Local & Regional

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Classes resumed Monday at the University of Tulsa, with students attending virtually, in-person, and some combination of the two.

According to Interim President Janet Levit, 3,809 students are enrolled for the fall semester, with 2,115 living in on-campus housing. About 35% of all classes are all online, about 15% are all in-person, and the remainder are "hybrid" courses involving both online and in-person instruction.

Twitter / Joy Hofmeister (@joy4ok)

Weekly reports the state has been receiving from the White House coronavirus task force since June, newly released by Gov. Kevin Stitt, paint a clearer picture of the federal view of Oklahoma's COVID-19 pandemic response.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

By all accounts, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has been a fast-rising political star in Oklahoma.

Part of a political dynasty whose uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather all served as mayor of the state’s second-largest city, the mild-mannered, bespectacled 43-year-old worked as a staffer for former U.S. Sens. Don Nickles and Tom Coburn, both GOP icons in the state.

He defeated a fellow Republican in the nonpartisan mayoral race in 2016 in part by reaching out to the city’s Black community. Many assumed his reelection this year was all but automatic.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 357 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 53,522.

The state has added fewer than 400 cases each Monday in August so far. New case totals are typically lower on Mondays, as reporting slows over the weekend.

Tulsa County had 79 of Monday's cases, bringing its total to 12,391. Oklahoma County continues to lead the state with 12,651 cases.

Monday's top stories:

  • After an outcry from local officials around Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt says he will begin publicly sharing weekly reports from the White House, which contain specific policy recommendations for specific cities and counties.
  • Tulsans vote for mayor tomorrow. The candidates have varying opinions on increasing economic opportunity.

PickPik

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Department of Interior has given tacit approval to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent agreements on tribal gambling with two Oklahoma-based Indian tribes.

The compacts with the Kialegee Tribal Town and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians were “deemed approved” by the federal department after a 45-day review period expired Thursday.

The new compacts would increase the fees the tribes pay on certain electronic games from 6% to as high as 13% if the tribes build casinos in new locations authorized under the deal.

U.S. Army

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal grand jury in Oklahoma City has indicted three men, accusing them of scheming to defraud mineral owners out of at least $1.7 million in royalty payments, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Casey Jobe, 37, of Edmond, and Anthony Hilbers, 38, and Brandon Colbert, 39, both of Oklahoma City, all were alleged to have participated in the scheme. They’re facing charges that include conspiracy, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.

Tulsa Flag

Tulsa’s mayoral candidates have different views on how to boost economic opportunity for residents.

In a virtual forum, restaurant owner Ty Walker called for bolstering vocational opportunities in trade schools and high schools.

"We’ve taken and mortgaged Tulsa’s future off to outside companies by giving them large tax credits. How can we not take the same amount of money and invest it in our people here?" Walker said.

Land-use expert Craig Immel called for removing barriers to Tulsans earning certifications to advance their careers, and not just financial ones.

Wikimedia-Erasergirl

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford and Rep. Tom Cole participated in separate hearings on the U.S. Postal Service on Friday, with both rejecting the idea recent changes have caused mail delays.

Ahead of a morning Senate committee hearing with U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Lankford told NPR he had not heard many complaints of mail delays in the wake of cost-cutting measures like removing sorting machines and slashing overtime.

Brooke Allen

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission hosted a groundbreaking on Firday for the long-awaited Greenwood Rising History Center.

Tracy Gibbs, a descendant of the late survivor Ernestine Gibbs, said it’s good to see work begin, but the real groundbreaking started almost 100 years ago.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Following the leak of a report showing the White House considers Oklahoma a “red zone” for COVID-19 cases and is privately urging the state’s government to institute far stricter measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, such as a statewide mask mandate and the closure of all bars, local officials are expressing considerable frustration that they’re being kept in the dark about federal recommendations.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 1,077 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the state's total to 51,746.

Friday marked the largest one-day increase in cases since Aug. 5, when 1,101 were reported.

Tulsa County had 222 of Friday's cases, bringing its total to 12,095. It was Tulsa County's largest increase since 254 cases were reported Aug. 7. Oklahoma County continues to lead the state with 12,328 cases.

Friday's top stories:

  • After his private meeting with Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force on Sunday, Gov. Kevin Stitt said she hadn't made any recommendations during the discussion. A leaked White House report shows that Birx's task force has told Stitt that Oklahoma must introduce a statewide mask mandate and close all bars, among other steps.
  • Broken Arrow is making up a larger and larger share of Tulsa County's COVID-19 numbers.

Friday's top stories:

  • After his private meeting with Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force on Sunday, Gov. Kevin Stitt said she hadn't made any recommendations during the discussion. A leaked White House report shows that Birx's task force has told Stitt that Oklahoma must introduce a statewide mask mandate and close all bars, among other steps.
  • Broken Arrow is making up a larger and larger share of Tulsa County's COVID-19 numbers.

Glenpool Public Schools is requiring 41 people within the district to quarantine after a middle school student tested positive for COVID-19.

