Local & Regional

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Growing anti-police sentiment around the country could have a profoundly negative impact on the ability to recruit quality officers, police chiefs from two Oklahoma cities told state lawmakers on Thursday.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday rejected the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s lawsuit challenging the state’s absentee voting rules.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Dowell wrote that the state’s absentee voting rules are “reasonable, nondiscriminatory and legitimate.”

U.S. Census Bureau

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The head of the U.S. Census Bureau visited a census event Friday to encourage people to fill out their census form before the end of the month.

Director Steven Dillingham stopped by a census event outside the Oklahoma Capitol where people could drive by and pick up census forms ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline.

University of Tulsa Football

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — One week after its originally scheduled season opener was supposed to take place, No. 11 Oklahoma State will finally take the field this weekend. 

After Tulsa had several players test positive for COVID-19 earlier in camp, the Golden Hurricane had requested an extra week of practice and, conveniently, both teams initially had a bye week Saturday, so it was an easy decision to move the game back a week. Kickoff is at noon Saturday.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 1,249 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, increasing the seven-day rolling average of new infections to 989 and bringing the state's cumulative total of cases to 74,567.

140 cases were in Tulsa County, which brings the Tulsa County total to 15,794, increasing the seven-day average to 129 new cases per day.

The state's seven-day rolling average was at its highest on August 1, at 1,093. 

Six more deaths were also reported Friday, with one being a 50-64 year old man in Tulsa County.

Oklahoma Republican U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin is among dozens of co-sponsors of a bill to change how the military handles reports of sexual assault and harassment.

The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act is named for the 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier prosecutors say another soldier murdered and dismembered in April. Her family said she told them she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant but was nervous about filing a complaint.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Unemployment issues aside, the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for thousands of Oklahomans.

People have lost jobs that supported their families and are unable to find anything that pays more than half their former salary. Others are picking up as many extra jobs as they can, no matter the risk of infection, to make up for a partner’s pay cut. Some are struggling with the mental health impacts and languishing on suicide watches for weeks.

Roland Leach / U.S. Air Force

The union representing grocery and retail workers is calling on Gov. Kevin Stitt to implement a statewide mask requirement.

United Food and Commercial Workers Oklahoma representative Fitz Jennings told lawmakers during an interim study this week the workers they represent are among the lowest-paid and most likely to be exposed on the job.

Jennings said things are generally good in cities like Tulsa and Oklahoma City that have instituted mask requirements, but in other places where only employees must mask up, customers aren’t doing their part.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

In a Thursday press conference at the Capitol, Gov. Kevin Stitt acknowledged that hundreds of Oklahomans continue to be admitted to hospitals with COVID-19, but touted advancements in medical treatments for those who become infected.

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.

Friday's headlines:

  • COVID-19 may have claimed another life at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center.
  • The Tulsa Health Department says about 200 confirmed coronavirus infections in the last month have been linked to schools.
  • Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the man charged with the murder of a Tulsa Police sergeant.

Facebook / Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections reported Wednesday that a second woman incarcerated at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft has died, possibly of COVID-19.

The agency said Wednesday it was unable to confirm her identity due to medical privacy laws, but family members, inmate advocates and a cosmetology program for incarcerated women identify her as Vernita Watts, 70. Watts' status in the DOC's publicly available inmate database was changed from "ACTIVE" to "INACTIVE" at some point on Wednesday or Thursday.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the man accused of killing Tulsa police Sergeant Craig Johnson in a June shooting.

In a Thursday filing, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler noted Johnson was a peace officer and that his murder was especially cruel and done to escape arrest.

The filing also argues 33-year-old David Ware presents an ongoing risk to society.

In a previous interview, defense attorney Kevin Adams said he fully expected prosecutors to pursue the death penalty.

Courtesy

A new program will seek to encourage area college students to choose Tulsa and start their lives in the region after graduation.

The Tulsa Regional Chamber, City of Tulsa and George Kaiser Family Foundation will officially launch Campus Tulsa on Oct. 1. Representatives of each organization announced the initiative Thursday during the chamber's State of Education event.

File photo

Oklahoma’s adult obesity rate is up two percentage points from last year.

According to the latest edition of the State of Obesity report by Trust for America’s Health, 36.8% of Oklahoma adults in 2019 had obesity, the fourth-highest rate in the nation.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 1,034 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 73,318.

