In The Know: Stitt tests positive for COVID-19 | Tulsa passes mask mandate | More federal support would provide relief to Oklahomans

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: Additional federal support would provide relief to Oklahomans: Our nation is struggling under the enormity of the pandemic’s weight. The impacts are felt at every level – in our homes, our communities and our state. A Tuesday report in the Journal Record detailed how Oklahoma cities have been hit hard, towns like Tonkawa which is bracing for a 30% cut in revenue this year. As Ponca City’s city manager noted, recently released federal relief dollars are not undoing the damage but it is giving cities “a little more time as we move through the process.” Time and resources — that’s what all Oklahomans need to get through the current storm. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Stitt is first governor to test positive for coronavirus: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first governor to contract the infection. [Oklahoma Watch] Stitt said he is tested for the coronavirus “periodically,” and told reporters he felt “a little achy” but that he “really felt fine.” [The Frontier] Stitt has backed one of the country’s most aggressive reopening plans, resisted any statewide mandate on masks and rarely wears one himself. [AP News] For weeks, some Oklahomans have criticized Stitt when he and members of his administration have chosen not to wear face coverings, even as the CDC has strengthened its recommendation of their use. [NonDoc] News of Stitt’s positive diagnosis came as the state saw another record-setting jump in the number of COVID-19 cases. [CNHI]

  • Fallout from Gov. Stitt’s coronavirus diagnosis will extend beyond Wednesday’s announcement [The Frontier]
  • Tulsa Vietnamese eatery where Gov. Stitt ate closes after learning of his positive COVID-19 result [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt is the first governor to test positive for the coronavirus [Washington Post]
  • Oklahoma governor tests positive for coronavirus [New York Times]

Record virus cases reported for second consecutive day in Oklahoma: Oklahoma reported a second consecutive day of record-high numbers of confirmed new virus cases, with 1,075, bringing the statewide total to more than 22,813. The previous daily high was 993 confirmed cases on Tuesday. [Journal Record

  • OKC City Council to decide mask ordinance Friday [NonDoc
  • Vote set on OKC mask ordinance [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa city councilors approve face mask ordinance, which is now in effect [Tulsa World]
  • City Council approves, mayor signs mask mandate ordinance taking effect immediately [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Enid City Commission rejects mask mandate [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Pressure mounts for Stitt to impose statewide mask order in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • Health commissioner breaks down coronavirus numbers in Oklahoma [KOCO]
  • Daily virus numbers can be found at 

Oklahoma’s prison population is dropping amid the pandemic. Will the trend continue?: As reform efforts take shape and the coronavirus pandemic causes delays within the criminal justice system, Oklahoma’s prison population has steadily declined since early March. The number of inmates in state and private facilities is down 9.4% over the past four months, from 24,923 on March 9 to 22,580 on July 13. Overall system capacity dropped from 101% to 89% in the same period, according to Department of Corrections data. [Oklahoma Watch]

Thousands of Oklahoma businesses retained no jobs or laid workers off after receiving employment retention funds: Thousands of Oklahoma companies that received federal assistance to retain workers during the COVID-19 pandemic reported retaining no jobs, others laid workers off after receiving the assistance, and suburban areas got outsized amounts of  federal assistance, according to an analysis of Payroll Protection Program data by The Frontier. [The Frontier] Note: OK Policy received a PPP loan.

  • Banks make bank from Paycheck Protection Program: Since Congress approved the Paycheck Protection Program in April, the Small Business Administration has guaranteed more than $500 billion in loans to businesses trying to keep themselves afloat and workers employed during the novel coronavirus pandemic. [NonDoc]

Health News

Coronavirus testing results slowing down as some wait weeks for answers: Across Oklahoma as more and more individuals seek testing for the coronavirus and Oklahoma continues to see large upticks in positive cases, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, the wait times on those results also are increasing. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Tulsa police to start documenting lower levels of physical force but not when officers point firearms toward people: Tulsa Police offered the City Council an oral presentation Wednesday during a committee meeting on actions it will take after a university study into its use-of-force policy and practices. The department is moving to use dogs mostly for searching rather than apprehension, expanding and improving use-of-force data collection, and reviewing and tweaking its overall force policy. [Tulsa World]

