Kevin Stitt

Oklahoma lawmakers are heading into a special session Monday. The House and Senate are taking up Governor Kevin Stitt’s emergency declaration that would give him broad authority to waive normal statutory requirements.

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols says this allows state government to speak with one voice to coordinate first responders, additional hospital resources and other emergency needs. The Oklahoma City Republican says the governor has assured lawmakers this is not an attempt to take over state or local government.

Ken Boyd / KOSU

Governor Kevin Stitt has opened a door for Oklahoma school districts to pay their hourly support employees during statewide school closures.

In an updated executive order Thursday, Stitt eased constitutionality concerns some schools had about being able to pay support staff. Unlike teachers or administrators, their pay is not protected.

For the second consecutive day, Governor Kevin Stitt urged any Oklahoman with symptoms of COVID-19 or anyone who has been in contact with someone who has symptoms to get tested for the virus. In his Thursday press conference, he also told public and private labs to loosen restrictions on testing.

Until Wednesday, the state had strict guidelines on who was eligible to be tested. Those restrictions included healthcare workers and seriously ill people who had already been hospitalized.

Acute Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Four more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19, increasing the state's death toll to 34. The deaths reported Thursday include:

ok.gov

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.

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.

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.

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In an audio statement released Sunday night, Governor Kevin Stitt announced he was amending an executive order that requires 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.

State officials in Kentucky and Oklahoma are among a growing number of Republican officials who say abortion is a nonessential procedure that should be put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about Governor Stitt's "Safer at Home" policy to curb the outbreak of COVID-19, a US Department of Labor email asking local employment agencies to limit the amount of information released to the public and the State Health Department is withholding much needed medical supplies pending an audit.

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