Local & Regional

The Tulsa Health Department recommended Friday the City of Tulsa can let its mask ordinance expire April 30, given current COVID trends.

THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said new cases and hospitalizations are at levels last seen in June, and more and more people get vaccinated every day.

"We’ll continue to scan the environment, watch the data and make the best recommendations to keep people safe. If that means recommending that we reinstitute our mask mandate, we would do that," Dart said.

National Weather Service Tulsa

This afternoon’s isolated thunderstorms will ramp up through the evening, meaning a threat of severe weather across northeastern Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service in Tulsa expects several strong to severe storms as a cold front pushes a line of storms across Green Country.

Severe potentials are expected to exit by late evening. Large hail up to 2 inches and greater, damaging wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph, and also a tornado threat will be possible across eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas.

Tulsa Community College

The White House announced Friday that the Tulsa Community College Northeast Campus has been chosen to host a federally supported COVID-19 vaccination site in partnership with state and local agencies.

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will lend support to the vaccination site, in partnership with the Tulsa Health Department, Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Oklahoma National Guard and state and local partners," the White House said in a news release.

Oklahoma State University

OSU held a virtual meet-and-greet this week for Dr. Kayse Shrum, who was recently selected as the university’s 19th president.

Shrum served as state secretary of science and innovation from March 2019 through June 2020, playing a key role in building the state’s coronavirus response when there was a lack of testing or even just knowledge about the virus.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Hardesty Family Foundation has awarded Mental Health Association Oklahoma a $900,000 grant to keep criminal justice programs going another two years.

Funding will support initiatives like a special services docket that puts case managers in touch with people facing misdemeanor charges often related to homelessness, housing for people who were homeless because of untreated mental illness, and mental health training for law enforcement officers and others involved in the justice system.

Oklahoma Capitol Restoration

A state lawmaker revived an anti-trans bill on Thursday, the last day to get measures out of committees.

Friday's top stories:

• The Oklahoma legislature advanced a piece of anti-trans legislation meant to ban some trans athletes from participating in athletics at schools and universities.

• The Tulsa Health Department says they're prepared to vaccinate out-of-staters, as the state of Oklahoma announced non-residents are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Oklahoma effective Thursday.

Oklahoma Watch

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A union complaint about whether an Oklahoma meatpacking plant is doing enough to protect workers from the coronavirus could test the industry’s response to the pandemic because Seaboard Foods says it is following recommendations from the government and trade groups. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

With the Oklahoma State Department of Health announcing Wednesday that non-Oklahomans are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the state system, the Tulsa Health Department said Thursday they're up to the job.

"We are happy to be administering the vaccine, really, to anybody who wants it, whether they are Oklahoma residents or those that are residents of another state but for some reason are in Oklahoma," said Ellen Niemitalo, THD clinical services manager.

"We're just excited to be able to administer the vaccine to anyone who is wanting it," she said.

Thursday's top stories:

• State lawmakers have pushed more restrictions on abortion care closer to Gov. Kevin Stitt's desk.

• Democrats are demanding an apology from a Republican state rep who said the fight to illegalize abortion is more important than the fight to end slavery and compared abortion to the Holocaust.

Pool photo by Mike Simons / Tulsa World

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma will begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations to residents of any state as Oklahoma’s vaccine supplies and vaccinations administered increased, deputy state Health Commissioner Keith Reed said Wednesday.

Until now, Oklahoma had limited vaccinations to only its 4 million residents.

Now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Oklahoma has received more than 2.9 million vaccine doses and administered more than 2.1 million vaccinations. So, residents of any state will become eligible for vaccination in Oklahoma starting Thursday.

A state lawmaker who vowed to fight Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to let for-profit companies manage Oklahoma’s expanding Medicaid program took action on Wednesday.

Rep. Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan) amended Senate Bill 131, which dealt with dialysis, to instead require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to oversee services to thousands of newly eligible enrollees starting July 1.

The Oklahoma Democratic Party is demanding an apology from and censure of Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland) after comments he made Wednesday as a committee considered his abortion restrictions bill.

"The cavalier usage of racist terms with no repercussions is exhausting. I would be grateful if those who are elected to represent Oklahoma remember that they represent all of Oklahoma, even those of us who are Black and brown," said Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Alicia Andrews.

Oklahoma lawmakers’ relentless push for new abortion restrictions continued on Wednesday.

Three bills made it out of committee, putting them all a floor vote away from the governor’s desk.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 441,906 total cases in the state on Wednesday, an increase of 3,542 over the past week.

Wednesday's total included approximately 1,300 cases not previously reported over a six-week period during which a single laboratory had technical issues during the transition to a new COVID-19 data reporting system. Without those cases, Oklahoma added roughly the same number of new infections over the past week as it did the week before.

