Governor Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday requested a federal major disaster declaration from last month’s ice storm that caused an estimated $27 million in damages in 13 central Oklahoma counties.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Democrats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives are expressing displeasure with the way Republican majority leadership has handled two members testing positive for COVID-19 shortly after a Wednesday swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol.

Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) said he learned about Reps. Tammy Townley (R-Ardmore) and Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) testing positive on Twitter. 

"When I saw the tweet, I was incredibly frustrated that I found out that way," Nichols said. "Whether I'm surprised or not that it happened, we all should know."

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum took his frustration with Gov. Kevin Stitt's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic to national television Thursday, saying the state isn't providing Tulsa with the help it needs to effectively handle the coronavirus.

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Contact tracing efforts are underway following news that two Oklahoma state representatives tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after lawmakers convened at the state capitol Wednesday for a swearing-in ceremony.

Representatives Tammy Townley (R-Ardmore) and Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) confirmed in statements they have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

Twitter / Gov. Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The White House Coronavirus Task Force is again recommending a mask mandate in Oklahoma amid a surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state.

Facebook / Representative Emily Virgin

Democrats in the Oklahoma state legislature advocated Tuesday for a convening of a special session to extend emergency rules allowing for virtual open meetings to be held more easily, and renewed their calls for a statewide mask mandate order from Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Courtesy Yen For Governor campaign

Dr. Ervin Yen, an Oklahoma City anaesthesiologist and former Republican state senator, spoke with KWGS about why Gov. Kevin Stitt's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was the primary motivator for launching a primary challenge.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum issued a late-night statement Monday following reports from the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) that the city's hospitals had zero ICU beds available and a report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health showing a record-breaking number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized across Oklahoma.

Youtube / Gov. Kevin Stitt

Following a new daily COVID-19 case count on Saturday that more than doubled the previous record, the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced that it would be skipping its daily update for Sunday "to catch up and ensure duplications are removed."

The new statewide infection total released Saturday, 4,741 Oklahomans confirmed to have contracted the disease, eclipsed the previous record of 2,101 set Thursday. On Sunday, the state said it had removed duplicates and adjusted the number; the revised total was reduced slightly, to 4,507.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Dr. Ervin Yen, an Oklahoma City anesthesiologist and former Republican state senator, plans to challenge Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt in the 2022 governor’s race, saying he’s disappointed with the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Twitter / @VP

The Trump administration says Oklahomans must "act now" to get a handle on the coronavirus as hospitalizations hit their highest level ever and the state's COVID-19 death rate reaches the federal "red zone."

KWGS News file photo

Oklahoma is in the red zone for new COVID-19 cases, positive test rate, and deaths per capita, according to the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report.

Hospitals statewide are under record strain. The number of patients surpassed 1,000 for the first time ever Tuesday night, according to the state health department.

In an interview on KRMG radio this week, Gov. Kevin Stitt said the hospital system is in solid shape.

"There’s a lot of folks that are fear mongering and telling Oklahomans we don’t have the hospital capacity. Simply not true," Stitt said.

Abbott

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Federal officials plan to send Oklahoma nearly 1.2 million rapid coronavirus tests that can diagnose the infection in as few as 15 minutes, the White House announced on Monday.

PickPik

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday he will not appeal a federal court ruling that the state’s tribal gaming compacts had automatically renewed on Jan. 1.

Stitt had argued the compacts — which define how much of their gambling revenue the tribes must pay to the state and which games are allowed — had expired. But U.S. District Court Judge Timothy DeGiusti in July ruled against Stitt.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — State health officials reported 1,051 new cases Sunday of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a day after a one-day record increase was set and two days after Gov. Kevin Stitt extended a state of emergency because of the pandemic.

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission

Starting Sunday, Oklahoma will again require people filing new unemployment claims wait one week before receiving benefits and prove they are actively searching for work.

