Coronavirus In Oklahoma: The Latest

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318 Deaths, 6,137 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 26 at 11:42 a.m.

Five more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 318. All of the deaths occurred between May 22 and May 24. The deaths reported Tuesday include:

  • Three in Tulsa County, one male in the 65 and older age group, one female in the 65 and older age group and one male in the 50-64 age group.
  • Two in Oklahoma County, one male in the 65 and older age group and one female in the 65 and older age group.
  • One in Grady County, a female in the 36-49 age group.
  • One in Jackson County, a male in the 65 and older age group.

Two of the deaths above were added to the state's website on Monday. At the time, no county or age information were given. Those details have since been lumped in with the numbers released today.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 6,137, an increase of 47 cases from Monday. That's less than a one percent increase in total reported cases.

*Note: weekend reporting of cases and deaths is typically very low compared to weekdays.

4,823 people — more than 78 percent of the total cases — have since recovered from the virus. 174 Oklahomans are currently hospitalized as either confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or under investigation for the virus.

Gov. Stitt Vetoes Medical Marijuana Reform Bill

Updated May 26 at 4:33 a.m.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed legislation late last week that would have allowed home delivery of medical marijuana.

Home delivery within a 10-mile radius was just a portion of House Bill 3228, which addressed several reforms in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry.

Among other things, the bill also would have allowed existing dispensaries to remain in operation if they late fall within 1,000 yards of a school and allow dispensaries to produce flower-only pre-rolls on site.

In his veto message, the governor says there’s room for improvement in Oklahoma’s current medical marijuana law, but adds this bill didn’t adequately address shortcomings.

Home deliveries were proposed before the outbreak of COVID-19, but some in the industry have said realities of the pandemic clearly illustrate the need for the change in law.

While legislators returned to the capitol on Friday to override several of Stitt's vetos, HB 3228 was not one of them.

313 Deaths, 6,090 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 25 at 7:26 p.m.

Two more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 313. No county or age information was given with today's announced deaths.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 6.090, an increase of 53 cases from Sunday. That's less than a one percent increase in total reported cases.

*Note: weekend reporting of cases and deaths is typically very low compared to weekdays.

No New Deaths Reported; 6,037 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 24 at 7:22 p.m.

No new deaths due to COVID-19 were reported on Sunday, as the state's death toll stays flat at 311.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 6,037, an increase of 77 cases from Saturday. That's a one percent increase in total reported cases.

*Note: weekend reporting of cases and deaths is typically very low compared to weekdays.

311 Deaths, 5,960 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 23 at 5:44 p.m.

Four more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 311. All four deaths occurred between May 13 and May 21. The deaths reported Saturday include:

  • Three in Tulsa County, one male in the 65 and older age group, one female in the 65 and older age group and one male in the 50-64 age group.
  • One in Oklahoma County, a male in the 65 and older age group.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 5,960, an increase of 111 cases from Friday. That's a nearly two percent increase in total reported cases.

The state has performed 160,903 tests to date.

Chickasaw Nation Gaming Facilities Set To Reopen

Updated May 22 at 5:11 p.m.

Governor Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation said the tribe's gaming facilities will open at 25 percent of capacity on Wednesday, May 27 at 8 a.m.

"We have a responsibility to ensure our facilities remain safe places for our employees and patrons as we reopen," Anoatubby said. "Therefore, our leadership team has developed a comprehensive plan with numerous levels of protection in place to protect the health of our employees and patrons."

Preparations for reopening began weeks ago and include employee testing, making sure the facilities are re-tooled for social distancing and heightened cleaning and disinfecting.

Temperature checks will be performed on all guests entering each facility and guests and employees will be required to wear protective face coverings.

The WinStar Convention Center will remain closed, as will table games, poker, bingo and off-track betting.

Oklahoma's Childcare Centers Slowly Starting To Reopen

Updated May 22 at 5:03 p.m.

Childcare centers across Oklahoma are slowly starting to reopen after the coronavirus forced many to close.

More than 650 out of almost 3,000 childcare centers statewide are temporarily closed because of challenges created by the coronavirus.

A Department of Human Services spokeswoman says those shuttered centers could serve as many as 35,000 children.

DHS leaders are asking the centers to stay open to care for the young children of first responders and other frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic. And as the state reopens, their work will continue to be vital.

OSSAA Board Rejects Rules For Phased Opening Of Summer Sports

Updated May 22 at 4:55 p.m.

