COVID-19

Oklahoma National Guard Tech. Sgt. Kasey Phipps

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma health officials plan to work with retailers and faith leaders in minority communities across the state to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health plans to unveil vaccine dispensing sites in minority communities across the state in the coming weeks, Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed said Friday.

Tulsa City Hall

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced Thursday that applications are open for up to $6.5 million in grants for nonprofit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread in the Tulsa metropolitan area, as local officials said on Thursday some metrics are improving while others are continuing to go in the wrong direction.

"By Jan. 18, more than 9% of all Tulsa County residents had tested positive for COVID-19," said Dr. Bruce Dart, executive director of the Tulsa Health Department, at a virtual press conference Thursday morning. "We're on track to reach 10% of our population being positive within 12 days."

Tulsa Health Department

The Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps put out a call for volunteers Wednesday, seeking nurses, paramedics and untrained community volunteers to help with the statewide COVID-19 vaccination effort.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

With the start of the new legislative session less than two weeks away and COVID-19 trends still troubling, the state Capitol could be the site of a prolonged "superspreader" event, according to one public health figure.

"Well, it depends on how the legislators behave, right?" said Dr. Jean Hausheer, leader of the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition's COVID-19 Task Force, at a virtual press conference Tuesday. 

Courtesy Tulsa Health Department

Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

“We know that this vaccine is safe and effective, and we know that COVID can be a very serious illness for many people – and I don’t want to get sick. I encourage everybody to also get this vaccine,” said Dart.

Youtube / City of Norman

Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Oklahoma were noticeably impacted by two unique circumstances Monday.

"Every year, usually ... they have the marching groups. Next year, we'll be back with the walking groups, with the dancing groups," said Tulsa's MLK Day Parade emcee Rebecca Marks-Jimerson, doing color commentary for a livestream of the event. "But this year, because of the COVID, we are doing the social distancing. But we're making it happen for you."

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City school district is set to resume some in-person classes for the district’s youngest students and those in alternative education, Superintendent Sean McDaniel said Saturday.

Pre-kindergarten through 4th grade students and those in alternative education will begin returning Tuesday for alternating in-person and in-person classes while students in grades 5-12 are scheduled to return on Feb. 1.

University of Oklahoma Athletics

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Big 12 basketball game scheduled for Saturday was postponed because of a positive COVID-19 test within the OSU program, according to Oklahoma State officials.

The Cowboys have paused team activities indefinitely and the two schools will work with the Big 12 to reschedule the game that was to tip off at 7 p.m. at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, OSU officials said.

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.

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."

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. 

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.

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." 

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. 

Youtube / Gov. Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Bars and restaurants across Oklahoma will be able to stay open past Gov. Kevin Stitt’s ordered 11 p.m. curfew while a lawsuit brought by a group of bar owners is litigated.

U.S. Department of Defense

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma has set a new record for COVID-19 deaths in a week, as state health officials on Sunday reported more than 8,000 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus over two days.

Oklahoma had 170 deaths from COVID-19 over the last seven days, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The previous one-week record of 168 deaths was set in early December.

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.

Governor Kevin Stitt Facebook page

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced plans for coronavirus vaccine distribution locations in the state as it moves into phase 2 of vaccinations that will begin with first responders and healthcare workers who are not in a hospital setting.

White House coronavirus task force

Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma State Department of Health, or OSDH, will no longer make publicly available weekly reports for the state prepared by the White House coronavirus task force.

The Center for Public Integrity reported on Dec. 17 that the reports, previously automatically sent each week to all 50 states, are now available only by request.

World Health Organization

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 1,194 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 283,781.

Tulsa County had 165 of Tuesday's cases. Its total now stands at 47,164, second to Oklahoma County's 56,943.

Reporting has been low in recent days, possibly due to a sharp drop in testing over the holidays.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, is now 2,594. The record of 3,535 was set on Christmas Day. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Tulsa City Council

The Tulsa City Council unanimously approved a resolution imploring employers to allow for telework as much as possible due to the ongoing severe risk of contracting COVID-19 locally.

CVS Health

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma agricultural research organization announced Monday it will donate 11 ultra-cold freezers to the state that health officials say will help expedite the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

C-SPAN

Oklahoma's members of the U.S. House of Representatives split Monday night on votes to override President Donald Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act and to support Trump's proposal for $2,000 in direct coronavirus relief payments to Americans.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 3,448 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 282,587.

Tulsa County had 632 of Monday's cases. Its total now stands at 46,999, second to Oklahoma County's 56,748.

Tulsa Regional Chamber

Local health system leaders predict the Christmas and New Years holidays will trigger another spike in COVID-19 infections, atop the current surge likely linked to Thanksgiving.

Cherokee Nation

As Monica Harvey watched, crowds flocked to a Sam’s Club in northern Arizona where she works, picking shelves clean of toilet paper and canned goods. Native American seniors couldn’t move fast enough, and Harvey saw their faces fall when they reached empty shelves.

The Navajo woman wanted to help tribal elders get household staples without leaving their homes and risking exposure to COVID-19, so she started Defend Our Community, a group that delivers supplies.

Twitter / @oescnews

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package, ending days of drama over his refusal to accept the bipartisan deal that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and avert a federal government shutdown.

The massive bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as an increase in food stamp benefits.

FWD.us / Terence Crutcher Foundation

A new report from a pair of criminal justice advocacy group says the state of Oklahoma has disproportionately imprisoned Black residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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