In The Know: White House report warns state inaction will increase virus cases | Oklahoma Day of Prayer | Redistricting meetings need to engage all Oklahomans

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 Matters: Redistricting meetings don’t account for pandemic, rural geography: State lawmakers are starting the process for redistricting, which uses census data to redraw district boundaries both for the state Legislature (House and Senate) and our congressional representation. This process shapes the distribution of political power and influences who has a seat at the table. That’s why it’s essential that Oklahomans statewide have ample opportunity to actively participate in the process. Current plans, however, fall short of engaging all Oklahomans. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record] For more information, visit the Oklahoma House of Representatives redistricting website or the Oklahoma Senate press release.

Oklahoma News

COVID-19 records of today will be dwarfed by January if Oklahoma does nothing, White House warns: With records broken daily and the state on track for 8,000-plus new cases in daily COVID-19 reports starting next month, orders are needed “compelling Oklahomans to act differently,” federal officials warn. “The depth of viral spread across Oklahoma remains significant,” the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report states, with concern for the effect the unmitigated growth will have on an already-struggling health care system. [Tulsa World] The report noted that the state now ranks fourth-worst in the nation for its rate of COVID test positivity and 19th for most new cases per 100,000 residents, both red zone values. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Oklahoma reports 54 new COVID-19 deaths; health commissioner calls infection rate alarming [The Oklahoman] | [AP News]
  • State reporting conflicting COVID-19 numbers [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise]
  • Governor Kevin Stitt joins Oklahoma Blood Institute and INTEGRIS Health CEO to urge convalescent plasma donation [The Ada News]

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s day of prayer for those impacted by COVID-19 draws objections: Gov. Kevin Stitt is being asked to rescind his call for a day of prayer and fasting on Thursday for those impacted by COVID-19. In a Tuesday letter to Stitt, the Freedom from Religion Foundation said the governor should not use his office and state resources to promote his personal religious beliefs. Meanwhile, a senior minister from Tulsa’s All Souls Unitarian Church took the governor to task for calling for prayer instead of enacting a mask mandate. [Tulsa World]

  • Christian doctors advise against unsafe gatherings for Stitt’s COVID Day Of Prayer [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa World editorial: “We hope that a prayerful response to the COVID-19 crisis will lead Stitt to do more than he has done, that he will accept his leadership responsibility to protect those most at risk from COVID-19.” [Tulsa World]

State funding for free COVID-19 testing at IMMY Labs in Norman set to run out: The state funding IMMY Labs in Norman received for free COVID-19 testing is set to run out Thursday. This comes as the need for testing is expected to increase in December since cases continue to surge, and people are preparing for the holidays. [KOSU]

  • Oklahoma State Department of Health will hold press conference Thursday on arrival of COVID-19 vaccine [KSWO]

Health News

Oklahoma nurse loses husband to COVID-19 days after it takes her mother: Mere days after the first case of COVID-19 emerged in Oklahoma, Lizanne Jennings came home from her nursing shift at OU Medical Center and warned her husband about the dangers of the virus. [The Oklahoman]

Cherokee Nation remains at forefront of governmental efforts to combat COVID-19: Cherokee Nation Health Services has received national attention for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while officials are proud of the work done so far, they know there are more hurdles to clear. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

As Oklahoma’s syphilis rate among women increases, cases in babies grow with it: For years, syphilis seemed to disappear from the United States and from Oklahoma. But its return and ensuing surge have created a tragic pattern: a rise in babies born with the infection. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Advocates are concerned about air quality near poultry farms. Researchers are studying it: Advocates from northeastern Oklahoma are concerned that the large chicken farms being built in their backyards are affecting the quality of air. Now, researchers at the University of Oklahoma are studying the extent of air pollution from the poultry plants. [KOSU]

State Government News

Oklahoma unemployment rate jumps in one month: Oklahoma’s unemployment numbers took a turn for the worse last month, Oklahoma Department of Commerce officials acknowledged during a teleconference meeting on Wednesday. Things were “looking fantastic” in September, said Oklahoma Department of Commerce Executive Director Brent Kisling. [The Journal Record]

Commission claims authority in wake of ‘McGirt’: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued a ruling last week asserting its continued authority to regulate oil and gas activity in lands affected by the McGirt decision. [The Journal Record]

