COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Facebook / Mayor David Holt

Three bars and four bar employees are suing Oklahoma City over Mayor David Holt’s proclamation that in-person service at bars must end at 11 p.m.

The lawsuit alleges Holt overstepped his legal authority and improperly cited the city’s Riot Control and Prevention Act when he declared a public disaster and issued the proclamation this month.

“The plain and unambiguous language of the RCPA makes clear that its intent is to control and prevent riots—not to contain the spread of pandemics,” according to the lawsuit.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma health officials reported 1,721 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Sunday, and 19 more deaths linked to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said the new counts bring the state to a total of 195,545 case of the virus and 1,736 fatalities.

The actual number of cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa City Council convenes next Monday for its inauguration, where all nine councilors will be sworn in.

Afterward, the council will hold a special meeting to elect the chair and vice-chair. Despite the worsening pandemic, that will all happen in the city council chambers.

Councilor Lori Decter Wright said they don’t have much choice.

Wikipedia

Starting Monday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health will allow 14-day, in-school quarantines for students potentially exposed to the coronavirus at school.

The agency released guidelines on Wednesday for the temporary program, which will let students participate in distance learning under supervision and with better access to technology and nutrition resources.

Quarantined students are to be kept separate from other students, masked and distanced from each other at all times.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 3,732 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 184,342.

Tulsa County had 416 of Wednesday's new cases. Its total now stands at 31,333, second to Oklahoma County's 37,441.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, jumped from 3,172 to 3,274, its third straight new record and seventh in the past eight days. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Physicians, nurses and health care groups in Oklahoma are expressing concern over the state department of health's recent guidance to allow health care workers infected with COVID-19 but asymptomatic to remain on the job rather than quarantine.

"To me, that seems like the most insane thing," said Dr. Scott Michener, chief medical officer at Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, on a videoconference with reporters organized by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition on Tuesday.

Oklahoma National Guard Tech. Sgt. Kasey Phipps

The leader of the Oklahoma National Guard is imploring citizens to take proper COVID-19 precautions amid rapidly worsening trends in the state's pandemic trajectory.

"In the last three weeks in Oklahoma, we have had over 57,000 cases of COVID-19. Of that number, over 1,500 people have been hospitalized," says Adjutant General Michael Thompson in a new public service announcement

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated Nov. 25, 12:40 p.m.

The City of Tulsa has implemented several new measures to address soaring coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates.

Mayor G.T. Bynum signed on Wednesday ordinances passed by the city council Tuesday night.

Oklahoma’s former state epidemiologist is part of a coalition sounding the alarm on the coronavirus pandemic heading into the holiday season.

OU College of Public Health professor Dr. Aaron Wendelboe said just since Oct. 1, cases in Oklahoma are up 100%, deaths 60% and hospitalizations 140%. 

The sixth time was the charm for the Muskogee City Council to pass a mandatory mask ordinance to combat the dramatic rise in COVID-19 infections. After five failed votes in recent weeks, the measure passed Monday night 5-3. 

The vote came the same day that Muskogee County declared a state of emergency due to a sharp increase in coronavirus infections and the possibility of overwhelming the already strained hospital system even further.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 2,736 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 180,610.

Tulsa County had 417 of Tuesday's new cases. Its total now stands at 30,917, second to Oklahoma County's 36,880.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, jumped from 3,002 to 3,172, its second straight new record and sixth in the past seven days. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

The Broken Arrow City Council on Monday voted against passage of a resolution that would have strongly encouraged the use of masks and other measures to lower community transmission of COVID-19.

The vote failed 1-4, with only Councilor Johnnie Parks voting in favor.

Facebook / Congressman Frank Lucas

Republican Congressman Frank Lucas, who represents Oklahoma's 3rd congressional district, speaks with KWGS about his Monday Oklahoman op-ed, "As COVID-19 winter approaches, Oklahoma must act," in which he notes 36 other states have statewide mask mandates and endorses science behind limiting some businesses' capacity to reduce community spread.

Food and Drug Administration

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 3,544 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 177,874. 

Tulsa County had 509 of Monday's new cases. Its total now stands at 30,500. Tulsa County is the second in the state to break 30,000 total COVID cases, and its total is second to Oklahoma County's 36,199.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 2,886 to 3,002, its fifth new record in the past six days. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. is urging citizens to follow federal recommendations and avoid gathering for Thanksgiving amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"Our ICU beds at Hastings Hospital are staying full as we see and help more of our citizens hospitalized by this virus," Hoskin said. "The best thing we can do is stay in this holiday, and if you're around other people, wearing a mask is critical."

Hoskin said the tribe's public health team is seeing positive test rates three times higher than in recent weeks. 

KWGS News

The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on Oklahoma’s child welfare system.

