COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma ranks 50th in the nation for percent of COVID-19 test samples being sequenced to detect virus variants of concern, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Oklahoma has sequenced 0.18% of the positive tests that we've seen coming through on the state level," said Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, on a Tuesday press briefing conducted virtually by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition.

New Life Ranch

A Green Country Christian summer camp is on hold and changing its public health protocols following a COVID-19 outbreak.

At least 25 staff members at the New Life Ranch Flint Valley camp in Colcord have tested positive, according to camp officials.

One camper at New Life Ranch's Frontier Cove camp in Adair has also tested positive, the camp said.

Tulsans who need help paying their rent or utilities can get in-person help applying for assistance Saturday.

Trained specialists will be at First Baptist Church North Tulsa, 1414 N Greenwood Ave., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help tenants apply for the City of Tulsa's Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is administered by Restore Hope Ministries.

People interested in applying should bring government-issued ID, copies of their lease and utility bills, and some form of income verification, like a pay stub or tax document.

OU Health

A top doctor at OU Health said Thursday that their hospital system had no COVID-19 patients in their intensive care units one day this week.

"Which was the first time in a long time we had nobody in our ICUs with COVID-19," Dr. Dale Bratzler said in a video update. 

Bratzler also shared that after a winter season with an extremely low number of flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), diagnoses of the latter are on the upswing among children.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

A top state health official said Thursday that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is not giving up on improving COVID-19 vaccination rates in the state after weeks of placing near the bottom in national rankings.

The Biden administration on Wednesday declared June a "national month of action" for COVID vaccination, with a goal of getting 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4. As of Tuesday, that number was 64% nationally and 54% in Oklahoma, which has for weeks been consistently placing near the bottom of national rankings.

NIAID-RML

Oklahoma's seven-day average of new COVID-19 infections fell below 100 on Monday for the first time since June 10, 2020.

The seven-day average is 99 right now. It peaked at more than 4,200 in January. OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler recently said he does not think the number of undetected cases is as bad as earlier in the pandemic, when there was an estimated five or six additional cases for every positive test. He does, however, think there may still be three additional cases for every positive test.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has reportedly lured another City of Tulsa employee to his office.

City Coronavirus Relief Funds Program Manager Clay Holk will serve as director of a state grant management office, overseeing federal funds for pandemic response and expanding economic opportunity in Oklahoma.

Mayor G.T. Bynum confirmed Holk's departure on Friday. He praised Holk's work at the city to manage a record level of federal funding.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa and Tulsa City Council have finalized grants totaling $6.5 million to 74 local nonprofits helping with COVID-19 recovery.

The funding is going to a wide range of projects and organizations to help with things like food security, child development, housing, mental health, and prison and jail re-entry programs. Grants will be given through reimbursements, but City Coronavirus Relief Funds Program Manger Clay Holk said because it has taken so long into the pandemic to award funding, situations where money is needed up front will be considered.

The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma state agencies will be barred from requiring a mask or coronavirus vaccination as a condition of being allowed to enter a state building or office under an executive order signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt.

“It is time to return to normal,” Stitt said in a statement after signing the order Friday. “Every Oklahoman must have access to all government services whether or not they choose to be vaccinated or wear a mask.”

Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council on Thursday evening approved a spending proposal from Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. that will use part of the Tribe's $1.8 billion in funding under President Biden's American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief package to provide direct payments of $2,000 to Cherokee citizens, regardless of residency or income.

American Academy of Pediatrics

As the end of session approaches, Oklahoma Republican lawmakers are pushing to ban COVID vaccination requirements for students from pre-K through university.

The state health department said last month individual governing boards may have authority to issue such requirements, but a statewide one would not happen. 

Tulsa Health Department

The Tulsa Health Department announced Monday a new text message campaign targeting Tulsa County residents who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Text message reminders are proven effective for increasing vaccination uptake, and we are looking for creative ways to generate awareness and reach herd immunity,” THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said in a statement. “We expect that for those who are open to getting vaccinated but haven’t followed through, these types of reminders will be an effective nudge toward vaccination."

Facebook / Mayor G.T. Bynum

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum issued an executive order on Friday ending his civil emergency declaration because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The civil emergency that was declared March 16, 2020, officially ends at midnight Friday.

Bynum said the decision was made in consultation with the Tulsa Health Department and because just 1% of hospitalizations are now for COVID. In January, 25% of local hospital patients had COVID.

Rep. Kevin Hern

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Kevin Hern was the only member of the state's all-GOP delegation to oppose new legislation signed into law by President Biden on Thursday that seeks to address an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passed the House 364-62 on Tuesday, with all votes in opposition coming from Republicans.

