Matt Trotter

News Director, Morning Edition Anchor, & Reporter

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN. 

He has a master's degree from Arizona State University, where he spent a semester on the first reporting staff of Cronkite News Service's Washington, D.C., bureau. As a grad student, he won awards for multimedia journalism and in-depth TV reporting.

Matt is from Southern California, so he's slowly following Route 66 across the United States. He would have made it Chicago by now, but he's not a fan of long drives.

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Oklahoma State Department of Health

Seven new deaths from COVID-19 were reported Saturday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, bringing the state's total to 15.

Six deaths were in people 65 or older, with two each in Cleveland and Tulsa counties, and one in Oklahoma and Wagoner counties. A Sequoyah County woman between 50 and 64 years old also died.

Another 21 people have been hospitalized for the respiratory illness, bringing the total to 126, and Oklahoma had an additional 55 reported cases, bringing the state's total to 377.

Updated March 28, 1:05 p.m.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum issued a "shelter in place" order Saturday to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The City of Tulsa is referring to it as a "safer at home" order that follows one issued by Gov. Kevin Stitt earlier this week but applies to all Tulsans, not just those 65 and older or with a serious medical condition.

The order takes effect Saturday at 11:59 p.m. and will be in effect through April 16.

File Photo

Churches, think tanks and social service organizations are calling on Gov. Kevin Stitt to take actions that could prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state’s jails and prisons.

Joey Magana with Americans for Prosperity said the facilities are not safe for inmates or guards because they’re too full, house many people with medical conditions and not cleaned enough.

Any type of abortion not necessary to save a woman’s life or health must be delayed until April 7 in Oklahoma.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday they are included in his order to postpone some medical procedures in an attempt to save protective equipment for health care providers.

Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice board member Gabriela Cano said Stitt's clarification is too broad.

"These medical procedures are done more in clinics than in hospitals, and he did not specify what that would look like to — what type of procedure would be banned," Cano said.

Gov. Kevin Stitt

Oklahoma now has supplies to run 10,000 additional COVID-19 tests, but widespread testing is still a ways off.

State Secretary of Science and Innovation Doctor Kayse Shrum said testing hospitalized patients will be the top priority.

Oklahoma had another 74 cases of COVID-19 reported Friday, bringing the state's total to 322.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 105 people have now been hospitalized for the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, and an eighth person has died, a Creek County man in his 70s.

Five counties had their first reported cases of COVID-19. The illness is now officially in 38 counties.

Oklahoma County continues to lead the state with 93 reported cases, followed by Tulsa County with 49 — an increase of eight cases — and Cleveland County with 39.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has ordered people over 65 or with serious medical conditions to stay home through April and nonessential businesses in counties with reported cases of COVID-19 to close for 21 days.

So, what if they don’t?

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter issued a clarification Thursday. Violating an executive order can be a misdemeanor, but law enforcement officers will primarily try to talk people into compliance.

The $2 trillion federal COVID-19 stimulus package includes $25 billion for transit.

General Manager Ted Rieck said that’s good news for Tulsa Transit, as ridership has dropped sharply during the pandemic.

"There are provisions to offset revenue loss, I believe. So, while we still have to evaluate that, there’s reason to be hopeful that we’ll be in decent shape," Rieck said.

Rieck said they’re still figuring out what they might get from the stimulus bill.

Friday's top stories:

  • The City of Tulsa, Tulsa County, River Parks and Broken Arrow close playgrounds to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Oklahoma now has 248 cases of the illness. Seven people have died from it, and 86 have been hospitalized.
  • Muskogee city and county officials tell residents to stay at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Gov. Kevin Stitt

State officials say Oklahoma has received enough materials to run 10,000 tests for COVID-19.

They were trying to get their hands on the reagent needed for the tests. From photos tweeted by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the chemicals came from Thermo Fisher Scientific, one of a handful of companies given fast-track approval earlier this month for a commercial test to detect the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell is in self-quarantine after traveling to Florida two weeks ago.

Responding to questions from Oklahoman reporter Carmen Forman on Twitter, Pinnell said he and his family drove to a relative’s house March 14 and returned home to Oklahoma "as the situation unfolded."

Pinnell said he has not been in contact with anyone known to have COVID-19, is not experiencing any symptoms and has been working remotely as part of the Governor's Solutions Task Force.

Tulsa County

Updated March 27, 11:50 a.m.

City of Tulsa, Tulsa County, River Parks and Broken Arrow park facilities are closed.

In a COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Tulsa officials said people continue to gather at them in large groups despite the pandemic and bans on gatherings of 10 or more people.

City of Tulsa and River Parks dog parks, skate parks and sports courts closed Thursday. Broken Arrow closed the same facilities Friday morning.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 248 cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Two new deaths were reported in Cleveland County, a woman in her 90s and a man in his 60s. The illness has now killed seven Oklahomans and sent 86 to the hospital.

Six additional counties reported their first cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of counties with cases to 33. Oklahoma County continues to lead the state with 73 cases. Tulsa County had 14 new cases reported Thursday, bringing its total to 41.

Muskogee city and county officials are directing all residents to stay at home, citing concerns there are many unreported cases of COVID-19 because of a lack of testing supplies.

