In The Know: Virus cases, hospitalizations surging in state | School staffing during employee absences | Capitol Update

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 issues can take center stage in election year (Capitol Update): This is the first week of election year 2022. The filing period for statewide and legislative offices will be April 13-15. Election years always provide a fascinating dynamic for the legislative session. A few legislators will already have announced opponents, so their attention will be divided between legislative work and campaigning, especially for the June 29 primary which is only a month after the end of session. The others, no matter how secure their district, are nervously watching back home for any signs of opposition. Then there’s the excruciating three-day filing period, where invariably, some will draw surprise last-minute opponents on the third day of filing. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma reports more COVID-19 cases than peak of summer wave; hospitalizations surging too: Oklahoma’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging again, and experts warned that they expect those numbers to keep rising even as health care workers and hospitals are already under strain. The state’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday was 2,990 — even higher than the peak of the delta variant wave in late summer of 2021. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Drug overdose deaths on rise in Oklahoma, across U.S.: Some 762 people died from drug overdoses in Oklahoma in 2020, resulting in a 17% increase in such deaths over the prior year, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report released last week. The report concluded that drug overdose deaths across the country rose by an astounding 31% from the start of 2019 through the end of 2020. [The Journal Record]

State Government News

Medical marijuana patients get scam warning after switch to new licensing software announced: OMMA has warned licensed patients about an email scam following the announcement of new licensing software. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority will be using a new licensing software provider starting Jan. 18, officials said in a news release. [Tulsa World]

From COVID-19 to the Governor’s Race, What Will be Oklahoma’s Top Political Storylines of 2022: With looming legislative and legal battles, an election year, and what are sure to be some surprises, it is shaping up to be another eventful year in Oklahoma politics. While we don’t know everything that will happen, here is an early look at some of the major stories that will be making headlines in the next 12 months. [Oklahoma Watch]

Federal Government News

Biden: More competition in meat industry can ease food costs: President Joe Biden met virtually with independent farmers and ranchers Monday to discuss initiatives to reduce food prices by increasing competition within the meat industry, part of a broader effort to show his administration is trying to combat inflation. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tribal Nations News

Promised Land: Tension grows between state and tribal leaders: In the past month, McGirt-related developments have included an order in a court battle over surface mining jurisdiction, a kerfuffle over hunting and fishing licenses and an apparent disagreement in the Stitt clan regarding the legal impact of McGirt. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Report: Oklahoma is second-most active death penalty state: After executing two human beings in 2021, Oklahoma has surpassed Virginia as the state that’s carried out the second-most executions since 1976, according to a year-end report from the Death Penalty Information Center. [The Black Wall Street Times]

General News

Bryant Center in northeast OKC in dilapidated state; owner advocates for historical preservation: The building once the site for The Bryant Center — a hub for Oklahoma City’s most prominent Black community — is no longer what it once was. After sitting dilapidated for many years, its owner is pushing for the building at 2633 NE 21 to be granted historical significance and preserved from demolition, but the city council is giving it two months to be brought up to code. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“While our admissions are not as high yet as what they’ve been at the peak times in surge one and surge two, let me make this very clear: Our hospitals are very full.”

-Patti Davis, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma’s population who have not received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine [The Oklahoman]

Policy Note

For Anxious Teachers, Omicron ‘Feels Like Walking Into a Trap’: On Jan. 2, the day before many schools started the new semester, the daily average of new COVID-19 cases nationally hit a record 405,000—a 200 percent increase from two weeks ago, according to the New York Times tracker. The national seven-day average of COVID-19-related hospitalizations reached 90,000. While early data suggest the Omicron variant may cause less severe disease than the Delta variant, especially among vaccinated people, it’s much more contagious. Administrators are preparing for the possibility that a high volume of employee absences may leave them unable to staff classrooms or operate schools. [EdWeek]

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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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