Local & Regional

More than 3,200 households in Oklahoma and Kansas will have a total of $5.2 million in medical debt wiped out by the area’s United Church of Christ conference.

The UCC Kansas-Oklahoma Conference raised $40,000, which was sent to RIP Medical Debt, a New York–based nonprofit that buys medical debt for pennies on the dollar.

The Rev. Chris Moore, lead pastor at Tulsa’s Fellowship Congregational Church, said the act is more about justice than charity.


Starting Monday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health will allow 14-day, in-school quarantines for students potentially exposed to the coronavirus at school.

The agency released guidelines on Wednesday for the temporary program, which will let students participate in distance learning under supervision and with better access to technology and nutrition resources.

Quarantined students are to be kept separate from other students, masked and distanced from each other at all times.


The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 3,732 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 184,342.

Tulsa County had 416 of Wednesday's new cases. Its total now stands at 31,333, second to Oklahoma County's 37,441.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, jumped from 3,172 to 3,274, its third straight new record and seventh in the past eight days. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Physicians, nurses and health care groups in Oklahoma are expressing concern over the state department of health's recent guidance to allow health care workers infected with COVID-19 but asymptomatic to remain on the job rather than quarantine.

"To me, that seems like the most insane thing," said Dr. Scott Michener, chief medical officer at Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, on a videoconference with reporters organized by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition on Tuesday.

Oklahoma National Guard Tech. Sgt. Kasey Phipps

The leader of the Oklahoma National Guard is imploring citizens to take proper COVID-19 precautions amid rapidly worsening trends in the state's pandemic trajectory.

"In the last three weeks in Oklahoma, we have had over 57,000 cases of COVID-19. Of that number, over 1,500 people have been hospitalized," says Adjutant General Michael Thompson in a new public service announcement

Wednesday's top stories:

• The Tulsa City Council approved and Mayor G.T. Bynum says he will sign new ordinances meant to further reduce the spread of COVID-19.

• Oklahoma's former state epidemiologist warns of a massive increase in coronavirus deaths in the weeks to come unless Oklahomans alter their behavior.

• Local morning newscasts will return Monday, Nov. 30. Have a happy, safe Thanksgiving.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated Nov. 25, 12:40 p.m.

The City of Tulsa has implemented several new measures to address soaring coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates.

Mayor G.T. Bynum signed on Wednesday ordinances passed by the city council Tuesday night.

Saturday's game between No. 24 Tulsa and the University of Houston has been postponed.

The American Athletic Conference announced late Tuesday that positive tests among Houston and contact tracing of student-athletes were behind the postponement.

The game may be rescheduled for Dec. 19 if neither team is a participant in the conference championship game.

Oklahoma’s former state epidemiologist is part of a coalition sounding the alarm on the coronavirus pandemic heading into the holiday season.

OU College of Public Health professor Dr. Aaron Wendelboe said just since Oct. 1, cases in Oklahoma are up 100%, deaths 60% and hospitalizations 140%. 

The sixth time was the charm for the Muskogee City Council to pass a mandatory mask ordinance to combat the dramatic rise in COVID-19 infections. After five failed votes in recent weeks, the measure passed Monday night 5-3. 

The vote came the same day that Muskogee County declared a state of emergency due to a sharp increase in coronavirus infections and the possibility of overwhelming the already strained hospital system even further.

University of Tulsa

Golden Hurricane basketball teams will play in an empty Reynolds Center to start their seasons.

The University of Tulsa Athletics Department announced on Tuesday fans will not be allowed at home games through Dec. 19. In a news release, the university said the decision was made in order to protect the health of students, staff and fans.

The men's team plays four home games during that span: Dec. 4 against UT Arlington, Dec. 8 against Arkansas, Dec. 15 against Wichita State and Dec. 18 against Northwestern State.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 2,736 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 180,610.

Tulsa County had 417 of Tuesday's new cases. Its total now stands at 30,917, second to Oklahoma County's 36,880.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, jumped from 3,002 to 3,172, its second straight new record and sixth in the past seven days. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

The Broken Arrow City Council on Monday voted against passage of a resolution that would have strongly encouraged the use of masks and other measures to lower community transmission of COVID-19.

The vote failed 1-4, with only Councilor Johnnie Parks voting in favor.

Facebook / Congressman Frank Lucas

Republican Congressman Frank Lucas, who represents Oklahoma's 3rd congressional district, speaks with KWGS about his Monday Oklahoman op-ed, "As COVID-19 winter approaches, Oklahoma must act," in which he notes 36 other states have statewide mask mandates and endorses science behind limiting some businesses' capacity to reduce community spread.

Tuesday's top stories:

• New COVID-19 records for Oklahoma as spread continues uncontrolled and exponentially.

