In The Know: White House COVID Coordinator in Oklahoma | School districts adjust | Postal Service warning on election deadlines

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

Eviction crisis likely to be important issue next session (Capitol Update): One of the important but complex issues likely to come up next session is evictions. The economic dislocation occurring because of the coronavirus pandemic has illuminated this already existing crisis facing many Oklahomans. In a ranking of the top 100 U.S. cities for evictions released before the pandemic, Tulsa was number 11 and Oklahoma City was number 20. The added economic misery caused by the pandemic can only have made the problem worse. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update] OK Policy analysis shows providing legal representation could begin to fix Oklahoma’s broken eviction process.

Oklahoma News

White House COVID coordinator emphasizes face coverings, social distancing during Tulsa meeting: The White House’s COVID-19 coordinator did not offer specific recommendations while in Tulsa on Sunday, some of those who attended a closed-door meeting said, but she did emphasize the importance of face coverings and social distancing. [Tulsa World] Last month, a U.S. House subcommittee said Stitt’s administration had ignored most of the recommendations made by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. [The Oklahoman] Media was not allowed inside. According to a news release from the governor’s office, Birx told Stitt that trends are moving in the right direction. [KOCO]

Mask mandates appear to be helping Oklahoma control its coronavirus outbreak: Nearly a month after several of Oklahoma’s largest cities implemented mask mandates, epidemiologists and public health experts say they’re hopeful the measures are helping to slow the coronavirus’ spread. [The Frontier]

  • Stitt, opposed to statewide mask mandate, says local ones ‘absolutely’ effective [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • State’s modified COVID-19 surge plan designed to use overflow beds immediately and guarantee staffing [Tulsa World]
  • Masks, hydroxychloroquine and more: CARES Act spending breakdown in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • Jail outbreak puts Oklahoma City among state’s COVID-19 hotspots [Oklahoma Watch]
  • ‘We still have work to do’: OKC may extend mask ordinance [The Oklahoman]
  • ‘It wouldn’t take much to wipe us out’: Once a pandemic oasis, Boise City sees first COVID-19 spread [The Frontier]
  • COVID-19: 544 more cases in state; 4 new deaths reported Sunday [Tulsa World]

Here are Oklahoma school districts where COVID-19 cases have been discovered since school began: A coronavirus case has touched a school in every part of Oklahoma. School is just starting across the state and already more than a dozen districts have reported cases of COVID-19. Some have pushed back start dates, shifted to distance learning or are simply trying to persevere. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • Moore student attends 1st day of school after testing positive for COVID-19 [FOX25]
  • Two Moore students test positive for COVID-19 [The Norman Transcript]
  • Edmond Public Schools teacher tests positive for COVID-19 [KFOR]
  • Konawa school forced to close doors for two weeks [Woodward News]
  • Boswell School moves to virtual learning [Hugo News]
  • Metro schools get back in session this week [The Oklahoman]
  • Thousands of local students have signed up for their districts’ virtual programs this year in lieu of in-person, distance learning [Tulsa World]
  • OK Policy Analysis: Gov. Stitt’s GEER plan widens the gap in access to technology and online learning for low-income students and students of color [OK Policy]
  • ‘Saddling up’ to meet the challenges of a new academic year [The Lawton Constitution]
  • ‘Trial and error’: Area schools adjust to Orange Level 2 [McAlester News Capital]
  • 23 OSU sorority members test positive for COVID-19, house under quarantine [The Oklahoman]
  • Nine football players at University of Oklahoma test positive for COVID-19 [Reuters]
  • As students return to college campuses across Oklahoma, ‘things might seem weird at first’ [Tulsa World]
  • OK Policy analysis: Undedicated higher education CARES funding should be invested in students’ immediate needs [OK Policy]

Postal Service says Oklahoma deadlines pose risk for counting mail-in ballots: The U.S. Postal Service warned Oklahoma election officials last month that deadlines regarding mail-in ballots may not allow enough time for delivery. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘A Major Problem’: Tulsa postal union boss says mail being intentionally delayed [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Postal Service warns 46 states, including Oklahoma that voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots [Tulsa World / Washington Post]

State Government News

Editorial: Gov. Kevin Stitt prematurely turns away second round of stimulus relief funds: Oklahoma’s recovery from the pandemic has been slow and fraught with problems, from a lack of personal protective equipment for schools to lagging unemployment claims. That’s why Gov. Kevin Stitt’s position that the state doesn’t need another stimulus package is baffling. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

COVID-19 takes a bite out of state’s gaming revenue: Gaming fees tribes pay the state were poised to rise above last year’s levels, but COVID-19 took a bite out of those projections. Last year, the state saw nearly $150 million in revenue from exclusivity fees tribes pay Oklahoma for operating Class III gaming. It was the largest amount since 2006. But this year it appears collections will be on par with 2014. [Tulsa World]

Watchdog on the way after unemployment claims issues plague Oklahomans: A new watchdog agency established with great fanfare by Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, announced its initial work plan last week. [Tulsa World]

Capitol Insider: Oklahoma cities and towns adjust to meet new challenges: Health, safety and economic concerns in the age of COVID-19 are forcing municipalities across the state of Oklahoma to adapt and make some difficult decisions. KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley discussed the reality facing cities and towns with Mike Fina, executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League. [KGOU]

