Local & Regional

Tulsa Public Schools begins its "grab and go" meal service today.

Breakfasts and lunches will be offered to kids ages 1 to 18 through April 3 while schools are closed. Packaged meals will be given out at dozens of sites and along 12 bus routes, where drivers will make roughly five-minute stops.

"The fact that our nutrition team is able to stand up almost 40 sites and that in collaboration with our transportation team is going to be delivering to more than 170 is pretty remarkable," said TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist.

File Photo

Tulsa officials are preparing for an influx of returning spring break travelers and with them, a potential surge in coronavirus infections.

Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart said people who have come back from a trip should practice social distancing for 14 days and monitor their health.

Food and Drug Administration

State officials say adequate testing and supplies of protective equipment for health care workers are key in Oklahoma's response to COVID-19.

Testing in Oklahoma should greatly increase by the end of the week. An executive order by Gov. Kevin Stitt allows OU and OSU to process tests. Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation Dr. Kayse Shrum said their labs will be able to run 10,000 per week, but that means many more than Oklahoma’s current 67 cases of the illness will be identified.

Department of Defense

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A second person in Oklahoma died of COVID-19 as the number of state residents with the illness caused by the novel coronavirus increased by more than a dozen, health officials said Sunday.

The man who died was in his 50s and lived in Pawnee County, west of Tulsa, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said in a statement. It did not provide further details on the circumstances of his illness and death.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma has risen by four, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Saturday.

The number of positive cases for the virus increased from 49 to 53 while the number of deaths remains at one.

Oklahoma County has the most positive cases with 20 and adjacent Cleveland County is next with 12. Tulsa County, where the death occurred, has five.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is among at least four senators to make significant stock sales after an all-Senate briefing on COVID-19 and before the stock market began falling in late February.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr dumped as much as $1.72 million in stocks on Feb. 13 as he was getting daily briefings on the pandemic and publicly downplaying it, according to ProPublica.

NIAID-RML

Oklahoma saw five more reported cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 49.

That’s the smallest increase in reported cases this week, but test components are in short supply. Officials said earlier this week the state could run fewer than 100 more tests with their current supply of materials.

The state has 374 people under investigation it does not have test results for, up from 250 on Thursday.

Rose District

Broken Arrow shut down bars and entertainment venues and limited restaurants to takeout or delivery at midnight Saturday.

The city council approved an emergency proclamation to implement those measures at a meeting on Thursday. Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart told them the restrictions are needed to stop the spread of COVID-19 because promising vaccines and treatments are at least a year away.

Wikipedia

Just eight U.S. senators voted against a sweeping coronavirus relief bill signed into law Wednesday by President Trump, and two were from Oklahoma.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provdes for free testing, expands nutrition and unemployment benefits, and temporarily boosts Medicaid assistance to states. Sen. Jim Inhofe said his sticking point was a provision requiring businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave to their workers.

Wikipedia

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is planning to offer a recorded, one-hour television program in place of a live ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The program will be offered to television stations statewide for broadcast on April 19 in place of a live ceremony at the museum, museum executive director Kari Watkins said Thursday.

Courtesy

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has reassigned its state epidemiologist, who has largely been the agency’s public explainer of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A news release said Laurence Burnsed is being deployed to "provide epidemiological expertise to Oklahoma stakeholders."

Burnsed has been highly involved in the state's public briefings with Gov. Kevin Stitt and Health Commissioner Gary Cox, fielding questions on issues ranging from infection control to why the state has a critical shortage of testing kits.

Friday's top stories:

  • A Tulsa County man has died from COVID-19. He is Oklahoma's first death from the illness.
  • Another 15 Oklahomans tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state's total number of reported cases to 44.
  • State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says there will not be state testing this year.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa leaders took surrounding communities to task over delayed action to lessen the spread of COVID-19 cases during a news conference Thursday.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said he understands it can be a difficult decision to shut down businesses and cancel events, but leading health experts are saying that’s the only way to prevent a spike in serious illness that could overwhelm hospitals.

University of Tulsa

The University of Tulsa will offer only virtual classes for the rest of the semester.

Students who are away from campus for spring break have been told not to return. Starting Friday at 5 p.m., students will have only restricted access to dorms and campus apartments.

Administrators will work with students who need to retrieve belongings or need a waiver to stay in campus housing.

All TU employees have been told to work remotely, except for those needed to support minimal campus operations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Another 15 Oklahomans have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of reported cases in the state to 44.

There has now been one reported death in the state, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health is now reporting hospitalizations from COVID-19, which are at four.

Another child 4 years old or younger has a reported case of the illness. Nearly half the reported cases in the state, 21, are in the 18–49 age range.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/albertogp123/

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has suspended state testing for the 2019–2020 school year.

The agency will apply for a federal waiver because the Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to test students on English language arts, math and science in grades 3–8 and once in high school, but State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said testing will not happen.

"It’s off the table. We’ve made the decision. If we get any pushback for some reason, I will have that fight," Hofmeister said.

