In The Know: White House paper urges Oklahoma to revert to more stringent measures | Hospitalizations taxing system | AG, tribes reach agreement on jurisdictional issues

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

White House document shows Oklahoma among 18 states in the coronavirus ‘red zone’: A document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force but not publicized suggests more than a dozen states including Oklahoma should revert to more stringent protective measures, limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, closing bars and gyms and asking residents to wear masks at all times. The document, dated July 14 and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, says Oklahoma is among the 18 states are in the “red zone” for COVID-19 cases, meaning they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week. [Center for Public Integrity]

Record COVID-19 hospitalizations tax hospital system: The number of Oklahomans hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 soared to a record 638 this week, putting additional stress on already taxed hospital systems. The 638 Oklahoma COVID-related hospitalizations reported Wednesday evening were 77 more than the number reported the day before and 76 more than the record of 562 set back on March 31, state Health officials said. [The Oklahoman]

  • COVID-19: 628 new cases, 6 more deaths reported across Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • OKC officials weigh mandatory masks [Journal Record]
  • OKC mask ordinance hanging by a thread [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa requires masks; Oklahoma City to vote on measure [AP News]
  • ‘We simply don’t have the supplies’: Fort Sill colonel says base can’t test as many as it would like [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Even without fine, Tulsa city officials say new ‘complaint-driven’ mask ordinance has teeth [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa-area casinos aren’t beholden to city’s mask order [The Frontier]
  • Why two city councilors voted no on Tulsa’s mask ordinance [Tulsa World]
  • Norman police chief responds to face mask complaints [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman police urge community members to wear face mask, pledge to discipline officers found not wearing mask in public [KFOR]
  • OU Physicians’ Dr. Jabraan Pasha speaks about Tulsa hospital capacity, staffing and masks [Public Radio Tulsa]

The color of COVID-19: Racial disparities in Tulsa’s coronavirus data: Amid a soaring spike in coronavirus cases across the state of Oklahoma, Tulsa County’s latest COVID-19 data suggests that people of color, particularly Asian and Latinx people, are being harmed disproportionately by the virus. [The Black Wall Street Times]

OEA urges state leadership to step up during pandemic: The state’s largest teacher’s union urged state leaders Thursday to take stronger action to ensure schools are safe for teachers, students and their families when they reopen next month. [CNHI] School districts across the state currently are drafting plans for how to safely reopen and are relying on local health officials as well as state leaders for guidance. [Tulsa World]

AG, tribes reach agreement on jurisdictional issues: State and tribal leaders announced Thursday that an agreement-in-principle had been reached regarding a proposed federal law that one tribal law expert said would, in part, provide for the state to resume jurisdiction in most criminal cases now under federal control. [Tulsa World] Republican Attorney General Mike Hunter announced the deal with leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations after the high court ruled last week that much of eastern Oklahoma remains an Indian reservation. [AP News] When it comes to criminal cases, the plan is to essentially restore the state’s ability to prosecute cases while not changing the tribes’. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Health News

Expansion of Medicaid takes hold in Oklahoma: In late June, Oklahoma joined 37 other states and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It’s no secret the expansion of Medicaid has played a part in providing coverage to Americans, COVID-19 or not. A recent study conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) found states that expanded Medicaid as a result of the ACA saw nearly a 30% drop in cancer related deaths. [The ACA Times]

Zarrow Mental Health Symposium to be virtual, focus on healing from historical trauma: Mental Health Association Oklahoma announced its yearly symposium will be held virtually this fall and will focus on healing from historical trauma, particularly from events like the Tulsa Race Massacre and the Oklahoma City bombing. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Unemployment continues steady decline: The pandemic showed signs of relinquishing its grip on the Oklahoma economy Thursday as the number reported for people seeking help after losing jobs declined for the third week in a row. [The Journal Record] More than 1,000 helped with unemployment claims in two-day Tulsa event; Double expected to be served next week [Tulsa World]

Members of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s security team in quarantine: Four members of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s security team are quarantining after Oklahoma’s chief executive contracted COVID-19. Three Executive Security Troopers were quarantining after they had direct exposure to the governor, and a fourth Highway Patrol trooper was quarantining after reportedly experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus. [The Oklahoman] Interpreter for Gov. Stitt worried after Stitt’s positive COVID-19 test. [KFOR] Stitt traveled extensively before testing positive. [Southwest Ledger]

