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, NPR's Weekend Edition, 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

Thursday's top stories:

• The rise in COVID-19 cases is continuing in Oklahoma, with the state posting its highest single-day total of newly confirmed cases since February.

• Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, a Republican, traveled to the White House Wednesday to support President Biden's federal infrastructure proposal.

Twitter / Mayor David Holt

This story was updated to include a statement from Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum received after publication.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, a Republican, traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday as part of a bipartisan group of mayors and governors meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House to express support for the Biden administration's infrastructure proposal. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Saying Oklahoma's election system is "among the most accurate and secure anywhere in the entire world," the state's top election official on Tuesday rejected a call by a Republican state representative to audit the results of the 2020 general election.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt departed Tulsa's Cox Business Convention Center almost an hour earlier than scheduled last night, as attendees at an event meant to discuss Tribal sovereignty and criminal jurisdiction in the light of last year's McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court decision jeered the panel's lack of Native representation and lack of opportunity for the public to directly ask questions at a forum billed as including a Q-and-A. 

Tuesday's top stories:

• The state board of education adopted emergency rules to enforce House Bill 1775, which forbids the teaching of certain concepts in certain ways. 

• While several hospitals in Oklahoma City have announced COVID vaccination requirements for staff, Tulsa's Saint Francis, Hillcrest and Ascension St. John all say they are not requiring their employees be vaccinated against the disease.

With more hospital systems in the state announcing requirements for their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep their jobs, Oklahoma's top health official said Friday he does not support or oppose such policies.

"We're supporting vaccination," state health commissioner Dr. Lance Frye told reporters during a virtual press briefing Friday, asked whether he supported recent announcements from Mercy, OU Health and SSM in Oklahoma City that they would require proof of vaccination from their staff members.

Monday's top stories:

• Tulsa Health Department officials will meet Monday to discuss strategies for getting more Tulsa County residents vaccinated against COVID-19 as Green Country continues to see a rise in cases and hospitalizations.

• Gov. Kevin Stitt traveled to Dallas this weekend to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.

Friday's top stories:

• COVID-19 cases continue to rise in northeast Oklahoma.

• Goodwill VITA and the city of Tulsa's Financial Empowerment Center have scheduled a day of free tax preparation help for Tulsans who qualify for President Biden's Advance Child Tax Credit payments.

City of Norman

The harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy is now banned in the city of Norman.

The city council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting licensed health care providers from attempting to change the sexuality or gender identity of LGBTQ individuals, a practice research shows increases suicide risk in young people subjected to it.

Courtesy

A new outdoor attraction in eastern Oklahoma announced last year remains under construction.

The WOKA Whitewater Park will sit east of Watts, Oklahoma, at the Arkansas state line near Siloam Springs. It's a partnership between the Grand River Dam Authority, the city of Siloam Springs and the Walton Family Foundation. Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma have touted the park as an economic driver.

Wednesday's top stories:

• Fewer Oklahomans are getting COVID-19 than at earlier times in the pandemic, but the ones who do are now more likely to be hospitalized. Experts say the Delta variant of the virus may be more contagious and more severe.

• Oklahoma continues to have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, as state health officials continue to attempt to get health care providers to offer the shots out of their offices, in hopes vaccine-hesitant Oklahomans will trust their own doctors.

Tuesday's top stories:

• Oklahoma continues to rank last nationally for sequencing test samples to detect COVID-19 variants, as the Delta variant raises concern worldwide.

• Tulsa City Council districts could get new boundaries after Census data is released, though likely not in a dramatic way.

Monday's top stories:

• The Tulsa Police Department expects a review of its community policing efforts will be done in mid-fall.

• Federal traffic consultants have been working with INCOG on a local road safety plan, and their review of crash data has revealed some areas of focus for the region.

Friday's top stories:

• COVID-19 is on the rise in Northeast Oklahoma.

• Officials unveiled renderings of the new Gilcrease Museum, set to open by the end of 2024 following the demolition of the current museum after its July 5 permanent closure.

Thursday's top stories:

• COVID-19 transmission is on the rise in Oklahoma and in Tulsa County.

• City officials say the ransomware attackers who targeted Tulsa beginning last month accessed and shared personally identifiable information.

