Coronavirus In Oklahoma: The Latest

KOSU is continuing to cover the developing story around coronavirus in Oklahoma. Bookmark this page for the latest updates.

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Gov. Stitt Loosens COVID-19 Testing Restrictions, Expands Executive Orders

Updated April 1 at 5:49 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

After weeks of public confusion about how to get tested and restrictions on who was eligible, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt changed course on Wednesday.

"Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, or those who have come into contact with someone with COVID, needs to be tested this week," Stitt said.

The state now has more than 13,000 test kits and an Oklahoma State University lab can now run more than 2,000 tests per day. Previously, officials had requested only high risk populations including older and immunocompromised people be tested.

Stitt also announced he's expanded his executive order for non-essential businesses to close and those high risk people to stay home to the entire state, rather than just in counties where positive cases have been found. The non-essential businesses closures and stay-at-home orders will stay in place until at least April 30.

"I also want to remind Oklahomans how important it is that we limit physical interaction," Stitt said. "This is a lot about personal responsibility."

Stitt said he would not order a stricter shelter-in-place requiring all people to stay home, saying it would be impractical.

30 Total Deaths, 719 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated April 1 at 11:49 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Seven more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 30. The deaths reported Wednesday include:

  • Three in Oklahoma County, a female in the 50-64 age group and a male and female older than 65.
  • One in Greer County, a female older than 65.
  • One in Kay County, a male older than 65.
  • One in Mayes County, a male in the 50-64 age group.
  • One in Osage County, a male older than 65.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed Wednesday that positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 719, an increase of 154 cases from Tuesday. That's a 27 percent increase in total cases.

48 of Oklahoma's 77 counties are reporting positive cases of COVID-19, with Greer County reporting its first cases. Oklahoma County has the most number of cases with 192. Tulsa County has 115, Cleveland County has 87, Creek County has 27, and Canadian County and Kay County each have 24.

Officials say drive-thru testing sites are open Wednesday through Friday in the following communities:

  • Woodward from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Woodward County Event Center
  • Altus from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Western Oklahoma State College
  • Lawton from 2 p.m - 4 p.m. at Urgent Care Clinic, 3811 W. Gore

Oklahoma Faces Revenue Failure for FY2020

Updated April 1 at 4:33 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

The state of Oklahoma is expected to declare a revenue failure for the remainder of this fiscal year. The Board of Equalization is meeting soon to make the declaration, allowing lawmakers to tap into the Rainy Day Fund which has about $806 million in it.

State officials blame falling oil prices, delaying tax payments until July and closed businesses from the coronavirus pandemic which cuts into sales taxes and raises unemployment.

Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson says he doesn’t expect agency cuts or furloughs as a result of the revenue failure declaration.

More COVID-19 Positive Tests At Norman Nursing Home

Updated April 1 at 4:30 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

A Norman nursing home where two residents died from COVID-19 has shown more positive tests. Officials at Grace Skilled Nursing and Therapy announced the new positive tests but declined to give details.

The new cases are in addition to the two residents who died after being hospitalized and the seven residents who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

If conditions warrant, the facility’s medical director is treating impacted patients with an anti-malarial drug touted by President Trump and approved over the weekend by the FDA.

Oklahoma Agency Seeks To Make WiFi Services Available To Public

Updated March 31 at 2:49 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Universal Service Fund helps schools, public libraries and rural non-profit medical providers pay for internet access. Because of a Federal Communications Commission waiver last week, the Oklahoma fund wants that service to be more widely available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brandy Wreath directs the fund and says that sites can also apply for extra bandwidth if they’re concerned about an increase in users from the general public.

"So people that don’t have good internet access at home, can’t afford it, or whatever the case may be, at least can go up in their car, access the internet via wifi to do homework, some people may have to go up there to do meetings for work, stuff like that," Wreath said.

875 school sites and 129 libraries use the fund for internet service.

