Local & Regional

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Oklahoma’s number of reported cases of COVID-19 jumped 70% from Monday to Tuesday, and now 17 people have tested positive for the illness.

Eight cases are in people between 18 and 49 years old. The rest are in people over 50.

Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart said if you have symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty breathing, call your health care provider. Do not go to a hospital or clinic asking to be tested.

River Spirit

Oklahoma’s four largest tribes have suspended their hotel and casino operations.

The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Muscogee (Creek) nations shut down their flagship resorts and dozens of other casinos at 11:59 p.m. Monday because of concerns about COVID-19.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said gaming and entertainment is the largest part of Cherokee Nation’s business portfolio, but he’s confident they can weather a closure of even a few months.

Department of Defense

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum issued an executive order Tuesday to limit restaurants to takeout service and close bars in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the city.

Restaurants may only offer curbside, takeout, drive-thru or delivery options after 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Bars are to close immediately.

"This is in place indefinitely until we receive guidance from the CDC that it is safe to return to normal operations," Bynum said.

File Photo-Mayfest

Longstanding arts festival Tulsa Mayfest has been canceled for 2020.

Tulsa Mayfest organizers said they are following recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. The City of Tulsa also recently announced they are limiting special event permits now and in the immediate future.

Whitney Bryen-Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma Supreme Court and Court of Appeals issued a joint order to courts across the state on Wednesday about how to proceed under a state of emergency for COVID-19.

All district courts are to continue jury trials to the next available jury dockets and release all current jurors from service.

Court deadlines and procedures and all non-jury proceedings are being suspended 30 days. That essentially puts a moratorium on evictions in Oklahoma.

Tuesday's top stories:

  • The Oklahoma State Board of Education closes public schools until April 6.
  • Tulsa health officials say Oklahoma is starting to see community spread of COVID-19 and are developing plans to test patients away from emergency rooms.
  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announces a moratorium on water shut-offs after declaring a civil emergency.

Wikipedia

The State Board of Education has approved a plan to close public schools across Oklahoma until April 6 because of COVID-19.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said it will be challenging for students and families, but their safety and educators’ is her top priority.

The board can come back together to re-evaluate closures at any time before April 6.

"This is a dynamic situation, very fluid. It changes by the hour, and we need to keep pace with those developments, and we are committed to doing that," Hofmeister said.

Serge Melki

After discussions with health officials and rare, bipartisan caucus meetings, Oklahoma lawmakers restrict access to the capitol going forward to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It will just be elected officials, essential capitol staff, credentialed reporters and state employees invited to meetings until further notice, so no pages, no field trips and no visitors in the galleries.

"We are not in a panic, but we are taking this serious to try to make sure that we protect our staff, our members and the public of Oklahoma," said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat.

Tulsa Public Schools is closing all schools in the district through April 3 to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Students will not return to school until at least April 6. A letter to parents said families should anticipate there may be an even longer closure.

District office buildings will close Wednesday and remain closed through April 3. TPS employees will be paid through that date and will be informed by Friday if the closure might go longer.

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline dropped 15 cents per gallon, to $2.39, over the past three weeks.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that gas prices could continue to fall as demand shrinks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The price at the pump averages 12 cents lower than it was a year ago.

The highest average price in the nation for regular-grade gas is $3.45 per gallon in Honolulu.

The lowest average is $1.82 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum on Monday declared a civil emergency in response to COVID-19.

It formalizes his directive that events with 50 or more people at city facilities or requiring a city permit be canceled.

Bynum is also taking several additional steps to limit the impact of COVID-19, including implementing a moratorium on water shutoffs.

"At a time when we’re asking Tulsans to stay home as much as they possibly can and to be washing their hands as frequently as they can, we don’t want them to have to worry about water service to their house," Bynum said.

KWGS News file photo

Oklahoma is now at 10 reported cases of COVID-19.

Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said with the steady uptick comes unwelcome news.

"Community spread has been identified in Oklahoma over the weekend, and that was identified in Cleveland County. It is likely, in all honestly, that we will detect community spread very soon in Tulsa County," Dart said.

Princess Cruises

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Officials say more than two dozen Oklahomans who were on a cruise that had a coronavirus outbreak have returned home after being quarantined.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said Monday that all 26 Oklahomans who were on the Grand Princess cruise ship have returned home. Hey says they were all asymptomatic before being allowed to return to Oklahoma and they will remain quarantined in their homes for another 14 days and be monitored by local health officials.

Oklahoma Watch

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is asking the State Board of Educaton to authorize closure of all Oklahoma schools until April 6.

Hofmeister called an emergency meeting for 4 p.m. today.

OSDE will closely monitor the COVID-19 situation with state health experts to determine if it will be necessary to extend the closure.