The body that oversees high school sports narrowly voted Friday to not approve rules to phase in summer activities.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors voted 7-6 Friday to reject a proposed plan that would have eased into high school sport summer activities.

The rejection paves the way for schools to begin hosting sporting clinic and camps the first week of June as long as there aren’t any superseding local or state restrictions.

OSSAA Board President Cecilia Robinson-Woods does not have a vote on the board – she can only vote to break a tie. But she says she was disappointed they weren’t passed.

“We don’t feel good not having guidance out there,” Robinson-Woods said. “As far as we know, this [guidance] is the best way to keep your kids safe.”

The board had an urban-rural fracture on the guidance, said Robinson-Woods, who is also superintendent of Millwood Public Schools in northeastern Oklahoma City. Members from rural districts said they were concerned about following too strict of rules before the vote was struck down.

“The board split on whether or not those guidelines were appropriate for every part of the state,” she said.

Besides safety concerns, Robinson-Woods said she is also troubled by creating a patchwork of athletic rules across Oklahoma that might allow some schools to engage in sports activities before others.

“This disease is affecting lots of communities differently,” she said. “So you have some places that need to stay within restrictions. So when you think about fair and competitive it’s not really fair that somebody who doesn’t have cases can start full blown practice and then the people that have cases or have local restrictions can’t start practicing.”

She said she hopes the OSSAA Board will hear new guidelines soon that will likely be optional soon to help keep student-athletes safe this summer and ensure that sports can be played next fall.

Any guidelines could ultimately be superceded by rules from local governments or even the State Department of Education, she said.

As for the approximately 1,000 students attending the Millwood Public Schools district she oversees.

“We will be abiding by the guidelines,” she said.

307 Deaths, 5,849 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 22 at 11:24 a.m.

Three more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 307. One of the deaths occured in the past 24 hours, while the others occurred between May 17 and May 20. The deaths reported Friday include:

  • One in Oklahoma County, a female in the 65 and older age group.
  • One in Texas County, a male in the 50-64 age group.
  • One in Tulsa County, a male in the 65 and older age group.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 5,849, an increase of 169 cases from Thursday. That's a nearly three percent increase in total reported cases.

4,533 people — more than 77 percent of the total cases — have since recovered from the virus. 190 Oklahomans are currently hospitalized as either confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or under investigation for the virus.

304 Deaths, 5,680 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 21 at 11:21 a.m.

Five more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 304. One of the deaths occured in the past 24 hours, while the others occurred between May 14 and May 19. The deaths reported Thursday include:

  • Three in Oklahoma County, one female in the 65 and older age group, one male in the 65 and older age group and one male in the 50-64 age group.
  • One in Tulsa County, a male in the 65 and older age group.
  • One in Washington County, a female in the 65 and older age group.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 5,680, an increase of 148 cases from Wednesday. That's more than a two and a half percent increase in total reported cases.

4,361 people — nearly 77 percent of the total cases — have since recovered from the virus. 201 Oklahomans are currently hospitalized as either confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or under investigation for the virus.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Moving Prisoners To Contain COVID-19 Outbreak

Updated May 21 at 9:56 a.m.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is taking in an unspecified number of prisoners from the Comanche County Detention Center in Lawton. The prison system is trying to separate the county jail’s healthy prisoners from those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Comanche County jail is severely overcrowded, which may have contributed to its outbreak of COVID-19. More than 100 prisoners have contracted the illness caused by the coronavirus. In response, the state Department of Health ordered the jail to stop taking new prisoners.

A Department of Corrections team was sent to assist the jail under the authority of Secretary of Public Safety Chip Keating after county officials asked the state for help.

According to a written statement from the Department of Corrections, women from the jail will be held in Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud while the men will go to North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre.

The Department of Corrections has only found two positive COVID-19 infections inside its system, but it hasn’t tested every person.

The Comanche County jail and multiple prisons in other states that conducted mass testing found numerous prisoners infected with the disease who showed no symptoms.

Cherokee Nation Businesses Lays Out Reopening Plan

Updated May 21 at 9:39 a.m.

Cherokee Nation Businesses has announced their plan to reopen some businesses under their new "responsible hospitality" plan.

The plan includes guidelines for the nation's casinos, golf courses, restaurants and live entertainment. Guests and employees will be required to wear masks and undergo a quote "noninvasive" temperature check. There will be fewer hours and a plan to allow for physical distancing.

Brandon Scott, the director of communications with Cherokee Nation Businesses, said those involved in a reopening plan are going to be looking hard at the number of cases of COVID-19 where their businesses are located.

