Local & Regional

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.

A study of seven years' worth of data shows what states can do to improve broadband internet availability in rural areas.

OSU's Department of Agricultural Economics and Purdue University's Center for Regional Development teamed up for the study. OSU's Dr. Brian Whitacre told Oklahoma's Rural Broadband Expansion Council out of three broad policy categories, two really made a difference.

"The main policies that were more effective are the lack of restrictions and in-place state funds," Whitacre said.

Facebook / Gov. Kevin Stitt

Interim State Health Commissioner Lance Frye told Oklahoma lawmakers while the state is now in a prolonged mitigation phase of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to start thinking ahead.

"We do need to look forward to what the next decade of public health is going to look like. We know that the prior infrastructure was not invested in. It just couldn’t do the job when it needed to," Frye said Tuesday during an interim study.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Several predominately white Tulsa churches have painted "Black Lives Matter" messages on their properties.

At least four churches painted their messages Wednesday, four years to the day after a white Tulsa police officer shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man. More are expected to paint "Black Lives Matter" on their properties in the coming days.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Saying the science is clear that children 10 and older can spread and be sickened by the novel coronavirus, the director of the Tulsa Health Department recommended the Tulsa City Council amend the city's COVID-19 mask ordinance to apply to those 10 and above rather than just those 18 and above.

Facebook / Tulsa Police Department

Federal prosecutors have indicted a man for allegedly providing the gun used in the killing of Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson and the wounding of Ofc. Aurash Zarkeshan in June.

"Jakob Garland is alleged to have been the person who gave the gun to David Ware. He is alleged to have exchanged that gun for heroin," said Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 970 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the state's total to 72,284.

Tulsa County had 111 of those cases. Its total now stands at 15,469, second to Oklahoma County's 15,694.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 894 to 908, the first time it's been above 900 since Aug. 2. The average has now increased four days in a row and is up 126 in that time. The state's average peaked at 1,093 on Aug. 1 and had fallen to 645 by late August.

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane is set to begin its football season Saturday in Stillwater. That game was delayed a week to give TU more practice time after a COVID-shortened preseason.

Now, Tulsa’s next opponent on the schedule has pushed back a game, seemingly because of the coronavirus. 

Arkansas State’s home football game against Central Arkansas has been pushed back from Saturday to Oct. 10.

Stuart Ostler / Oklahoma Capitol

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has denied Gov. Kevin Stitt’s request it rehear a case in which the court ruled gaming compacts he signed with two tribes were invalid.

The court denied Stitt’s request Monday without comment.

Wednesday's headlines:

  • COVID-19 continues to spread in Oklahoma prisons as the Department of Corrections reports two more deaths potentially linked to the coronavirus.
  • August collections to Oklahoma's general revenue fund slightly exceeded expectations.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Collections to Oklahoma’s main government operating fund exceeded the estimate last month by about 1%, state finance officials reported Tuesday.

Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Steven Harpe attributed the higher-than-expected collections to a couple of anomalies, including the timing of corporate income tax payments.

“These anomalies should not be expected to continue in other months, especially after federal assistance payments are fulfilled and deferred tax payments are received,” Harpe said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

District officials hope to have a new, five-year bond package to the Tulsa Public Schools Board for review in November, putting it on schedule for a March 2 ballot.

A citizen committee is currently at work on the bond package, and early indications are it will include four proposals: one for school buildings, one for student technology, one for teaching and learning materials, and one for transportation.

The transportation proposal won’t be just for buses. It will also include smaller vehicles that don’t require a commercial drivers license.

NASA

Former Oklahoma congressman and current NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency is interested in the recent discovery indicating there may have been life on Venus, but putting astronauts on Mars is still the primary goal.

NASA could launch its first rocket next year for Artemis, a program that aims to put the first woman on the moon by 2024. NASA hopes to establish a lunar base to derive hydrogen fuel from ice there.

