Local & Regional

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The deputy director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority will serve as interim director of the authority, officials announced Friday.

Kelly Williams replaces Travis Kirkpatrick, who was recently named deputy commissioner of prevention and preparedness at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Kirkpatrick, who will oversee the OMMA from his new position, chose Williams for the interim post. Kirkpatrick had been named director of the authority in January after serving as interim director for about three months.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Two Tulsa children whose bodies were found in waterways in May accidentally drowned, the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office ruled Friday.

Autopsy reports say both 3-year-old Miracle Crook and her 21-month-old brother, Tony Crook, drowned after being last seen on video holding hands and walking through an opening in a chain-link fence toward a rain-swollen creek that flows into the Arkansas River.

Miracle’s body was found in the river while Tony’s body was found in the creek.

Becton Dickinson

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office now has a rapid COVID testing system for use at the jail.

The jail's medical provider, Turn Key Health, helped acquire the system, which runs antigen tests with results in 15 minutes.

Sheriff Vic Regalado said it will not be used in all cases when an inmate or jail employee needs a COVID test.

Pixabay

The City of Tulsa has established a major piece of its four-year strategy to address a shortage of affordable housing.

It seeded an affordable housing trust fund with $4 million from a downtown revolving loan fund and has set a goal of raising up to $20 million. City Housing Policy Director Becky Gligo said that won’t cover all 4,000 units needed.

Kevin Stitt campaign photo

One day after Gov. Kevin Stitt made conflicting statements regarding a planned visit from White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, no further clarity has emerged from Oklahoma City.

President Donald Trump announced the visit by Birx -- to provide "aggressive, tailored and targeted guidance" on handling the coronavirus -- in a Wednesday press conference.

At a press conference on Thursday, Stitt alternated between saying his office had invited Birx and that they hadn't. The governor said he didn't know what site or sites Birx wanted to visit.

The start date for Broken Arrow Public Schools has been pushed back from Aug. 19 to Sept. 3 as district officials keep an eye on local coronavirus infection rates and other data.

Pre-K's start has been delayed from Aug. 21 to Sept. 8.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 854 new cases of COVID-19, raising the state's total number of confirmed cases to 42,255.

Tulsa County had 166 of Friday's cases, bringing its total to 10,135. Tulsa County became the second in the state to break 10,000 cases, one day after Oklahoma County did so.

Cleveland County, which has the state's third-highest case total, has 2,932 cases.

Friday's top stories:

  • Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt says Oklahomans don't need any further federal coronavirus relief...
  • ...his top health official contradicts his assertion about the state's pandemic trends...
  • ...and he doesn't know whether or not the state invited Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, whose recommendations Stitt has so far refused to implement.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Four people arrested at a Tulsa campaign rally for President Donald Trump, including a Tulsa teacher and a Norman City Council member, pleaded not guilty Thursday to misdemeanor obstruction charges.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa broke ground Thursday on its newest fire station.

Fire Station 33 is at 41st Street and 134th East Avenue. Tulsa Fire Chief Michael Baker said a close study of call data led them to that location.

"Primarily because Fire Station 27, which is at 31st just to the east of Garnett, is our busiest station and has a lot of workload. So, that contributes to firefighter fatigue, risk of injury, potential for delayed response times," Baker said.

Governor's office

Oklahoma leaders are sending mixed messages on the state’s COVID-19 numbers.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has started saying the state is on a plateau for new cases. Interim State Health Commissioner Lance Frye did not describe it that way in a news conference Thursday.

"I think it’s too early to say whether it’s plateaued or not. There’s different things to look at. If you’re looking at hospitalizations, we seem pretty stable right now. If you’re looking at the number of cases, that’s, that’s — I think it’s a little too early for me to say that," Frye said.

Andrea Hanks / White House

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday obfuscated the circumstances surrounding next week’s visit from a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Oklahoma is among six states Dr. Deborah Birx will visit to provide "aggressive, tailored and targeted guidance" on handling the coronavirus.

Stitt described her stop differently at a news conference.

"She’s making some stops in Iowa and a few other states. And so, we’ve invited her to Oklahoma," Stitt said.

Office of the Governor

As Congress struggles to come up with a fourth coronavirus relief bill, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday that Oklahoma is good.

"I don’t think we need another stimulus package, no. And so, we’ve told our federal delegation, we’ve told the White House that. We’re more concerned — we want to make sure this $1.2 billion actually gets on target," Stitt said during a news conference.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Tulsa Public Schools has reached out to Oklahoma's Congressional delegation and the Tulsa City Council to discuss their need for support for the district's nutrition programs.

In a Wednesday meeting of the Tulsa City Council's urban and economic development committee, TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist said that when schools abruptly closed to in-person learning in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, the district still managed to serve 1.5 million meals via deliveries and distributions. 

Twitter / @JimInhofe

Oklahoma's senior United States senator said Thursday that allegations of ethics violations made by the state Democratic party were unfounded.

