COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The pandemic, of course, has clearly changed -- and is actually still changing -- how we think about work, play, relationships, entertainment, education, social interaction, and much more. It's also making many of us wonder about city life, i.e., what the pros and cons of living in an urban setting really are in this age of Covid. Are people still as drawn to cities as they used to be? And what does the future of the city look like? Our guest is David Cutler, the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard University.

Our guest is Adam Tooze, a professor of history at Columbia University and the author of "Crashed," which was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018 and one of The Economist's Books of the Year. His timely new book, which he tells us about, mixes finance, politics, business, economics, medicine, and recent world history in order to trace what went wrong -- and why -- during the turning-point year that was 2020. This new book is "Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World's Economy." As was noted by Reuters: "Tooze makes a strong case for looking back and beginning to draw some conclusions....

Saint Francis Health System

COVID-19 admissions are rising "exponentially" at the Children's Hospital at Saint Francis, doctors said Tuesday.

"You're going to see about a six and a half-time increase in hospitalizations" from the start of June through the end of August, said Dr. Travis Campbell, chair of the pediatrics department and the children's hospital, said during a virtual press briefing Tuesday afternoon. 

Facebook / Mayor Will Joyce

The mayor of Stillwater declared a state of emergency Thursday, saying the current surge in COVID cases had pushed the local hospital system to the brink.

"Our health professionals have incessantly warned us that we may reach the point when much-needed medical attention, COVID or non-COVID related, may not be available,” Mayor Will Joyce said in a news release. “We have now reached that critical threshold where our hospital no longer has available staffed beds and without each of us making necessary health changes, the trajectory is anticipated to continue declining.”

Oklahoma's Ban On School Mask Mandates Is On Hold. Here's What You Need To Know

Sep 1, 2021
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma’s law preventing schools from mandating masks is temporarily on hold due to a judge’s ruling Wednesday morning. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Monday that he still does not see a present need for a mandatory mask ordinance in the city.

"I'm going to have to have a lot greater sense of urgency from our health care systems than we have right now," Bynum said during a virtual press briefing. "And hopefully we don't get there."

The mayor noted that he supported and signed the previous mask order in July of 2020 due to local hospital leaders telling him it was essential to prevent the collapse of the health care system.

City of Norman

The city of Norman on Friday asked residents to help conserve water as a critical need for oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals has led to a reduction in the supply of oxygen available to municipal water agencies.

Oklahoma Hospitals Announce Full ICUs As Health Officials Keep Quiet On Bed Capacity

Aug 30, 2021

Oklahoma health officials are choosing to keep hospital capacity data under wraps as some of the state’s major health systems announce they have zero ICU beds open.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma's top health official said Thursday that while he recognizes state government has outlawed school mask requirements, he does believe universal masking in schools would be ideal to keep students and staff safe from the growing threat of COVID-19.

"It's not a perfect world and that's not a possibility, so, I want everybody to wear a mask at school," Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye told Public Radio Tulsa during a virtual press briefing on Thursday when asked if he would ideally want schools to be able to enforce mask requirements.

Oklahoma Doctors, Tired But Not Deterred, Push To Get Patients Vaccinated

Aug 27, 2021
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Dr. Douglas Drevets recalls feeling a burst of optimism when the year began. 

The state’s long and deadly battle against COVID-19 seemed to have turned a corner as Oklahoma emerged as one of the top states in vaccinating eligible populations.

But that wouldn’t last long. 

Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist announced in a letter to district families on Thursday that in response to a troublingly high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, school officials are pursuing "a temporary strengthening of the mask expectation we have in place throughout our district."

Google Maps Street View

An Oklahoma City Public Schools middle school student has died of COVID-19, officials announced Thursday.

"OKCPS is saddened to learn of the passing of Clarence Johnson, III, who was enrolled to begin 8th grade at Mary Golda Ross Middle School after attending Roosevelt Middle School last year," the district said in a statement. "Crisis counseling is available to students and staff. We will keep his family and friends in our thoughts during this very difficult time."

Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health

The head of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information on Monday advised Oklahomans to avoid self-medicating with drugs intended to deworm livestock in an attempt to prevent or treat COVID-19 in human beings. 

Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation announced Thursday it will donate Tribally-manufactured masks to any public school districts within its reservation boundaries that require them to be worn, despite a state law signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in May that makes implementing that public health measure illegal.