• The Broken Arrow City Council voted 1-4 to reject a resolution that would have strongly encouraged residents to wear masks and take other steps to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Tulsa Football

One week after becoming ranked for the first time in 10 years, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane moved up a spot to No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25.

TU knocked off Tulane at home Thursday night in a wild, overtime win that included their third-string quarterback throwing a 37-yard touchdown as time expired to tie things up and a 96-yard interception return for the winning score.

TU head coach Philip Montgomery said in a season affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the team can’t quite be as connected to the city as it would like to be.

A Broken Arrow–based maker of flight simulators is looking for dozens of new workers after winning another round of multimillion-dollar military contracts.

CymSTAR LLC needs 80 new employees for its coming work on simulators to train pilots on the Air Force’s upgraded A-10 planes and its aging E-4B, a 747 dubbed the "Doomsday plane" that serves as a command center when the president is out of the White House. The E-4B is getting too old for training runs.

Oklahoma tribes and U.S. attorneys are the first in the nation to work together in a new federal program to handle missing and murdered indigenous persons cases.

The Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee nations will take the lead in developing guidelines for local, state and federal agencies to work with them on such cases. The plans will address law enforcement, victim services, community outreach and communication.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Family Violence Prevention Program Director Shawn Partridge said the program will build on work the tribe has been doing for itself.

Food and Drug Administration

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 3,544 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 177,874. 

Tulsa County had 509 of Monday's new cases. Its total now stands at 30,500. Tulsa County is the second in the state to break 30,000 total COVID cases, and its total is second to Oklahoma County's 36,199.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 2,886 to 3,002, its fifth new record in the past six days. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Monday's top stories:

• Oklahoma added nearly 10,000 new COVID-19 cases since Friday morning.

• Cherokee Nation is urging citizens to stay home for Thanksgiving amid the COVID-19 surge. 


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of reported cases of the coronavirus increased by 3,406 and the number of deaths from the virus increased by 10, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Sunday.

The department reported 1,505 hospitalizations Friday, topping the previous one-day high of 1,434 on Wednesday.

There were a total of 174,330 reported cases since the start of the pandemic and the seven-day rolling average of new cases in the state has nearly doubled from 1,465 per day on Nov. 6 to 2,843 as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. is urging citizens to follow federal recommendations and avoid gathering for Thanksgiving amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"Our ICU beds at Hastings Hospital are staying full as we see and help more of our citizens hospitalized by this virus," Hoskin said. "The best thing we can do is stay in this holiday, and if you're around other people, wearing a mask is critical."

Hoskin said the tribe's public health team is seeing positive test rates three times higher than in recent weeks. 


The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on Oklahoma’s child welfare system.

The pandemic initially diverted the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ attention from improvements needed to help kids in foster care with multiple needs, like health and behavioral issues. There was a need for the agency to suddenly shift social workers to telework and scale back in-person visits.

Tulsa Public Schools

Updated Nov. 23, 6:30 p.m.  

Tulsa Public Schools students at McLain and Memorial would be the first to have access to a new early college high school program launching next year.

When students graduate high school, they’ll have also earned an associate’s degree from Tulsa Community College if they successfully complete coursework. District officials expect about 30 students total to start.

The program is pending TPS Board approval.

KWGS News file photo

Oklahoma has set nine records for COVID hospitalizations this month, three of them coming this week.

The state ended the week with new records of 1,505 Oklahomans hospitalized and 450 in intensive care unit beds. OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler expects that will only get worse.

Tulsa Winterfest

Organizers on Friday pushed back the start of Arvest Winterfest two weeks.

The 13th annual event was set to begin Saturday, but citing support of Mayor G.T. Bynum’s request Thursday for Tulsans to limit public interactions over the next 10 days, the BOK Center announced Friday Winterfest will now start Nov. 30.

Nearly all Republicans in the Oklahoma House signed a letter sent to the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives encouraging them to get involved in the 2020 election.

They're calling on that state’s legislature to ensure all legal votes in the state for federal elections are counted and "all illegal votes for the same are rejected."

They encourage Arizona lawmakers to appoint their own electors if necessary. President-elect Joe Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.

'Almost Impossible': Oklahoma’s Coronavirus Surge Has Made ICU Space Hard to Find

Nov 20, 2020

The Frontier‘s Kassie McClung and Brianna Bailey and StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney partnered on this story.

As the demand for intensive care among Oklahoma’s coronavirus patients continues to surge, the system is seeing strain from beginning to end — from ambulance services, to small-town hospitals, to the state’s metro health systems.

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.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 2,921 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 167,261.

Tulsa County had 460 of Friday's cases, its second-highest new case total to date. Tulsa County's total now stands at 28,966, second to Oklahoma County's 33,851.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 2,807 to 2,843, a new high for the third day in a row. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.