In The Know: What to expect from today’s special session; state looking at plans for 40% increase in hospital beds; 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. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New From OK Policy

Legislature to address upcoming budget issues (Capitol Update) The Legislature’s action during Monday’s special session will be aimed at approving the expanded health emergency declared by Gov. Stitt and dealing with the budget issues created by the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Sausage in a pandemic: What the Oklahoma Legislature plans Monday: When the Oklahoma Legislature convenes the morning of Monday, April 6, to address a health emergency declaration and a state revenue failure, it will do so under a set of rules, protocols and circumstances just as novel as the coronavirus that has thrown the entire world into social, economic and civic upheaval. [NonDoc]

State analyzing plans submitted by hospitals to increase their capacity by 40% as COVID-19 spreads: As the state analyzes how hard COVID-19 is projected to hit Oklahoma, the government is asking hospitals what each can do to bolster their own capacities by 40%. Dr. Kayse Shrum, the state’s secretary of science and innovation, on Wednesday said each hospital has submitted plans that the Governor’s Solution Task Force is reviewing to be published at a later date. [Tulsa World] If Oklahoma’s hospitals are overrun by COVID-19 patients, the concern is that few or no beds would be available. [Oklahoma Watch]

Virus now claims 46 Oklahoma lives, more than 1,200 cases: The number of coronavirus cases in the state surpassed 1,200 Sunday and four more people died of COVID-19, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported. There are at least 1,252 cases and 46 COVID-19 deaths, the department said, up from 1,159 cases and 42 deaths reported Friday. [AP News] The most recent deaths were attributed to two men and a woman in Cleveland County and one man in Seminole County. [Tulsa World] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma daycare providers worry about the crisis they face after COVID-19 pandemic: Daycares across Oklahoma are facing their own crisis right now. While they are an essential business, hundreds are temporarily shutting down. Daycare providers are now worried about how the coronavirus will not only hurt them now, but after the pandemic. [KTUL] OK Policy: Child care plays pivotal role during health crisis.

Health News

U.S. cut hundreds of millions from public health budgets in years before coronavirus: In Oklahoma, state funding for the Department of Health still hasn’t returned to its levels of 2014, when a combination of slumping oil prices, tax cuts and corporate breaks punched a giant hole in the state’s budget. When state revenues later improved, the money went to other priorities. [TIME]

Testing: Are long waits for tests and results over?: Oklahoma, like the rest of the U.S., is scrambling to catch up to the need to test people for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The state’s first case was reported March 17, but until this week, only vulnerable populations and critically ill patients were being tested, based on strict guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. [Oklahoma Watch]

Health Workers: Risks of shortages and exposure: In a pandemic, questions loom about the total number of medical personnel available, how many are trained to deal with an infectious respiratory disease, how workers can stay healthy and alert, and how to deploy them where the need is greatest. All of this while preserving the state’s capacity to treat non-coronavirus patients for other medical conditions. [Oklahoma Watch]

Protective Equipment: Scramble to build the treatment shield: Thousands of masks, face shields, gloves, gowns and other equipment have flowed into Oklahoma’s hospitals and the state’s reserve stockpile as officials brace for a flood of COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks. Over seven days, hospitals reported their supply of personal protective equipment increased significantly, giving them an average of 14.2 days worth of the critical armor needed for health-care workers to avoid getting ill and keep caring for patients. [Oklahoma Watch]

Beds: Questions of supply for all patients: If Oklahoma’s hospitals are overrun by COVID-19 patients, the concern is that few or no beds would be available. That could threaten the quality of care and the lives and safety of  patients and health-care workers. [Oklahoma Watch]

Ventilators: State hunts for more amid concerns: Oklahoma hospitals may need more life-saving ventilators to meet projections that thousands of Oklahomans will be hospitalized with COVID-19 in the coming weeks. But state officials aren’t releasing information yet on how likely that scenario is or how many additional ventilators might be needed. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma’s veterans centers take precautions against COVID-19: The state’s seven veterans centers are taking precautions to ensure the safety of their 1,300 residents, said Sarah Lane, Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs deputy director and general counsel. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

U.S. Labor Department releases summary of unemployment benefits for workers idled by virus: The U.S. Department of Labor issued states and territories a summary of unemployment insurance benefit expansions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 on Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

FEMA approves Major Disaster Declaration for all 77 Oklahoma counties: President Trump has approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Oklahoma covering all 77 counties. Gov. Kevin Stitt made the request for federal funding to help respond to the COVID-19 emergency. [The Oklahoman] Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for all areas in the State of Oklahoma impacted by COVID-19, according to a White House news release. [Tulsa World]

Stitt, Trump get majority approval on coronavirus response, though partisan divide is deep: A majority of likely Oklahoma voters approve of the way President Donald Trump and Gov. Kevin Stitt have handled the coronavirus crisis, though a new poll reflects deep partisan divides about the performances of elected leaders and the media during the pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

