Tulsa County

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Tulsa County early, in-person voting for the November election will take place at ONEOK Field.

The Tulsa County Election Board said it’s a large, centrally located venue with adequate room to accommodate large crowds with social distancing outdoors. It also has several nearby parking areas and can be reached by public transportation.

Early voting will be Thursday, Oct. 29, and Friday, Oct. 30, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Voters will be encouraged to wear a mask.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

One day after Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, called for all municipalities in Tulsa County to introduce a mask mandate similar to the city of Tulsa's to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials in some of those cities and towns showed no indication they plan to take the guidance.

"We have discussed it, and the Bixby council is not willing to pass a mask mandate at this time," said Bixby Mayor Brian Guthrie. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The 2020 Tulsa State Fair has been canceled.

The Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority pulled the plug Tuesday afternoon on midway rides and attractions, concerts, the rodeo, and Disney On Ice.

"I just can’t imagine that we can get people together on that midway and do it safely. I mean, you could see from other fairs, like the Springfield fair, nobody’s wearing their masks and they’re clustered together, because we’re social beings and it’s just a fun thing to do," said County Commissioner Karen Keith, who chairs the facilities authority.

Tulsa County Commissioners approved on Monday an initial $3 million for local housing assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tulsa Housing Authority will administer the program, which should start late next month. THA President and CEO Aaron Darden said funds will be available to Tulsa County residents who are having trouble paying their rent or mortgage because of the pandemic, hopefully helping them stave off eviction.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler and United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Trent Shores both cited the recent Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma in announcing action in two separate cases, some of the first legal maneuvers navigating what Shores' office calls their "new responsibilities."

Oklahoma Watch

Some of Tulsa County’s $114 million in federal coronavirus relief funds may go toward getting personal protective equipment to area school districts before students and teachers potentially return to classrooms next month.

"We think that it’s of vital importance to make sure that we’re allowing for them to have to proper equipment they need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 heading into the fall," said Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Joe Kralicek.

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Tulsa County District Court announced Monday that it will resume issuing summonses for jury duty, and that it will do its best to reduce jurors' risk of exposure to COVID-19.

In a press release, the court said that jury duty remains "a legal obligation as well as a civic duty."

"Local and county officials are taking all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for those that visit the Tulsa County Courthouse," the statement reads. "However, no one can guarantee an environment without any risk of exposure."

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 64 new cases of COVID-19 in Tulsa County on Thursday, the county's second-highest one-day increase during the outbreak.

Tulsa County now has 1,372 total cases.

Thursday's jump in cases follows Tulsa County posting its largest single-day increase on Tuesday with 65 new cases and what's now its third-largest increase on Wednesday with 47.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 65 new COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County on Tuesday, the county's biggest one-day increase during the state's now three-month outbreak.

Tulsa County now has 1,261 confirmed cases of COVID-19, second most in the state behind Oklahoma County's 1,404. Tulsa County's previous one-day high in new cases was 45 on April 3 and April 29.

On Friday, the Tulsa Health Department offered free COVID-19 testing at a food distribution event in north Tulsa. They quickly reached capacity there. Fewer tests are processed over the weekends.

File photo

The Tulsa Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution on Monday to let county employees take up to three days of paid leave to be poll workers through the 2020 election cycle.

County Commissioner Karen Keith said with the COVID-19 pandemic, Tulsa’s go-to population of poll workers may be sitting this one out.

"Most of our poll workers are elderly. So, we need some 800 poll workers to man the polls for the June election. We’ve got three elections coming up, including the November election, which is huge," Keith said.

Tulsa officials on Friday said the city and county are ready to follow the state into phase three of a reopening plan on Monday.

As of Friday, Tulsa County had 983 total confirmed cases of COVID-19, 158 active cases and 51 deaths. Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart said the county's case trend is almost flat and hospitalization rates are trending up but remain manageable.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said he does not have the same concerns proceeding to phase three as he did going into phase one, however, because the main benchmark is hospital capacity.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa County renewed on Tuesday its agreement with the federal government for the sheriff’s office to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation after they’ve been arrested.

The Board of County Commissioners voted 2–1 for the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) agreement. Commissioner Karen Keith voted against it.

Tulsa County’s previous agreement was set to expire in June. The new one is in effect until terminated by the sheriff or ICE.

Instagram / @TulsaCountyOK

Tulsa County has begun awarding nearly $114 million in federal funds it received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. 

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The Tulsa Board of County Commissioners announced that a resolution limiting public access to the Tulsa County Courthouse due to the coronavirus pandemic will expire on Monday, May 3rd, with a phased reopening beginning the morning of Tuesday, May 4th.

Actual courtrooms, housed physically in the building but under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, will remain closed, but some county services and departments housed in the building, like the county clerk, assessor, and treasurer, will begin to receive the public.

Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, told the Tulsa World on Monday that each patient in Tulsa County who tests positive for COVID-19 provides an average of 36 potentially exposed persons for the department to trace.

County Commissioner Karen Keith

The U.S. Commerce Department announced Tuesday a $3 million dollar award to Tulsa County for improvements to the Arkansas River levee system.

The grant is directed through the department's Economic Development Administration, or EDA, and is intented "to improve critical infrastructure needed to protect businesses from flood damage," according to a press release from a Commerce Department spokesperson.