"A big part of it is, after you've planned continuing to keep your eye on an ever evolving scenario," Scott said.

The detailed plan can be found here.

New Survey Shows Impact of Crisis

Updated May 20 at 4:05 a.m.

A new survey shows how big of an impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on people’s lives.

More than 47% of Oklahomans who participated in an online survey say someone in their household has lost income since March 13.

The survey from the U.S. Census Bureau also finds more than 36% missed last month’s housing payment or have little confidence in making the next month’s payment.

Nearly 9% of household adults also reported either sometimes or often they hadn’t had enough food to eat within the last seven days.

App Lets Muscogee (Creek) Nation Employees Identify Symptoms

Updated May 20 at 5:14 p.m.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation employees returning to work will have a new tool to monitor their health.

Tribal health officials are partnering with RespirCare and HGE Health to provide employees with an app called HGE COVID Care. It will allow them to type in any symptoms they are experiencing. The results will be sent offsite to RespirCare in Tulsa, who will follow up if necessary.

Shawn Terry, the tribe's Secretary of Health, said this app is essential to getting the nation's 900 people to return to work safely.

"When you have 900 employees or more, you have to try to find some mechanism to monitor that many people, their daily symptoms," Terry said. "This seemed to be a good alternative instead of mass evaluating individuals."

The app is free for employees and voluntary to use. The tribe will pay on average between $25-$30 for the service.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation leadership says plans are underway for people to do a phase-in return to work.

Apache Casino Hotel In Lawton Set To Reopen

Updated May 20 at 4:55 p.m.

The Apache Casino Hotel in Lawton will open its doors Thursday at 10 a.m., with some modifications. Guests and employees must wear masks and get their temperatures taken. Food and drink service will be limited, as well as some games. The casino layout will change to allow for social distancing. The property will be 100 percent smoke free-including vaping. More guidelines can be found here. The Fort Sill Apache Tribe says these guidelines can change as they monitor health and safety guidelines.

Oklahoma Will Disperse COVID Relief Funds To Local Governments In June

Updated May 20 at 4:39 p.m.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt laid out a timeline for local governments to start getting payments from the federal CARES Act at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

CARES Act funds totalling $1.2 billion will be dispersed to local governments throughout Oklahoma.

The federal money is not meant to fill budget holes created by economic pains, Stitt said. Instead, it’s supposed to provide relief for extra expenses created by the coronavirus. Stitt said that includes things like new hires, overtime hours, and new technology purchases to enable employees to work from home.

Stitt said it also appears the money will be adequate.

"I think the $1.2 billion will be enough to hit those COVID-related expenses," Stitt said. "So I don’t think we’re gonna have to pick and choose between municipalities."

The state's goal is to begin processing funding requests from cities and counties by June 1, and local governments could begin receiving them within a week.

The state is asking all cities and counties with COVID-19-related expenses to set up an account at governor.ok.gov/crfgrants in order to submit reimbursement requests and review the guidance issued by the U.S. Treasury.

299 Deaths, 5,532 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 20 at 11:45 a.m.

Five more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 299. The deaths occurred between April 22 and May 18. The deaths reported Wednesday include:

  • Two in Oklahoma County, both females in the 65 and older age group.
  • Two in Tulsa County, one male in the 65 and older age group and one female in the 65 and older age group.
  • One in Cleveland County, a female in the 65 and older age group.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 5,532, an increase of 43 cases from Tuesday. That's less than a one percent increase in total reported cases.

4,266 people — more than 77 percent of the total cases — have since recovered from the virus. 209 Oklahomans are currently hospitalized as either confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or under investigation for the virus.

Evictions Set To Resume In Oklahoma County

Updated May 20 at 10:22 a.m.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is going to start handing out eviction notices this week after a two-month hiatus.

According to statements on the office’s social media accounts, deputies will begin enforcing evictions again next Tuesday.

Data from the nonprofit Open Justice Oklahoma suggests more than 2,000 evictions have been filed across the state since Gov. Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the same period more than 200,000 Oklahomans have filed new claims for unemployment insurance.

294 Deaths, 5,489 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 19 at 11:29 a.m.

Six more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 294. The deaths occurred between May 4 and May 17. The deaths reported Tuesday include:

  • Three in Oklahoma County, two females in the 65 and older age group and a male in the 65 and older age group.
  • Two in Washington County, both females in the 65 and older age group.
  • One in McIntosh County, a male in the 65 and older age group.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 5,489, an increase of 91 cases from Monday. That's a one and a half percent increase in total reported cases.

