Local & Regional

Facebook / Senator Casey Murdock

The Oklahoma Senate held an interim study Monday on the state of the beef processing industry in Oklahoma and the challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Rodney Holcomb, an Oklahoma State University agricultural economist, said slowdowns in processing by bigger operations have led to higher demand in smaller-scale facilities.

Flickr User Noel Reynolds, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The discovery of a second rabid bat in two months in Chandler has spurred the Oklahoma State Department of Health to issue a release reminding Oklahomans of the dangers of rabies and the importance of vaccinations.

“Oklahoma is seeing more cases of rabies in the state this year than previous years,” said State Public Health Veterinarian LeMac’ Morris, in a statement. “With more sightings of skunks and bats, this is the perfect time to remind pet owners about the importance of vaccinating family pets, and even livestock.”

Flickr User Nez, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Tulsa City Councilors say interest in raising chickens for eggs and meat has increased as citizens have been cooped up during the pandemic, and the council is considering pecking away at limits on the number of chickens allowable under law and the minimum distance of shelters from homes.

At a Wednesday meeting of the council's urban and economic development committee, Councilor Kara Joy McKee said this is a food access issue.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 1,101 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the state's total to 77,908.

Tulsa County had 59 of Monday's cases. Its total now stands at 16,034, second-highest in the state behind Oklahoma County's 16,749.

Pixnio

The United States has committed $13.6 billion to six drug companies in an effort to produce a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, but in a hearing with federal health officials last week, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford raised concerns about how some are being developed.

"It's specifically the use of tissue that's from aborted children that becomes the challenge, and the Moderna is using embryonic kidney cells from aborted children. Johnson & Johnson is using aborted children embryonic retinal tissue for its production of the vaccines," Lankford said.

Oklahoma's district attorneys appear set to ask lawmakers for a nearly $12 million budget increase when fiscal year 2022 budget hearings begin in the coming months, a request that may not be well received.

District Attorneys Council Director of Finance Bud Webster said in a recent meeting, state Budget Secretary Mike Mazzei was clear the state's finances don't look like they'll have turned a corner.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported more than 2,200 cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, pushing the state's total to 76,807.

The health department reported 1,237 cases on Saturday and 1,003 cases on Sunday.

Tulsa County added 181 cases over the weekend, bringing its total to 15,975. Oklahoma County leads the state with 16,560.

Monday's headlines:

  • Oklahoma's district attorneys appear set to ask lawmakers for a nearly $12 million budget increase.
  • The state adds another 2,200 cases of COVID-19 to its total over the weekend, pushing the seven-day average to a near-record level.
  • There are just 10 days left to count as many Oklahomans as possible for the 2020 census.

U.S. Census Bureau

The city of Tulsa's director of community partnerships said Friday that diversity has been crucial to efforts to geting residents counted in the lead-up to the Sept. 30 deadline.

"We've been doing everything we can to get the count up throughout the Tulsa metro area," said Kyle Ofori, during a Friday meeting with the state's Complete Count Committee which he attended virtually. The director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Steven Dillingham, attended the meeting in person during a visit to Oklahoma on a tour of states as the deadline approaches.

Courtesy Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation has begun distributing direct-assistance payments to Cherokee elders, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said Friday.

"I'm proud to announce that our Respond, Recover and Rebuild Elder Assistance Initiative has been a tremendous success," Hoskin said in a video announcement.

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.

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