COVID-19

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Tulsa Public Schools has reached out to Oklahoma's Congressional delegation and the Tulsa City Council to discuss their need for support for the district's nutrition programs.

In a Wednesday meeting of the Tulsa City Council's urban and economic development committee, TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist said that when schools abruptly closed to in-person learning in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, the district still managed to serve 1.5 million meals via deliveries and distributions. 

Twitter / @WhiteHouse

President Donald Trump announced that Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House's coronavirus task force, will visit Oklahoma next week on a tour of states "to deliver aggressive, tailored and targeted guidance."

The visit comes as Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt is under scrutiny for declining to implement the task force's recommendations to combat the coronavirus.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County continues to see "widespread virus" in the community, as delays in testing contribute to difficulties in properly responding to the pandemic, according the Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

At a press conference Tuesday at Tulsa Police Department headquarters, Dart said that testing laboratories are "swamped," leading to numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health that may be less useful due to being dated.

Century Foundation

An analysis of federal Department of Labor statistics found that, under a coronavirus relief plan proposed by Senate Republicans, Oklahomans would see the steepest average cut – 57% – in combined state and federal unemployment payments.

Twitter / @OUMedicine

Hospital leaders say Oklahoma’s doctors and nurses are feeling the strain of the coronavirus pandemic after weeks of elevated hospitalizations.

"The constancy of preparedness and concern of coming to work in this environment takes a tremendous toll," said OU Medicine President and CEO Chuck Spicer in a Friday virtual town hall hosted by Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla).

Dr. Kersey Winfree, Vice President of Operations for SSM Health Saint Anthony, said there can be a mental health component to diagnoses when providers test positive for the virus, a not-uncommon occurence.

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.

Twitter / @realdonaldtrump

Officials in Tulsa said Thursday that a direct causal connection cannot be drawn between the coronavirus infection of former presidential candidate Herman Cain and his attendance at President Trump's rally last month at the BOK Center.

"I don't know how he caught it," Mayor G.T. Bynum said of Cain, who, like the majority of the 6,000-person crowd at the rally, did not wear a mask in the arena. "I haven't seen any conclusive information on where he got it from."

Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department and a personal friend of Cain, agreed.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

Despite recommendations from the Trump administration that the state of Oklahoma implement far stricter restrictions to combat the coronavirus, a spokesperson for Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday that they're just that -- recommendations.

"The Governor’s office followed up after the Task Force’s latest report and the White House confirmed that these are not mandates and that the State is not out of compliance with any federal orders," said Baylee Lakey, the governor's communications director, in an emailed statement.

YouTube / Epic Charter Schools

In a video address ahead of the fall semester, Epic Charter Schools co-founder Ben Harris claimed that what parents may have heard about the school in relation to an active law enforcement investigation is not true.

"Some of those families coming to us may be skeptical of sending their children to us because of the negative and unfair and often flatout inaccurate news about us the past few years," Harris said. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

With new coronavirus infections increasing more rapidly among younger people than other demographics, Dr. Bruce Dart of the Tulsa Health Department said that the return to school for districts in Tulsa County should be all-virtual for now due to the severity of the local outbreak.

Facebook / Broken Arrow High School

In a 5-0 vote, the Broken Arrow Public Schools Board of Education voted on Wednesday to accept the district administration's plan to move forward with a return to in-person learning for the upcoming fall semester beginning Aug. 19th.

Appearing as a guest on the Oklahoma City-area television station KOCO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield told Oklahomans that the state's continued increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths is not an inevitability. 

Facebook / Tulsa Public Schools

Superintendent Deborah Gist of Tulsa Public Schools presented a recommendation to the district's board of education on Monday that schools offer no in-person instruction when they begin next month, due to the level of safety and the rate of coronavirus spread locally. 

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday that he's returned to working in-person at the Capitol after being medically cleared following his infection with COVID-19, the first known case in an American governor.

"I am glad to be back in the office today," Stitt said in a video announcement.

Stitt said every single person he was in contact with "continues to test negative." (It wasn't clear what timeline he was referring to regarding that contact.)

Facebook / Tulsa Public Schools

Following the Oklahoma State Board of Education's vote to not require a statewide COVID-19 policy, some Oklahoma school district officials say they're now being put in a tough spot.