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt said that's because Gov. Kevin Stitt's emergency order waiving those provisions expires, but with the state's unemployment rate down to 5.3% in September, the time seems right to again require those.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A task force appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt made no specific recommendations Thursday in its report concerning the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared a swath of eastern Oklahoma counties remains an Indian reservation.

The report calls for consistent laws and regulations in the state governing taxation, zoning and business regulations, which Stitt said will be up to Congress to provide.

White House coronavirus task force

The Trump administration is calling on Gov. Kevin Stitt to increase efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Oklahoma as the state's pandemic numbers grow worse.

Got Mask? Oklahoma / Healthier Oklahoma Coalition

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association is renewing the group’s call for a statewide mask mandate as the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus has reached record levels.

Youtube / Oklahoma State Department of Health

Republican and Democratic state lawmakers are both expressing concern over Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt's announcement last week that the state's public health lab will be moved from Oklahoma City to Stillwater, using a combination of state funds and federal coronavirus relief funding.

In a Monday press release, Rep. Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond) said he would be filing legislation to keep the lab in the state capital and "question[ed] if this is the best use of CARES Act funds."

Reached by phone Wednesday, Martinez said he first heard about the plan on the news.

White House coronavirus task force

One week after the release of a White House coronavirus task force report stating that many of Oklahoma's recent COVID-19 deaths were preventable, which provoked a response from a spokesperson for Gov. Kevin Stitt disputing that as an "editorial opinion," a new report recommends the state ramp up its coronavirus response or risk further deaths.

Oklahoma Senate

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday the appointment of former Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman as Oklahoma’s new secretary of state and Native American affairs.

Bingman, who also is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, joined the Stitt administration in August as the governor’s new chief policy advisor and is expected to work as a liaison between the Legislature and governor’s office. He replaces former Secretary of State Michael Rogers, who resigned from the post earlier this month.

Kevin Stitt campaign photo

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 have hit their highest points recently throughout the Midwest, where the growth in new cases has been the worst in the nation.

But that’s not the message coming from a number of Republican governors in the region, who are working to find silver linings in the ominous health data as outbreaks surge in their states.

Tom Holland-Wikimedia

Justice reform is on the table in Oklahoma, and state lawmakers want to know what steps they can take.

In an interim study this week, former senior vice president at Koch Industries Mark Holden, now with Americans for Prosperity, told them taking a look at the state’s criminal code would be a good start. That’s a move Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he wants to make.

Holden said an overhaul not only whittles down the number of reasons people can end up in prison, but it also narrows the job of police.

Twitter / @GovStitt

(This story was updated on Fri., Oct. 9, at 2:52 p.m. to include comments from Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum received after publication.)

State of Oklahoma-File photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Secretary of State Michael Rogers is resigning from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet, the governor’s office announced on Monday.

Rogers, a former state legislator, also has been serving as secretary of Native American affairs after former state Rep. Lisa Billy resigned last year following a disagreement with Stitt over tribal gambling compacts.

According to a press release from Stitt’s office, Rogers will continue working in Stitt’s administration as a special adviser to the governor.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a request from Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration to allow the state, not tribal nations, to regulate environmental issues in Indian Country, even those lands that may be inside historical tribal reservation boundaries.

Oklahoma House of Representatives

The executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League, which advocates at the Capitol on behalf of municipal governments and their interests, said Friday the state legislature's next session could be contentious over issues of whether emergency powers should rest with local versus state government.

"My fear is that we are going to be in a defensive stance on our ability to function during an emergency," OML's Mike Fina told a virtual meeting of the Coalition of Tulsa Area Governments. "No doubt there are going to be several bills challenging that."

YouTube / Epic Charter Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An embattled virtual charter school that has grown to become Oklahoma’s largest public school used a “remarkably complex” infrastructure to divert tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into a for-profit business controlled by three men, State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd said Thursday.

White House coronavirus task force

The latest White House coronavirus task force report for Oklahoma, dated Sunday but released by the state health department Wednesday, shows the state climbing the rankings to have some of the worst numbers in the country for two COVID-19 metrics.

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