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.

Ways to Connect

Pool photo by Mike Simons / Tulsa World

With more than 200,000 doses of vaccine given and more than 460,000 people registered through the state's online portal at last count, Oklahomans' interest in getting COVID-19 vaccines is high.

It's so high that people are willing to travel to find their shots.

"Twenty-five percent of the residents of Oklahoma County, as well as 25% of the residents in Tulsa County that have been vaccinated received their vaccinations in counties outside of Oklahoma County and Tulsa County," Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said during a Friday vaccination update.

OSU Center for Health Sciences

The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation is officially open after a private ribbon cutting.

Medical school students and faculty started using the building earlier this month.

Cherokee Nation officials had been discussing a Tahlequah medical school for about a decade before announcing a partnership with OSU in October 2018. The $40 million, 84,000-square foot facility is on the campus of W.W. Hastings Hospital.

Mike Simons / Pool photo

State health officials are dealing with the sudden news extra doses of COVID-19 vaccine are not coming.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 3,538 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 348,044.

Tulsa County had 633 of Friday's cases. Its total now stands at 56,914, second to Oklahoma County's 67,719.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, fell from 4,165 to 3,923. The record of 4,256 was set Wednesday. The average had dipped to around 2,600 as reporting lagged around the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Updated Jan. 15, 4:40 p.m.  

Tulsa Public Schools students will not start returning to school later this month as planned.

The TPS Board voted 4–3 in a special meeting Friday to keep students on distance learning until March 22, citing local COVID numbers and a recommendation by Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

Board members John Croisant, Jerry Griffin and Jennettie Marshall voted against moving back students' return. Members Shawna Keller, Suzanne Schreiber, Jania Wester and Stacey Woolley voted for it.

NPR

The Tulsa Police Department says they’re on track when it comes to testing rape kits out of a backlog of 3,000.

A $1.5 million Department of Justice grant awarded in 2018 was supposed to pay for processing up to 650, as well as accompanying investigations and victim advocacy services. Capt. Jillian Phippen, who oversees the special victims unit, gave the city council an update this week.

"To date, we’ve tested 454 of those kits, and by the end of this grant, which is September of this year, we will have tested the full 650," Phippen said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Oklahoma is nearing a milestone: 10% of the state’s population infected by the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

But the actual total could be much higher.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 3,142 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 344,506.

Tulsa County had 560 of Thursday's cases. Its total now stands at 56,281, second to Oklahoma County's 67,165.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, dropped after hitting four consecutive new highs, falling from 4,256 to 4,165. The average had dipped to around 2,600 as reporting lagged around the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa's city council voted unanimously Wednesday night to extend the expiration date of the city's mask ordinance.

It requires people 10 and older to wear masks in public places and was set to expire at the end of the month. It will now be in effect until midnight April 30.

"This is so important to our city. We are not out of … our pandemic. Just because people are getting vaccinations does not mean this is over," Councilor Jeannie Cue said in a committee meeting Wednesday afternoon.

American Academy of Pediatrics

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is getting ready to handle increased COVID vaccine shipments.

New federal guidance under Operation Warp Speed means in two weeks, states will get allocations based on how quickly they’re vaccinating people. Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed says as of mid-day Wednesday, 4.6% of Oklahoma’s population had received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, among the highest rates in the U.S.

No one from Oklahoma’s delegation was among the 10 Republican U.S. representatives who joined 222 of their Democratic counterparts on Wednesday in voting to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time.

The article of impeachment says Trump incited a siege on the capitol last week. None of Oklahoma’s five Republican House members debated against impeachment on the floor before voting against it.

Rules Committee Ranking Member Rep. Tom Cole laid out his arguments against it earlier in the day as the House weighed rules for Wednesday afternoon’s debate.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 3,907 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 341,364.

Tulsa County had 623 of Wednesday's cases. Its total now stands at 55,721, second to Oklahoma County's 66,594.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, hit a new high for the fourth day in a row, rising from 4,170 to 4,256. The average had dipped to around 2,600 as reporting lagged around the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is down to four members for the time being.

Board Chair Robert Gilliland resigned in mid-December due to health reasons. He was appointed in February 2019. His absence raises the possibility of tie votes, which, according to board procedures, are considered denials.

In many cases, people in prison must wait three years before applying again after their application is denied. Pardon and parole board general counsel Kyle Counts told the board this week they can, however, bring back many cases with tie votes.

Pixnio

Insisting on in-person options statewide, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced a new policy Tuesday aimed at reducing school quarantines for COVID-19.

"Students and teachers exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 in school will no longer be required to quarantine as long as the exposure happened in a classroom setting [and] everyone was wearing masks and following other appropriate protocols, like social distancing," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 2,210 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 337,457.

