In The Know: Virus cases climb, as state health commissioner issues advisory for Trump rally attendees; Police budgets draw scrutiny in OKC, Norman; 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. 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: Spike in new cases continues Tuesday, as Oklahoma reports another new high: Tuesday marked the highest single-day total yet in new COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma. That count came on the heels of successive days in which the deadly disease has far exceeded peaks in April and on the lead up-to significant political activity in downtown Tulsa. [Tulsa World] “Almost half of the cases that occurred a few days ago came out of Tulsa County. They’ve had a very, very large spike in new cases.” [The Oklahoman] Tulsa County had 76 new cases on Tuesday, its third-highest increase to date and in just the past week. The county now has 1,729 total cases of COVID-19, most in the state. [Public Radio Tulsa] As of Tuesday, Guymon has the second-highest amount of COVID-19 cases in the state. [FOX25] Understanding COVID-19 numbers: The data behind Oklahoma’s bump [NonDoc] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma. 

State health commissioner issues advisory on Trump rally as cases continue to surge: Oklahoma’s top health official on Tuesday warned people planning to attend President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa that they face an increased risk of becoming infected and transmitting COVID-19. Meanwhile, Trump supporters slept outside the rally site and the campaign considered additional venues to accommodate more people. [The Oklahoman] Those planning on attending the event or any other large gathering face an increased risk of being infected with COVID-19 and becoming a transmitter, Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner Lance Frye said. He has recommended those who plan to attend obtain a test before the event. After the event, those who attended should minimize social interactions with others and consider being tested again. [Tulsa World]

  • State health commissioner urges those attending Trump rally be tested for coronavirus before and after event [Tulsa World]
  • Attorneys file, judge denies lawsuit seeking masks and other coronavirus measures at Trump rally [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • ‘This is a super spreader event in downtown Tulsa’: Greenwood District stakeholders sue to enforce COVID-19 guidelines at Trump rally [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa officials plead for Trump to cancel rally as virus spikes in Oklahoma [New York Times]
  • Pence says another venue under consideration for Trump’s Tulsa rally, including ‘outdoor activities’ [USA Today]
  • Trump Tulsa rally raises COVID-19 fears [The Journal Record]
  • Who approves events at the BOK Center? City’s contract with facility manager offers insight [Tulsa World]
  • Did Oklahoma City mayor reject Trump rally in that city? [The Oklahoman]
  • Despite pleas from doctors, nurses, and health director, Bynum says he will not block Trump rally [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Near Trump’s rally site, black Tulsa lives with fiery legacy [AP News / The Black Wall Street Times]

Despite objections, OKC City Council approves police department budget: The OKC City Council approved the 2021 police department budget today at a meeting that featured a lengthy public-comment portion, which was interrupted more than once by callers using racial slurs. [NonDoc] The final budget includes a 5.6% reduction in the general fund, the primary account for day-to-day operating expenses, driven by a projected 5% decline in sales tax revenue. Hard hit by the pandemic, sales taxes are the city’s single-largest revenue source. The police operations budget goes down $5.5 million, or 2.65%, largely by withdrawing funding for 34 uniform positions and 12 civilian positions. [The Oklahoman

Norman City Council votes to cut police funding: The Norman City Council voted early Wednesday morning to cut $535,000 from the police department budget following hours of discussion and public comment. The council voted to cut $300,000 from patrol and direct it to a dedicated fund to be used at a later date for mental health and social programs. The council also cut $235,000 from police benefits and salary, with the funds earmarked for an internal auditor. [The Oklahoman] Norman Council challenged to cut 64 officers [The Norman Transcript] Protesters bring budget concerns to Norman Council [The Oklahoman] Rally calling for defunding of NPD hosted at Andrews Park [The Norman Transcript]

Tulsa police major’s comment on shooting blacks was cringe-inducing, ‘tone deaf,’ deputy chief tells Mayor’s Police and Community Coalition: When Tulsa Police Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish listened to The Pat Campbell Show live last week, a comment from Records Division Maj. Travis Yates about shootings of black people by police made him, as he put it, “cringe.” [Tulsa World]

The Rev. Al Sharpton to headline Tulsa Juneteenth event, organizers say [Tulsa World] The Rev. Al Sharpton will be the keynote speaker at the “I, Too, Am America: Juneteenth Rally for Justice.” The longtime civil rights activist, as well as founder and president of National Action Network, will join the family of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa this Friday as the keynote speaker for a commemoration of the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved African people from bondage in the United States, also known as Juneteenth. [Tulsa World]

  • Visitors to Tulsa’s Greenwood District left to wonder what could have been [Tulsa World]
  • Honoring The Past; Protesting The Present [The Oklahoma Eagle]
  • Zarrow Foundation creates $6 million fund to honor victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre [Tulsa World]

Health News

In Medicaid expansion debate, both sides agree on the problem but not on the solution: Debating whether Oklahoma voters should approve Medicaid expansion, both sides agreed Tuesday that the state needs to make health care more affordable. They disagreed, of course, over whether State Question 802 would help. [Tulsa World]

