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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump officially declared a federal disaster on Monday for 13 Oklahoma counties battered by a late October ice storm.

The declaration means federal funding will now be available to state, tribal and local governments and some private nonprofits for storm-related costs, the White House said in a press release.

U.S. Army

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Two men have been charged after being accused by authorities of fraudulently applying for small business loans intended for coronavirus relief in Oklahoma, according to federal prosecutors.

Authorities allege Rafael Maturino, 40, of Broken Arrow, and Adam Winston James, 44, of Tulsa, worked together on a scheme to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

U.S. Department of Defense

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 2,596 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 263,434.

Tulsa County had 427 of Monday's cases. Its total now stands at 44,100, second to Oklahoma County's 53,592.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, remains near record levels and rose from 3,310 to 3,381. The average has held relatively steady since Dec. 6. The record is 3,387, set the day after Thanksgiving. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Monday's top stories:

  • While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against traveling, Oklahoma is trying to bring tourists to the state.
  • A weekend surge in coronavirus infections brings new state and Tulsa County records.

Food and Drug Administration

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, Oklahoma spent about $87 million on personal protective gear and medical equipment, much of it going to companies that were quickly formed as states scrambled to buy items such as masks, gloves and gowns.

A public records request by The Associated Press shows the state’s top vendor was Standard Healthcare Supply Inc., an Oklahoma City-based company that was created in March and received $17.8 million for purchases of masks, gloves, gowns and other medical supplies.

David Dermer / University of Tulsa

No. 22 Tulsa will wrap up its season next week in Fort Worth in the Armed Forces Bowl against Mississippi State.

The bowl game announcement came the day after the Golden Hurricane fell short in the American Athletic Conference championship. A 34-yard field goal as time expired gave the No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats a 27–24 victory on a rainy Saturday night in Ohio.

Tulsa came from behind three times to tie things up, including a seven play, 80-yard drive ending with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Zach Smith to Juan Carlos Santana with 3:41 remaining.

A 24/7 psychiatric care center in Tulsa has added a dedicated police entry port and treatment beds to help law enforcement get people in crisis to appropriate help faster.

The Police One Stop is at Family and Children’s Services downtown CrisisCare Center. Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said up to now, officers have often been default mental health responders and have had to decide whether to take someone in crisis to jail, an emergency room or somewhere else.

Ahead of Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended postponing holiday travel to avoid catching COVID-19, and that advice stands.

The same day the CDC made that announcement in mid-November, the state of Oklahoma launched a new tourism ad campaign featuring Gov. Kevin Stitt in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas, and on digital platforms.

Food and Drug Administration

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 9,078 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, including a new one-day record of 4,970 on Sunday.

The state has 260,838 total cases.

Tulsa County saw 1,857 new cases over the weekend. Its total now stands at 43,673, second to Oklahoma County's 53,080.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated Dec. 22, 6 a.m. to clarify no revenue was certified at the board's meeting. All numbers are estimates.  

Oklahoma's fiscal year 2022 budget seems a little less bleak in officials' first look at the numbers.

The Oklahoma State Board of Equalization’s earliest budget estimate projects $6.2 billion in revenue that can be appropriated next fiscal year.

Pixnio

State health officials said on Friday they’re happy with Oklahoma’s COVID vaccine distribution system after its first week in action.

Doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived Monday and were distributed from five hubs across the state to 16 secondary sites. Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed said at last check, more than 50 counties reported shots had been given.

Youtube / Gov. Kevin Stitt

UPDATE at 5:15 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 18: A judge granted plaintiffs a temporary restraining order in this case. This story has been updated to include that development and reaction from the governor and the ABLE Commission.

A group of bar owners filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kevin Stitt Thursday, saying his executive order that in-person service stop at 11:00 p.m. each night in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 is onerous, unlawful and outside the bounds of his authority.

Courtesy City of Tulsa

Researchers searching Oaklawn Cemetery for remains of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre are pursuing legal approval to exhume and study bodies discovered in their October dig, which revealed a mass grave.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 3,556 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 251,760.

Tulsa County had 620 of Friday's cases. Its total now stands at 41,816, second to Oklahoma County's 51,811.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, remains near record levels, dropping from 3,250 to 3,201. The average has held relatively steady since Dec. 6. The record is 3,387, set the day after Thanksgiving. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Friday's top stories:

• Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Thursday teachers will be bumped up from phase three to phase two of the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan, with the stated goal of getting every school district in Oklahoma to offer in-person learning beginning in January.

• A member of Gov. Stitt's cabinet has been indicted by a grand jury on a felony bribery charge. 