Wednesday's top stories:

• Help is available locally for families with children to ensure they receive up to $3,600 in child tax credits included in President Biden's American Rescue Plan COVID relief package.

• A budget watchdog group says Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) must reprioritize its spending.

Tulsa Day Center

The city of Tulsa this week awarded the Tulsa Day Center a $100,000 grant to be used for a program seeking to provide rental assistance for people experiencing homelessness. 

Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust

A budget watchdog at the state Capitol issued a report Monday, critiquing the way the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) spends its funds.

The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency, or LOFT, suggested in its report that TSET spending is not effective in its mission to lower rates of smoking in the state.

Flickr User Vormingplus Gent-Eeklo vzw

The owner of a Craig County long-term care facility was arrested and charged with 17 counts of exploitation, stemming from a state attorney general's office investigation that alleges he stole tens of thousands of dollars from residents.

Randy Joe McKinney, owner of the Golden Life Residential Care Home in Bluejacket, faces up to 170 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

Tuesday's top stories:

• Local housing advocates are preparing for a "tsunami" of evictions following the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium scheduled for June 30.

• Restore Hope Ministries has distributed more than $4 million in emergency rental assistance since April, their executive director says.

• State health officials are trying to get Oklahoma up from dead last in the nation for percent of COVID-19 samples sequenced to detect variants of the coronavirus.

Monday's top stories:

• The federal Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) has updated its COVID guidelines for employers regarding unvaccinated employees.

• The mayor of Tullahassee, Okla., the oldest of Oklahoma's historic all-Black towns, is joining a group of mayors from across the U.S. in committing to develop a municipal reparations program for Black residents.

• Two former Oklahoma County Jail employees have been charged with felonies in separate incidents of alleged neglect and/or violence.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma ranks 50th in the nation for percent of COVID-19 test samples being sequenced to detect virus variants of concern, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Oklahoma has sequenced 0.18% of the positive tests that we've seen coming through on the state level," said Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, on a Tuesday press briefing conducted virtually by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition.

Friday's top stories:

• Celebrations are underway in Tulsa for Juneteenth, now officially a federal holiday.

• The 100 block of North Greenwood Avenue has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Courtesy Greenwood Chamber of Commerce

The 100 block of North Greenwood Avenue has been added to the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.

Courtesy Tulsa Juneteenth Festival

Juneteenth programming is underway in Tulsa and will run through the weekend.

A Thursday night block party on North Greenwood Avenue kicked off the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival.

"We want everyone in the city of Tulsa to really see what Juneteenth is all about," said Carmel Blumenberg, a festival organizer. "Let's celebrate together. Let's commemorate together. Let's remember together, and just have a good time."

Thursday's top stories:

• Oklahoma's COVID-19 case rates are far below their peaks, but there are localized spikes, and some variants of concern are being found in infected patients.

• With the heat index over 100, cooling centers have been opened in Tulsa; Tulsa County residents should also call 211 to see if they qualify for a free window unit.

Wednesday's top stories:

• The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Tuesday that new federal guidance will allow the state to extend the shelf life of 75,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that were set to expire at the end of June.

• Two parks in Tulsa will be getting new names.

• Three Tulsa mail carriers were indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges Tuesday.

Tulsa Health Department

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Tuesday it will be able to extend the shelf life of 75,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that were set to expire at the end of this month due to a change in federal guidance.

"The 75,000 doses anticipated to expire in June will now be available for administration until August 7, with some of the lots expiring July 24," the department said in a news release.

Tulsa Transit

The new Tulsa Transit circuit route serving north Tulsa will be free to ride effective Monday and lasting through the end of 2021.

Route 969, or the Workforce Express Network, "was developed to support and increase economic development in the North Tulsa area," the transit agency said in a news release. "Tulsa Transit is offering free fares June 21 through December 31 to help riders understand the route, the areas it serves and how it can help those who are in need of transportation."

Tuesday's top stories:

• The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is taking public input on how it should spend more than $500 million in federal funding meant to assist working families with child care.

• Researchers excavating a mass grave in Oaklawn Cemetery gave an update on the investigation's progress on Monday.

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