  • Child advocacy group endorses SQ 802: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy endorsed State Question 802, the ballot issue that will place Medicaid expansion in the state’s Constitution. Voters will cast ballots on the issue in the June 30 primary election. [Op-Ed / The Ada News]

State Government News

Department of Public Safety launches REAL ID website: The Department of Public Safety has launched a new website to help Oklahomans better understand how and why to get a REAL ID. Oklahomans will find a information, including a quiz that can be taken to determine if you need a REAL ID or not. The most common example of someone who will want one is someone who flies domestically and does not have a passport. [DPS / Woodward News]

Stitt to discuss economy at White House this week: Gov. Kevin Stitt is scheduled to visit with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday, two days before the president holds a rally in the governor’s home town of Tulsa. The event is unrelated to the campaign rally set for Saturday in Tulsa and is expected to focus on the economy. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Environmental groups appeal federal ruling on coal ash permitting issues in Oklahoma: Three environmental groups are appealing part of a federal trial court ruling on how Oklahoma manages coal ash, the waste from coal-fired power plants. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

State audit shows Ottawa County sheriff’s office short $400K over 3 years: A special investigative audit released Tuesday found several spending problems within the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

OKC Council weighs action to stem evictions: Bracing for an expected spike in evictions come September, Oklahoma City Council members on Tuesday considered assistance programs to help both small businesses and individual residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic while making some tough decisions regarding the city budget. [The Journal Record] Open Justice Oklahoma, a program of OK Policy, has created an online courts tracker tool that monitor real-time eviction and foreclosure filings since March 2020.

Study shows Oklahoma food insecurity rates remain higher than national averages: Food insecurity rates in central and western Oklahoma are higher than the national averages, according to Map the Meal Gap 2020. The study, released June 3 by Feeding America, is the only study providing local-level estimates of food insecurity across the United States. [Enid News & Eagle] OK Policy: SNAP is a critical piece of our pandemic response, and Congress needs to give it a boost.

Facing food insecurity: There is no shortage of food. But there is a shortage of access. The coronavirus pandemic, which accompanied the highest Oklahoma unemployment rate since the Great Depression, brought food insecurity back to the forefront of conversation. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Economy & Business News

Exclusive: Chesapeake Energy to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week: Chesapeake Energy Corp is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week, said three people familiar with the matter, becoming the largest oil and gas producer to unravel after an energy market rout caused by the coronavirus outbreak. [Reuters]

‘Leading in space’: NASA chief Bridenstine talks SpaceX, Mars and the first woman on the moon with Tulsa Regional Chamber: America is getting excited about space again. That was one of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s chief takeaways from a recent phone call from movie star Tom Cruise. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Hofmeister invests in online tool to mitigate learning loss at no costs to schools: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced today that an online tool is being offered to all Oklahoma school districts for free to help students catch up after potential learning loss because of COVID-19. Exact Path creates a personalized learning plan that aligns with the Oklahoma Academic Standards and features intuitive training for teachers. [CNHI via Claremore Daily Progress]

General News

OSU football coach Mike Gundy issues apology: ‘Black lives matter to me’: Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy sat in front of the camera and forcefully delivered an apology. He disassociated with One America News Network — a far-right, pro-Donald Trump cable news network rated by Media Bias/Fact Check as being “not a credible news source” — by saying he was “disgusted” when he learned of the network’s controversial view on the organization Black Lives Matter and its movement. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • About 100 people turn out for Sand Springs Unity Rally for Black Lives Matter [Tulsa World]
  • Former Medicine Park policeman wanted for sexual assault allegations [The Lawton Constitution]
  • Norman water customers encouraged to use odd/even watering schedule [The Oklahoman]
  • Sand Springs Public Schools aims for a normal return for students in fall [Tulsa World]
  • Luther holds steady, while Oklahoma COVID-19 Cases climb [Luther Register]
  • At a glance — Muskogee County Board of Commissioners [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • City of Ardmore passes budget for new fiscal year, tables selling of former American Legion building, call special meeting for June 25 [The Ardmoreite]

Quote of the Day

“We have a foundational system in this country that has dehumanized black and brown people. We have given our communities one option that doesn’t actually produce any real results or any real accountability. The people calling for defunding and investment in restorative justice and community-based services are asking for accountability. So again, I’m not going to be able to vote for this because, fundamentally, we are continuing to give people the same tool somehow thinking it will fix all of our social ills.”

-OKC Ward 6 Councilor JoBeth Hamon discussing her vote against the city’s FY21 budget, saying communities needed more options for public safety [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


The estimated number of Oklahoma children who were food insecure in 2016.

[Source: KIDS COUNT Data Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Another $15 billion for food stamps, but poor households find groceries out of reach: In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress in March approved more than $15 billion for the food stamps program. Yet 40% of households receiving food stamps — the neediest recipients — won’t see any increase in their benefits. And widespread access to online grocery delivery using food stamps remains limited after years of bureaucratic delays and technical challenges. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

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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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