Chris Polansky

News Anchor & Reporter

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.

 

His most recent stint at an NPR member station was as a general assignment reporter at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, in 2019. His stories have also appeared in/on Gothamist / WNYC, the NPR national newscast, and the Brooklyn Eagle.

 

Chris is a New Jersey native and perpetually disappointed Mets fan who spent just about ten years in New York City before coming to Tulsa. He likes hiking and camping with his dog, Trout Fishing in America. He’s also a proud alumnus of Bike & Build, an affordable housing nonprofit with which he’s bicycled coast-to-coast twice: from Portland, Maine, to Santa Barbara (2014), and from Nags Head, North Carolina, to San Diego (2016). Both trips crossed Oklahoma. 

Ways to Connect

National Guard / Staff Sgt. Bryan Myhr

The Oklahoma National Guard is deploying personnel to both Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma City to support law enforcement efforts to defend the state and national capitols after last week's deadly insurrection during a joint session of Congress.

American Academy of Pediatrics Oklahoma Chapter

Public health experts and physicians' groups said Thursday that Gov. Kevin Stitt is misrepresenting research to justify his push for all school districts in Oklahoma to offer in-person learning despite the state's severe and dire COVID-19 situation.

Tulsa Public Schools

In a partnership between Tulsa Public Schools, the Tulsa Health Department and the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, more than 100 TPS employees received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Carver Middle School on Wednesday. 

"There was relief, for sure," said TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist, reached by phone on Thursday. "Gratitude. A lot of tears. I think that this has just been an extraordinarily stressful time for everyone, and certainly for those who do fall into these higher risk categories."

Thursday's top stories:

• All five members of the Oklahoma delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, all Republicans, voted against impeaching President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the deadly attack on the Capitol.

• The Tulsa City Council voted 9-0 to extend the city's mask ordinance. 

C-SPAN

Okla. GOP Sen. James Lankford spoke by phone with Public Radio Tulsa's Chris Polansky on Wednesday about the deadly pro-Trump insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, whether he feels at all responsible for the violence, and his thoughts on impeachment.

TRANSCRIPT:

C-SPAN

[Click here to hear and read the transcript of the full, unedited 21 minute interview with Public Radio Tulsa and Sen. Lankford.]

Wednesday's top stories:

• Gov. Kevin Stitt is continuing his push to get all school districts in Oklahoma to offer in-person learning amid soaring COVID-19 numbers. On Tuesday, he announced students who were exposed to a confirmed case no longer have to quarantine in certain circumstances.

• Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), ranking member of the House Rules Committee, opposed a nonbinding resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to exercise powers granted under the 25th Amendment to convene the cabinet and remove President Donald Trump.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Tuesday he's hopeful changes in the way the federal government apportions COVID-19 vaccine doses could be good news for Tulsa County.

"We think it'll be very impactful," Dart said on a virtual press update Tuesday morning. "Especially because we know we have quite a few private providers who have signed up to be distributors of the vaccine to their patients as well as pharmacies and urgent cares. We would have a much larger number of distribution points."

C-SPAN

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said Tuesday he opposes a non-binding resolution introduced by House Democrats that would urge Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and confer with the cabinet to remove President Donald Trump from office for his role in inciting Wednesday's insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.

Tuesday's top stories:

• Calls are mounting for the resignation or removal of Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission for his role in sowing doubt about the results of the 2020 election, views embraced by the Trump supporters who launched a deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol.

Sen. James Lankford

Calls are mounting for Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) to resign his seat on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission after his role in sowing doubt about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Punchbowl News

This story was updated at 8:41 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, to include news of a second House lawmaker, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), testing positive for COVID-19 after the lockdown.

  

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) was captured on video refusing to wear a mask when offered one as lawmakers sheltered in a crowded conference room during the dramatic Wednesday attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Monday's top stories:

• Some Oklahomans, including a sheriff and two mayors, were present in Washington, D.C., on the day of the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol. They deny participating in violence.

• COVID-19 hits new record highs in Oklahoma. Nearly 65,000 Oklahomans were reported infected Sunday, the highest single-day total ever.

Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association

At least one sheriff and two mayors were among the Oklahomans present in Washington, D.C., Wednesday for a protest against the rightful results of the 2020 presidential election on the day a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and left five people dead.

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West said at a Friday press conference that he marched to the Capitol but did not participate in nor witness violence.