Oklahoma Law Enforcement Encouraged To Limit Exposure To COVID-19

Updated March 31 at 2:21 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Governor Kevin Stitt and Attorney General Mike Hunter are giving police advice on how to avoid contracting coronavirus and prevent others from spreading it.

The guidance includes a disclaimer that the governor and attorney general are not calling for dangerous criminals to be released from jail, but right now they say it is better for fewer people to be in jails and prisons.

The guidelines suggest police think twice about which people really need to be arrested. They’re advised to maintain six feet between themselves and members of the public when possible and to use masks for suspects needing transport if they’re showing symptoms.

The governor and attorney general also called for health education in detention facilities and discouraged transporting prisoners between Oklahoma jails and prisons.

23 Total Deaths, 565 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated March 31 at 11:40 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Six more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 23. The deaths reported Tuesday include:

  • Three in Oklahoma County, a male and female in the 50-64 age group and another male older than 65.
  • One in Canadian County, a male older than 65.
  • One in Muskogee County, a male older than 65.
  • One in Wagoner County, a male older than 65.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed Tuesday that positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 565, an increase of 84 cases from Monday. That's a 17 percent increase in total cases.

47 of Oklahoma's 77 counties are reporting positive cases of COVID-19. Oklahoma County has the most number of cases with 155. Tulsa County has 83, Cleveland County has 65, Kay County has 24 and Washington County and Creek County each have 21.

USDA Approves Request For Free Meals For All Oklahoma Students

Updated March 31 at 11:04 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma students will be able to get two free meals a day, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture waiver granted to the state Monday.

The USDA waived a requirement that districts can provide free meals only if half of its students were eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.

Many districts have already been supplying the meals across the state. For instance, Oklahoma City Public Schools served 82,000 meals to its students last week. The waiver is in effect into the summer or if the federally declared public health emergency expires.

Infections Could Be Higher Than Reported

Updated March 31 at 5:13 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

An infectious disease expert says 5,000 Oklahomans might have COVID-19.

While officials have the number of positive cases at 481, Dr. Douglas Drevets with OU Medicine says the numbers could be far higher. He says the numbers from the State Health Department don’t reflect actual infections because of a lack of sufficient testing and many with the virus have mild or no symptoms.

Dr. Drevets estimates under current conditions the state is only identifying one out of every ten Oklahomans with the disease.

Furniture Factory Donates Masks

Updated March 31 at 5:10 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Mathis Brothers is providing masks to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. The Oklahoma City company’s mattress factory is producing more than one thousand face masks a day and has already made an initial donation to OU Medicine.

The hospitals plan to give the donated masks to visitors and patients so direct-care providers can continue using existing supplies of personal protective equipment. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will also wear the new face masks over their N95 masks for additional protection.  

State Faces Lawsuit Over Abortion Suspension

Updated March 31 at 4:12 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Abortion rights groups are suing Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt over his executive order to stop the procedure. The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order on Stitt’s call to include abortions in his suspension of elective surgeries and minor medical procedures.

The groups argue delaying the procedure means most women would be unable to access any form of abortion in the State of Oklahoma. The suit says the order bans nearly all pre-viability abortion in violation of constitutional rights.

Weekly Unemployment Claims Could Hit a New High

Updated March 31 at 3:59 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

About 45,000 Oklahomans filed for unemployment last week. The unofficial numbers come from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission through claims filed online and over the phone to the agency. The OESC reported last Thursday more than 17,000 had filed for unemployment in the previous week, which at the time was a record increase going back nearly 30 years. If the numbers hold with the official release on Thursday, it could mean another record in weekly unemployment claims for the state.

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.

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Previous Updates

3/29: Oklahoma Gov. Stitt Updates Executive Order

3/29: OSU Student Tests Positive For COVID-19

3/29: 16 Total Deaths, 429 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

3/29: Reform Advocates Call For Release Of Vulnerable People From Oklahoma Prisons And Jails

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.