COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Facebook / Mayor G.T. Bynum

Update 9:20 a.m.: This story, photo, and headline have been updated to reflect that the ordinance has been signed by the mayor and is now in effect.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has signed an ordinance that requires adults to wear face coverings in many public settings, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 among a skyrocketing number of cases and hospitalizations.

NIAID-RML

Updated July 16, 12:30 p.m. to correct current hospitalizations.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 1,075 new cases of COVID-19, the first time more than 1,000 cases were reported in one day and a new single-day record for the state for the second day in a row.

There were 993 cases reported Tuesday. Oklahoma now has a total of 22,813 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Tulsa County had 178 of Wednesday's new cases, bringing its state-leading total to 5,626. Oklahoma County is just 35 cases behind.

Updated July 15, 2:55 p.m. with information about Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday morning he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Stitt appears to be the first governor in the U.S. to contract COVID-19. He is tested regularly and said he received his positive result on a test administered Tuesday, after he participated in a meeting of the Commissioners of the Land Office that involved Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, Agriculture Secretary Blayne Arthur and other officials.

Updated July 15, 10:05 a.m.: References to the Tulsa Regional Chamber were changed to Tulsa Regional Tourism. A Tulsa Regional Tourism spokesperson clarified while the organization is an arm of the chamber, it is pursuing the initiatives and supporting a mask requirement independently of the chamber.

Tulsa Regional Tourism has an initiative in the works to get tourists back to the area.

Jenks Public Schools parents have until July 31 to choose in-person, all-virtual or blended instruction for their students for at least the fall semester.

Students in any grade may be enrolled in the in-person or virtual options. The blended learning option is available only to seventh- through 12th-graders and includes daily, in-person attendance.

The district will require masks at school for students in third grade and up, employees, and any visitors. Students in pre-K through second grade will be encouraged to wear masks.

The Union Public Schools Board has approved the district’s re-entry plan for the fall.

Students will either attend entirely in person or entirely online. While younger students will get district curriculum from a Union teacher, students in sixth through 12th grades will receive instruction through a contracted company.

Union Assistant Superintendent Sandi Calvin said it will keep high schoolers on-track for graduation, but there’s an important note for potential college athletes.

Roland Leach / U.S. Air Force

An ordinance Tulsa city councilors will consider Wednesday will require adults to wear face coverings over their mouths and noses in some public settings.

Face coverings will be required inside indoor spaces open to the public and in outdoor areas where people cannot keep six feet away from others who don’t live with them. There are exceptions for people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering, people who are eating or drinking, or people doing a job where a face covering is a hazard.

Masks will be encouraged but not required for children.

Updated July 14 at 6:00 p.m. with new hospitalization numbers.  

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 993 new cases of COVID-19, a new single-day record for the state.

The previous record increase was 858 new cases, set July 7. Oklahoma now has a total of 21,738 known cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Tulsa County had 181 of Tuesday's new cases, bringing its state-leading total to 5,448. Oklahoma County is only 189 cases behind, with 5,259.

Twitter / @OESCnews

Shelley Zumwalt, interim director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, spoke with KWGS about the agency's claims processing event at Expo Square this week, improving the agency's technology, dealing with fraudulent claims, making sure unemployment is a temporary stopgap and not a disincentive for Oklahomans to return to work, and more. 

Details on Expo Square event:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma health officials on Monday reported 510 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and noted the state’s first death of a child from the disease.

Officials at Fort Sill Army Post in southwest Oklahoma confirmed a 13-year-old dependent of a service member stationed there tested positive for COVID-19 and died Friday at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

“Our entire Lawton Fort Sill community is deeply saddened,” Maj Gen. Ken Kamper, commanding general of Fort Sill, said in a statement.

Our guest is Dr. Syeachia Dennis, who joined the OU-Tulsa family medicine residency program in 2013, and who more recently completed a master's program from the John Hopkins School of Public Health. An Oklahoma native, Dr. Dennis is an Assistant Professor in the OU-Tulsa School of Community Medicine's Department of Family Medicine. She joins us for a candid, local-level discussion about the racial disparities that exist today in American health care: troubling, long-running disparities in access, treatment, perceptions, and outcomes. Dr.

Twitter / @OESCnews

The interim director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says the agency will be using what it has learned at its past claims processing events in other cities to assist Tulsans with their unemployment benefits.

"We've figured out how to efficiently get through 500-plus people and help them with their claims and make sure that their issues are answered," said Shelley Zumwalt, who was tapped to lead the agency by Gov. Kevin Stitt in May.

US Army Fort Sill Facebook page

In a statement, the Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill announced Sunday that Oklahoma's first confirmed COVID-19 death of a child was the 13-year-old dependent of a service member at the post.

“Our entire Lawton Fort Sill community is deeply saddened. Our greatest condolences go out to the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this difficult and sad time” said Maj Gen. Ken Kamper, commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence, in the statement.

KWGS News File photo

Following the state's first known coronavirus-related death of a child, the head of the Oklahoma State Department of Education said Sunday that schools will not be able to reopen unless Oklahomans do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

“Students need to learn. We want schools to reopen this fall, but for that to happen, it is critical that Oklahomans take decisive actions now to mitigate spread of the virus," said Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a statement.