Tulsa Health Department

The Tulsa Health Department announced Wednesday afternoon that 1,150 patients who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this month through the department were given doses that were kept frozen for too long, resulting in the need for those patients to be revaccinated for full protection.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 451,473 total cases of COVID-19 in the state on Wednesday.

The 930 new cases reported over the past week were down 27% from the number reported the week before.

Tulsa County data is now being updated on a weekly basis, with numbers reflecting the previous Sunday through Saturday. At last count, Tulsa County had 74,893 cases. The 209 new cases last week represented a 31% drop from the prior week. Tulsa County's case total is second to Oklahoma County's 87,025.

A leading state COVID-19 expert said Tuesday that a coronavirus strain identified in a cluster of infections in Cleveland County last week is "worth watching," but statewide trends continue to be headed in the right direction.

"What do we know about this particular variant?" said Dr. Dale Bratzler, chief COVID officer at OU Health, on a Tuesday press briefing hosted by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition, referring to the B.1.617.2 variant. 

Pool photo by Mike Simons / Tulsa World

The Tulsa Health Department and Tulsa Transit have teamed up on a new idea to improve COVID-19 vaccine access.

Tulsa Transit riders who get vaccinated at one of three THD locations can show their bus ticket and get a free 10-day pass after their first dose and a one-day pass after their second dose. Manager of Emergency Preparedness and Response Alicia Etgen said six months into the vaccination effort, THD is still finding barriers to address.

We are joined on ST Medical Monday by Dr. Shantanu Nundy, a primary care physician, technologist, and business leader who serves as Chief Medical Officer for Accolade, which provides technology-enabled health services to Fortune 500 companies as well as small businesses. Dr.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Some students, faculty and staff at the University of Oklahoma will be required to receive the coronavirus vaccine beginning June 1, officials said.

Those who interact with patients at the university’s medical centers and those who study abroad are required to be vaccinated and others are encouraged to do so, according to OU President Joseph Harroz, Jr.

The well-regarded historian Niall Ferguson is our guest; his many books include "Civilization," "The Great Degeneration," and "The Ascent of Money." He joins us to discuss his newest book, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe," which seems especially timely in the wake of the annus horribilis that was 2020. Ferguson's book sets out to show why human beings are getting worse, not better, at handling disasters -- despite advancements in medicine, science, technology, etc.

Our guest is Steven Johnson, the bestselling author whose previous books include "Where Good Ideas Come From" and "The Ghost Map." He joins us to talk about his newest book, "Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer," which is also currently appearing as a TV documentary series on PBS. "Extra Life" is a book that offers, per Kirkus Reviews, "a surprising look at why humans are living longer.... Entertaining, wide-ranging, and -- in light of Covid-19 -- particularly timely."

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Update (Thursday, May 13, 2:08 p.m.): This story and its headline have been changed to reflect a change in opinion issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health after initial publication.

While some schools, colleges and universities elsewhere in the country have announced plans to require students be vaccinated against COVID-19, a top Oklahoma health official said Thursday that K-12 schools here will likely be prohibited from following suit. 

CVS Health

Updated May 13, 4:55 p.m.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Tulsa Health Department announced late Wednesday they will start offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 to 15 years old on Thursday.

The announcements came after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel recommended use of the vaccine for that age group. The Food and Drug Administration expanded its emergency use authorization for the vaccine earlier this week.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 450,543 total cases of COVID-19 in the state on Wednesday.

The 1,277 new cases reported over the past week were down 21% from the number reported the week before.

Tulsa County data is now being updated on a weekly basis, with numbers reflecting the previous Sunday through Saturday. At last count, Tulsa County had 74,684 cases, up 302 over the past week. Tulsa County's total is second to Oklahoma County's 86,774

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health experts continue to urge Oklahomans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, especially now that increased genetic sequencing has revealed additional variants.

The B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 variants that originated in India have been identified in Oklahoma. The country is coming out of a devastating mid-spring surge. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Monday announced funding allocations from President Biden and Congressional Democrats' American Rescue Plan for states, cities, and counties

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma has secured a $2.6 million refund for the purchase of a malaria drug once touted by President Donald Trump as an effective treatment for COVID-19, a state official said Friday.

Attorney General Mike Hunter said the state the state will receive the refund under an agreement with FFF Enterprises, a California-based medical supply wholesaler.

Gov. Kevin Stitt

Food security advocates said Thursday that Gov. Kevin Stitt's ending of Oklahoma's declared state of emergency amid the COVID-19 pandemic means as many as 168,000 Oklahomans could soon see an abrupt drop-off in nutrition benefit payments. 

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