CARES Act

Tulsa International Airport

While Tulsa International Airport just had its busiest travel weekend of the coronavirus pandemic, executives say they’re not out of the woods.

Around 3,300 passengers came through the security checkpoint last Friday, up from a daily average of about 2,000 in June and July.

The airport’s fiscal year 2020 revenues were down 13% from FY2019, with June 2020 more than 40% below the same month a year ago.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City councilors approved on Wednesday more than $2 million in spending from Tulsa’s allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds from the state.

The bulk of the spending approved, $1.5 million, goes to support city efforts to help people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. That includes things like funding operations at the old juvenile justice center that’s been repurposed as a shelter and continuing to pay for hotel rooms for people who need to quarantine. Those are usually paid for out of other federal funds.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa intends to stand up around a dozen programs over the next few months with its allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds from the state.

In an announcement on Thursday, city officials said spending would fall into five major areas: addressing unbudgeted costs of the public health emergency, safety modifications, supporting vulnerable Tulsans, helping workers displaced by COVID-19 and helping small businesses.

Office of the Governor

As Congress struggles to come up with a fourth coronavirus relief bill, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday that Oklahoma is good.

"I don’t think we need another stimulus package, no. And so, we’ve told our federal delegation, we’ve told the White House that. We’re more concerned — we want to make sure this $1.2 billion actually gets on target," Stitt said during a news conference.

Courtesy

Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to say Oklahoma is handling the coronavirus pandemic well and is months ahead of other states.

During the Tulsa Regional Chamber State of the State on Tuesday, Stitt compared the state’s hospitalization numbers from earlier in the pandemic to now.

“You know, on March 30, we had 560 people in the hospital being treated for COVID across the state of Oklahoma. Yesterday, we had 504 people in the hospital with capacity well above that,” Stitt said.

Governor's office

Oklahoma will spend $15 million from its share of federal coronavirus relief funding toward establishing Community HOPE Centers across the state to help families in areas where schools are not open full time.

Gov. Kevin Stitt made the announcement Monday at Templo de Alabanza in Oklahoma City, which will be the site of the first Community HOPE Center.

Templo de Alabanza Operations Director Rachel Ramirez said as soon as she heard local schools wouldn’t bring students back until at least November, she knew something needed to be done.

Twitter / @RepKendraHorn

U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, Oklahoma's lone Congressional Democrat, said that while the two parties in Congress don't see eye-to-eye on much, there is some level of consensus on what should be included in the next coronavirus relief package.

"The areas that I think there is strong, bipartisan agreement is in the need to continue to fund research — research on vaccine development, treatment, PPE and other critical resources for our health care community, as well as funding for state and local governments, because we know the toll," Horn said on a virtual town hall event on Friday.

Oklahoma Watch

Some of Tulsa County’s $114 million in federal coronavirus relief funds may go toward getting personal protective equipment to area school districts before students and teachers potentially return to classrooms next month.

"We think that it’s of vital importance to make sure that we’re allowing for them to have to proper equipment they need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 heading into the fall," said Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Joe Kralicek.

Some of Oklahoma's $1.2 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding is going toward grant programs to help struggling small businesses and families facing eviction.

A small business relief program is getting $100 million, with 20% allocated for businesses owned by people of color. Governor’s Minority Business Council Chair David Castillo said that will help a woman he knows who had to lay off almost all of her restaurant staff and nearly shut down as the pandemic cut into her business.

Wikipedia

Oklahoma cities and counties can apply for federal coronavirus relief funds through an online portal starting June 1.

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday that will be the method for them to be reimbursed for eligible COVID-19 expenses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which Oklahoma received $1.2 billion from.

Instagram / @TulsaCountyOK

Tulsa County has begun awarding nearly $114 million in federal funds it received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. 

Serge Melki

In lawmakers’ package of 12 budget bills is one that would require daily reports on Oklahoma’s spending of federal coronavirus relief funds.

House Appropriations and Budget Chair Kevin Wallace said Monday it appears the state has $800 million to spend once distributions are made to local governments from Oklahoma's roughly $1.2 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allocation, and lawmakers want input.

Tulsa Transit

Tulsa Transit’s share of federal coronavirus relief money is roughly $19.7 million.

General Manager Ted Rieck reported the allocation from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act to the transit board this week.

"This is a huge amount of money for us. It’s, like, 82% of our annual budget and three times our normal allocation," Rieck said.

Rieck's priority for the funding is offsetting an expected decrease in funding next fiscal year from the City of Tulsa as it deals with a 13% drop in general revenue.

Google Street View

So far, the federal government has approved $660 billion in funding for small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. On Thursday, April 30th, Larry Weatherford, Oklahoma district public affairs specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration, which administers the program, spoke with KWGS about the program's successes and criticisms, and encouraged any Oklahoma small business owners who haven't yet applied for assistance to do so as soon as possible before funding runs out.

In a webinar hosted by the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Monday, U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said he fears that the amount of money paid out to Americans as federal unemployment benefits under new coronavirus legislation may be overly generous and bad economic policy.

"That's been the challenge of unemployment during this time period," Lankford said. "That we have a disincentive to get back to work." 

Chris Polansky

While Oklahoma prepares to reopen certain businesses following mandated closures meant to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, the head of the Oklahoma State Department of Education said on Thursday that students, parents and teachers shouldn't take that to mean schools will be reopening any time soon.

"It is not to pertain to the reopening of schools," State Superintendent of Instruction Joy Hofmeister said of Governor Kevin Stitt's announcement that parts of Oklahoma's economy will begin to reopen on April 24th. 

File photo-Wikimedia

Oklahoma’s congressional delegation is urging the Trump administration to let public hospitals access funding available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.