Bill would toughen punishment for those attacking law enforcement: A state lawmaker is seeking to make assaults on law enforcement a hate crime punishable by life without parole. Senate Bill 19, filed by state Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, would make it a felony to incite or produce imminent violence, injury or death against law enforcement, correction officers or correctional employees who are performing official duties. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

‘It’s the big elephant in the room — no pun intended’: Freshmen Democrats prepare to serve in super minority: Freshmen Democrats Sen. Jo Anna Dossett (D-Tulsa), Rep. Jose Cruz (D-OKC) and Rep. Mauree Turner (D-OKC) are eager to work together and across partisan lines after their Nov. 3 victories. [NonDoc]

Federal Government News

Inhofe rejects Trump demand on defense bill: Responding to a veto threat from President Donald Trump, Sen. Jim Inhofe said Wednesday that using the defense bill to seek repeal of social media legal protections would kill a bill aimed at providing for the nation’s troops. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County courthouse going to emergency hearings only: Oklahoma County’s judges have been ordered to conduct only emergency hearings the last two weeks in December. The change is “due to the upcoming holiday season and the continued COViD-19 pandemic, in order to reduce the risk of infection,” Elliott wrote in his order. [The Oklahoman]

  • In-person proceedings at Tulsa County Courthouse suspended through Jan. 11, jury trials through Feb. 1 [Tulsa World]
  • City of Enid to resume in-person court appearances Monday [Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma law enforcement offered additional mental health resources thanks to CARES funding: The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has received CARES funding that is providing additional mental health services to law enforcement in our state. [KFOR]

Economic Opportunity

Higher bills coming for a half-million Oklahomans in January: Maybe we are just spoiled. But changing metrics in both the global and the nation’s natural gas markets are beginning to financially impact Oklahoma electricity users. [The Oklahoman]

Project Santa: Setbacks ‘just keep coming’ for single mom, family, after job loss, escalating health problems: Claudia Aviles could hear the panic in her father’s voice. “He came out of his room really scared, and he said ‘I can’t see nothing,’” she recalled. [Tulsa World]

City of Tulsa program in the works to address substandard rentals: The City of Tulsa’s Working In Neighborhoods Department is working on a plan to help guard against substandard rental housing. It would accomplish goals of a landlord licensing program recommended by the city’s affordable housing strategy released in 2019. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma ranks 18th as solid state for business: Oklahoma earned a fairly high ranking as a place to do business based on research done by a national magazine. Area Development Magazine determined that the state merited a ranking of 18th in the nation after reviewing results of a recent survey the magazine sent to leading consultants. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Mustang High School to pilot in-school quarantine: Oklahoma’s first students to attempt in-school quarantine could start this month at Mustang High School. Mustang Public Schools will become the first school district in the state to implement in-school quarantine by piloting the program at its high school. [The Oklahoman]

  • Union Public Schools announces return to at-home learning for students; employee cases hit all-time high [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Quarantine options discussed at Woodward Public Schools Board special meeting [Woodward News]

General News

A hip-hop holiday movie brings Oklahoma talent together: One could say COVID-19 was the spark for a new Oklahoma-made movie that celebrates the spirit of the holidays and a diverse hyper-local talent base, but also addresses serious concerns like addiction and mental health. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Candidates for City of Oklahoma City Council to file starting Monday, Dec 7 [OKC Free Press]
  • Tulsa City Council approves vote of no confidence in city attorney [Tulsa World]
  • Tahlequah Commissioners opt for vote on 4% tourism tax [Tahlequah Daily Press]
  • Enid passes mask mandate after third attempt [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Enid moving forward with Kaw Lake pipeline project [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Muscogee (Creek) Nation lowers flags after deaths of several tribal pillars [KOSU]

Quote of the Day

“By taking his position not to enact a mandate, the governor is not so much standing on principle as he is standing on people’s graves … Democratic and Republican governors across the nation have enacted masks mandates. Saving lives is a bipartisan issue.”

-The Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar, a senior minister at All Souls Unitarian Church [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma adults living in households with children who are very or extremely likely to have to leave this home due to eviction or foreclosure in the next two months as of October 2020.

[Source: KIDS COUNT Data Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A wave of evictions is on the horizon. What impact could they have on kids’ education? When a federal order limiting evictions expires at the end of the year, millions of Americans face the risk of losing their homes. Experts say it could have a ripple effect on kids trying to learn. [CBS News]

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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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