U.S. Surgeon General compares this week in the COVID-19 pandemic with Pearl Harbor, 9/11: Stitt has said Oklahoma’s COVID-19 numbers will continue to rise as the state increases its capacity to test individuals for the virus. Drive-thru testing sites are popping up throughout Oklahoma, with more than 50 sites across the state, according to the state Health Department. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

‘Second Chance Month’ highlights need to help inmates successfully reintegrate to society: For men and women coming out of prison, release from custody can be the beginning of a new set of hurdles in life. For many of them, those hurdles end in a return to crime, and to a jail cell. In an effort to highlight the need for more initiatives to help inmates successfully transition back into life in the community, both President Donald Trump and Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed proclamations declaring April “Second Chance Month.” [Enid News & Eagle]

Economy & Business News

OEPA asks Corporation Commission to curb oil production: The Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance is requesting that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission restrict oil production in the state amid a crisis in the industry. [The Journal Record] The Alliance also urged regulators to “stop authorizing, permitting and approving the drilling of wells which result in ‘economic waste,’” according to a letter sent to the three commissioners for of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. [Reuters]

Mayor Holt: ‘Stop trying to find loopholes’ in regulations: Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt pleaded with city residents to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and to stop looking for loopholes in the regulations that require social distancing during a press conference held Friday. [The Journal Record]

‘We will overcome’ in OKC Asian District: As the coronavirus has spread, reports of violence against Asian Americans have popped up around the country, advocates have set up websites to track anecdotes of anti-Asian American sentiment and Americans have taken to social media to debate whether calling it the “Chinese virus” is racist. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity News

COVID-19 pandemic has largely halted eviction proceedings in Oklahoma, but not filings: While most Oklahoma counties have stopped eviction proceedings, that does not mean filings have stopped. More than 1,100 evictions have been filed statewide since March 15, according to Open Justice Oklahoma. Director Ryan Gentzler said when courts are once again allowed to function nearly as normal, the backlog will mean a wave of families removed from their homes before an economy weakened by COVID-19 has had a chance to recover. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy: Policymakers must do more to prevent evictions and foreclosures during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

What you need to know if facing eviction amid health crisis: Unlike many other states and cities, Oklahoma still hasn’t passed any new policies officially banning evictions from being filed. However, even if your landlord does file for an eviction, that doesn’t mean you’ll be kicked out of your home right away. [FOX25]

General News

Clergy urge governor to protect grocery workers: Clergy from across the state are urging Gov. Kevin Stitt to designate these grocery workers as first responders, hoping that this recognition will help them in more ways than one during the COVID-19 crisis. [The Oklahoman]

Altered Lives: Safer at Home order means more trash, more potential hazards for sanitation workers: There are no two ways around it — hauling trash is a tough, dirty job. And in the age of COVID-19, it’s potentially dangerous. Doug Kackowski doesn’t worry much about that. This garbage truck driver just does his job. The only protective gear he uses are plastic gloves he puts on when pulling garbage out of the truck at the dump. [Tulsa World]

New commissioner made SUV, chairs among his first purchases at Oklahoma Health Department: Weeks before a novel coronavirus began killing people first in China and then around the world, the new health commissioner for Oklahoma stunned legislators by asking them for less money for the upcoming fiscal year. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City leading Tulsa in 2020 census mayor challenge: A post on the city of Oklahoma City’s Facebook page shows that 44.2 percent of Oklahoma City residents have completed the census, compared to 40.8 percent of Tulsans. [FOX25]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Several cities impose curfews for citizens’ safety and health [KFOR]
  • Tulsa Health Department: COVID-19 now widespread throughout the county [NewsOn6]
  • 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ottawa County now [Miami News-Record]
  • City of Claremore issues a stay-at-home order [KTUL]
  • City of Norman eyes uncertain financial future, session Tuesday night to review budget [Norman Transcript]
  • 1 new Cleveland County COVID-19 death; official county case total at 169 [Norman Transcript]
  • More free drive-thru COVID-19 testing scheduled in southern Okla. this week [KXII]
  • Lawton City Council will meet in special session on Tuesday [Lawton Constitution]
  • OSDH: Man in Latimer County dies from COVID-19 [McAlester News-Captial]
  • Pauls Valleys Schools long distance style [Pauls Valley Daily Democrat]
  • McIntosh County sees first case [Muskogee Phoenix]

Quote of the Day

“After this, the landscape of our industry (child care) could look drastically different. And that could be another crisis. Parents will need to go to work, and there will not be enough child care to provide to these families.”

-Cindy Alonso, owner of Happy Campers Academy day care in Tulsa [KTUL]

Number of the Day


Number of inactive licensed child care providers in the state due to COVID-19 out of approximately 2,600, or a loss of 37,399 slots.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Human Services]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

During this public health crisis, states must immediately expand Medicaid, if only temporarily: Medicaid expansion ensures access to health care, financial stability for families, and support to medical and public health infrastructure during this crisis. State policymakers must act immediately to expand Medicaid, and they have the option to undo Medicaid expansion after the public health emergency ends. But if they don’t expand now, the millions of people losing job-based coverage, the medical community, and all of us who are trying to protect our health are at risk. [Families USA]

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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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