COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Rental Realities

Tulsa nonprofits have teamed up to keep potentially hundreds of families from being evicted.

With funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Tulsa Area COVID-19 Response Fund managed by the Tulsa Community Foundation and Tulsa Area United Way, Restore Hope Ministries will work with landlords and tenants on the Tulsa County court eviction docket to get them into mediation instead.

Restore Hope Executive Director Jeff Jaynes said there will be some terms both parties must agree to before past-due rent is paid.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 65 new COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County on Tuesday, the county's biggest one-day increase during the state's now three-month outbreak.

Tulsa County now has 1,261 confirmed cases of COVID-19, second most in the state behind Oklahoma County's 1,404. Tulsa County's previous one-day high in new cases was 45 on April 3 and April 29.

On Friday, the Tulsa Health Department offered free COVID-19 testing at a food distribution event in north Tulsa. They quickly reached capacity there. Fewer tests are processed over the weekends.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Updated June 8, 7:15 p.m. The health department reported one death Monday, not zero deaths. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 55 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 7,205.

One new death was reported Monday, a Tulsa County woman 65 or older who died Friday. Since March 18, 348 people have died from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

File photo

The Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission has set emergency rules governing curbside and delivery sales of beer, wine and spirits.

ABLE Commission Deputy Director Steven Barker said regulations needed to be put into place with those methods being made permanent last month.

"Obviously, we did allow that temporarily as the pandemic was rearing its ugly head in April. Now it’s important, I think, for the commission to establish some more permanent rules as far as how to do this and how to do it safely," Barker said.

Tulsa PAC

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a financial strain on arts organizations, including Tulsa’s Performing Arts Center.

The PAC management team projects they’ll be down about $1 million, largely the result of touring Broadway shows being postponed until at least 2021.

"You’re talking five big Broadway shows that are being moved off the calendar the remainder of 2020, and then you’ve got another four or five headliner acts that had to be moved," said CEO Mark Frie.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported another 147 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths over the weekend.

The state now has 7,150 total cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus, and 348 people have died. The seven-day average of new cases has climbed from 65.4 just over a week ago to 92 as of Sunday, according to Oklahoma Watch.

Courtesy

Cherokee Nation has started reopening its casinos and aims to have Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa open by the end of next week.

The tribe closed its 10 northeastern Oklahoma casinos March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Properties in Tahlequah, Fort Gibson and Sallisaw reopened this week.

"As we entered phase three for Oklahoma and Tulsa this week, the trends seemed to indicate that it would be safe for us to open on a very strategic basis," said Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported it has cleared 71% of the backlogged claims in place when its new leader took over a week ago.

OESC Interim Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt said that equates to 180,000 weeks of claims that have been paid out. 

"Which is kind of a weird way to say it, right? But what that means is there was people that were waiting on eight weeks, 10 weeks, you know, multiple weeks of pay, and we processed all of those at the same time so that we could get them those funds that they so desperately need," Zumwalt said.

Oklahoma State Treasurer

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued through May, Oklahoma’s gross receipts dropped 14% from the same month a year ago, a more than $150 million decline.

Deputy Treasurer for Communications Tim Allen said the only month with a steeper decrease from the prior year he can recall is April, when gross receipts were down 30% from 2019.

"But that was exaggerated in April because the individual income tax payment deadline was moved from April 15 to July 15," Allen said.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 102 new coronavirus infections and three additional deaths from COVID-19.

A total of 6,907 Oklahomans have now tested positive for the coronavirus, and 344 are known to have died from the illness it causes.

Two of the deaths reported Thursday happened in Tulsa County: a woman 65 or older and a woman between 36 and 49 years old. COVID-19 has officially killed 59 Tulsa County residents, the second-highest total in the state behind 63 in Oklahoma County.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Wednesday reversed course on its decision from earlier this week to no longer release COVID-19 infection data by city and zip code.

The agency made the move after consulting with Attorney General Mike Hunter, who advised them releasing epidemiological information for statistical purposes is legal as long as no individual person can be identified.

Roland Leach / U.S. Air Force

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Department of Education released guidance Wednesday for how public schools could reopen in the fall that includes recommending the use of masks for staff and students to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The department’s Return to Learn Oklahoma framework for reopening schools lists several factors for individual districts to consider as they reopen.

Oklahoma Blood Institute

Oklahoma Blood Institute will provide all donors 18 and older with free COVID-19 antibody tests.

Testing will be offered at donor centers and mobile blood drives. OBI President and CEO Dr. John Armitage said donations were down about 20% at worst during the pandemic, but surgeries and other procedures being on hold at the same time offset the drop.

Now that those are picking back up, OBI needs more donors to meet hospital needs.

Department of Defense

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 113 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total number of confirmed cases to 6,805.

The state's rolling, seven-day average of new cases has crept up over the past several days since hitting a low of 65.4 on Saturday. It now stands at 82.3.

Two deaths that happened between May 28 and Sunday were also reported, bringing the total number dead from COVID-19 to 341 since March 18. Both deaths were men 65 or older.

At least 181 deaths have been in nursing homes.

Tim Mossholder

Job losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn may be greater than previously thought.

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Chief Economist Lynn Gray said the state unemployment rate for April was officially 13.7% but should be about 17% because some COVID-related job losses were classified differently by the U.S. Department of Labor until last month.

