G.T. Bynum

Tulsa's Victory Church is drawing scrutiny for hosting a large, indoor concert with little mask-wearing this week, as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations soar and the CDC and White House advise Oklahomans against gathering with those outside their immediate households.

"My reaction to seeing that stuff online is the same as I see it any time that I see folks that aren't taking this seriously," said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, asked about the incident at a Thursday press conference.

Twitter / @GovStitt

Despite clear guidance from the CDC and a top White House coronavirus official against such behavior due to the devastating surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday he plans to attend a college football game and celebrate Thanksgiving with members of his family outside his immediate household.

"I'm going to be with my family over Thanksgiving. I'm going to do it safely. I'm going to be with my parents. I think Oklahomans should be with their loved ones over Thanksgiving," Stitt said at a press briefing at the state Capitol. 

A global pandemic, social unrest, the killing of a police sergeant and serious wounding of another — in his fourth Tulsa Regional Chamber State of the City, Mayor G.T. Bynum told Tulsans they’ve been through a lot this year, perhaps even more than the first generations of Tulsans whose triumphs over adversity he often points to.

Facebook / Mayor G.T. Bynum

In separate Thursday press conferences, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum each challenged residents of their respective metropolitan areas to agree to 10 days of strict adherence to public health guidelines meant to slow the spread of COVID-19, stressing that hospitals are under severe strain and need citizens to change behaviors immediately to keep from even greater catastrophe.

"Cases are spiking right now across the country, but even in that relative environment, we're not faring well," Holt said.

City of Sapulpa

The Sapulpa City Council voted 6-4 Monday night to approve an ordinance requiring the use of face coverings in many public settings, in an attempt to address the spread of COVID-19.

"It was a long night, but I'm glad that we did it," said Mayor Craig Henderson, reached by phone Tuesday morning. "And I'm glad that we're supporting the efforts of Tulsa and some of the other cities that are trying to be proactive, hopefully, until we can ... cut down on hospital admissions and people getting sick."

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.

Youtube / City of Jenks

The Jenks City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to approve an ordinance mandating the wearing of masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Mayor Robert Lee, who championed the measure, cited state data showing cities without mask mandates have seen an 88% increase in infections compared to a 21% increase in cities with them.

"I can't dispute that," Lee said. "Not a silver bullet. Obviously people can still get sick wearing a mask or in a city with a mask ordinance, but that's a pretty significant difference there between cities with and without the mandates."

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.

Courtesy Sam Vicent Davis (Twitter @samanthavicent)

The Republican Party of Tulsa County is defending its decision to hold a large, indoor event earlier this week on the evening of Election Day, even as COVID-19 infections and deaths are surging and as local health officials and hospital leaders are pleading with county residents to take more responsibility to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City of Tulsa sales and use tax collections in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 were $5.3 million ahead of conservative estimates in the budget.

If that trend continues throughout FY21, collections will be $7.5 million over projections, a good chunk of an expected $13 million shortfall.

But Mayor G.T. Bynum told city councilors on Wednesday he is not banking on that happening.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa officials are once again asking for the help of Tulsa County residents and the leaders of neighboring municipalities in beating back a climbing wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, said at a press conference Tuesday that most county residents who have contracted COVID-19 lately are choosing to actively impede public health investigators by refusing to answer the questions of contact tracers.

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Cyberstalking Bynum

Oct 21, 2020

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Virginia man who sent dozens of harassing emails and phone messages to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and his family in a failed attempt to stop President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in June pleaded guilty Wednesday to cyberstalking.

Appearing via video from his home state, Adam Maxwell Donn, of Norfolk, admitted during a federal court hearing in Tulsa that he sent Bynum and his wife 44 emails and left them 14 phone messages in June, some of which referenced the couple’s children and their home address, U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said in a news release.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Wednesday that his office has declined requests from the Tulsa Police Department to bring charges against individuals alleged to have painted "Black Lives Matter" messages on city streets.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Excavation work began Monday at two locations in a Tulsa cemetery for victims of a race massacre nearly 100 years ago that left hundreds dead and decimated an area that was once a cultural and economic mecca for African Americans.

Researchers took a core soil sample at one location to give them a better idea of what lies beneath the soil, said Oklahoma State Archeologist Kary Stackelbeck.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Local officials on Tuesday painted a dire picture of the weeks and months to come if COVID-19 infection and hospitalization trends don't improve in the Tulsa area.