Under a joint resolution adopted at an emergency meeting Wednesday night, residents should only leave their homes for things like buying groceries, going to the pharmacy, outdoor exercise while staying six feet from others or working at an essential business as determined by Gov. Kevin Stitt’s executive orders.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A member of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet and two state lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration David Ostrowe was tested after a prolonged, high fever. The governor’s office says he is following quarantine procedures at home and has not been in contact with Stitt in more than two weeks.

In the legislature, Rep. Jason Lowe and Sen. Paul Rosino said they have tested positive for COVID-19 but are doing well and recovering.

U.S. Air Force

A day after ordering nonessential businesses closed in counties with cases of COVID-19, Gov. Kevin Stitt broadened his list of those considered essential.

Thursday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma K–12 students will not go back to their classrooms this year.
  • Tulsa Public Schools has been making plans for distance learning and expects some bumps in the road.
  • COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma increase to 164, with five dead and 59 hospitalized.

TPS

Tulsa Public Schools officials have been talking to other districts about their experiences switching to distance learning ahead of Wednesday's decision by the State Board of Education to keep Oklahoma schools closed the rest of the year.

"It’s not going to be super-smooth, I think is the way to summarize what we’ve heard from some of the very best districts in the country and what they’ve done," said TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist. "It’s been challenging. And so, that’s one of the main messages we’ve heard from them is, 'Be prepared to solve a lot of problems.'"

Several new rules won approval on Wednesday from the Oklahoma State Board of Education.

Some are emergency measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, including an extension to how long a teacher can be emergency certified.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma K–12 students will not go back to their classrooms this school year.

The State Board of Education approved a plan Wednesday to keep schools closed and shift to distance learning. Some parents wanted officials to wait a couple weeks to see how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out, but State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the decision had to be made now.

"It isn’t possible for districts to flip a switch and shift into that kind of delivery of education without advance notice," Hofmeister said.

Department of Defense

New figures from the Oklahoma State Department of Health on Wednesday show five people in the state have now died from COVID-19 and Tulsa County's number of reported cases has more than doubled, going from 12 to 27.

A man in his 70s and a man in his 40s in Oklahoma County account for the two new deaths. There have been 59 people hospitalized for the illness.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • In a series of new orders to deal with COVID-19, Gov. Kevin Stitt tells vulnerable populations to stay home, closes nonessential businesses in affected counties.
  • Democratic lawmakers, medical groups and citizens press Stitt for a statewide shelter-in-place order.
  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum expands his executive order prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum on Tuesday expanded his executive order banning gatherings of 10 or more people in Tulsa.

It previously applied only to city facilities.

"Moving forward, there are to be no groups in any facilities or elsewhere in Tulsa of 10 or more people, and that will be enforced by the Tulsa police department," Bynum said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Oklahoma’s efforts to ramp up COVID-19 testing could hit a snag if supply bottlenecks persist.

Deputy State Secretary of Science and Innovation Elizabeth Pollard said they are pursuing testing materials from commercial sources.

"Here we can get reagents from outside of just our government allocation and be able to run tests on commercial platforms that we have available in the state to be able to meet the demand that we have," Pollard said.

covidactnow.org

Medical associations, Democratic state representatives and thousands of citizens are pushing Gov. Kevin Stitt to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin said it must be done to curb the spread of COVID-19, a threat Oklahoma has yet to fully grasp.

"From everything we’ve seen, our situation is worse than what the official numbers are telling us because we haven’t had access to an adequate number of tests," Virgin said.

Courtesy

Updated March 25, 5:35 a.m.  

Gov. Kevin Stitt took a number of new actions Tuesday to deal with COVID-19, including issuing an order requiring vulnerable populations to stay home until April 30.

The "safer at home" order applies to people with "serious underlying medical conditions" and those 65 and older.

Updated March 24, 3:05 p.m. 

A third Oklahoman has died of COVID-19, and the state surged to 109 reported cases on Tuesday.

A Cleveland County woman in her 60s has died, and 25 people are hospitalized with the illness. COVID-19 has been reported in 19 counties now.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 106 cases in its daily update, but during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, officials said there are 109 cases.

Oklahoma County still has the most cases, 41, followed by Cleveland with 22 and Tulsa with 12.

File photo

The Tulsa Public Schools Board on Monday officially moved to postpone next month’s runoff elections for two seats until June 30.

School boards and other local entities are allowed to reschedule their April 7 elections because of the COVID-19 pandemic under an emergency declaration from the State Election Board secretary.

TPS Board member Suzanne Schreiber said while moving back the election is a difficult choice, it’s the right one, considering most poll workers are older Tulsans with higher risk of serious cases of COVID-19.

Bixby becomes the latest city to order bars closed and restaurants to offer only takeout or delivery service as Oklahoma responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An emergency ordinance also closes movie theaters, gyms and entertainment venues; prohibits public gatherings of more than 10 people; and specifies city meetings will be held by teleconference.

Tuesday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma schools may remain closed through the rest of the school year.
  • The number of reported cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma continues to climb.
  • Officials anticipate a big hit to Oklahoma's budget between the economic impact of the pandemic and an ongoing oil slump.

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