Job losses are not affecting all groups of Oklahomans equally, either. Gray said women in the state are out of work at a higher rate than men are.

Department of Defense

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 119 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths.

The state's total number of confirmed cases now stands at 6,692.

The five deaths reported Tuesday happened between May 11 and Saturday. Four were adults age 65 or older, and the fifth was a woman between 50 and 64 years old.

Three of the five deaths were in Tulsa County, which now has 57 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, the second-highest total in the state behind Oklahoma County's 62.

— by Paul Monies, Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma officials are expected to sharply curtail release of information related to the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, taking down the numbers of infections, deaths and recoveries in nursing homes, ZIP codes, cities and small counties, said a health department source familiar with the decision.

The decision to stop publishing detailed data at the local level coincides with the expiration of the state’s Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act, which ended at midnight Sunday.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma has had at least 6,506 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 334 deaths linked to the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Sunday.

The report is an increase of 88 cases but no deaths from Saturday. Nearly 5,500 Oklahoma residents have recovered from the disease, according to the agency.

The actual number of cases is believed to be much higher because of a lack of testing and because some people with the disease don’t show symptoms.

Tulsa Flag

Tulsa and the rest of Oklahoma officially moved to phase three of reopening Monday, lifting several more restrictions implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

In Tulsa, events can resume without size limits, outdoor park amenities and dog parks can be used again, community centers are reopening, and businesses that were operating by appointment only can start taking walk-in customers. 

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said people must remain vigilant in taking safety precautions like wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and frequently washing their hands.

Citing a low proportion of active cases in the state, increased testing and declining positive rates, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Friday the state will move to the next phase of his Open Up and Recover Safely plan on Monday as planned.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday three additional deaths from and 68 new cases of COVID-19.

Two deaths happened in the past 24 hours, and the third happened May 23. All three were adults 65 or older.

Two deaths were in Tulsa County, which now has 51, second only to Oklahoma County with 60. Since March 18, 329 Oklahomans have officially died of COVID-19.

Over the course of the outbreak, 982 people have been hospitalized, and 160 are currently hospitalized. The state now has 6,338 confirmed cases of the illness.

Tulsa officials on Friday said the city and county are ready to follow the state into phase three of a reopening plan on Monday.

As of Friday, Tulsa County had 983 total confirmed cases of COVID-19, 158 active cases and 51 deaths. Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart said the county's case trend is almost flat and hospitalization rates are trending up but remain manageable.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said he does not have the same concerns proceeding to phase three as he did going into phase one, however, because the main benchmark is hospital capacity.

Tulsa Public Schools is seeking community input as it plans for the upcoming school year.

An online survey asks parents, students and members of the community how they feel about steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 — things like staggered schedules to allow for social distancing, a longer school year so there’s more time to disinfect classrooms, and shifting between traditional and distance learning if infection rates warrant.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 41 new cases of COVID-19, four additional deaths and 101 newly recovered patients.

The state now has 6,270 confirmed cases of the illness since March 6.

One death reported Thursday happened in the past 24 hours, and the rest happened between May 22 and Tuesday. All four were adults 65 or older. Since March 18, 326 Oklahomans have died from COVID-19.

Over the course of the outbreak, 975 people have been hospitalized, and 181 are currently in the hospital.

File Photo

Tulsa saw significant decreases in vehicle miles traveled during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

INCOG Transportation Modeling Coordinator Nimish Dharmadhikari said on the south leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop, vehicle miles traveled between April 1 and April 15 were down 57% from the same period last year, and some areas of the city had steeper declines.

"Arts District experienced around 77% reduction in volume, whereas Brookside experienced about 69% reduction in volume," Dharmadhikari said.

Tulsa Transit buses will be free to ride a little while longer.

The transit board on Wednesday approved an extension of the policy through June, though General Manager Ted Rieck will most likely end after the first week of the month.

Rieck said Tulsa Transit buses have perhaps been busier than they should have under the policy.

"We have a lot of people who ride just to joyride, crowding out people who actually need to get somewhere on the buses. So, we believe by charging fares, we’ll control who’s actually riding the bus," Rieck said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 92 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths.

Oklahoma has now seen 6,229 total cases of the illness, and 322 people have died. Two of the deaths reported Wednesday happened in Tulsa County. Both were adults 65 or older.

Tulsa County now has 49 deaths, second-most in the state.

The other two deaths happened in Washington County. All four new deaths happened between March 25 and Monday.

Norman Police

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma police officer will be disciplined for violating department policy when he responded to an email about coronavirus protective masks that were issued by sending racist images of people with white bags over their faces carrying torches, reminiscent of black victims being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Integris

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City-based hospital system on Tuesday began allowing limited visitation to most patients, including those with the coronavirus, as the state continues to reopen.

Integris Health said some patients can designate one person as a “patient representative” who can visit between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.

Patients in obstetrics, pediatrics and neonatal intensive care may have two representatives, but no visitors will be allowed for patients in isolation except for those near death.

Tulsa Airport

After seeing steep drops in traffic in March and April, Tulsa International Airport officials are starting to see a rebound.

According to Transportation Security Administration figures, passenger numbers at Tulsa International were down 53% in March and almost 96% in April from the same months the year before.

Tulsa Airports CEO Alexis Higgins said during a Tulsa Regional Chamber business event more people came through the security checkpoint on Friday than they’d seen since mid-March.

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