"It's just much more difficult than anything I've dealt with in 47 years in the business," said Terry Davidson, finance director and former superintendent for Comanche Public Schools, of the pandemic, on a virtual meeting of the Oklahoma Schools Insurance Group on Monday.

Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma

Hundreds of Oklahoma nonprofits have signed a letter in support of a proposed change to federal tax deduction limits supported by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Oklahoma's Sen. James Lankford.

The proposal could be a component of a new coronavirus relief package currently being considered by Congress. It would allow for an above-the-line deduction of up to $4,000 for individuals or $8,000 for those filing jointly.

Twitter / @OU_Football

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma-Missouri State football game scheduled for Sept. 5 in Norman has been moved to one week earlier, Aug. 29, University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said Saturday.

The NCAA has approved a waiver requested by both schools, allowing them more flexibility in dealing with potential issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from Castiglione.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of reported coronavirus cases in Oklahoma has surpassed 30,000 and nearly 500 have now died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the illness, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said Saturday.

Twitter / @GovStitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The head of coronavirus response at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center said Friday that an increase in the number of younger Oklahoma residents dying as a result of the virus has become a worry. 

Twitter / @FLOTUS

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — First lady Melania Trump said she hopes to take the Cherokee Nation up on its invitation to visit the tribe’s headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

The first lady made the comments Thursday after a meeting of the President’s Task Force on Protecting Children in the Indian Health Service System, which is co-chaired by Trent Shores, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Facebook / Tuttle Care Center

The Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps, a medical and public health volunteer system that is part of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, put out an "urgent weekend request" for nurses and nursing assistants due to an "outbreak" at a long-term care facility in the Grady County city of Tuttle. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The Tulsa Police Department will be responding to complaints about Tulsa's new mandatory mask ordinance only if called by a property owner, Mayor G.T. Bynum and TPD Chief Wendell Franklin explained at a Thursday press conference. 

"Officers are not driving around town looking for somebody who doesn't have a mask on," Bynum said. "Instead, it empowers property owners to tell people that that's the ordinance and they need to have a mask on, and if not then they need to leave. If the person won't leave, then TPD can enforce the trespass ordinance that we have in place."

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Enrollment at a virtual charter school in Oklahoma has skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic that forced closures for traditional school districts.

Facebook / Broken Arrow Tiger Sports

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The governing body for high school activities in Oklahoma plans for sports, including football, to start on time in the fall.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County officials said local coronavirus numbers remain troubling, but they hope the recently adopted mask mandate can slow or reverse the trends.

"Are we plateauing in cases as the governor indicated we might be in Oklahoma? In Tulsa County, we are not -- we are continuing to surge," said Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, in response to a reporter's question.

"We're continuing to see a higher percent of daily positives than we would like. It's telling us the virus is widespread in our community and the prevalence is extremely high," Dart said.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections cancelled visitation at all state prisons over the weekend following an outbreak at the Lexington Correctional Center, where 87 inmates inside one housing unit tested positive in the last 24 hours. All of the inmates reported no symptoms prior to testing and were placed in isolation, the agency said in a press release.

Facebook / US Army Fort Sill

Following the death of the 13-year-old daughter of a service member stationed there, the U.S. Army's Fort Sill in Comanche County has announced a strengthening of its mandatory mask policy.

Facebook / Crossover Preparatory Academy

Democratic lawmakers in the Oklahoma House of Representatives are pushing back against Gov. Kevin Stitt's announcement that he will award $10 million of federal coronavirus education funding to private schools.

Google Street View

Oklahoma health care providers and associations are reacting to the reported COVID-19 death of Aimee Williams, a nurse practitioner at Tulsa's Hillcrest Medical Center.

"The Oklahoma Nurses Association extends its deepest condolences to the family of the nurse practitioner who died as a result of COVID," CEO Jane Nelson said in a statement.  "The entire nursing profession mourns with you."

National Junior Angus Association

The National Junior Angus Show has set up shop at Tulsa's Expo Square with attendees coming from across the country to participate even as coronavirus cases spike locally and nationwide.

"It's all O.K. in OK" is a slogan for the event, repeated on signs and in promotional videos for the weeklong gathering.

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