Tulsa County had 334 of Tuesday's cases. Its total now stands at 55,098, second to Oklahoma County's 66,096. A slightly greater proportion of Tulsa County residents, however, have been infected.

Early on, state officials said if Oklahomans need help during the COVID-19 pandemic, they should call 211.

That advice was recently repeated for people with questions about vaccines, and Oklahomans certainly have had questions. On Friday, 211 Eastern Oklahoma fielded more than 9,300 calls after taking around 2,000 a day for most of the pandemic.

In the year’s first budget hearing, Oklahoma State Department of Education officials presented their $3.2 billion request to state lawmakers.

It represents a 6% increase — $191 million — over the current fiscal year appropriation, with most going toward the state funding formula for public schools.

Department of Defense

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 3,885 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 335,247.

Tulsa County had 648 of Monday's cases. Its total now stands at 54,764, second to Oklahoma County's 65,661.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, hit a new high for the second day in a row, rising from 3,899 to 4,068. The average had dipped to around 2,600 as reporting lagged around the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Races for the 35th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals start tonight at the River Spirit Expo Center at Expo Square.

The midget car event attracts racers and thousands of fans from across the U.S., but this year, it’s being held amid a global pandemic in which thousands of Oklahomans are falling ill and hundreds are dying every week.

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said founder Emmett Hahn has committed to holding the event as safely as possible.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

After eight months, half-day furloughs every Friday have come to their expected end for hundreds of City of Tulsa employees.

The furloughs were implemented to help the city deal with with a $13 million budget shortfall. Mayor G.T. Bynum said current fiscal year revenue is staying within a range where extending the furloughs is not necessary, but he and the city council are gearing up for another budget shortfall in FY22.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

People charged with misdemeanors in Tulsa County who have had their cases delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic could soon get their day in court, but not actually in a courtroom.

The county has reached an agreement with ASM Global to have court dates at the Cox Business Convention Center. The first one will be Jan. 29. Initial appearances cases where the defendant is not in custody will be on the dockets. Many of those have been postponed because the courthouse lacks space.

World Health Organization

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Sunday 6,487 new cases of COVID-19, the second new reporting record in the past three days.

That brings the state's total to 331,362. State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye issued a statement on the spike in cases.

Mike Simons / Tulsa World pool photo

More than a quarter million Oklahomans have registered through the COVID vaccine portal since Wednesday, according to the state health department.

At the end of Friday, the health department said the total number of people registered was 271,133.

The health department said any known issues — like people being unable to schedule appointments in Tulsa County or being told they're not eligible when they are — have been resolved. But there is frustration among Oklahomans.

An analysis from criminal justice reform group FWD.us says commutation approvals in Oklahoma have plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their report shows the pardon and parole board approved 33% fewer stage one applications last year compared to 2019, despite considering more applications. The overall approval rate fell from 46% to 19%, and the approval rate for nonviolent offenses dropped from 74% to 35%.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 5,232 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day report to date.

Friday's report broke the record of 5,119 set a week ago. The state's total number of cases is 320,586.

Tulsa County had 666 of Friday's cases. Its total now stands at 52,587, second to Oklahoma County's 63,058.

Pxhere

A monthly manufacturing survey shows economic growth continuing in a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma, but surging coronavirus cases are starting to put a damper on expectations.

The latest Mid-America Business Conditions Index out of Creighton University showed regional growth continuing to outpace the U.S. as a whole, but it dropped for a second straight month after a six-month climb, falling from 69 to 64.1.

Numbers above 50 on the zero to 100 scale indicate economic growth.

Pixnio

The state health department said late Thursday 4,401 COVID-19 vaccination appointments had been scheduled since that function went live at 8 a.m. on the vaccinate.oklahoma.gov portal.

Tulsa County residents, however, are probably not a large portion of those.

The Tulsa Health Department said Thursday it did not have access to add its available appointments until that morning, and ongoing technical difficulties have prevented eligible people from scheduling appointments in Tulsa County.

COVID-19 is spreading faster than Tulsa County health officials projected.

The Tulsa Health Department thought it would be mid-January before 8% of county residents had been infected with the coronavirus, more than 52,100 people. The county is now on track to hit that milestone Friday.

THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said December easily topped November as the county’s worst month for new infections to date, driven by younger adults.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 3,781 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 315,354.

Tulsa County had 602 of Thursday's cases. Its total now stands at 51,921, second to Oklahoma County's 61,898.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, remains at record levels. It dropped from 3,506 to 3,488. The record is 3,562, set on Sunday. The average had dipped to around 2,600 as reporting lagged around the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Pool photo by Mike Simons / Tulsa World

The Tulsa Health Department anticipates 200 appointments per day will be available next week for adults 65 and older looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

They should be able to sign up for appointments starting at 8 a.m. Thursday through the state’s vaccination portal at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov. It will take time to get through local seniors.

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