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StateImpact Reporters Reflect On Eventful 2020

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Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma
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Mega Wat said she joined a protest in June because Black Lives Matter.

The coronavirus. Black Lives Matter activism. A presidential election.

The events of 2020 will continue to ripple into 2021. 

  Last year, the reporters of StateImpact Oklahoma had to adapt to constantly changing situations and remained focused on telling stories that matter at the intersection of people and policy. 

The year began with nary a thought of COVID-19. The virus hadn’t been detected in Oklahoma and seemed a world away to policymakers and the people of the state.

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Credit Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma
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Prisoners at Oklahoma’s largest prison for women attend a ceremony celebrating a dog training program designed to teach them skills for life outside prison.

At the beginning of 2020 Oklahoma was trying to help hundreds of prisoners released in the nation’s largest commutation. 

Further in criminal justice, covered by StateImpact’s Quinton Chandler, the state was still grappling with a high prison populationlimited resources for prisons and how to make new rules for lethal injections.

In education, a number of persistent issues continued. StateImpact’s Robby Korth covered things like the state’s lagging higher education funding, to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s fight with the tribes over gaming money to guns in Oklahoma schools

But all these issues faded into the background on March 11.

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Credit Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma
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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister address the media during a press conference March 12 about COVID-19 and the potential for school closures.

As the Utah Jazz prepped to tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Chesapeake Energy Arena. There was a sudden delay.

Shortly after that NBA game was delayed, StateImpact sprang into action producing numerous stories on the coronavirus and how Oklahomans were responding.

In the spring and summer, StateImpact added new managing editor Logan Layden and health reporter Catherine Sweeney

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Credit Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma
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As the pandemic raged at the end of 2020, it became more and more difficult to find a hospital bed in Oklahoma.

Since starting, Sweeney has reported on the difficulty to find a hospital bed in Oklahoma City during the pandemic, inconsistent public health messaging and how Oklahoma has begun distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

Although the coronavirus has only taken a stronger hold in Oklahoma, the end of 2020 brought a light at the end of the tunnel: a vaccine. State officials administered Oklahoma’s first coronavirus shot on December 14. 

What 2021 has in store isn’t written yet. All we do know is that StateImpact will be here to tell you those stories as they unfold. 

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Logan Layden is a reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma.
Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
Robby Korth joined StateImpact Oklahoma in October 2019, focusing on education reporting.
Catherine Sweeney joined StateImpact Oklahoma in July 2020, focusing on health reporting.