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said the money will help protect neighborhoods from the type of flooding devastated in last spring's storms.

Google Street View

The former site of Tulsa County's Juvenile Justice Center has been repurposed and reopened as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Commissioner Karen Keith said 55 men are the first clients to stay in the facility beginning Monday. Tulsa Transit buses are being used to bring the men to the shelter, operated by homeless nonprofits including the Salvation Army and the Tulsa Day Center and funded through a public-private partnership including the City of Tulsa.

Tulsa County on Twitter

Tulsa County Engineer Alex Mills said on Monday that the slate of major road projects planned for summer will almost certainly be reduced as a result of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Diesel tax, gasoline tax, gross production tax — that is the bulk of our funding," Mills said. "The numbers from March showed a pretty significant drop."

Mills said that the numbers for April are likely to be even more significant.

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

A detention officer at the Tulsa County Jail died Wednesday after suffering a "medical episode" unrelated to COVID-19, according to a Thursday statement from the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

Officer John Okafor had worked for the sheriff's office since 2007, according to the statement.

"Despite the life saving efforts of his coworkers & paramedics , he passed away at the hospital," the statement says. "Please keep his family and coworkers in your prayers."

KWGS News File Photo

With attorneys and loved ones prohibited from visiting detainees at the Tulsa County Jail due to the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office says it is waiving video visitation fees for communications between attorneys and clients in custody. 
 

The Tulsa County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved an amendment to the county’s contract with Tech Friends, Inc., the Arkansas-based company that manages the jail’s video visitation system.

From Flicker, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Tulsa County will receive nearly one million dollars in federal money to aid in recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The $861,000 block grant from the department of Housing and Urban Development will likely become available within 30 days, according to Claudia Brierre of the Indian Nations Council of Governments, or INCOG, which will administer the funding for Tulsa County. 

"It's to respond and prepare for and address the needs that were created by the virus," Brierre said. 

Brierre said that it hasn't been determined how exactly the money will be spent.

The federal coronavirus relief bill includes $150 billion for tribal, state and local governments to help them cover costs of responding to the pandemic.

Governmental Affairs Director Terry Simonson said he’s been trying to project Tulsa County’s share from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act based on estimates from the Tax Foundation.

"It looks like the state of Oklahoma is probably in the range of $1.5 billion, and if that’s the case, then Tulsa County could be looking in the range of $100 million just to Tulsa County."

Tulsa County incumbents whose offices are on the ballot in June have filed for re-election.

Sheriff Vic Regalado, County Clerk Michael Willis, Court Clerk Don Newberry and District Two Commissioner Karen Keith are all seeking another term.

Keith has at least two challengers, county employees Josh Turley and Eddy Barclay.

Candidates for county office must file paperwork at the Tulsa County Election Board by 5 p.m. Friday.

Jimmy Emerson on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Following the death of a tribal official, Cherokee Nation is preparing to face the coronavirus crisis head-on.

Public health officials in Tulsa -- and everywhere else, of course -- are now monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus, COVID-19. This virus was first identified in China in January. Late last week, the first confirmed COVID-19 case was announced in Tulsa County: a man in his fifties who had recently visited Italy. On this edition of ST Medical Monday, we offer an update on this still-evolving, fast-changing situation. Our guest is the Tulsa Health Department's executive director, Dr. Bruce Dart, who has worked in public health for forty years.

AP Photo

As widespread clean-up and repairs begin to take shape in Northeastern Oklahoma, after the recent flood event -- the second "500-year flood" to occur in our community in 32 years, by the way -- many of us are wondering what needs to be done, in both the short and long term, to fix the levee system. Our guests are Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith and District 12 Levee Commissioner Todd  Kilpatrick, both of whom worked closely during the recent crisis with the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Guard, and an array of federal, state, and local officials.

Our guest today on ST is Bill Leighty, executive director of the Smart Growth Tulsa Coalition, which was founded in 2014 as an organization "committed to creating healthy communities that work for everyone with strong schools, shops, and local businesses, improved mobility options, and jobs that pay well." A longtime Tulsa-based realtor and businessman who's been consistently active in community and professional development, and who has served on the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission as well as the city's Transpor

On this installment of StudioTulsa on Health, guest host John Schumann speaks with Linda Johnston, the Director of Social Services for Tulsa County. Last month, Johnston spoke briefly with Steve Innskeep of NPR's Morning Edition about the County's Drug Recycling Program, which began in 2004.

Tulsa County Parks

Tulsa County leaders have through March to decide whether to close three of the county owned and operated outdoor swimming pools. Parks Director Richard Bales made the difficult decision to recommend closing because of the cost and dwindling use of the pools for a few weeks each summer.

In addition, the pools are old, and Bales says they need thousands of dollars in repairs. If County Commissioners say yes…O’Brien, LaFortune, and Chandler pools would not open for the summer season. Only the Glenpool facility would open.

KWGS News

Those who help keep criminal offenders out of jail or prison through a variety of pretrial, probation, and parole programs are recognized. An official proclamation honors those who are in charge of people on community supervision. Sherri Carrier is County Court Services Director. She says they’re responsible for helping people get on the right path and stay there by helping them find jobs, housing, treatment, and support.

In times of tight budgets and jail overcrowding, Tulsa County leaders say the pretrial, probation, and parole programs are more important than ever.

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