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office on Thursday announced one of its sergeants had died of COVID-19.

Sgt. John Harris, 43, had been hospitalized since late July before his death, the sheriff's office said in a statement

City of Tulsa

While Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart were clear that they believe Tulsans should be following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommending universal masking regardless of vaccination status due to the current surge in COVID-19 infections, neither would comment Thursday on whether they support an ordinance currently working its way through the city council that would mandate the wearing of them.

The White House

StateImpact Oklahoma obtained a copy of a letter from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt and Okla. Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. Read it here.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Nursing homes in Oklahoma and across the nation are in danger of losing staff or funding following pressure from the Biden administration spurred by a resurgence of COVID-19.

Nursing homes that refuse to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their staff will lose Medicare and Medicaid funding. 

OU Health

Officials from several Oklahoma hospitals gathered in Oklahoma City Tuesday to strike an urgent tone in their pleas with Oklahomans to wear masks, get vaccinated and keep the state's health care system from collapsing in on itself as the rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths appear poised to eclipse previous surge records.

Oklahoma Republican Party

At a Saturday rally inside the Oklahoma State Capitol opposing COVID-19 public health measures, the Oklahoma Republican Party continued its now-familiar messaging comparing pandemic-related policies to Nazi Germany and its atrocities.

The party promoted the rally, attended by several hundred demonstrators, with the hashtags #NoMasks, #NoLockdowns and #NoVaccineMandates.


As Oklahoma hospitals struggle to keep up with a crush of new COVID-19 patients, some sick Oklahomans are being sent for care to states as far away as Idaho.

The Idaho Capitol Sun reported Thursday an Oklahoma patient with COVID-19 was admitted to a hospital in Boise because it was the closest available bed.

KWGS News file photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An emergency rule by Gov. Kevin Stitt allows Oklahoma hospitals to renovate conference rooms and other areas to care for COVID-19 patients, the state’s health commissioner said Friday.

The rule is not an emergency declaration, which would allow state schools to implement mask mandates, said Dr. Lance Frye, adding he is not convinced one is needed.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

Saying wearing a mask is a strictly optional "personal choice," Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye on Friday told reporters at the department's first media briefing in over a month that he does not endorse the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guidelines recommending universal indoor masking to help reduce the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant in areas of high transmission.

Oklahoma Children's Hospital at OU Health.

Officials from Oklahoma Children's Hospital at OU Health on Thursday painted a dire picture of how they're handling a rise in COVID-19 admissions.

"Across the state today, there were 52 pediatric patients admitted to hospitals," said Dr. Stephanie DeLeon, a pediatric hospitalist, at a Thursday rally on the hospital's grounds. "One week ago, there [were] 36. Two weeks ago, there were 25. This number is increasing rapidly, and we as pediatricians are worried about the kids in our community."

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

As coronavirus hospitalizations surge past 1,000 daily, Oklahoma health officials are raising concerns that the state’s hospital services are strained with no solution in sight.

In a weekly update to state agencies, the Oklahoma State Department of Health designated the state’s hospital system as “unstable,” stating that, “Services (are) disrupted and no solution (is) identified or in progress.”

Oklahoma State Medical Association

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Parents of schoolchildren joined the Oklahoma State Medical Association on Thursday in filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn a state law banning mask requirements in public schools.

“This is not a political stance; it is about public health and common sense,” medical association President Dr. Mary Clarke said in a statement. “If schools can send students home for a lice infection, they should have the latitude and ability to issue a mask mandate.”

Matt Trotter / KWGS

In executive session at a special meeting Wednesday night, the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education voted in support of its attorneys possibly bringing suit against the state for its new law prohibiting districts from following federal public health guidance by requiring masks in schools.

Ascension St. John

Tulsa's Ascension St. John Medical Center said Wednesday an overwhelming increase in COVID-19 patients is forcing service changes and limitations.

"The current surge of COVID-19 cases is a public health crisis that has put great pressure on our hospitals, emergency departments and healthcare professionals," the hospital said in a statement.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

A group of 29 higher education organizations issued a statement calling for a reversal of state-level policies in places like Oklahoma that legally restrict how colleges and universities can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oklahoma City Public Schools

With schools across Oklahoma beginning to welcome students back to the classroom amid a state- and region-wide surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Kevin Stitt's office said Tuesday morning his position has not changed regarding a legal prohibition on public school districts from requiring masks.