Coronavirus In Oklahoma: The Latest

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Oklahoma State Superintendent Says COVID-19 Reinforces Need For Digital Access

Updated March 30 at 4:59 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Joy Hofmeister wants the internet in the home of every Oklahoma student.

In an interview Monday, she said the COVID-19 closures have exposed an equity gap between students who have home internet access and those who don’t.

“I want every one of our Oklahoma students to have access to a computer and internet access at home,” she said. “And I won’t rest until that’s done.”

About a third of people in Oklahoma lack access to broadband. But alternate ways to get internet are out there and she said she’ll leverage those to get access to students. She said she plans to work with internet service providers and leverage emergency funds from the federal government to get it done.

The State Department of Education is currently surveying districts to figure out the needs of its students statewide.

The best way to educate students while their schools are closed is through online learning, Hofmeister said.

“And that can’t happen without connectivity so let’s make it happen for all kids and be prepared for the summer or the fall with or without a pandemic,” she said.

New Rules In Place For Oklahomans Filing For Unemployment Insurance

Updated March 30 at 4:49 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has seen a significant spike in the number of people filing for unemployment insurance.

Jim Polly, program manager in the policy and benefits department at OESC, says the amount of filing because of COVID-19 was obvious.

“The week before we started taking a lot of COVID claims - which was the week of 3/8 -3/14 - we took around 1,800 claims. The next week, which is the week of 3/15- 3/21 when the COVID claims really started coming in, we took almost 22,000 claims.”

Polly says the agency is on pace to take even more claims than that.

The pandemic has caused the agency to adopt new rules, including waiving the work search and registration requirements, as well as the waiting period for any claim filed with an effective date of March 15. Polly says these requirements are only in effect as long as Governor Kevin Stitt’s executive order remains active.

Oklahoma Special Education Teachers And Students Adjust To Distance Learning Environment

Updated March 30 at 2:13 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

The state of Oklahoma is trying to ensure normalcy for each of the state’s 115,000 special education students in the distance education environment caused by COVID-19.

School will vary widely for special education students. Some will see minimal differences from what instruction is given to their peers, while others will need increased attention from their parents.

But the Executive Director of Special Education Services for Oklahoma Todd Loftin says one thing is for certain: special education teachers across the state are ready for the challenge.

"They're used to trying to think of different ways for providing instruction. That’s what they do all day. So this is just a slightly different context for them," Loftin said.

He says students with individualized education plans, commonly called IEPs, should not need to change those plans. Instead, school districts should and will likely keep educating them within those plans while giving them similar accommodations.

17 Total Deaths, 481 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated March 30 at 11:23 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

A Cleveland County male aged 50-64 has died due to COVID-19, as the state's death toll has climbed to 17.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed Monday that positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stands at 481, an increase of 52 cases from Sunday. That's a 12 percent increase in total cases.

47 of Oklahoma's 77 counties are now reporting positive cases of COVID-19, with Beckham, Cotton and Love counties reporting their first instances of cases. Oklahoma County has the most number of cases with 134. Tulsa County has 65, Cleveland County has 60, Kay County and Washington County each have 20.

COVID-19 Outbreak Peak Still About Three Weeks Away

Updated March 30 at 5:58 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Researchers believe the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in Oklahoma will hit around April 17th.

Based on current death rates, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation expects the daily death toll in the state to peak at about 31 with about 900 Oklahomans losing their lives. Oklahoma isn’t expected to record zero COVID-19 deaths for the day until June 25.

The IHME predicts Oklahoma will need 234 ventilators, 434 ICU beds, and 2,873 total beds when the pandemics hits its peak.

Capitol Remains Empty of Legislators During COVID-19 Crisis

Updated March 30 at 4:16 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Lawmakers are staying away from the Capitol for another week. House and Senate leaders are working from home to craft a budget for the next fiscal year starting July 1st, as well as any legislative priorities.

Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat says the budget will almost certainly include a revenue shortfall with the drop in oil prices and the COVID-19 economic impact.

The legislature is constitutionally required to end its work by the last Friday on May at 5 p.m.

Oklahoma Country Musician Joe Diffie Dead At 61 From COVID-19

Updated March 29 at 11:49 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma country musician Joe Diffie died Sunday following complications after contracting COVID-19. He had announced just two days before that he was undergoing treatment for the virus. 

The native of Tulsa and Velma landed five number one hits and eleven top ten hits in the 1990s and 2000s, with songs like "Pickup Man," "Third Rock From The Sun" and "John Deere Green."

The blue collar country singer was a member of the Grand Old Opry and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. He was 61.

Gov. Stitt Updates Executive Order

Updated March 29 at 8:45 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

In an audio statement released Sunday night, Governor Kevin Stitt announced he was issuing an executive order requiring anyone entering the state from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Louisiana and Washington to self-quarantine for 14 days to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Stitt said this updated executive order was to limit transmission from known hotspots in the country in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

In addition, the governor said he has added to the executive order a requirement for all delivery personnel to submit to screening if requested at hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and childcare centers. Stitt said the screening could include a temperature check and a questionairre to determine the person's exposure to the Coronavirus.

Another executive order was issued that prevents discrimination against healthcare workers and their children that could include exclusion from housing or childcare services. 

Stitt said state health officials and researchers from Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma continue to work on modeling for how the virus may affect Oklahoma and its healthcare capacity and a timeline for when the virus may peak in the state.

Stitt said he has authorized FEMA to start the process of working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to look at 10 sites across Oklahoma that could be converted into alternative care facilities or hospitals should surge capacity be needed.

In addition, Stitt said he has been working with the Oklahoma Hospital Association to ensure each of the state's hospitals has a plan in place to increase the number of ICU beds available by at least 40 percent.

Regulations have also been suspended for some reserve law enforcement officers and officers who are in training so they could serve if the virus causes shortages because of quarantines or illness.

OSU Student Tests Positive For COVID-19

Updated March 29 at 7:43 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

An Oklahoma State University student has tested positive for the Coronavirus, according to a statement. 

OSU says CDC guidelines were followed, and health officials have notified individuals who may have been in direct contact with the person and provided instructions for self-quarantine.

The student is said to have followed "strict self-quarantine protocol at their residence after the COVID-19 test was performed 10 days ago" and is now nearing a full recovery.

"We have acted by taking unprecedented steps over the last few weeks to protect our campus community and do our part to prevent the spread of this virus," said Burns Hargis, Oklahoma State University President. "We will continue to act and do everything we can to flatten the curve through social distancing and other measures outlined by the CDC and the governor's executive order." 

16 Total Deaths, 429 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated March 29 at 12:53 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

An Oklahoma County male aged 50-64 has died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 16.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed Sunday that positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stands at 429, an increase of 52 cases from Saturday. That's a nearly 14 percent increase in total cases.

44 of Oklahoma's 77 counties are now reporting positive cases of COVID-19, with Garfield, Rogers, Seminole and Texas counties reporting their first instances of cases. Oklahoma County has the most number of cases with 120. Tulsa County has 61, Cleveland County has 51, Kay County has 20 and Washington County has 18.

State officials say they're working with local hospitals to increase ICU capacities by 40 percent. Governor Kevin Stitt asked FEMA on Friday to survey for additional locations where Oklahoma could expand hospital locations for treating COVID-19 patients. Details are said to be released soon.

It was announced Sunday that the state's public-private partnership with labs has been expanded to include Regional Medical Laboratory (RML) in Oklahoma City and Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL) in Austin, Texas. The partnerships, which include an ongoing agreement with Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma (DLO), are aimed at increasing the state's COVID-19 testing capacity.