"Currently, our 14-, 30- and 60-day trends are all showing an increase. Our 7-day rolling average is also increasing. Our 7-day rolling average is above where we were in mid- to late-July, just before our biggest spike in cases," said Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Calling it as much about protecting your community as yourself, especially as flu season arrives during a global pandemic, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum received flu shots at a Tuesday press conference and urged Tulsans to do the same.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The city of Tulsa removed a massive Black Lives Matter painting on Monday from a city street in the historic Greenwood District after activists painted it without the city’s permission.

The 250-foot-long (76.20 meters) sign was painted days before President Donald Trump’s June rally and weeks after George Floyd’s death in May after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the neck of the handcuffed Black man for several minutes.

City of Tulsa

The Oklahoma State Medical Association on Wednesday issued a letter in support of amending Tulsa's mask ordinance to require masks for children 10 years and up.

Tulsa City Hall

City of Tulsa sales tax collections are trending upward, though still not quite recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

City Controller Norman Kildow told a virtual meeting of the city's audit committee on Thursday that this fiscal year, which began July 1, collections are roughly $1.7 million over projection. But, he noted, the budget projections were altered downward as COVID-19 hit and analysts forecast a significant decrease in sales tax revenue.

Facebook / City of Tulsa Gov

At a Thursday press conference, local officials said concern is growing alongside COVID-19 infections as more Tulsa County children catch the novel coronavirus.

"In the 5-to-17 age group, there were over 100 cases last week," Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said, adding that some in that age group were hospitalized.

Twitter / @realdonaldtrump

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s former state epidemiologist warned that President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa in June could lead to as many as nine deaths and 228 new cases of COVID-19, according to documents released Wednesday.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Saying the science is clear that children 10 and older can spread and be sickened by the novel coronavirus, the director of the Tulsa Health Department recommended the Tulsa City Council amend the city's COVID-19 mask ordinance to apply to those 10 and above rather than just those 18 and above.

Governor's office

Gov. Kevin Stitt has been nothing if not consistent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: a statewide mask mandate is not on the table for Oklahoma.

"Mandating something statewide is something that we just don't believe in, or I personally don't believe in," Stitt said Tuesday at a press conference in Stillwater.

In recent weeks, Stitt and his cabinet have begun more frequently acknowledging that mask mandates have been effective when implemented by local governments, but that it should be a decision made on the community level.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

(This story was updated at 5:02 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27th, to include additional information from the Tulsa Health Department on settings connected to COVID-19 infections.)

Following newly released documents from the White House coronavirus task force recommending that the city of Tulsa and Tulsa County implement more stringent measures to combat the pandemic, local officials on Thursday stressed local expertise and knowledge are more targeted and relevant than the federal suggestions.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum won a second term Tuesday night, taking 51.9% of the votes, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board's unofficial results.

Candidates in Tuesday's elections needed more than half the votes to win outright. Contests where no candidate received more than half the votes will go to a runoff between the top two.

Community organizer Greg Robinson, Bynum's main challenger, won 28.8% of the votes. Project manager Ken Reddick, who painted himself as a more conservative option than Bynum, got 13.8% of the vote. All other candidates got less than 3%.

Moderate Tulsa Mayor Faces Fierce Political Crosscurrents

Aug 24, 2020
Matt Trotter / KWGS

By all accounts, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has been a fast-rising political star in Oklahoma.

Part of a political dynasty whose uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather all served as mayor of the state’s second-largest city, the mild-mannered, bespectacled 43-year-old worked as a staffer for former U.S. Sens. Don Nickles and Tom Coburn, both GOP icons in the state.

He defeated a fellow Republican in the nonpartisan mayoral race in 2016 in part by reaching out to the city’s Black community. Many assumed his reelection this year was all but automatic.

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.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, just ahead of the August 25th mayoral, city auditor, and City Council election, we conclude our series of conversations with candidates seeking the office of Tulsa mayor. Our guest is Mayor GT Bynum, who's running for a second term at the helm in City Hall. As noted at the Mayor's campaign website: "The globally competitive and globally renowned Tulsa of today looks quite a bit different than it did four years ago.

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.

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.

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