There will be no Oklahoma School report cards for the current year.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously on Thursday to suspend them for one year because of upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. State testing factors heavily into the A–F report cards and is set to go on, but all of the data that goes into them will somehow be affected.

Deputy Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability Maria Harris told the board, for example, students didn’t test last year because of a federal waiver. Now, there’s no way to measure academic growth over the past year.

A member of Governor Kevin Stitt’s cabinet has been indicted by Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury.

Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration David Ostrowe faces a felony charge of attempted bribery of an official after allegedly telling state tax commissioners to waive a company’s penalties and interest on a tax debt or appropriations to their agency would be withheld.

The governor’s office said it takes the allegations seriously but is still getting information about the situation.

Wikipedia

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Thursday pre-K through 12th grade teachers and support staff are now in phase two of the state’s COVID vaccination plan.

They were previously in phase three of four. The move is aimed at a specific goal. 

"Parents and students, I hear you. I am fighting for you. Let me be very clear: I want every Oklahoma school child to have an in-person option in January, period," Stitt said.

Tulsa Health Department

The Tulsa Health Department said during a virtual press conference Thursday morning that efforts to get nearly 14,000 "tier one" frontline health care workers vaccinated against COVID-19 are picking up steam.

"Based on the preliminary numbers that I've received, between the two of us we've administered at least 800 doses in Tulsa County as of yesterday (Wednesday)," said Alicia Etgen, manager of emergency preparedness and response at THD, referring to the department and Saint Francis Health System, the other entity involved in initial vaccine distribution.

Office of Sen. Jim Inhofe

Despite the Electoral College's formal vote confirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory over incumbent President Donald Trump in the November election, Oklahoma's two U.S. Senators are not among the growing ranks of Senate Republicans acknowledging that reality.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Updated Dec. 18, 12:25 p.m. with Thursday's number of active cases in Tulsa County.  

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 2,975 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 248,204.

Tulsa County had 439 of Thursday's cases. Its total now stands at 41,196, second to Oklahoma County's 51,120.

Tulsa Health Department

While the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Oklahoma is being universally celebrated by public health officials, health care workers and medical leaders, they are stressing that the immunizations won't have immediate impact on infection levels and vigilance is still necessary to prevent unnecessary transmission of the virus.

"It is here to stay, regardless of our vaccination process," said Dr. Jennifer Clark of the OSU Center for Health Sciences' Project ECHO faculty team. "Masking is going to be with us for probably the next year to two years until we get appropriately immunized."

Thursday's top stories:

• The state of Oklahoma has canceled $400 assistance payments to out-of-work Oklahomans it announced just last week.

• Public health officials and experts are warning Oklahomans not to let their guard down against COVID-19 just because vaccines have started to arrive.

Broyles campaign

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Abby Broyles said Wednesday she plans to launch a not-for-profit organization aimed at boosting voter registration and turnout in the Sooner State.

Twitter / @OESCnews

Citing conflicting federal guidance, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reversed course Wednesday on $400 payments to around 120,000 Oklahomans announced last week.

OESC Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt said last week she was told the agency could do that with remaining funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Lost Wages Assistance program. Now, however, Zumwalt says with lawmakers closing in on a new coronavirus relief package that could include another round of enhanced unemployment benefits, things have changed.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 3,238 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 245,229.

Tulsa County had 528 of Wednesday's cases. Its total now stands at 40,757, second to Oklahoma County's 50,569.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, remains near record levels, jumping from 3,044 to 3,177. The average has held relatively steady since Dec. 6. The record is 3,387, set the day after Thanksgiving. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

In a report from a COVID mitigation working group, as of Friday, the Tulsa Health Department is not recommending any additional steps from the City of Tulsa right now.

"They feel that we’ve taken the most action of any municipality, quite frankly, in the state, and we’re hoping to see more participation from our nearby partners," City Councilor Lori Decter Wright, a member of the working group, told fellow councilors during a Wednesday committee meeting.

Gov. Kevin Stitt will announce on Thursday new measures aimed at getting kids back in school.

Stitt said they were coming at a news conference announcing the COVID-19 vaccine’s arrival in southwest Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon.

City of Vinita

The Vinita City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a mandatory mask ordinance similar to the ones adopted by Tulsa, Jenks, and other Green Country municipalities meant to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to the Oklahoma State Medical Association, which supports mask mandates on both the local and state levels, Vinita is now one of at least 33 municipalities in the state to have enacted such an ordinance.

Google Maps Street View

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice has sued the affordable housing agency in the western Oklahoma town of Lone Wolf for allegedly denying housing to a Black mother and her 5-year-old daughter because of their race.

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