Governor Stitt

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Department of Interior has given tacit approval to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent agreements on tribal gambling with two Oklahoma-based Indian tribes.

The compacts with the Kialegee Tribal Town and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians were “deemed approved” by the federal department after a 45-day review period expired Thursday.

The new compacts would increase the fees the tribes pay on certain electronic games from 6% to as high as 13% if the tribes build casinos in new locations authorized under the deal.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Following the leak of a report showing the White House considers Oklahoma a “red zone” for COVID-19 cases and is privately urging the state’s government to institute far stricter measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, such as a statewide mask mandate and the closure of all bars, local officials are expressing considerable frustration that they’re being kept in the dark about federal recommendations.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The head of the Tulsa Health Department says threats have been made against his life as a result of public health recommendations he's made over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission

Gov. Kevin Stitt has asked the federal government to provide an additional $300 in unemployment benefits for out-of-work Oklahomans.

The governor’s office submitted a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If approved, Stitt said FEMA will fund the $300 per week benefit, and Oklahoma will fulfill the 25% state match through existing unemployment benefits.

Twitter / @UofOklahoma

A sorority house at Oklahoma State. The Sooners football team. The faculty and staff of Broken Arrow Public Schools.

All have been sites of recent coronavirus outbreak "clusters." As more districts and universities bring students back to school buildings and campuses, epidemiologists and other public health experts are worrying that Oklahoma's trends in new infections, which have been slowly tacking downward in recent days, could change course.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

It was an exclusive meeting.

After abundant anticipation of a visit to Oklahoma by Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House coronavirus task force since President Trump announced it earlier this month, at the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa on Sunday, she was kept separated from the public, the media, and even the director of the Tulsa Health Department.

Courtesy

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of education is the latest member of the governor’s cabinet to announce his resignation.

Secretary of State Michael Rogers told the governor this week that he plans to resign from his positions as both Stitt’s secretary of education and his chief policy negotiator.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Gov. Kevin Stitt has consistently opposed mandating masks on a statewide level to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, citing issues of individual freedom, but on Thursday he said he does believe that local-level mask mandates throughout Oklahoma are at least partially responsible for a recent downward trend in new infections.

Gov. Kevin Stitt named on Thursday a new chief of staff and added a chief policy advisor.

Bond Payne, the co-founder and chairman of Heritage Trust Company and the vice chairman of Argent Financial Group, replaces Michael Junk as chief of staff. Junk announced late last month he was stepping down so he could return to working in Tulsa and spend more time with his family.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Gov. Kevin Stitt visited Tulsa to announce more than $30 million in federal relief funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, will be headed to the city. 

"Mayor Bynum and his team at the city of Tulsa have done a great job coming up with innovative ways to use this money to continue to fight COVID-19, support local businesses and help educate our children," said the governor, who did not wear a mask at the press conference despite the recommendations of his own health commissioner and a mask ordinance passed by the Tulsa City Council.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday added a state question on criminal justice to the Nov. 3 Election Day ballot.

Facebook / @WhipClyburn

Gov. Kevin Stitt has responded to a letter from a Congressional subcommittee requesting an explanation for why Oklahoma was declining to implement federal recommendations regarding the coronavirus.

In a Wednesday letter to Democratic Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Stitt wrote that Oklahoma's approach to the virus has been appropriate.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Several members of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s staff, along with five state lawmakers, have recovered from the coronavirus and have agreed to donate plasma to help other virus patients recover, Stitt’s office announced on Tuesday.

The governor’s office announced in a press release that three of his cabinet secretaries and a deputy secretary of state all had contracted the coronavirus, along with two state senators and three state House members.

Gov. Kevin Stitt's office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Four Oklahoma tribes are asking a federal court to void gambling compacts between the state of Oklahoma and two other tribes — agreements that the Oklahoma State Supreme Court recently invalidated.

Kevin Stitt campaign photo

One day after Gov. Kevin Stitt made conflicting statements regarding a planned visit from White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, no further clarity has emerged from Oklahoma City.

President Donald Trump announced the visit by Birx -- to provide "aggressive, tailored and targeted guidance" on handling the coronavirus -- in a Wednesday press conference.

At a press conference on Thursday, Stitt alternated between saying his office had invited Birx and that they hadn't. The governor said he didn't know what site or sites Birx wanted to visit.

Governor's office

Oklahoma leaders are sending mixed messages on the state’s COVID-19 numbers.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has started saying the state is on a plateau for new cases. Interim State Health Commissioner Lance Frye did not describe it that way in a news conference Thursday.

"I think it’s too early to say whether it’s plateaued or not. There’s different things to look at. If you’re looking at hospitalizations, we seem pretty stable right now. If you’re looking at the number of cases, that’s, that’s — I think it’s a little too early for me to say that," Frye said.