4,135 people — more than 75 percent of the total cases — have since recovered from the virus. 167 Oklahomans are currently hospitalized as either confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or under investigation for the virus.

Pandemic Forces Shortened Legislative Session In Oklahoma

Updated May 19 at 4:26 a.m.

The coronavirus took its toll on the 2020 legislative session.

Oklahoma lawmakers finished their work on Friday after meeting just 36 days since February 3, possibly the fewest in state history.

Constitutionally, the legislature can still meet until the last Friday in May, but leaders say they will only call lawmakers back to override any vetoes from the governor.

Top gubernatorial issues left undone include criminal justice, medical billing and civil service reform, as well as agency consolidation and more public money for private schools.

COVID-19 Cases Spike At Comanche County Detention Center In Lawton

Updated May 18 at 4:16 p.m.

The Comanche County Detention Center in Lawton now has 102 prisoners who have tested positive for COVID-19. Most of the prisoners who tested positive are reportedly asymptomatic.

The situation has gotten so bad the state health department ordered jail administrator William Hobbs not to take in any more prisoners.

"Saturday I got the order," Hobbs said. "A team shows up to assist us in assessing the situation and start cleanup procedures."

Hobbs said that team is made up of Department of Corrections staff. One of the options they’re considering is moving people out of the overcrowded jail, but it’s unclear where they would take them.

Hobbs said seven of his staff who tested positive are at home in isolation. One staff member was hospitalized but is recovering.

Less than two weeks ago, the jail had only found 30 positive cases. More infections were discovered as the health department ramped up testing at the jail.

No New Deaths Reported; 5,398 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 18 at 11:50 a.m.

No new deaths due to COVID-19 were reported for a second straight day on Monday, as the state's death toll stays flat at 288.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 5,398, an increase of 88 cases from Sunday. That's a one and a half percent increase in total reported cases.

*Note: weekend reporting of cases and deaths is typically very low compared to weekdays.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health notes that 64% of today's new positive cases come from Texas County, where there has been an outbreak at Seaboard Foods, a meat processing plant in Guymon.

No New Deaths Reported; 5,310 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 17 at 5:17 p.m.

No new deaths due to COVID-19 were reported on Sunday, as the state's death toll stays flat at 288.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 5,310, an increase of 73 cases from Saturday. That's just more than a one percent increase in total reported cases.

*Note: weekend reporting of cases and deaths is typically very low compared to weekdays.

288 Deaths, 5,237 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma

Updated May 16 at 5:55 p.m.

Three more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 288. The deaths occurred between April 30 and May 13. The deaths reported Saturday include:

  • One in Caddo County, a male in the 65 and older age group.
  • One in Cleveland County, a male in the 65 and older age group.
  • One in Oklahoma County, a male in the 50-64 age group.

Health officials confirmed that total positive cases of the coronavirus in the state now stand at 5,237, an increase of 151 cases from Friday. That's a nearly than three percent increase in total reported cases.

The state has performed 123,954 tests to date.

Otoe-Missouria Tribe Offering COVID-19 Testing

Updated May 15 at 5:19 p.m.

COVID-19 testing will be offered at the Otoe Missouria Tribal complex in Red Rock beginning Monday, May 18.

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe, Pawnee Indian Health Center and the Noble County Health Department will offer COVID-19 testing to anyone, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not. Testing will take place from 10am until 1pm or while supplies last.

Pawnee Indian Health Center will offer testing to those who are Indian Health Service beneficiaries. Noble County Health will test anyone.

Organizers stress this is not an antibody test to determine whether you've had the virus and recovered.

It's A Mystery How School Will Look In The Fall, But Oklahoma Educators Are Already Prepping

Updated May 15 at 5:01 p.m.

School is about to be out for summer.

Spring 2020 was a semester like no other after Oklahoma schools switched to a distance learning environment to combat the spread of COVID-19.

But another semester like this one is unlikely next year. Earlier this week, the State Department of Education laid out several options for school calendars that should prevent massive closures and a statewide shift to distance learning.

Those options include staggering start dates for grades, building in virtual days of instruction, starting school early, adding night classes or Saturday school and taking more and longer breaks throughout the year.

StateImpact’s Robby Korth spoke with Oklahoma State Superintendent for Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister – the state’s highest education official – about this semester and what school could look like next fall.

Read the full interview here.

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Find all of KOSU's coverage of the coronavirus in Oklahoma here.