Tulsa County had 185 of Thursday's cases. Its total now stands at 15,654, second to Oklahoma County's 15,859.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 908 to 945. The average has now increased five days in a row and is up 163 in that time. The state's average peaked at 1,093 on Aug. 1 and had fallen to 645 by late August.

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.

Thursday's headlines:

  • The latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report ranks Oklahoma fifth-worst in the U.S. for new cases and positive test rates.
  • Oklahoma's daily average of new COVID-19 cases climbs past 900 for the first time since early August, and 12 more people are dead from the illness.
  • Interim State Health Commissioner Lance Frye tells Oklahoma lawmakers they need to prepare the state's public health system now for the next pandemic.

White House coronavirus task force

The latest report for Oklahoma from the White House coronavirus task force once again recommends a statewide mask mandate, points to Arkansas as a model for virus response, and warns that nursing home policies and procedures must be altered to keep residents safe.

Facebook / Tulsa City Council

In a 9-0 vote, the Tulsa City Council voted Wednesday to amend the city's penal code to include sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes for the purposes of the enforcement of hate crimes.

While the state of Oklahoma and federal government both have hate crimes statutes on the books, they do not cover those four classes.

Councilor Jeannie Cue asked city attorney Mark Swiney if such an ordinance would violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, providing equal protection, a concern she said she had heard from constituents.

A study of seven years' worth of data shows what states can do to improve broadband internet availability in rural areas.

OSU's Department of Agricultural Economics and Purdue University's Center for Regional Development teamed up for the study. OSU's Dr. Brian Whitacre told Oklahoma's Rural Broadband Expansion Council out of three broad policy categories, two really made a difference.

"The main policies that were more effective are the lack of restrictions and in-place state funds," Whitacre said.

Facebook / Gov. Kevin Stitt

Interim State Health Commissioner Lance Frye told Oklahoma lawmakers while the state is now in a prolonged mitigation phase of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to start thinking ahead.

"We do need to look forward to what the next decade of public health is going to look like. We know that the prior infrastructure was not invested in. It just couldn’t do the job when it needed to," Frye said Tuesday during an interim study.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Several predominately white Tulsa churches have painted "Black Lives Matter" messages on their properties.

At least four churches painted their messages Wednesday, four years to the day after a white Tulsa police officer shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man. More are expected to paint "Black Lives Matter" on their properties in the coming days.

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.

Facebook / Tulsa Police Department

Federal prosecutors have indicted a man for allegedly providing the gun used in the killing of Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson and the wounding of Ofc. Aurash Zarkeshan in June.

"Jakob Garland is alleged to have been the person who gave the gun to David Ware. He is alleged to have exchanged that gun for heroin," said Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 970 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the state's total to 72,284.

Tulsa County had 111 of those cases. Its total now stands at 15,469, second to Oklahoma County's 15,694.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 894 to 908, the first time it's been above 900 since Aug. 2. The average has now increased four days in a row and is up 126 in that time. The state's average peaked at 1,093 on Aug. 1 and had fallen to 645 by late August.

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane is set to begin its football season Saturday in Stillwater. That game was delayed a week to give TU more practice time after a COVID-shortened preseason.

Now, Tulsa’s next opponent on the schedule has pushed back a game, seemingly because of the coronavirus. 

Arkansas State’s home football game against Central Arkansas has been pushed back from Saturday to Oct. 10.

Stuart Ostler / Oklahoma Capitol

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has denied Gov. Kevin Stitt’s request it rehear a case in which the court ruled gaming compacts he signed with two tribes were invalid.

The court denied Stitt’s request Monday without comment.

Wednesday's headlines:

  • COVID-19 continues to spread in Oklahoma prisons as the Department of Corrections reports two more deaths potentially linked to the coronavirus.
  • August collections to Oklahoma's general revenue fund slightly exceeded expectations.

Needpix

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Collections to Oklahoma’s main government operating fund exceeded the estimate last month by about 1%, state finance officials reported Tuesday.

Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Steven Harpe attributed the higher-than-expected collections to a couple of anomalies, including the timing of corporate income tax payments.

“These anomalies should not be expected to continue in other months, especially after federal assistance payments are fulfilled and deferred tax payments are received,” Harpe said.

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