Local & Regional

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Oklahoma teachers continue to be on the front lines of the pandemic, and it’s stressing them out.

Cherokee Nation leaders are seeing progress on issues at the federal level, but that doesn’t mean they’ve turned a blind eye to the state capitol.

First up is the special session to redraw state legislative and congressional district boundaries, which starts Nov. 15. Cherokee Nation Director of Government Affairs and Cherokee Nation Businesses Senior Vice President of Government Relations Kim Teehee said the tribe’s geographic information systems team has analyzed various redistricting proposals.

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Advocates are outraged after a Comanche County jury convicted a Lawton woman of first degree manslaughter this month following a miscarriage in the 17th week of her pregnancy. 

According to court records, Brittney Poolaw, 20, lost her pregnancy on January 4, 2020 and was charged on March 17 of that year.

C-SPAN

Oklahoma's senior U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is expressing concern about how "green" renewable energy sources really are.

Albert Herring / Virginia State Parks

An environmental nonprofit is suing a federal government agency over work to expand barge traffic in Virginia, and that has a group focused on Oklahoma waterways on high alert.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit last week against the U.S. Maritime Administration for its Marine Highway program.

OSU

Fall 2021 was the first semester several Oklahoma institutions used a test-optional admissions program, and officials from the state’s two largest universities briefed lawmakers on how it went.

OU officials said almost 36% of their new students applied without submitting a score from the ACT or SAT. At OSU, it was around 20%.

Monday's top stories:

• COVID-19 trends in Oklahoma are headed in the right direction, but state health officials are still calling on residents to get vaccinated as Oklahoma continues to perform poorly in vaccination rate compared to most other states.

• Lower standardized test scores amid the pandemic have Oklahoma lawmakers’ attention, but using them to compare districts or even schools may not be possible.

'Quicker, better care' promised at Tulsa's new VA hospital

Oct 16, 2021

A new hospital for veterans broke ground in Tulsa on Friday. A federal appropriation of $120 million is footing part of the bill. $10 million is coming from donations.

 

A ceremony with politicians and planes was held at the downtown Houston Street location, but can this hospital rise above problems that have dogged Veterans Affairs healthcare in Oklahoma?

 

Pixnio

Lower standardized test scores amid the pandemic have Oklahoma lawmakers’ attention, but using them to compare districts or even schools may not be possible.

Less than one-fourth of students are proficient in math or English language arts, and scores in 2021 were down across the board from 2019. Standardized tests were not administered in 2020.

Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon) said during an interim study this week she’s concerned but noted lawmakers value public education.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

State health officials say COVID trends are encouraging, but more Oklahomans need to be vaccinated against the illness.

The current seven-day average is 1,299, down more than half from a late-August peak. Hospitalizations have also fallen by about half in that time. State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone said even better figures are within reach.

Friday's top stories:

• Gov. Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor say they are preparing legal action against the Biden administration over an announced policy that would require certain employers to test unvaccinated workers for COVID-19 weekly.

• The Oklahoma State Department of Health says it is still in the process of reconciling COVID-19 data with the data reported for the state by the CDC, which counts significantly more COVID deaths than OSDH.

Oklahoma has no records for the drugs it’s soon planning to use to execute seven people. 

 

That’s what the state told Fred Hodara, a retired New York attorney who’s suing the Department of Corrections after it told him there aren’t any records around Oklahoma’s new lethal injection protocol. 

 

Stuart Ostler / Oklahoma Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Reproductive rights supporters have filed an appeal asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to put three anti-abortion laws on hold, including restrictions on medication-induced abortions.

The appeal Wednesday comes after District Judge Cindy Truong said she would allow the laws to take effect Nov. 1, pending the outcome of a legal challenge, the Tulsa World reported.

U.S. Department of Defense

There’s an adjustment coming to Oklahoma’s COVID-19 data as the state health department finishes up a data reconciliation process that will be included in Monday’s report.

"And we estimate an increase of about 1,366 cases and 1,053 deaths. This was done as part of a typical, annual review process that all states must complete in accordance with CDC disease surveillance and reporting guidelines," said State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone.

Lance Cpl. Natalie Greenwood / U.S. Marine Corps

Gov. Kevin Stitt is already calling President Joe Biden’s mandate for some employers to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing unconstitutional.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration submitted draft rules for the requirements Biden ordered this week. There is no set timeline for their initial review, and the proposed order won’t be made public until that is done. Still, Stitt released a video Thursday saying he has already conferred with his hand-picked attorney general on the matter.

Thursday's top stories:

• A woman was apparently shot while driving on I-244 in Tulsa on Wednesday.

