Local & Regional

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The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 2,859 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 202,341.

It took the state seven months to break 100,000 cases and just over seven weeks to break 200,000.

Tulsa County had 425 of Wednesday's new cases. Its total now stands at 34,288, second to Oklahoma County's 41,494.

Office of Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence's White House coronavirus task force weekly report for Oklahoma does not contain much good news, noting that the state now ranks fourth-worst in the nation for its rate of COVID test positivity and 19th for most new cases per 100,000 residents, both red zone values.

Wednesday's top stories:

• New COVID-19 records for Oklahoma hospitalizations and patients requiring intensive care beds, as hospitals across the state try to keep up.

• The Oklahoma Blood Institute says it has a critical need for plasma donations from those who have recovered from COVID-19.

A task force put in charge of studying best practices to help kids affected by trauma says the state and partner agencies must do a better job bringing their services together.

After losing about 3,000 students over the past year, Tulsa Public Schools is planning a big enrollment push ahead of the window opening on Jan. 5.

District Director of Strategy, Finance and Operations Cesar Dominguez told the TPS Board on Monday a revamped process showed promising results last year, with twice as many students applying to four times as many schools. But he said it also fell short in some ways.

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission

Oklahoma’s recovery from the recession triggered by the coronavirus pandemic may take some time.

Lynn Gray is Economic Research and Analysis Director for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. He said during a Tuesday commission meeting the state lost 145,000 jobs from February through April. From May through October, fewer than 68,000 were recovered.

"Now, again, I’m speaking simplistic. They’re not all job to job," Gray said.

Courtesy Oklahoma City Fire Department

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Tuesday a record-breaking 1,782 Oklahomans hospitalized due to COVID-19 across the state, with 475 of those -- also a record high -- requiring intensive care.

Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis said Tuesday hospitals are dealing with capacity issues across the state.

Courtesy Oklahoma Blood Institute

The Oklahoma Blood Institute is calling on Oklahomans who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma, which can be used in the treatment of those battling the disease in hospitals.

"Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) began collecting convalescent plasma in early April, as soon as it showed promise in treating patients suffering from severe symptoms of COVID-19," the institute said in a release. "OBI is now distributing more than a thousand units per week to community hospitals.

The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — As coronavirus continues surging in Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt has declared Thursday a day of prayer and fasting in the state.

Oklahoma’s seven-day rolling average of new cases recently peaked at 3,318. It has since dropped to 2,696. It has not been below 1,000 in nearly two months. The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Monday reported a one-day high of 1,718 hospitalizations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 1,737 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 199,482.

Tulsa County had 294 of Tuesday's cases. Its total now stands at 33,863, second to Oklahoma County's 40,803.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, fell from 2,839 to 2,696. It's the third straight day the average has declined and the first time it's been below 2,700 in two weeks. The record is 3,318, set on Thanksgiving Day. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Tuesday's top stories:

• Tulsa Public Schools is moving all grade levels back to distance learning after the Tulsa Health Department said continuing in-person learning would be "extremely risky" due to the soaring rates of COVID-19 infection locally.

• COVID-19 vaccines have not yet received federal approval, but they'll start arriving in Oklahoma this month in preparation for expected authorization.

Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation unveiled in a video presentation on Monday some of the work being done on the Durbin Feeling Language Center, which will house all of the tribe’s language programs under one roof in Tahlequah.

The old Cherokee casino is undergoing a $5 million renovation as part of a broader, $16 million initiative to save the Cherokee language announced last year.

There will be more than classrooms and offices there.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated Dec. 1, 11:15 a.m. to correct end of fall semester.  

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist announced Monday afternoon all pre-K through third-grade students will move to distance learning on Wednesday for the rest of 2020.

Tulsa International Airport

Tulsa International Airport recorded fewer than half the number of Thanksgiving passengers this year compared to 2019, but thousands still flew despite the dire warnings of public health experts against holiday travel as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.

From Monday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 29, the airport saw 16,283 passengers pass through security checkpoints, down about 52% from 34,081 over the same holiday period last year, according to Andrew Pierini, the airport's director of air service and marketing. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 2,200 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 197,745.

Tulsa County had 362 of Monday's cases. Its total now stands at 33,569, second to Oklahoma County's 40,259.

The state added 74,983 cases of COVID-19 to its total in November, the most of any month so far and a 111% increase from the previous high in October. 

Monday's News Update From KWGS

Nov 30, 2020

Monday's top stories:

• Oklahoma added 56 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and more than 11,000 confirmed infections over the long holiday weekend.

• Experts say the pandemic is likely to get even worse after millions ignored federal guidance against Thanksgiving travel, and that data reporting may be erratic in the coming days due to an increase in tests and delays caused by the holiday.

Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is drawing praise from public health experts and attention in the national media.

A recent feature story in STAT, a news outlet focused on health and medicine, quotes Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, as calling the tribe's pandemic response "very impressive."

Facebook / Mayor David Holt

Three bars and four bar employees are suing Oklahoma City over Mayor David Holt’s proclamation that in-person service at bars must end at 11 p.m.

The lawsuit alleges Holt overstepped his legal authority and improperly cited the city’s Riot Control and Prevention Act when he declared a public disaster and issued the proclamation this month.

“The plain and unambiguous language of the RCPA makes clear that its intent is to control and prevent riots—not to contain the spread of pandemics,” according to the lawsuit.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma health officials reported 1,721 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Sunday, and 19 more deaths linked to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said the new counts bring the state to a total of 195,545 case of the virus and 1,736 fatalities.

The actual number of cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms.

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Another round of cost-cutting is underway on the Gateway Bridge, the Arkansas River pedestrian bridge set to be Tulsa’s newest landmark.

Tulsa’s Gathering Place LLC Director and Trustee Jeff Stava is overseeing the project. He told the Sales Tax Overview Committee last week that within a few weeks of the last round of bid openings in late September, two companies backed out, pushing up the total cost $5 million and setting the bridge to come in $4.6 million to $7.1 million over its $27.4 million dollar budget.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa City Council convenes next Monday for its inauguration, where all nine councilors will be sworn in.

Afterward, the council will hold a special meeting to elect the chair and vice-chair. Despite the worsening pandemic, that will all happen in the city council chambers.

Councilor Lori Decter Wright said they don’t have much choice.

More than 3,200 households in Oklahoma and Kansas will have a total of $5.2 million in medical debt wiped out by the area’s United Church of Christ conference.

The UCC Kansas-Oklahoma Conference raised $40,000, which was sent to RIP Medical Debt, a New York–based nonprofit that buys medical debt for pennies on the dollar.

The Rev. Chris Moore, lead pastor at Tulsa’s Fellowship Congregational Church, said the act is more about justice than charity.

Wikipedia

Starting Monday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health will allow 14-day, in-school quarantines for students potentially exposed to the coronavirus at school.

The agency released guidelines on Wednesday for the temporary program, which will let students participate in distance learning under supervision and with better access to technology and nutrition resources.

Quarantined students are to be kept separate from other students, masked and distanced from each other at all times.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 3,732 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 184,342.

Tulsa County had 416 of Wednesday's new cases. Its total now stands at 31,333, second to Oklahoma County's 37,441.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, jumped from 3,172 to 3,274, its third straight new record and seventh in the past eight days. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Physicians, nurses and health care groups in Oklahoma are expressing concern over the state department of health's recent guidance to allow health care workers infected with COVID-19 but asymptomatic to remain on the job rather than quarantine.

"To me, that seems like the most insane thing," said Dr. Scott Michener, chief medical officer at Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, on a videoconference with reporters organized by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition on Tuesday.

Oklahoma National Guard Tech. Sgt. Kasey Phipps

The leader of the Oklahoma National Guard is imploring citizens to take proper COVID-19 precautions amid rapidly worsening trends in the state's pandemic trajectory.

"In the last three weeks in Oklahoma, we have had over 57,000 cases of COVID-19. Of that number, over 1,500 people have been hospitalized," says Adjutant General Michael Thompson in a new public service announcement

Wednesday's top stories:

• The Tulsa City Council approved and Mayor G.T. Bynum says he will sign new ordinances meant to further reduce the spread of COVID-19.

• Oklahoma's former state epidemiologist warns of a massive increase in coronavirus deaths in the weeks to come unless Oklahomans alter their behavior.

• Local morning newscasts will return Monday, Nov. 30. Have a happy, safe Thanksgiving.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated Nov. 25, 12:40 p.m.

The City of Tulsa has implemented several new measures to address soaring coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates.

Mayor G.T. Bynum signed on Wednesday ordinances passed by the city council Tuesday night.

Saturday's game between No. 24 Tulsa and the University of Houston has been postponed.

The American Athletic Conference announced late Tuesday that positive tests among Houston and contact tracing of student-athletes were behind the postponement.

The game may be rescheduled for Dec. 19 if neither team is a participant in the conference championship game.

Oklahoma’s former state epidemiologist is part of a coalition sounding the alarm on the coronavirus pandemic heading into the holiday season.

OU College of Public Health professor Dr. Aaron Wendelboe said just since Oct. 1, cases in Oklahoma are up 100%, deaths 60% and hospitalizations 140%. 

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