To date, the Tulsa Health Department (THD) has confirmed 390 positive COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County. 109 residents have recovered and 22 have died. Test results are updated daily at www.tulsa-health.org/COVID19. For the most up-to-date news, information and business resources in Tulsa, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/COVID-19.
A Safer at Home Order is in place for every Tulsan, prohibiting public events, private events and social gatherings through April 30. The City is following the guidance from THD as it relates to any possible re-opening strategies and will announce those as data warrants. Because Tulsa is in the peak contagion period, it’s imperative Tulsans stay home and only go out for necessities needed to survive at home.
Under the Safer at Home Order, residents can make essential trips to the grocery store, get medication and other necessary items needed for survival. Patronizing essential businesses for non-essential purposes, such as apparel or personal care services, should not occur. If you have questions of what you can or can’t do, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/yesorno.
City Making Budgetary Adjustments
With an unprecedented rise in unemployment claims and with volatile sales and use taxes comprising two-thirds of the City’s general fund (operating) revenue, Mayor Bynum is implementing furloughs for all positions funded by the City’s general fund, with the exception of fire, police, 911 personnel, and utilities such as water and sewer operations and trash collection.
Furloughs will begin the week of May 3, 2020, and last through the week of December 26, 2020. Furlough days will be taken every Friday afternoon in half-day increments (four hours). The furloughs amount to a 10 percent weekly compensation reduction for the remainder of FY20 and the first half of FY21, which will help the City realize approximately $4 million in savings. Mayor Bynum and the Mayor’s Office staff will take 10 percent reductions in pay. Furloughs will be re-evaluated in December 2020.
Mayor Bynum made the furlough determination based on a variety of factors, but primarily due to the sharp rise in unemployment, which deeply impacts sales tax, compounded by the substantial drop in crude oil prices, which affects one-in-five local jobs. With cities across the nation and local employers making difficult but necessary decisions to reduce staff, eliminate programs, and cut wages, similarly, the City is taking steps now to implement cost reduction measures in an effort to avoid layoffs later this year. Acting decisively now will leave the City more flexibility once the City realizes the full economic impact we expect over the next year due to COVID-19.
Based on current financial projections from COVID-19 impacts, the general fund is projected to be $257 million next year, down from $269 million in the originally adopted FY20 budget. In addition to the furlough schedule, Mayor Bynum has already implemented a hiring and travel freeze for all employees and the City anticipates using fund balance and the Rainy Day Fund.
The furlough schedule will begin the week of May 3, 2020. Based on efficiency measures taken over the past 3-5 years, City departments have not been asked to take any additional cuts at this point to help keep services in place for residents. The public safety response will not suffer from the furloughs and all 24-7 operations will continue in the City of Tulsa. To the extent possible, City facilities including City Hall and Tulsa Municipal Courts will be closed Fridays from 1-5 p.m., beginning on May 8.
Other City of Tulsa Updates
To date, 37 City employees are in quarantine and two City employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and are recovering.
To help keep officers safe and on the streets, Tulsa Police ask residents to make non-life-threatening reports online at www.tulsapolice.org or by phone through the Tulsa Police non-emergency number at (918) 596-9222. 911 should be used for emergencies only.
On Wed., April 22, the Mayor will be discussing FY20 funding more in depth with the Tulsa City Council in their public meeting and will present the proposed FY21 budget, which starts on July 1.
Tulsa Responds Updates
To date, TEDC has received 244 applications for the Business Resilience & Recovery Fund. 154 (63 percent of total received) of those applications have been reviewed by TEDC, with 22 recommended for review by COT. The City has approved 15 applications, awarding $655k (60 percent of total $1.1M fund) to local small businesses employing 193 Tulsans.
Since beginning on April 1, Tulsa Responds has received more than 1,200 inquiries from businesses across Tulsa. At the end of April 16, Navigators have resolved 385 of those by directing small businesses and entrepreneurs to aid resources. They are actively assisting 419 others and are awaiting further contact from 405 open tickets.
Since April 1, Tulsa Responds has aided small businesses and entrepreneurs in completing over 900 applications for federal aid (Economic Injury Disaster Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program). They are currently assisting on more than 250 applications in process.
The 90 loans under review by TEDC request over $3.66 million in aid from the Resilience and Recovery Fund. Besides ineligibility due to location outside City limits, the most commonly indicated reasons for non-selection are a lack of employees/sole proprietorship status and missing application information/lack of follow up contact.
Howl & Howler Event
On Friday, April 24, the City of Tulsa and River Parks are hosting a citywide stay-at-home event. At 7 p.m., open your window, step onto your balcony, or go out to your front yard and make some noise for at least 2 minutes. For more information, visit the events tab on the City of Tulsa Facebook page, @CityofTulsaGov.
Mental Health Resources Available
Residents wanting a mental health boost can now participate in new Virtual Support Groups, courtesy of Mental Health Association Oklahoma (MHAOK). New members can sign up through the Mental Health Assistance Center, which can be reached by calling (918) 585-1213. For more information on COVID-19 resources from MHAOK, visit www.mhaok.org.
Tulsa Fire Department
TFD recently received additional PPE equipment and is operating at full capacity. TFD expresses its appreciation to the local businesses who have donated PPE, food and other supplies. In an effort to support local businesses, TFD crews have made commitments to eat at local restaurants as much as possible as they continue to receive kindness in return.
Tulsa County Update
To help local governments cope with expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government will begin the distribution of funds starting next week. Each state will get an allocation based on their population relative to the total U.S. population. Based on that calculation, Oklahoma will receive $1.5 billion. Cities and counties in Oklahoma with a population over 500,000 are eligible to receive funding directly from the Department of Treasury.
In Oklahoma, Tulsa and Oklahoma Counties are the only two eligible counties and Oklahoma City is the only eligible city. The rest of the counties and cities in Oklahoma will be eligible to share in the state’s allocation.
Court Services staff continues to staff the daily bond docket, including the weekends, to give Judges the pertinent information they need about inmates booked into the County Jail. The staff follows specific instructions for safety and social distancing so that when defendants are released on a court order, they can be released as quickly and safely as possible.
Federal CARES Act
For those looking forward to stimulus checks from the federal government, the IRS has a web tool to help people receive their payments if they did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes using direct deposit. That tool can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.
Additionally, the IRS has rolled out a separate tool to help track the status of qualifying individuals’ stimulus payments, which can be found at: www.irs.gov.
For those without bank or credit union accounts previously filed with the IRS, the time is now to do so to avoid waiting months for a check. It’s not too late for those who have never given their account information to the IRS. And it’s not too late for those who are unbanked to open a bank or credit union account and get stimulus payments faster, more safely, and for free - directly deposited into their account.
Step 1: Get your bank or credit union account number. If you don’t already have one, open a safe and affordable certified Bank On account online.
Step 2: Visit the IRS’ website page on Economic Impact (stimulus) payments and sign up with your account number.
Testing Sites & Resources
THD offers specimen collection for a limited number of individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 who are uninsured or underinsured. For appointments, call (918) 582-9355.
211 also offers answers to questions about COVID-19. Like THD, 211 offers assistance to those who are uninsured or underinsured.