U.S. House

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma U.S. Reps. Kendra Horn and Tom Cole said Thursday that they will self-quarantine for two weeks after two other members of Congress tested positive for COVID-19.

Horn, a Democrat, and Tom Cole, a Republican, each said they are not experiencing any symptoms of illness, but will self-quarantine on the recommendation of the House of Representatives’ attending physician.

Horn said she had contact with Utah Rep. Ben McAdams and Cole said he “was around” Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Courtesy

A Tulsa County resident has died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

According to the Tulsa Health Department, a man in his 50s who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday died from complications of the illness on Wednesday.

Facebook posts by Metro Pentecostal Church identified the man as 55-year-old Merle Dry and said he died at 8:01 p.m. Wednesday after being admitted to a hospital Sunday with double pneumonia.

His illness was confirmed as COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Thursday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma's supply of COVID-19 test kits is "critically low."
  • Oklahoma sees a second straight day with a 70% increase in reported cases of COVID-19.
  • The state releases Gov. Kevin Stitt's SoonerCare 2.0 plan for public comment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma Health Department can run fewer than 100 more tests for COVID-19 before they're out of kits.

"Due to the critical low supply we have, the state is going to have to reserve until further notice tests for only vulnerable populations," said Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Tests will be reserved for people who have fever, cough and shortness of breath and who fall into a high-risk category: the elderly; people who are hospitalized with severe illness; people with heart, lung or immune system conditions; long-term care facility residents and workers; or health care workers.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax declared an election emergency Wednesday for local elections being held in 74 counties on April 7.

The election emergency declaration will require county election boards to accept resolutions adopted by the governing bodies of school districts, municipalities, technology districts and counties to move their April 7 elections to another date.

Regular and statutory elections could be rescheduled to June 30, the next available election date and the date of the state primary election.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed into law sweeping changes to the state’s Open Meeting Act the Oklahoma Legislature approved on Tuesday to allow government bodies to meet via teleconference, a move that was in response to the coronavirus outbreak and alarmed open government advocates who worried the changes were too extreme.

Shorty after the Senate approved the bill, senators and their staff were asked to self-quarantine in their offices after learning a Senate staffer had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Some City of Tulsa services have changed to deal with COVID-19.

Municipal courts are closed for 30 days. Emergency cases are been seen as needed, but other court dates are automatically being rescheduled for 30 days after the original date. If the new date falls on a weekend, it will be moved to Monday.

"We’re even extending dates for folks that if they’re unable to pay their citations that say they’ve got a preset amount on it, we will also extend those, just give us a call," said Court Administrator Kelly Brader.

Pixabay

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is moving ahead with his SoonerCare 2.0 proposal as the state deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority released Stitt’s Medicaid proposal for public comment. It’s the first public look at the full plan, which aims for full expansion for low-income, able-bodied adults July 1 followed by a transition to a capped federal funding system and implementation of restrictions July 1, 2021.

Oklahoma state officials say preparations for COVID-19 are ongoing.

Health officials are working with hospitals to figure out what the state’s capacity is for a surge in critical cases. Gov. Kevin Stitt said he’s been in discussions with the Oklahoma National Guard about potentially activating them.

"In case we get to a point that we need to call them up to create more ICU beds, then they’re working up a plan for that. So, we can pull that lever if and when we need to pull it," Stitt said Tuesday.

As of Wednesday morning, Oklahoma was at 29 reported cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

That was a more than 70% increase from Tuesday, when the state had 17 cases. Oklahoma has now seen back-to-back days of reported cases increasing by roughly 70%. The number of reported cases was at 10 on Monday.

PickPik

The deadline for Oklahoma tribes and Governor Kevin Stitt to come to an agreement on gaming compacts has been extended.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti moved the mediation deadline in the tribes’ lawsuit against Stitt from March 31 to May 31. A status hearing set for April 3 has been postponed indefinitely.

Three tribes sued Stitt on Dec. 31, asking for a declaration gaming compacts renewed automatically. Stitt responded by asking the judge to find the compacts expired and declare Class III gaming illegal.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum orders bars in the city closed and restaurants limited to takeout or delivery service.
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt issues two additional executive orders to deal with COVID-19, but neither places additional restrictions on businesses or individuals.
  • Reported cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma jumped 70% from Monday to Tuesday, but officials warn tests are limited.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt issued two additional executive orders on Tuesday as part of the state’s response to COVID-19.

Neither places additional restrictions on businesses or individuals.

One executive order encourages people to follow current federal guidance, like avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, practicing good hygiene and handwashing, avoiding nonessential travel and shopping, and not eating out unless it’s a takeout order.

State of Oklahoma

A state Senate staffer has tested positive for COVID-19.

Senators are working with a private lab to get themselves and staffers tested because the state's supply of test kits is dwindling, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The staff member had not been at the capitol since Friday, but senators were told to wait in their offices for a health professional on Tuesday.

Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said in a statement the risk to most Senators and staff is low, and they are "taking appropriate measures" under health officials’ guidance.

Pages