Healthier Oklahoma Coalition

Add "eyesight" to the list of things possibly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Jean Hausheer, a Lawton ophthalmologist and past-president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said on a Tuesday Zoom press conference hosted by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition that a recent paper in the American Journal of Ophthalmology looked at a potential link between the increase in screen time and decrease in outdoor activity in kids due to the switch to remote learning and myopia (nearsightedness).

Tulsa Health Department

Oklahoma's COVID-19 case reporting and test positivity rate may not accurately reflect the current state of the pandemic due to a decline in the number of tests being performed, a leading expert said Wednesday.

"Our testing is coming down significantly," Dr. Jennifer Clark said during a weekly virtual presentation given as part of the OSU Project ECHO initiative, for which she serves as subject matter expert.

Wednesday's top stories:

• Oklahomans should expect to see a spike in COVID-19 cases reported by the state health department Wednesday, but officials say it's due to a reporting error.

• Local elections occurred across Oklahoma yesterday. Locally, Broken Arrow Mayor Craig Thurmond lost his seat on the city council and Tulsa Public Schools board member Jennettie Marshall retained hers by just 15 votes.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Congress must take action to allow American Indian tribes to compact with state governments to prosecute crimes in Indian Country, Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill said Tuesday.

Gov. Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday announced the appointment of a Norman investment executive to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. 

If approved by the state Senate, Rick Nagel, 49, would replace Regent Gary Pierson and serve a seven-year term expiring in 2028. 

City of Broken Arrow

Municipal and school board elections were held Tuesday across much of Oklahoma, with several Green Country contests decided.

Incumbent Broken Arrow Mayor Craig Thurmond lost his reelection bid for his seat on the Broken Arrow City Council. Challenger Lisa Ford, an employee of the Broken Arrow Police Department, won the Ward 2 seat with 4,811 votes to Thurmond's 3,335.

Broken Arrow Councilor Debra Wimpee held off two challengers to retain her Ward 1 seat. She finished with 3,278 votes, ahead of Jonathan Kelly (2,510) and Cathy Smythe (2,363). 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Residents are starting to move into Tulsa’s mixed-income River West community as phase one nears completion.

There are 74 total units opening up, with 37 for residents of the old Riverview Park public housing torn down to make room for the new apartments. The goal is bringing together people from all walks of life in a transformed Eugene Field neighborhood.

"River West is a community of inclusion and unity. This is what creating a better Tulsa by transforming lives and community looks like in action," said Tulsa Housing Authority Board Chair Rick Neal.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Oklahoma health officials say as the state moves COVID-19 case reporting off of the system known as PHIDDO, one lab had an undiscovered technical error for about six weeks.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said that’s been sorted out. Most of the infections were actually acquired in January and February, but there will be an artificial increase in cases Wednesday because of the previously unreported ones.

Serge Melki

Oklahoma Republican lawmakers again resurrect a controversial bill that appeared done for the session.

Sen. David Bullard (R-Durant) in committee on Tuesday amended a House bill on emergency plans for athletics events to bring back a Senate bill to ban the teaching of "divisive concepts," a push back against analyzing issues like systemic racism.

Google Maps

Local and federal authorities are investigating a bomb scare at U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s Tulsa offices.

There was a series of emails mentioning explosives along with Inhofe’s Tulsa and D.C. offices. The Robert W. Davis Tower near 21st Street and Utica Avenue was evacuated before noon Tuesday, and the Tulsa Police bomb squad searched the building, including Inhofe’s offices, with sniffer dogs for about half an hour.

No explosive devices were found.

TPD, the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI are determining who sent the emails.

The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved a resolution scheduling a June 8th election for voters to decide on a five-year, $414 million bond proposal.

Tuesday's top stories:

• A two-year, $31 million rehabilitation projected is expected to begin this summer on the east leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop.

• ODOT is asking Oklahomans to use caution while driving through work zones as April marks Work Zone Safety Month. Nearly 1,400 injuries and 83 fatalities have been caused by crashes in Oklahoma work zones over the last five years.

• TSET is funding a new rural medicine residency at OSU.

Anadarko Police Department

ANADARKO, Okla. (AP) — Police in Oklahoma fatally shot a man early Monday after he pulled out a gun while officers were responding to a reported drug overdose involving another person, authorities said.

USGS map

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s attorney general and state insurance commissioner announced Monday a $25 million settlement with Farmers Insurance over the company’s handling of earthquake claims.

Tulsa Recycle Transfer Facility

The City of Tulsa is sending residential recycling to the incinerator for the time being because of a fire at the local processing facility last week.

A lithium-ion battery made it into the recycling stream, sparking a fire at the Tulsa Recycle Transfer Facility, referred to as TRT. City Refuse and Recycling Services Manager Maureen Turner said she doesn’t know how long the site will be offline.