"Yet again, the only thing the Democrats can come up with are false attacks against me," Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in an emailed statement provided by a spokesperson for his reelection campaign. "They won’t distract me from doing my only job: protecting Oklahoma families from a radical liberal agenda.”

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 837 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 41,401.

Oklahoma County became the first county in the state to have more than 10,000 cases, as 163 new cases pushed its total to 10,113. Tulsa County had 227 new cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 9,969.

Thursday's top stories:

  • President Donald Trump says Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, will visit Oklahoma next week. Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt has refused to comply with the task force's recommendations for the state.
  • Public health, education and business leaders are all expressing concern over testing delays. 

Twitter / @WhiteHouse

President Donald Trump announced that Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House's coronavirus task force, will visit Oklahoma next week on a tour of states "to deliver aggressive, tailored and targeted guidance."

The visit comes as Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt is under scrutiny for declining to implement the task force's recommendations to combat the coronavirus.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While coronavirus testing is more widely available in Oklahoma now than in the early stages of the pandemic, potential issues are starting to pop up.

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist said her main concern is a backlog in processing that’s making people wait as many as two weeks for results.

The Tulsa Police Department has released body cam video of the arrest of protester Sheila Buck at June’s Trump campaign rally.

The hour-plus video starts with Officer Matthew Parker confirming with his supervisor Buck is to be arrested for trespassing. Parker then confers with a private security guard for the event just before Buck, who sat silently inside the event fence and was wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt, is pulled to her feet, handcuffed and led out of the fenced area in front of several reporters.

Oklahoma State Treasurer

More than $360 million in delayed income tax collections gave a boost to July gross receipts to the Oklahoma Treasury, but officials said the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Income tax payments usually received in April arrived in July because of a delayed filing deadline. Deputy Treasurer for Communications Tim Allen said, however, they expected $414.4 million in income tax revenue in April.

"You see that there’s a more than $50 million gap right there. So, something’s off with that number," Allen said.

A committee meeting of the Tulsa City Council held virtually on Wednesday grew tense at times as councilors discussed the "Black Lives Matter" mural on the street surface of a block of North Greenwood Avenue.

Instagram / Downtown Coordinating Council

A consulting firm hired in 2019 by the City of Tulsa to develop a plan for a restructuring of downtown management has recommended the creation of a new, independent entity.

Representatives of Colorado-based Progressive Urban Management Associates, or PUMA, presented their strategic plan at a Tuesday virtual meeting of the Downtown Coordinating Council, a body that currently reports to, but only makes recommendations to, the mayor. Under the consultancy's plan, the DCC would be abolished and replaced.

NIAID-RML

Updated Aug. 6 2:10 p.m. to correct Tulsa County's seven-day average. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 17 new deaths from COVID-19, the second-highest total to date.

One death happened in the past 24 hours. Two were men 50 to 64 years old. The rest were adults 65 or older. 

Two Tulsa County women were among the reported deaths, and the county's total increased to 103. Six deaths occurred in Oklahoma County, which leads the state with 107. COVID-19 has officially killed 583 Oklahomans since March 18.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • Despite evidence to the contrary, Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to claim Oklahoma is doing better in handling the COVID-19 pandemic well, and is months ahead of other states.
  • Dr. Bruce Dart, Tulsa Health Department director, says the percent-positive rate of tests conducted by THD is "extremely high," and is reiterating his call for schools not to open this month for in-person learning due to the risk of transmission.

Pxfuel

Things are looking up for manufacturers in a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma.

For July, the Mid-America Business Conditions Index reached its highest level since March 2019, 57.4, up more than seven points from June. Numbers above 50 on the 0–100 scale indicate growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said those two months in positive territory came after three months of contraction.

Courtesy

Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to say Oklahoma is handling the coronavirus pandemic well and is months ahead of other states.

During the Tulsa Regional Chamber State of the State on Tuesday, Stitt compared the state’s hospitalization numbers from earlier in the pandemic to now.

“You know, on March 30, we had 560 people in the hospital being treated for COVID across the state of Oklahoma. Yesterday, we had 504 people in the hospital with capacity well above that,” Stitt said.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County continues to see "widespread virus" in the community, as delays in testing contribute to difficulties in properly responding to the pandemic, according the Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

At a press conference Tuesday at Tulsa Police Department headquarters, Dart said that testing laboratories are "swamped," leading to numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health that may be less useful due to being dated.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

It's he-said-they-said between Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and key stakeholders in the Greenwood District, as the conflict continues over whether or not the unauthorized "BLACK LIVES MATTER" mural on Greenwood Avenue can remain.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 15 additional deaths from COVID-19, the most in a single day since April 21 and tied for third-most over the course of the pandemic.

One death happened in the past 24 hours. Nine of the 15 deaths reported Tuesday were adults 65 or older, four were adults between 50 and 64 years old, and two were adults between 18 and 35 years old.

None of the deaths was in Tulsa County. Four happened in Oklahoma County, which now leads the state with 102, one more than Tulsa.

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