File photo

Concern about the coronavirus is leading a lot of people to stay home, and that means even fewer people are giving blood.

Jan Hale with the Red Cross said the thick of cold and flu season is already a tough time to find donors.

"There's an ongoing need, and it's probably not going to get any better before it gets worse. So, we would just urge anyone that's healthy, that's eligible, that's well — just celebrate your good health and come save a life," Hale said.

Tulsa Zoo

The Tulsa Zoo is closed indefinitely and all Tulsa-City County Library locations are closed to the public for at least two weeks as a preventative measure to limit exposure to the coronavirus.

Zoo officials said they based their decision on a directive from Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum to cancel gatherings of 50 or more people. The zoo announced the closure Sunday. It will remain closed until given clearance from the city to resume normal operations. 

Monday's headlines:

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt declares a state of emergency after Oklahoma gets its eighth positive test for COVID-19.
  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum cancels gatherings of 50 people or more at city facilities or requiring a city permit.
  • The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting to consider extending spring break. 

The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting Monday and vote on whether to extend spring break by one week or more.

Superintendent Deborah Gist said it would help limit the spread of COVID-19, and she is not making that recommendation lightly.

Gov. Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency Sunday after three more positive tests for COVID-19 were reported over the weekend.

"On March 6, we had our first confirmed case. We now have eight positive cases in Oklahoma," Stitt said.

A private laboratory authorized by the state to test for COVID-19 reported Oklahoma’s eighth positive test result on Sunday. Cases have now been identified in Cleveland, Jackson, Kay, Oklahoma, Payne and Tulsa counties.

Tulsa County leads the state with three cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has canceled all visitation and all volunteer access to facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among staff, inmates and volunteers.

The action took effect Friday at 6 p.m. DOC officials said they are closely adhering to guidelines set by the American Correctional Association, Oklahoma State Department of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep the illness from being introduced in state facilities.

A woman in her 60s is Oklahoma County's first case of COVID-19, bringing the state's total number of cases to four.

State health officials said the woman recently traveled to Florida. She is considered a "presumptive positive" case, meaning a state lab returned a positive result that has not yet been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Office of Attorney General

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump’s declaration Friday of a national emergency over the new coronavirus triggered an Oklahoma law that prohibits price-gouging, the state’s attorney general said.

Attorney General Mike Hunter said the law prohibits an increase of more than 10% in the price of goods or services during a declared emergency.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated March 15, 7:12 p.m.  

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing new guidelines for canceling events Sunday evening, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has updated a directive to cancel city events and gatherings at city facilities.

Now, scheduled gatherings of 50 people or more are being canceled and new ones prohibited through April 15 in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Department of Defense says two servicemen killed in an Iraqi rocket attack on a U.S. base in Iraq were an Oklahoman and a Californian.

The department said Friday that 28-year-old Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal Roberts of Owasso, Oklahoma, and 27-year-old Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias of Hanford, California, died in Wednesday's attack that also killed a British service member.

Tulsa Animal Welfare

Members of the Tulsa Animal Welfare Commission offered proposed ordinance changes this week to the city council.

After months of work, some of the proposed changes include tweaking dog and cat limits so people can have up to five dogs and instituting bigger fines for violations that threaten public safety, like not turning over a rabid animal.

Tulsa County officials gave an update Friday afternoon on their preparations to deal with COVID-19.

New coronavirus testing protocols are coming from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart said they will match guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control on who should be tested for COVID-19.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Senate approved legislation Thursday to essentially prohibit abortions in Oklahoma after six weeks of pregnancy.

The Senate voted 36-8 for the bill, which now heads to the House for consideration.

The bill by Republican Sen. Paul Scott of Duncan would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion, beginning at six weeks of pregnancy, if a fetal heartbeat or brain waves are detected.

Oklahoma Watch

Epidemiologists with the Tulsa Health Department say the county’s first case of COVID-19 has recovered.

They announced the case last Friday. A man in his 50s who returned to Tulsa from Italy at the end of February developed symptoms three days after he arrived.

Since then, the health department says he’s had two negative tests for the illness caused by the coronavirus, which is the indicator of recovery.

Friday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma has a third case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
  • The man who was the state's first case of the illness has reportedly recovered.
  • Local officials could get guidance soon on when to cancel events because of the coronavirus.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday appointed state Department of Human Services Director Justin Brown to his cabinet as secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Development.

As cabinet secretary, Brown will oversee agencies and boards that include Oklahoma Human Services, the Office of Juvenile Affairs, Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, the Office of Disability Concerns and Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

Brown said he will seek “to drive innovation, collaboration and partnerships among our agencies and partners.”

Pages