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Black Wall Street Times

Hundreds of Tulsans participated in a local demonstration on Saturday calling for policing reform, joining protesters in cities across the U.S. speaking out against recent killings of black men and women by white men and police.

Organizers of the "We Can't Breathe" peaceful protest said the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd brought racism in America to the forefront and renewed the call for justice and true reform.

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.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration is scrapping a plan to expand Medicaid on July 1, citing a lack of state funding.

The state’s Medicaid Director Melody Anthony notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a letter Thursday that the state was withdrawing its proposal.

The Stitt administration pushed for the expansion in March, but after the Legislature narrowly passed bills to help pay for the state’s share, including one that increased a fee that hospitals pay, Stitt vetoed them.

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.

The bodies of two young children recovered from waterways in northeastern Oklahoma this week are the two toddlers who went missing from an east Tulsa apartment complex May 22.

Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin announced Friday the medical examiner's office had identified the bodies as 3-year-old Miracle and 2-year-old Tony Crook.

"It's saddening, but it's also, from our perspective, we are elated that we were able to bring closure, and this is closure. It's closure because we were able to actually locate those two and bring them home to their families

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.

Friday's top stories:

  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and IC Bus announce a new, 20-year lease agreement.
  • According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, there are 708 known, active cases of COVID-19 in the state. Oklahoma has seen 6,270 confirmed cases so far.
  • The State Board of Education approves a waiver so schools can count Saturday sessions next year toward instructional time requirements.

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma police officer will keep his job after being disciplined for responding to an email about department-issued coronavirus protective masks by sending racist images of people with white bags over their faces carrying torches, reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan preparing to lynch black victims, officials said.

OU Medicine

OU Medicine’s Stephenson Cancer Center has been picked to join two more networks of the National Cancer Institute.

One of those is the Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network, one where OU’s group of collaborators includes cancer centers at Yale, Vanderbilt, University of California San Diego and Columbia.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and IC Bus have put their differences behind them for the next two decades.

Bynum, IC Bus and parent company Navistar announced Thursday a new, 20-year agreement for the bus maker to stay at its 1 million-square foot facility at Tulsa International Airport.

Bynum and IC Bus publicly sparred over their lease renewal earlier this month, with IC Bus claiming Bynum was threatening them with eviction and Bynum saying the company hadn’t met maintenance requirements under their previous, $1 lease.

Wikipedia

The Oklahoma State Board of Education approved a waiver for the upcoming school year on Thursday that will let Saturday sessions count toward instructional time requirements.

Previously, individual districts had to apply for the waiver, a process that could lead to them waiting a month until the next education board meeting. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said districts need the ability to change their plans quickly because while COVID-19 has likely not run its full course, she does not foresee a state-level response like closing all schools again in the fall.

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.

City of Tulsa

The man managing replacement of Tulsa’s Arkansas River pedestrian bridge told a board that oversees sales tax–funded projects its estimated cost has fallen closer in line with its $27 million budget. 

Original estimates for the Gateway Bridge, which will connect the west bank River Parks trails with the Gathering Place along Zink Dam, put the cost as high as $35 million. 

Thursday's headlines:

  • First responders find the body of a "young, young male" in Bird Creek and believe the search for two missing Tulsa children is over.
  • The Oklahoma Supreme Court rules the Secretary of State must accept petitions for a state question that would prohibit some sentence enhancements.
  • Things are looking up for a pedestrian bridge planned for the Arkansas River. 

The search for a missing 2- and 3-year-old from Tulsa appears to be over.

First responders found a second body around 5 p.m. Wednesday in Bird Creek near 46th Street North. Tulsa Police Lt. Richard Meulenberg said like with the body found Tuesday in the Verdigris River, they are awaiting identification from the medical examiner’s office, but it seems unlikely the children are not Miracle and Tony Crook.

Tulsa Police

In a Wednesday afternoon update, the Tulsa Police Department said its search area for two missing toddlers had "dramatically widened" after a child's body was found in the Verdigris River.

Miracle Crook, 3, and Tony Crook, 2, have been missing from the Shoreline Apartments in east Tulsa since Friday. Tuesday afternoon, TPD Chief Wendell Franklin said the search for them had turned into a "recovery effort" after newfound video showed the children disappear into Mingo Creek.

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.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A presidential task force charged with coming up with ways to address missing and slain Native Americans will resume tribal listening sessions Wednesday.

The task force held a handful of sessions in person with tribes and tribal organizations before the coronavirus hit. It’s now turning to teleconferences and webinars to update tribes on its work and get feedback.

Four sessions are scheduled through June 3.

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.

Inhofe Press Office

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has closed investigations into stock trading by Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, according to people familiar with notifications sent to the senators. The senators came under scrutiny for transactions made in the weeks before the coronavirus sent markets downhill.

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.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • Tulsa police now describe their search for Miracle and Tony Crook as a "recovery effort."
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports there are fewer than 1,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
  • Tulsa County inks a new agreement to detain undocumented immigrants for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Tulsa Police

Newfound security camera video has changed the search for two toddlers missing from an east Tulsa apartment complex since Friday.

Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said the video, captured on a camera on the west side of the Shoreline Apartments and discovered Tuesday afternoon, shows 3-year-old Miracle and 2-year-old Tony Crook playing in the grass next to Mingo Creek on Friday.

Franklin said the kids then walk down the embankment hand-in-hand and never reappear.

Tulsa Police

Tulsa police continued their search on Tuesday for a 3-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy missing from an east Tulsa apartment complex.

Miracle and Tony Crook were last seen around 8:15 Friday morning in a convenience store with their mother, Donisha Willis. An apartment complex security camera captured the children walking alone around 10:15 a.m.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol brought in a flat-bottomed airboat to help police search Mingo Creek from near the Shoreline Apartments to around 36th Street North.

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.

City of Tulsa

After two years at No. 60, Tulsa climbed five places in the Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore rankings.

The jump to No. 55 came down to an $18 increase in per capita spending on parks, but that’s largely from what the George Kaiser Family Foundation has spent on and around the Gathering Place.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa County renewed on Tuesday its agreement with the federal government for the sheriff’s office to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation after they’ve been arrested.

The Board of County Commissioners voted 2–1 for the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) agreement. Commissioner Karen Keith voted against it.

Tulsa County’s previous agreement was set to expire in June. The new one is in effect until terminated by the sheriff or ICE.

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