Fact check: Did Oklahoma legislators raise their own salaries?: It’s election season in Oklahoma, which can make it difficult to tell fact from fiction amid all the political rhetoric. Legislators are set to receive pay raises this year, but there’s been a lot of talk on the campaign trail about how those raises came about. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

As questions mount, prospects dim for federal bill on Oklahoma reservations: Prospects have dimmed for federal legislation this year to clarify Oklahoma’s criminal and civil jurisdiction in the wake of a momentous U.S. Supreme Court decision that could soon mean nearly half the state is Indian reservation land. [The Oklahoman] The leaders of eight separate tribal organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians and the Association on American Indian Affairs, wrote to Inhofe on Thursday outlining their concerns.  [AP News]

Criminal Justice News

Judges argue OKCPD has ‘illegally detained’ arrestees: An unusual dispute between district court judges and the Oklahoma City Police Department over the law enforcement agency’s 30-year practice of holding certain arrestees in the Oklahoma County Jail — even when arrested for crimes in other counties — is brewing before the state Supreme Court. [NonDoc]

Cell by Cell: The Oklahoma County jail is in crisis: The Oklahoma County Detention Center changed hands in the middle of a pandemic. Now it’s struggling with staffing and funding to combat the virus. In a contentious budget meeting on Thursday, county officials voted to recommend pouring $42 million in federal relief funds from the CARES Act into the jail for wages and benefits, infrastructure repairs and to combat the spread of the virus. The funding was approved over protests from Oklahoma County Treasurer Forrest Freeman, who said he was unsure whether transferring the money to the jail was a legal use of relief funds. [The Frontier]

  • Oklahoma County commissioners approve bonuses for county law enforcement, corrections officers [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma County commissioners strike controversial resolution after protests [The Oklahoman]

Veterans treatment court begins in Oklahoma County: A new veterans treatment court has begun in Oklahoma County as a way to divert veterans with severe substance abuse disorders from prison. The court held its first docket last Tuesday with a handful of veterans who will undergo a rigorous 18- to 24-month program aimed at recovery instead of prison time. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Child care providers are weathering COVID-19 storm: Kenyetta Richard is thankful for the doctors and nurses who battle COVID-19 every day in hospitals around the metro area. Richard sees many of them on a daily basis when they bring their children to Love To Learn Child Development Center, 5808 S Pennsylvania. [The Oklahoman]

As population ages, homes need upgrades: There’s no place like home to feel safe, but countless Oklahomans may miss that sense of well-being in homes poorly suited to meet needs of people who become frail or disabled with age. It’s a significant problem rapidly rising. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, millions of homes across the country built decades ago are sorely in need of attention as the population grays. [The Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Oil slips on demand worries but most Oklahoma companies saw increases: Oil futures finished lower Friday, with pressure attributed in part to downbeat global demand forecasts from major organizations this week, but prices still ended the week higher following declines in U.S. supplies. Oklahoma-related stocks generally finished the week on the upward scale. [OK Energy Today]

General News

Moving up deadlines further complicates already chaotic Census: COVID-19 made the 2020 Census difficult enough, but the Trump administration’s sudden decision to end data collection a month earlier than expected has those involved in counting the state and local population really scrambling. [Tulsa World]

Voter registration lags in Oklahoma amid COVID-19: Oklahoma, one of 10 states that doesn’t offer online voter registration, has seen a sharp decline in new voter sign-ups this year as COVID-19 has created new challenges for in-person get-out-the-vote efforts. [Oklahoma Watch]

Signatures submitted: Unite Norman expects recall election for Mayor Breea Clark: While the city clerk must officially verify the submissions, Unite Norman organizers say they have turned in enough signatures to force a recall election for Norman Mayor Breea Clark and Councilwoman Alison Petrone. They fell short, however, in their attempts to recall two other councilmembers. [NonDoc] The Norman city clerk has 30 days to verify and count the signatures before a recall election can take place. [KGOU] The recall was sparked by public outrage after the council’s decision to cut $865,000 of the Norman Police Department’s proposed budget increase during the June 16 meeting. The funds have been earmarked for community and mental health programs and a city auditor. [The Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma County Commissioners strike Free Speech item, allocate CARES money [Free Press OKC]
  • Scott’s social media posts referenced in FOP suit [The Norman Transcript]
  • Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Stillwater mayor wants music festival postponed [The Oklahoman]
  • Families allege abuse and neglect at Lawton/Fort Sill Veterans Center [The Oklahoman]
  • Following McGirt decision, Cherokee Nation forms commission to examine its criminal justice system [KOSU]
  • Long-running Oklahoma Black rodeo rides on despite COVID-19 [AP News]

Quote of the Day

“It threatens that our counts are going to be inaccurate and incomplete and most affecting our most disadvantaged populations.”

– Melanie Poulter, director of the Census Information Center of Eastern Oklahoma, on the impact of a new deadline which cuts short the 2020 Census timeline. The deadline to self-respond to the 2020 Census is now September 30, 2020. [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma adults who missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or who have slight or no confidence that their household can pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time.

[Source: Census Bureau]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The coronavirus economy is exposing how easy it is to fall from the middle class into poverty: For years, many economists and advocates have warned that a large share of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and that it would take only a slight downturn to devastate their lives. Many of the fastest-growing jobs pay less than $30,000 a year, making it hard to save. Meanwhile, the U.S. safety net developed giant holes. [Washington Post]

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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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