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Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.

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Nearly 100% of Oklahomans were counted in the once-every-decade Census, which saw its data-collection period that came to an end Thursday. 

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

This is a tale of two seniors in the northeast corner of Oklahoma.

It was the kind of weekend inmates, guards and their loved ones fear.

Inmates at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft say women there started getting sick after inmates and staff from the Kate Barnard Correctional Center in Oklahoma City, pictured, arrived in August.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Two weeks ago DeAnna Ray received the phone call she has feared since early March.

Anne Ham poses in January with her fifth-grade students at Lincoln Elementary School in Norman. Ham decided to retire one year early because of health concerns stemming from COVID-19.
Courtesy Anne Ham

Oklahoma’s teacher shortage is growing more severe with the spread of COVID-19. More teachers are opting for retirement than last year, and many say fear of going back into the classroom is the reason.

A Cleveland County voter casts her ballot at the Moore Public Library on Super Tuesday.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma, one of 10 states that doesn’t offer online voter registration, has seen a sharp decline in new voter sign-ups this year as COVID-19 has created new challenges for in-person get-out-the-vote efforts. 

Health officials are concerned fewer children are current on their immunizations. And parents must rely on 2-year-old school vaccination data.

Joseph Harp Correction Center in Lexington is part of Oklahoma's corrections system, which has experienced a decrease in population in recent months.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

As reform efforts take shape and the coronavirus pandemic causes delays within the criminal justice system, Oklahoma’s prison population has steadily declined since early March.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, shown here in a file photo, announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Whitney Bryen / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Wednesday that he has tested positive for coronavirus, a day after the state reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, flanked by Agriculture Secretary Blayne Arthur (left) and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, vote to hire former energy company executive Elliot Chambers as new secretary of the Land Office in a meeting at the Oklahoma Capitol on Tuesday.
Paul Monies / Oklahoma Watch

Gov. Kevin Stitt accused employees of the Commissioners of the Land Office of playing politics after his pick to run the agency was approved in a special meeting Tuesday morning where two of the five commissioners were absent. 

Poll workers check in a voter at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Northeast Oklahoma City on Tuesday. June 30, 2020. An extra table provides social distancing between workers and voters — a measure taken to protect both from COVID-19 exposure.
Keaton Ross / Oklahoma Watch

Nearly 675,000 Oklahomans cast their ballot Tuesday in an election that will not only have deep ramifications for November’s general election, but also the state’s future. 

Months before the Memorial Day death of George Floyd and the weeks of nationwide protests that followed, Oklahoma’s Legislature had a chance to take up issues that today dominate the headlines. 

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter begins closing statements during the opioid trial at the Cleveland County Courthouse in Norman, Okla. on Monday, July 15, 2019.
Chris Landsberger / The Oklahoman

Just days after the state health department took down localized COVID-19 data, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter provided health officials with a legal basis for making the information public again.

Liza Greve, president and executive director of Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights, poses for a photo in front of her Edmond home last year. Greve also chairs a political action committee that promotes the individuals’ rights to refuse vaccines.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

When a coronavirus vaccine becomes available in the United States, the federal government and states will face a crucial choice: Should all or most residents be required to get the novel coronavirus vaccine? 

A man hangs his head during a batterer intervention class at Catalyst in Oklahoma City. The 52-week program is an alternative to prison ordered by the court for some of Oklahoma's domestic abusers.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A bill that would add four domestic violence offenses to the state’s list of violent crimes is headed for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk, and indications are he will sign it.

As Oklahoma Reopens, Cities Shy Away From Enforcing Restrictions

May 12, 2020
Customers shop for glasses at Dillard's at Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City on May 8, three days after the store reopened to customers.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Police in some of Oklahoma’s largest cities are electing to use a softer touch, rather than aggressive enforcement, with state and local business restrictions as Oklahoma gradually reopens amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

An empty hospital bed is seen at the now-closed Pauls Valley Regional Medical Center in October 2018. Supporters of Medicaid expansion say it will help improve the financial viability of many struggling rural hospitals in the state.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Medicaid expansion is inching closer to reality in Oklahoma.

Legislative leaders announced a budget deal Monday that includes funding to expand the state’s Medicaid program and extend health coverage to more than 220,000 low-income residents.

The visitor entrance at Grace Skilled Nursing and Therapy in Norman is closed after the facility suspended visitations due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Deaths of nursing home residents and staff reached triple digits this week and facility officials say the number will likely continue to climb. But a state legislator wants to allow visitors back into nursing homes as early as June 1.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

On the heels of reports about questionable spending on COVID-19 supplies and equipment by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the state attorney general on Tuesday requested an investigative audit of the agency.  

A street scene of Watonga, population under 5,000.
Courtesy Watonga Republican

Weeks after mayors and other local officials asked the Oklahoma State Department of Health to release COVID-19 infections and deaths by city, the state began publishing some of that information this week.

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