Office of Sen. James Lankford

Condemnation of Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) for failing to debunk false conspiracy theories and President Trump's lies in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's insurrectionist attack on the Capitol building are coming from both the left and right of the political spectrum.

Friday's top stories:

• Tulsa County is spreading faster than projected in Tulsa County. By the end of January, as many as 10% of the entire county's population could have been infected throughout the pandemic.

• Oklahoma's three U.S. Attorneys say they will prosecute any Oklahomans who traveled to Washington, D.C., with the intent to participate in the attack on the United States Capitol incited by President Trump that left five people dead.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Oklahoma's three top federal prosecutors said Thursday they stand ready to prosecute any individuals who may have traveled from their jurisdictions to Washington, D.C., with intent to participate in the siege on the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead. 

Broken Arrow City Council

It was a familiar scene at Tuesday's Broken Arrow City Council meeting: Councilor Johnnie Parks expressed interest in exploring a mask mandate to address rising rates of COVID-19, but the suggestion did not garner enthusiasm from the majority of either his colleagues or public commenters. 

Thursday's top stories:

• Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump attacked the United States Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to overturn his loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the November election. Four people died during the assault.

• After the House and Senate reconvened following the attack, all five of Oklahoma's U.S. Representatives still voted to object to the certification of Biden's wins in two states, based on claims of election fraud already found by courts and state legislatures to be meritless.

Rep. Stephanie Bice

Despite the attack on the United States Capitol by violent pro-Trump extremists that sent both the Senate and House of Representatives into lockdown and left four people dead in its wake, all five members of Oklahoma's House delegation voted to object to accepting the certified results of the presidential election in Arizona and Pennsylvania, states won by President-elect Joe Biden.

Wednesday's top stories:

• Medical and public health experts including Oklahoma's former state epidemiologist believe current record-setting COVID-19 numbers are actually undercounts of the true situation.

• The Tulsa Health Department could begin vaccinations for those 65 and older as soon as Monday.

Tulsa Public Schools

A Tulsa Public Schools administrator on Monday said there's tentative reason to hope teachers and other school staff could begin receiving their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January.

Chief Operations Officer Jorge Robles said at a TPS Board of Education meeting that a lot is still up in the air, but that was floated as a possibility in conversations with Tulsa Health Department officials.

Office of Sen. Jim Inhofe

Oklahoma's senior U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said in a Tuesday statement that he will not join fellow Republican Okla. Sen. James Lankford and other Republicans in objecting to the certification of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory in a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

Facebook / Congressman Markwayne Mullin

"There's a lot of misinformation that's floating out there," Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said near the beginning of a Monday night telephone town hall, "and we want to discuss some of that." 

Tuesday's top stories:

• The Oklahoma State Department of Health says it will be launching an app this week to help with COVID-19 vaccination appointments, acknowledging a slower-than-anticipated rollout.

• The state will follow FDA guidance not to give half-doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Facebook / Oklahoma Employment Security Commission

President Trump signed a COVID-19 relief bill providing for certain unemployment benefits two Sundays ago, but the state of Oklahoma says it still hasn't received the federal funding or guidance necessary to pay out many claims.

"We will have to receive multiple guidance documents from [the U.S. Department of Labor] to administer these programs," said Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Director Shelley Zumwalt in a video posted to social media Saturday evening. 

Monday's top stories:

• Oklahoma has broken records for weekly COVID-19 deaths and seven-day rolling average for confirmed infections.

• Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford is one of at least a dozen Republican senators to announce they will object to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory over defeated President Donald Trump.

Tulsa Health Department

In a Wednesday afternoon press release, the state of Oklahoma boasted of being nationally ranked in the top ten for the percent of the state population which had received an initial dose of COVID-19 vaccine. “Oklahoma has a plan in place for vaccine distribution, and we are seeing the effective results of this, as we are among the Top 10 states in the nation getting our people vaccinated,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in the release.

Food and Drug Administration

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 3,249 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 287,030.

Tulsa County had 411 of Wednesday's cases. Its total now stands at 47,575, second to Oklahoma County's 57,401.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, decreased slightly, from 2,594 to 2,536. The previous record of 3,535 was set on Christmas Day.

The holidays are suspected to be responsible for a drop-off in testing and artificially low case numbers in the state.

Facebook / Oklahoma Department of Human Services

Oklahoma's system of public assistance programs can be "complicated and unpredictable" for low-income residents who depend on it, according to a new report.

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