Reform Advocates Call For Release Of Vulnerable People From Oklahoma Prisons And Jails

Updated March 29 at 10:23 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Criminal justice reform advocates are calling for the release of people from county jails and state prisons as the coronavirus spreads.

Their long list of requests includes wanting elderly prisoners, prisoners with immune deficiencies and people on the verge of release out of state prisons. They’re also calling for the Pardon and Parole Board to expedite releases for people who might already be eligible for shortened sentences.

Kris Steele, leader of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform says incarcerated people are at high risk of spreading the virus. "It would also be best for the greater good if they could get into a safe place from a health standpoint today rather than potentially being in an extremely high risk environment and then be released six months from now," Steele said.

Advocates also want the governor to suspend payment of criminal fines and fees, to provide coronavirus tests to detention facilities and they want officials to make jails and prisons cleaner.

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Previous Updates

3/28: 15 Total Deaths, 377 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

3/28: Oklahoma City Nonprofits Aim To Protect Homeless Population Amid COVID-19

3/27: Resources Offered To Ease Oklahoma School Districts Into Distance Learning

3/27: State Officials Battle Over Abortion During Medical Supply Shortage

3/27: Oklahoma Positioned To Ramp Up Coronavirus Testing

3/27: Eight Total Deaths, 322 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

3/27: Coronavirus Updates: OETA Steps In, Unemployment Claims Jump & Stitt Cabinet Member Test Positive

3/26: Grace Period Granted For Expired Oklahoma Driver Licenses

3/26: Oklahoma CareerTech Centers Resuming Classwork Online

3/26: How The University Of Oklahoma Moved Its Classes Online

3/26: Seven Total Deaths, 248 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

3/26: Oklahoma Highway Patrol Cadets Sent Home Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

3/26: Coronavirus Updates: Stricter Order Demands, Expanded Rural Internet & Day Of Prayer

3/25: Oklahoma Wants To Ramp Up Universities' COVID-19 Testing, But Lack Of Supplies Stands In The Way

3/25: Alcohol Delivery Temporarily Allowed In Oklahoma

3/25: Oklahoma Schools Will Close For Rest Of Semester, Moving Classes Online

3/25: Five Deaths, 164 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

3/25: Oklahoma Representative Jason Lowe Tests Positive For COVID-19

3/24: Oklahoma Senator Paul Rosino Tests Positive For COVID-19

3/24: Gov. Stitt Implements 'Safer At Home' Policy

3/24: Third Person Dies, 109 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

3/24: Coronavirus Updates: Cleveland Shutdown, Tulsa Ballet, Amazon & Eskimo Joe's

3/23: Oklahoma Students Unlikely To Return To Classrooms This Spring

3/23: Oklahoma Schools Urged To Donate Surplus Medical Supplies

3/23: Paycom CEO Chad Richison Urges Oklahoma Gov. Stitt To Do More

3/23: All Oklahoma Tribal Casinos Closed To Mitigate COVID-19

3/23: 81 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/23: Oklahoma Lawmakers Begin Remote Work

3/23: Oklahoma Election Officials Urge Candidates To File Paperwork Remotely

3/22: Gov. Stitt Gives Update On Oklahoma's Coronavirus Response

3/22: Oklahoma Counties Hope To Keep Jail Populations Low During Viral Pandemic

3/22: Second Person Dies, 67 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

3/21: OU, OSU Able To Perform COVID-19 Tests Under New Executive Order

3/21: 53 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/20: Oklahoma Courts Aiming To Decrease Jail Populations Amid Pandemic

3/20: University of Oklahoma Helping Students Manage Pandemic

3/20: Childcare Centers Given New Guidelines To Cope With COVID-19

3/20: 49 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/20: Oklahoma Expands COVID-19 Testing Capacity