The pandemic initially diverted the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ attention from improvements needed to help kids in foster care with multiple needs, like health and behavioral issues. There was a need for the agency to suddenly shift social workers to telework and scale back in-person visits.

KWGS News file photo

Oklahoma has set nine records for COVID hospitalizations this month, three of them coming this week.

The state ended the week with new records of 1,505 Oklahomans hospitalized and 450 in intensive care unit beds. OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler expects that will only get worse.

Tulsa Winterfest

Organizers on Friday pushed back the start of Arvest Winterfest two weeks.

The 13th annual event was set to begin Saturday, but citing support of Mayor G.T. Bynum’s request Thursday for Tulsans to limit public interactions over the next 10 days, the BOK Center announced Friday Winterfest will now start Nov. 30.

'Almost Impossible': Oklahoma’s Coronavirus Surge Has Made ICU Space Hard to Find

Nov 20, 2020

The Frontier‘s Kassie McClung and Brianna Bailey and StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney partnered on this story.

As the demand for intensive care among Oklahoma’s coronavirus patients continues to surge, the system is seeing strain from beginning to end — from ambulance services, to small-town hospitals, to the state’s metro health systems.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 2,921 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 167,261.

Tulsa County had 460 of Friday's cases, its second-highest new case total to date. Tulsa County's total now stands at 28,966, second to Oklahoma County's 33,851.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 2,807 to 2,843, a new high for the third day in a row. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Twitter / @GovStitt

Despite clear guidance from the CDC and a top White House coronavirus official against such behavior due to the devastating surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday he plans to attend a college football game and celebrate Thanksgiving with members of his family outside his immediate household.

"I'm going to be with my family over Thanksgiving. I'm going to do it safely. I'm going to be with my parents. I think Oklahomans should be with their loved ones over Thanksgiving," Stitt said at a press briefing at the state Capitol. 

Citing staffing shortages due to the worsening pandemic, sky-high rates of infection in Tulsa County and the likelihood things will get even worse after the Thanksgiving break, the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education voted Thursday evening to postpone the return to in-person learning for 4th through 6th graders at elementary schools planned for Nov. 30.

Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist had recommended following through with the plan.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa officials said this week new restrictions could be on the way to address skyrocketing local COVID-19 numbers.

Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart were asked Thursday about whether capacities at bars, restaurant, houses of worship and other places should be reduced. Dart said data suggest that might be a good move.

Facebook / Mayor G.T. Bynum

In separate Thursday press conferences, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum each challenged residents of their respective metropolitan areas to agree to 10 days of strict adherence to public health guidelines meant to slow the spread of COVID-19, stressing that hospitals are under severe strain and need citizens to change behaviors immediately to keep from even greater catastrophe.

"Cases are spiking right now across the country, but even in that relative environment, we're not faring well," Holt said.

Twitter / Gov. Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of hospitalizations in Oklahoma due to the coronavirus surpassed 1,400 on Wednesday for a new daily record, and a surge in cases is linked to Halloween events, according to a report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

The state did not restrict trick-or-treating on Halloween and has not limited social gatherings.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 2,915 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 164,340.

Tulsa County had 379 of Thursday's new cases. Its total now stands at 28,506, second to Oklahoma County's 33,309.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 2,727 to 2,807, a new high for the second day in a row. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools will not allow spectators at winter sports until at least December because of COVID-19’s current high rate of spread locally.

Oklahoma City Public Schools suspended winter sports indefinitely last week for the same reason.

Athletics Director Gil Cloud said he has confidence in TPS coaches after they had to call off just two football games thsi fall because of COVID within a district team.

The Owasso City Council on Tuesday night passed a resolution strongly encouraging citizens to wear masks and businesses to require them in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The resolution also gives businesses legal cover to require masks by pledging the Owasso Police Department’s support through enforcing trespassing laws.

City Manager Warren Lehr made clear before the council’s vote, however, there is no legal requirement for anyone to wear or require masks.

Tulsa Police

Another Tulsa public servant has died of COVID-19.

City officials announced late Tuesday night that 52-year-old Joey Phillips, a 911 dispatcher on the job for 23 years, had died from the disease.

"The Tulsa Fire Department has lost one of our great dispatchers. The voice that kept you safe and informed. The last voice that told you to 'wear your seatbelts'  when you went out on a call. Rest well Joey Phillips. We'll take it from here," Capt. Lorenzer Holmes Jr. wrote in a Facebook post shared by the Tulsa Fire Department.

ABC World News Tonight

Oklahoma continues to attract attention from national news networks due to the severity of its COVID-19 pandemic.

ABC News' World News Tonight and Good Morning America were in Lawton Tuesday, reporting from the COVID-19 ward at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, where Chief Medical Officer Dr. Scott Michener said they were operating at over 100% ICU capacity.

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