An email to parents Thursday confirmed by KWGS with the district says the middle schooler attended six classes on Monday, including athletics with the volleyball team.

Contact tracing recommended two coaches and 39 others in contact with the student quarantine for 14 days.

Glenpool returned to in-person school with a virtual option on Aug. 13.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa’s Downtown Coordinating Council has received $675-,000 in coronavirus relief funding to help businesses offer more outdoor space.

The money comes from Tulsa County’s allocation of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act funding. DCC Executive Director Brian Kurtz said while the City of Tulsa is waiving permit fees for businesses that want to temporarily expand to sidewalks, parking spaces and other rights of way, it may still cost them something to buy materials and other items to ready the spaces for patrons.

The Tulsa City County Library system plans to open some locations for in-person visits after Labor Day.

The library’s board approved measures for that Thursday. Masks will be required, and you still won’t be able to spend the day at the library.

Facebook / Sen. Jim Inhofe

Following reporting in the Tulsa World that Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) falsely claimed on Wednesday that demonstrators in Portland, Ore., were "killing" people, a spokesperson for the senator said they were not familiar with his thinking or what he may have meant.

Cherokee Nation/Osiyo TV

The Cherokee Nation is mourning the loss of perhaps the greatest contributor to its language since Sequoyah.

Durbin Feeling died at the age of 74. He wrote the Cherokee dictionary and developed versions of the language for computers and smartphones.

Feeling spoke to Osiyo TV last year about his love for the Cherokee language and was asked whether he thought it could be saved.

"It can be, but there’s — there’s a lot of work behind it," Feeling said.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The city of Broken Arrow's share of COVID-19 cases relative to the Tulsa County total is increasing, a trend possibly related to its lack of a mask mandate, according to the Tulsa Health Department.

At a Thursday press conference at Tulsa Police headquarters, Dr. Bruce Dart, the health department's director, described the trend.

Food and Drug Administration

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 746 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 50,669.

Oklahoma's total number of cases has nearly doubled in the past month. There were 25,433 confirmed cases on July 20. The state broke 10,000 cases on June 20.

Tulsa County had 110 of Thursday's cases. Its total now stands at 11,873, second-most in the state behind Oklahoma County's 12,037.

American Airlines

American Airlines will drop flights to 15 smaller U.S. cities in October when a federal requirement to serve those communities ends.

The airline blamed low demand during the coronavirus pandemic, which has triggered a massive slump in air travel. Airlines and their labor unions are seeking billions in taxpayer relief.

American said its schedule covering Oct. 7 through Nov. 3 will drop flights to cities including Stillwater, Oklahoma; New Haven, Connecticut; and Springfield, Illinois.

Thursday's top stories:

  • 128 residents at the Claremore Veterans Center have tested positive for COVID-19. 35 have died.
  • Experts say local-level mask mandates in Oklahoma have been effective in reducing the rate of transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Two weeks ago, members of the Tulsa City Council voted to postpone a decision on what action, if any, to take regarding the "BLACK LIVES MATTER" street mural painted in the days leading up to Juneteenth and President Trump's controversial rally in Tulsa. 

On Wednesday afternoon, they again reached no consensus, leaving the matter for a future meeting.

File photo

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved Oklahoma for a $300 weekly unemployment benefit to people left jobless because of the coronavirus.

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor says Oklahoma becomes the ninth state to be approved for the program announced earlier this month by President Donald Trump.

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday that he had applied for inclusion into the program for the unemployed who are receiving at least $100 in state unemployment benefits.

DVIS

Statistics in Tulsa support the notion that the incidence of domestic violence is up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Domestic Violence Intervention Services reported a 22% increase in crisis line calls the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2019, and Tulsa Police handled 192 more domestic violence calls from January through July 2020 than in the same span of 2019.

John Lew / TU Sports Information

In a year in which the University of Tulsa’s president stepped down, its athletics director is now moving on as well.

TU Vice President and Director of Athletics Derrick Gragg is leaving Sept. 17 to become senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement at the NCAA. Gragg, who is one of the nation’s few Black college athletics administrators, said the brand-new position is one he would have considered at any point during his career.

Roland Leach / U.S. Air Force

An analysis by a Tulsa-based health information exchange found mask requirements are working to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. David Kendrick, the CEO of MyHealth Access Network, said they looked at seven-day averages of positive test rates in places with mask requirements versus the rest of the state and compared them at a week, two weeks and three weeks.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 17 new deaths from COVID-19 in the state.

Since March 18, 699 Oklahomans have died from the illness.

Four deaths happened in the past 24 hours. Two adults between 50 and 64 years old died. The other 15 were 65 or older. 

Two deaths were in Tulsa County, which now has 122 total. Three were in Oklahoma County, which leads the state with 135.

Facebook / Claremore Veterans Center

(This story was updated at 5:20 p.m. to correct the name of the executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.)

The outbreak of COVID-19 at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs center in Claremore has grown since first being announced by the agency in July. 

According to Shane Faulkner, ODVA's public information officer, 128 residents are now confirmed to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday. 35 of those residents have died.

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