• An FDA panel will convene Thursday to consider approval of booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

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After storms swept the Tulsa area Wednesday morning, no flooding or tornadoes were reported in the vicinity.

Mike Lacy, lead meterologist at the National Weather Service in Tulsa, says southeast Oklahoma is under a flood watch until Thursday evening but that likely won’t impact Tulsa.

Thursday night could be interesting for the city, however.

“Maybe another round of showers and storms: the third and final system of this pretty active pattern,” said Lacy.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is in the middle of a process to consolidate some of the functions it shares with the state turnpike authority and aeronautics commission, and ODOT is making some internal changes as well.

No major damage after likely twisters hit OKC area

Oct 13, 2021
NWS Norman

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Two likely tornadoes touched down in the Oklahoma City area Wednesday in addition to two other suspected twisters in western Oklahoma as severe storms hit the state, according to the National Weather Service.

There are no reports of injuries or severe damage from the suspected tornadoes near Mustang on the southwest side of Oklahoma City and in Oklahoma City, said meteorologist Doug Speheger.

The strengths of the tornadoes have not yet been determined but they did not appear to be severe, pending investigations that were underway Wednesday afternoon.

Man sues Oklahoma for records as state resumes executions

Oct 13, 2021
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A retired New York attorney is suing the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, saying its claim to have no records pertaining to the drugs it plans to use in upcoming executions “defies belief.”

Facebook / Tulsa Police Department

A woman was treated and released from a Tulsa hospital Wednesday after apparently being shot while driving on I-244.

Tulsa Police responded to the call just before 11 a.m. A woman driving east on I-244 pulled over between Yale and Harvard after hearing a pop, and thinking it might have been one of her tires, but then she felt pain in her stomach and realized she was bleeding.

Police say they saw a hole near the driver’s side door handle that looked like a bullet hole.

Severe storms prompt tornado warnings in Oklahoma City

Oct 13, 2021
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Severe storms that hit Oklahoma overnight caused damage in western Oklahoma and prompted tornado warnings in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area early Wednesday.

Tahlequah doctor arrested in Arkansas on murder charge

Oct 13, 2021
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LAKE VILLAGE, Ark. (AP) — An Oklahoma physician has been jailed on a first-degree murder charge in the death of a woman who was found lying next to a parked vehicle in southeastern Arkansas.

Dr. Tyler Tait, 34, of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, was arrested Monday night by Arkansas State Police special agents in Lake Village, a city in far southeast Arkansas on the state’s border with Mississippi.

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Public health officials are keeping an eye on the percent of tests coming back positive for flu. 

 

Dr. David Kendrick is the CEO of MyHealth Access Network, a health information sharing network in the state. Kendrick said in 2019 the peak of flu season saw about 25% test positivity, but last year with infection protection measures in place the peak was much lower.

 

“We had a peak of only 6% of positivity for the flu. Of course continuing through April we had a fairly widespread program of masking and distancing in Oklahoma,” said Kendrick.

 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A commission recommends moving about one-third of the city’s concrete planters dotting Route 66 to east Tulsa in an effort to better identify the historic highway there.

Of the 48 planters purchased with funds from a 2003 sales tax package, 46 remain, and the Tulsa Route 66 Commission wants 16 of them placed on Mingo Road at 11th Street, where there’s an interpretive plaza and recreation area.

Courtesy

The City of Broken Arrow is now the official owner of a 90-acre field between Aspen and Olive avenues south of Florence Street.

Mayor Debra Wimpee says they have big plans for the $5 million purchase.

"This will be the future site of our Innovation District, which will be a mixed-use featuring residential, commercial and educational components while focusing on high-paying career opportunities. Keep in mind, this is an investment into the future of Broken Arrow. So, we don't have plans to break ground just yet," Wimpee said in a video posted by the city.

More severe weather possible Wednesday morning

Oct 12, 2021
National Weather Service Tulsa

Storms are possible Tuesday evening, and early Wednesday morning will carry a chance for severe weather. Karen Hatfield, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Tulsa, says a line of thunderstorms will move in from the west between midnight and sunrise Wednesday. 

 

“It’s probably going to be decreasing in intensity. While there’s not a zero chance of severe weather, it’s not going to be as great as what we saw on Sunday,” said Hatfield.

 

Commuters should be cautious Wednesday morning.

 

Tuesday's top stories:

• Tulsa's annual Native American Day celebrations were held virtually for the second time in a row on Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Parole revocation is on the rise in Oklahoma.

There’s been a recent uptick in parole revocations in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board had 14 such cases last month.

"In March 2020, after having several months with no revocation hearings, that was the amount of hearings that it took just to get caught up for the previous, I believe, five months, and that's how many we're seeing every month now," General Counsel Kyle Counts told the board on Monday.

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