Police resignations, retirements increase in Norman: As many as 14 sworn police officers have either resigned, retired or considered other employment since the city council voted last month to defund the Norman Police Department, The Oklahoman has learned. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Producers weigh in on gas supply and demand: Some natural gas producers are hoping the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will keep the proration formula for unallocated gas wells at its current 50% of potential production capacity, or better yet, further reduce the percentage, in an effort to curb production and boost natural gas prices. [Journal Record] Opponents of a limit affecting natural gas production from Oklahoma’s most prolific wells called Wednesday for regulators to do away with what they call a largely “symbolic” restriction. [The Oklahoman]

Meat processing plants make comeback from COVID-19: When workers at the Seaboard Foods pork plant in Guymon show up for a shift, they have more options these days for checking in than they had a few months ago. That’s because four additional clock-in stations have been set up at the sprawling facility, where some 5.6 million hogs are processed annually by about 2,600 employees. [Journal Record] COVID-19 has showed American consumers just how vulnerable this finely tuned machine can be in a crisis. They saw beef and pork shortages in their grocery stores this spring, and when the meat was available, prices had spiked. [Journal Record]

Education News

Tulsa Union Public Schools considering mascot name change: The Board of Education for Union Public Schools in Tulsa met on Monday, July 13 and voted to form a committee to review the districts use of a racial slur on it’s branding and logos that had been by the National Football League’s Washington D.C. team. [KOSU]

Rep. Horn adds language to funding bill requiring additional year notice before cutting funding to rural schools: A new government funding bill requires that the Department of Education to give schools an additional year of notice before making a change to the Rural and Low-Income School Program. [KFOR]

General News

Search for race massacre graves at Tulsa’s Oaklawn cemetery remains fruitless, but scientists say they’re ‘not disheartened’: The test site at Oaklawn Cemetery continued to get bigger and deeper on Wednesday, but the results remained the same — no sign of unmarked burials from Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre. [Tulsa World] Researchers on Monday began opening an area in the cemetery where ground-penetrating radar determined there was an anomaly consistent with mass graves. [AP News via The Black Wall Street Times]

Op-Ed: Questioning my name leads to new understandings: “Of police brutality against Black people, (a colleague) told me in a voice slowed and deepened, ‘It happens all the time.’ This was the early 1990s. The deepness of her anger and sadness made me question myself. Perhaps I was not as enlightened as I believed.” [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

Still kneeling: Local resident continues to protest police brutality: A small group in Tahlequah has kept its public form of dissent against police brutality going in the downtown area’s Norris Park. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Census takers to visit homes that have not responded: The first visits will be focused on six locations — West Virginia, Idaho, Maine, Kansas City, New Orleans and the Oklahoma City area. [WFMJ]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith tests positive for COVID-19 after road trip [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith Tests Positive For COVID-19 [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • TPD officer briefly hospitalized with COVID-19, more than 50 officers in isolation [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma County commissioners delay vote on mask mandate in all county facilities [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma County Court Clerk’s office employee tests positive for COVID-19 [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa Regional Tourism Pursuing COVID Recovery Initiatives [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Verdigris Public Schools approves flexible re-entry plan [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Muskogee Police Department Updates Policies In Light Of Landmark Supreme Court Ruling [NewsOn6]

Quote of the Day

“We respect people’s rights … to not wear a mask.” 

-Gov. Kevin Stitt, commenting during a virtual news conference where he announced tested positive for COVID-19 [AP News

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank of state and local property tax collections per capita ($730). Only Alabama had lower state and local property tax collections at $582 per person. 

[Source: Tax Foundation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Public Opinion on Wealth Taxes and the Wealthy: Americans have long favored raising taxes on those with high incomes. While most Americans are ambivalent about the very wealthy, a segment of the population expresses strongly negative feelings about them. Most Americans, however, do not want to do away with the very wealthy, although they are quite willing to tax them heavily. [American Enterprise Institute]

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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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