3/20: Oklahoma's Unemployment Numbers Skyrocket

3/19: NBA's Marcus Smart, Gospel Artist Sandi Patty Test Positive For COVID-19

3/19: State Income Tax Filing And Payment Date Moved Back To July 15

3/19: Oklahoma Will Not Have Spring Assessment Testing This Year

3/19: Several Companies In Oklahoma Are Hiring During Coronavirus Pandemic

3/19: Oklahoma Courts Postponing Non-Emergency Hearings

3/19: Many Internet Providers Pledge To Waive Late Fees, Not Shut Off Service

3/19: 44 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/19: Inhofe, Lankford Vote Against Emergency Funding Bill

3/19: Oklahoma's First Death Reported Due To COVID-19

3/19: After COVID-19 Exposure, Horn, Cole Going Under Self-Quarantine

3/19: Edmond Restricting Access To Public Spots Amid Pandemic

3/18: OU, OSU & UCO Moving Classes Online For Spring Semester

3/18: Stitt: Oklahoma Critically Low On COVID-19 Testing Kits

3/18: Thunder Players And Staff Test Negative For COVID-19

3/18: Malls Close, OU Spring Football Game Canceled

3/18: Oklahoma State University Classes Move Online For Rest Of Semester

3/18: Oklahoma Officials Urge Local Elections To Reschedule

3/18: Oklahoma Asks Childcare Centers To Stay Open During Pandemic

3/18: Oklahoma County Suspends Evictions Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

3/18: 29 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/18: Oklahoma Legislators Revise Open Meetings Act During Pandemic

3/18: Oklahoma Prisoners Get Free Phone Calls During Coronavirus Pandemic

3/18: Festival of the Arts Canceled, Kevin Durant Has COVID-19

3/18: Tulsa To Close Public Gathering Spaces, OKC Archdiocese Suspends Public Mass

3/17: Gov. Stitt Issues Executive Orders To Slow Spread Of COVID-19

3/17: Oklahoma City To Close Bars, Gyms And Limit Food Service

3/17: Oklahoma City Public Schools Board Declares State Of Emergency

3/17: Oklahoma Senate On Lockdown After Coronavirus Exposure

3/17: 17 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/17: More Oklahoma Tribes Suspend Casino Operations Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

3/17: State Capitol Closing To Public, Tulsa Declares State of Emergency

3/17: Oklahoma County Declares Emergency, Norman Orders Bars And More To Close

3/16: Oklahoma Schools To Be Closed For Two Weeks After Spring Break

3/16: Students Will Be Fed, Casinos To Close

3/16: Access To Nursing Homes, Hospitals And More Restricted Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

3/16: 10 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/16: 26 Oklahomans Return After Quarantine On Cruise Ship, Military Bases

3/15: OU Closes Norman Campus, OSU Limits Access

3/15: Gov. Stitt Declares State of Emergency For Oklahoma

3/15: Mayor Holt Declares State of Emergency For Oklahoma City

3/15: More Information Emerges On Positive COVID-19 Cases

3/15: 7 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/14: Oklahoma Health Department Working On Getting More Testing

3/14: Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Postponed Due To COVID-19

3/14: Some Church Services In Oklahoma Will Continue Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

3/14: 4 Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

3/13: Oklahoma Protecting Consumers Against Price Gouging

3/13: Closings: OKC Zoo, OSU Study Abroad, Stillwater Senior Activity Center

3/13: Oklahoma Department of Corrections Cancels Visitations During Pandemic

3/13: Closings: Cherokee Nation, Woody Guthrie Center, Heard on Hurd & More

3/13: First Confirmed Coronavirus Case In Oklahoma Recovers

3/12: Oklahoma's County Health Departments Cannot Test For COVID-19

3/12: Oklahoma Officials Say School Districts Should Be Prepared To Close For Coronavirus

3/12: Coronavirus In Oklahoma: Everything We Know

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KOSU depends on donors to keep delivering you the news and information you need. Support this public service by giving monthly as a sustaining member of KOSU or make a one-time donation of your choice. Thank you. Click here to give.