Oklahoma grants $13.9M to local businesses; see who benefitted: The Oklahoma Department of Commerce distributed $13.9 million in grants to 667 Oklahoma businesses last week as part of the governor’s push to help local businesses with federal stimulus money. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma ends contract with troubled private prison in Cushing: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is cutting ties with the Cimarron Correctional Facility, a private prison in Cushing where four inmates died in 2015 during the deadliest prison fight in state history. More than 1,400 medium-security inmates are housed at Cimarron, according to state data. CoreCivic, a multi-billion dollar private prison company, has owned and operated the facility since 1997. In a written statement, CoreCivic said the prison is closing “in order to help the Oklahoma Department of Corrections meet their budget needs.” [Oklahoma Watch]

Defund police vote exposes deep divisions in Norman: Repurposing funds to support community welfare is a central goal of the national “defund police” movement – which gained popularity after George Floyd died in the custody of Minneapolis police. But, Norman is the only one of Oklahoma’s three largest cities where leaders were swayed to redirect funding. The move has highlighted deep political and social divisions in the community. Some voters saw the decision as an attack on police and filed petitions to recall the mayor and four city council members. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Economic Opportunity

P-EBT benefits Oklahoma SNAP, non-SNAP households due to pandemic: On July 8, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma State Department of Education launched a program called Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer for families with school-aged children who would have received free or reduced-priced meals at school during the spring when all schools were mandated to close due to COVID-19. [Cherokee Phoenix] This new program is estimated provide SNAP benefit holders with up to $35.9 million, and 231,863 non SNAP households, with up to $75.1 million spread across all families. [KJRH]

Economy & Business News

In the effort to bring a Tesla factory to Tulsa, the city is polishing its national image: In the ongoing battle with Austin, Texas, to get a new Tesla factory, Tulsa’s biggest obstacle hasn’t been demographics or economics and has nothing to do with taxes, location or infrastructure. The challenge has been more subjective. Austin has spent decades promoting itself as an exciting place to live and work with a high quality of life. [Tulsa World]

CVS fined for prescription errors and poor staffing at pharmacies: In a rare public rebuke of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain, state regulators in Oklahoma cited and fined CVS for conditions found at four of its pharmacies, including inadequate staffing and errors made in filling prescriptions. [The New York Times]

Education News

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education hear recommendations, discuss fiscal viability in Zoom webinar: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education discussed a pilot program to assess the financial viability of higher education institutions, among other things, in a Thursday morning meeting. [OU Daily]

Oologah-Talala superintendent’s employment status now under discussion amid fallout from state sanctions: The local school board held a special meeting Thursday evening to discuss the employment status of Oologah-Talala Public Schools’ superintendent, exactly three weeks after both the board and the district’s top administrator came under fire by the state for their handling of five separate cases of teacher misconduct. [Tulsa World]

General News

Lack of evidence so far in Tulsa Race Massacre grave search doesn’t deter commitment, mayor says: The lack of success at an initial test site has not deterred Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum’s commitment to searching for burial sites from the city’s 1921 Race Massacre, he said Thursday. [Tulsa World]

DACA recipients find community and common ground in advocacy: Ever since President Donald Trump attempted to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, some DACA recipients found common ground and a sense of advocacy to fight for their protections. [NonDoc]

Census takers heading to Oklahoma homes soon to help families fill out survey: If you haven’t already filled out the U.S. Census, organizers say Census takers will soon be visiting homes of families who have not responded. Starting July 16, non response follow up operations will begin in the 22 Oklahoma counties served by the Oklahoma City Area Census Office. [KFOR]

Quote of the Day

“People need to know that this (virus) is real. It is not a hoax. As I do my commute back and forth to work I’m seeing people with gatherings at their homes and it just makes my heart sick. I just am fearful that people are not really understanding how quickly it can spread through a group of people at a social gathering.”

-Elain Richardson, chief nursing officer for SSM Health, St. Anthony Hospital [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank for corporate income tax collected per capita ($40), the nation’s lowest of the 44 states that collect corporate income tax. New Mexico is next lowest at $44 per capita, with Kansas ($133 per capita) and Arkansas ($132) ranked 19th and 20th respectively. Texas does not collect corporate income tax.

[Source: Tax Foundation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Where Federal Revenue Comes from and How It’s Spent: Where does the federal government’s money come from? Where does it go? What are federal spending trends over time, and how does the United States compare to other countries? Americans ask these questions every day. So, over the past year, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service sought to answer them, with help from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. [Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis]

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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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