Oklahoma Watch

Some of Tulsa County’s $114 million in federal coronavirus relief funds may go toward getting personal protective equipment to area school districts before students and teachers potentially return to classrooms next month.

"We think that it’s of vital importance to make sure that we’re allowing for them to have to proper equipment they need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 heading into the fall," said Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Joe Kralicek.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma surpassed 20,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Sunday, with state health officials reporting 456 more cases and one additional death linked to the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The new numbers brings the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s total counts since tracking of the outbreak began in March to 20,235 reported cases and 422 fatalities.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma has reported 687 more cases confirmed of the new coronavirus Saturday, the second greatest daily increase since tracking of the outbreak began in March.

The daily count was second only to the record 858 new cases confirmed Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 19,779 since tracking began in March. Of those, 15,136 patients have recovered.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Three Tulsa County residents were among six COVID-19 deaths reported Friday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, along with 596 new cases of the illness.

Friday's report represented a third-straight day of declining new cases, but it still made for the state's fourth-highest increase on record. Oklahoma now has 19,092 known cases of COVID-19.

Tulsa County had 135 of the new cases, bringing its total to 4,828.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Despite rising numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infections in Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday he remains opposed to mandating that residents wear masks.

“I’m going to protect the freedoms in Oklahoma,” said Stitt, who rarely wears a mask in public, even when he’s around groups of people. “I’m not comfortable with mandating masks. It’s not something that I would do.”

University of Tulsa

University of Tulsa Interim President Janet Levit issued a statement Friday in response to a recent announcement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would require international students at universities offering online-only courses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to leave the country.

Courtesy Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation has announced the postponement of the reopening of its cultural sites, originally planned to begin this month, due to the current trends in the local coronavirus outbreak.

"In coordination with the tribe’s phased reopening plans and the recently announced delay of phase three, all tribal museums, welcome centers, retail operations and the Cherokee Heritage Center will begin to reopen in August," Cherokee Nation said in a statement.

Wikipedia

A month out from the first day of school, a pair of teachers turned state representatives have taken thousands of teachers’ questions about how this fall will work to the State Department of Education.

Rep. Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa) said federal plans aside, many Oklahoma teachers are waiting to hear from their own districts about how they'll deal with the coronavirus.

Oklahoma rolled out on Thursday the latest piece of its coronavirus response: a COVID alert system.

"It’s a tiered, colored system similar to that of a weather warning system that communicates risk level and information at a county level. The intent of this alert system is to protect health and lives while enabling social and economic activity to resume in the different phases of the pandemic," said Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Fire Chief Michael Baker said at a Wednesday press conference that 17 members of the Tulsa Fire Department have tested positive for COVID-19.

"We are not immune to the effects of this increase in cases in the city," Baker said. "We're a very high-contact population of workers."

Baker said the 17 firefighters who tested positive are under quarantine, as are an additional 51 who were potentially exposed to the virus. None have so far required hospitalization and many are asymptomatic, he said.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 603 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 18,496.

It was the state's third-highest number of new cases, following its biggest increase so far on Tuesday and its second-biggest jump yesterday.

Tulsa County had 122 of the new cases, increasing its total to 4,693.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, a measure of the trend in new infections, hit another high Thursday at 565. Tulsa County's declined slightly, from 147 to 145.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

With COVID-19 infection rates soaring both in Tulsa County and statewide, Mayor G.T. Bynum struck a familiar note at a Wednesday press conference, exhorting Tulsans to wear masks while also maintaining that he does not believe a policy requiring them is currently necessary.

"The reason we haven't done it yet to date is because we have not been told that there is just no other option and we have to do it," Bynum said.

Bynum has previously said he would implement such a policy if advised to do so by Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department.

NIAID-RML

Updated July 9, 12:05 p.m. after an update to Tulsa County deaths. 

Updated July 8, 6:12 p.m. with latest hospitalization numbers. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 673 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 17,893.

Tulsa County had 206 of the new cases, pushing its total to 4,571.

The Norman City Council on Tuesday voted to approve a mandatory mask ordinance.

The measure passed 8-1 at the virtual meeting, and applies to public places including stores, retail establishments, houses of worship, among others.

"By God, if Texas can do it, then we can do it too," Mayor Breea Clark said before the motion passed. "Our residents are worth it."

"The lives of Norman residents are worth fighting for," Clark tweeted late Tuesday evening.

Twitter / @OESCnews

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission will host a two-day claims processing event in Tulsa.

The unemployment agency will be at Expo Square in Tulsa on July 15th and 16th. OESC has previously held six days of similar events in the Oklahoma City area.

OESC says agents will be on hand to assist claimants with a wide range of issues, including fraudulent claims and federal pandemic assistance payments.

Individuals seeking assistance are encouraged to start lining up at 6:00 a.m. each day. OESC estimates it will be able to assist up to 400 people each day.

Office of the Governor of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has added Oklahoma to a list of states with "increasing community spread" of COVID-19, and will require visitors arriving from Oklahoma to quarantine for 14 days.

In a Tuesday press release, Cuomo announced that Oklahoma, Delaware and Kansas join 16 other states that meet New York's metric for the travel advisory.

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