laboratory that operated in Tulsa will not pay fines over allegations it falsified cannabis test results after the business surrendered its license during an investigation by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Horn plan would raise tax on high earners to boost benefit for low-income workers: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn proposed a tax package this week that would raise income taxes on high earners to fund an increase in the tax credit available to low-income workers. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

‘The old way is flawed’: Tommie Johnson’s campaign for sheriff built on reinvestment and new ideas: Norman police officer Tommie Johnson III is the Republican candidate for Oklahoma County sheriff after beating the incumbent in a primary race. His arrest of a woman with an outstanding traffic ticket as a young officer is the inspiration for his proposed program to reduce arrests of nonviolent offenders who may be unable to afford citations. [The Frontier]

Entire police department in Oklahoma town in quarantine after positive COVID cases: All five police officers in the small northeastern Oklahoma town of Chelsea are in quarantine after the agency discovered an officer and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. [KOSU]

Economy & Business News

Commission to consider revised electric plan: A revised plan to pay for improvements to Oklahoma’s electricity grid is scheduled for consideration by state regulators on Thursday morning. The new plan would allow OG&E to recoup some of its costs for infrastructure improvements, but not as much as the company had originally requested. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Norman middle school closes after 20 employees ask for sick leave: An Irving Middle School in Norman unexpectedly closed Monday after at least 20 teachers and staff, who feared exposure to COVID-19, requested sick leave to get tested. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma saved money by breaking its ACT commitment. Here’s what it’s costing Miami students: This is a tale of two seniors in the northeast corner of Oklahoma. Miami High School classmates Gage Harris and Christian Wellman are among the 37,000 Oklahoma high school students denied a state-sponsored college admissions test. Their contrasting circumstances illustrate the inequity that can occur without that opportunity. [Oklahoma Watch]

General News

Oklahoma technicians key to fixing a National Weather Service East Coast radar: A team of six technicians from Oklahoma’s Radar Operations Center arrived Saturday in Virginia to repair the National Weather Service’s main Doppler weather radar for the U.S. capital. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“We were looking at a five-fold increase potentially over anything we’ve ever done historically at the Election Board, which translates to around 100,000-plus absentee requests.”

-Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman speaking about demand for absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 general election [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


COVID-19–associated hospitalization rates were eight times higher among Hispanic than among white children from March 13 to July 25, 2020.

[Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Achieving a Cohesive Culture for Health Equity in Latino and All Communities: A Research Review: A widening socioeconomic gap, racism, and discrimination contribute to inequitable distribution of healthcare and mental and physical health disparities among Latinos and other people of color and those in poverty, especially amid COVID-19. But it doesn’t have to be this way. A cohesive culture for health equity is one where everyone works individually and as a group to ensure that each person has a fair, just opportunity for health and wealth, as well as equitable access to basic resources required for these goals. [Salud America]

Note: In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), we will be sharing policy notes and numbers of the day that speak to issues facing Latinx communities in America. 

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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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