Tomandandy-Wikimedia

Federal authorities announced a new initiative on Tuesday to help Tulsa crack down on illegal guns.

Modeled after the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Guardian, the 2150 Initiative will help the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Tulsa Police work together to track down guns that have made it into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, like convicted felons and people with mental health–related prohibitions.

Courtesy City of Tulsa

After an initial excavation in July yielded no human remains, researchers searching for mass graves of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims have announced they plan to begin digging elsewhere in Oaklawn Cemetery as soon as next month.

"The date for this work has yet to be scheduled, but the City of Tulsa will announce the date when confirmed," according to a statement from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 1,091 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 71,314.

It was the most cases reported on a Tuesday to date. The previous high was 1,089 cases reported July 28. The state was not counting positive antigen tests in its case totals then.

Tulsa County had 156 of Tuesday's cases. Its total now stands at 15,358, second to Oklahoma County's 15,517.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced Monday another major coronavirus outbreak at one of its facilities, a prison for men in Vinita.

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A group of citizens in Norman, Oklahoma, that was seeking to oust the mayor over her push to reallocate police funding has fallen short of the number of signatures needed to force a recall election, city officials said Monday.

City Clerk Brenda Hall said in a statement the group did gather enough signatures to force a recall election for City Council member Alison Patrone.

Tuesday's top stories:

  • Following a judge's order, the Tulsa Police Department released footage from dashboard and body cams from the June shooting that left one officer dead and another injured.
  • The city says it will conduct more excavations at Oaklawn Cemetery in search of mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Digs there in July turned up no remains.

Courtesy

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Several Oklahoma House Democrats requested a legal opinion Monday on Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to spend federal coronavirus relief funds to send students to private schools.

Members of the House Democratic Education Policy Group requested a formal opinion from state Attorney General Mike Hunter.

Stitt faced criticism in July when he announced his plan to spend $10 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to allow Oklahoma families to access $6,500 in funds for private-school tuition.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board hired a new executive director on Monday with a unanimous vote.

Tom Bates will now lead the agency. He was most recently a special adviser to the governor and director of an initiative trying to bring together Oklahoma’s health and human services agencies.

Bates was also interim director of the state health department for about a year and a half starting in April 2018. Bates stepped into that role after allegations of financial mismanagement at the agency, and he was in charge as it started up Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program.

The deadline to complete the 2020 Census is Sept. 30, and Oklahoma is behind when it comes to response rates.

Less than 60% of households in the state have responded, compared with almost 66% nationwide. In 2000, 64% of Oklahoma households responded, and the state still lost a seat in Congress.

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman said if the census misses just one in 100 Oklahomans, the state is leaving $720 million in federal funding on the table over the next decade.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is considering dozens of permanent rule changes for next year, but at least one is going back to the drawing board.

OMMA presented the proposed changes to its Food Safety Standards Board on Monday, including one that would prohibit drinking alcohol and smoking or vaping medical marijuana on a marijuana business’ premises. Violations could get a business license revoked.

Facebook / Tulsa Police Department

Video footage of the shooting of two Tulsa police officers, one of whom died of his injuries, was released by the Tulsa Police Department Monday morning following a judge's order that doing so was in the public interest. 

Food and Drug Administration

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 869 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 70,223.

It was the highest number of new cases on a Monday since 1,401 were reported July 27. The state has since started including positive antigen tests in its case totals.

Tulsa County had 56 of the cases reported Monday. Its total stands at 15,202, second to Oklahoma County's 15,293.

Monday's top stories:

  • The Sooners returned to the field on Saturday, bringing more than 22,000 fans into their stadium during rises in COVID-19 cases both in Cleveland County and statewide.
  • Per a judge's ruling, body camera footage from the June shooting that left one Tulsa police officer dead and another wounded will be publicly released this morning.
  • A police officer in the Oklahoma City metro has been charged with first-degree manslaughter for allegedly shooting a man to death inside the man's home.

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