Andrea Hanks / White House

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday obfuscated the circumstances surrounding next week’s visit from a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Oklahoma is among six states Dr. Deborah Birx will visit to provide "aggressive, tailored and targeted guidance" on handling the coronavirus.

Stitt described her stop differently at a news conference.

"She’s making some stops in Iowa and a few other states. And so, we’ve invited her to Oklahoma," Stitt said.

Office of the Governor

As Congress struggles to come up with a fourth coronavirus relief bill, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday that Oklahoma is good.

"I don’t think we need another stimulus package, no. And so, we’ve told our federal delegation, we’ve told the White House that. We’re more concerned — we want to make sure this $1.2 billion actually gets on target," Stitt said during a news conference.

Twitter / @WhiteHouse

President Donald Trump announced that Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House's coronavirus task force, will visit Oklahoma next week on a tour of states "to deliver aggressive, tailored and targeted guidance."

The visit comes as Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt is under scrutiny for declining to implement the task force's recommendations to combat the coronavirus.

Courtesy

Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to say Oklahoma is handling the coronavirus pandemic well and is months ahead of other states.

During the Tulsa Regional Chamber State of the State on Tuesday, Stitt compared the state’s hospitalization numbers from earlier in the pandemic to now.

“You know, on March 30, we had 560 people in the hospital being treated for COVID across the state of Oklahoma. Yesterday, we had 504 people in the hospital with capacity well above that,” Stitt said.

Governor's office

Oklahoma will spend $15 million from its share of federal coronavirus relief funding toward establishing Community HOPE Centers across the state to help families in areas where schools are not open full time.

Gov. Kevin Stitt made the announcement Monday at Templo de Alabanza in Oklahoma City, which will be the site of the first Community HOPE Center.

Templo de Alabanza Operations Director Rachel Ramirez said as soon as she heard local schools wouldn’t bring students back until at least November, she knew something needed to be done.

Twitter / @realdonaldtrump

Officials in Tulsa said Thursday that a direct causal connection cannot be drawn between the coronavirus infection of former presidential candidate Herman Cain and his attendance at President Trump's rally last month at the BOK Center.

"I don't know how he caught it," Mayor G.T. Bynum said of Cain, who, like the majority of the 6,000-person crowd at the rally, did not wear a mask in the arena. "I haven't seen any conclusive information on where he got it from."

Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department and a personal friend of Cain, agreed.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

Despite recommendations from the Trump administration that the state of Oklahoma implement far stricter restrictions to combat the coronavirus, a spokesperson for Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday that they're just that -- recommendations.

"The Governor’s office followed up after the Task Force’s latest report and the White House confirmed that these are not mandates and that the State is not out of compliance with any federal orders," said Baylee Lakey, the governor's communications director, in an emailed statement.

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Administration may be the big fight over Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma.

Lawmakers leading the discussion are confident they can use a plan vetoed by Gov. Kevin Stitt as a funding fallback. It used an increased assessment on hospital revenue to come up with around $130 million, most if not all of Oklahoma’s share of around $1 billion in expansion costs.

Oklahoma will spend $10 million from its federal coronavirus funds to buy personal protective equipment for distribution to schools.

That includes enough masks for every student and teacher to have two, as well as face shields, gloves and gowns for school personnel. The equipment will be sent to regional warehouses for distribution with a goal of delivering it by Aug. 14.

Rep. Sherrie Conley (R-Newcastle), a 26-year educator, said students belong back in schools, and not just because in-person instruction is superior.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is downplaying a letter from a U.S. House committee overseeing the nation’s coronavirus response that accuses him of worsening the state’s outbreak by not following private White House recommendations offered this week.

"I think it’s a subcommittee inside Congress that really is just trying to make a political statement either against the president or our state. I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from," Stitt said Thursday.

The Oklahoman

A U.S. House special committee wants to know why Oklahoma is not following recommendations on the coronavirus made privately by the White House.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Oklahoma’s tribal gaming compacts automatically renewed on Jan. 1, handing a victory to the tribes who sued Gov. Kevin Stitt to renew them.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy DeGiusti rejected Stitt’s argument that the compacts — which define how much of their gambling revenue the tribes must pay to the state and which games are allowed — had expired.

Stitt expressed disappointment at the ruling.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday that he's returned to working in-person at the Capitol after being medically cleared following his infection with COVID-19, the first known case in an American governor.

"I am glad to be back in the office today," Stitt said in a video announcement.

Stitt said every single person he was in contact with "continues to test negative." (It wasn't clear what timeline he was referring to regarding that contact.)

Twitter / @GovStitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The head of coronavirus response at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center said Friday that an increase in the number of younger Oklahoma residents dying as a result of the virus has become a worry. 

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