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News Brief: Week of Oct. 11-17


Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings

Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, went through four days of confirmation hearings this week, beginning on Monday, Oct. 12, and concluding on Thursday, Oct. 15. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 along party lines to schedule its vote on Barrett’s nomination on Thursday, Oct. 22. The full Senate will vote afterward.

During the hearings, Barrett was questioned about her views on several controversial subjects including abortion, immigration laws, climate change and health care. She declined to share her views on the legality of these matters, instead citing “Ginsburg rule,” meaning “no hints, no previews, no forecasts” about her views.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to begin the full Senate consideration of Barrett’s nomination on Friday, Oct. 23, as the election approaches.

Trump, Biden town halls

After the second presidential debate was cancelled, President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden held separate town halls aired live on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Trump’s session was aired on NBC while Biden’s aired on ABC.

During his town hall, Trump answered questions from citizens addressing his response to the coronavirus pandemic, his treatment of white supremacist groups and what he will do if Biden wins the election.

He garnered additional attention due to his response to a question about QAnon, a right-wing conspiracy theory which claims there is a deep-state sex trafficking ring run by Democrat leaders.

“I know nothing about it. I do know that they are very much against pedophilia,” Trump said. “I’ll tell you what I do know about: I know about antifa and I know about the radical left.”

Biden took questions from citizens about topics including the pandemic, transgender rights, the economy and fracking. He also addressed criticism after he said he would announce his thoughts on court-packing after the election.

“They do have a right to know where I stand,” Biden said. “They have a right to know where I stand before they vote.”


Record COVID-19 hospitalizations in Oklahoma this week

As of Saturday, Oct. 18, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Oklahoma are at a record high.

On Friday, Oct. 17, hospitalizations reached 793, the state’s record. The number of hospitalizations reached 700 on Oct. 7. 

The number of reported cases increased by 1,195 on Saturday and deaths rose by 14. There are 106,503 total cases reported since the pandemic reached Oklahoma in March and 1168 deaths due to COVID-19.

Oklahoma is still in the red zone for coronavirus cases in the United States. 

“Mitigation efforts should include mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene and avoiding crowds in public and social gatherings in private to stop the increasing spread,” the White House Coronavirus Task Force said in a report.

The Oklahoma City City Council has extended its mask mandate for the city until Dec. 7.

Epic Charter Schools owes millions in taxpayer money

After an investigation by state auditors, the Oklahoma State Board of Education is now demanding that Epic Charter Schools repay $11.2 million in state funds the auditors say was used illegally.

The school board voted unanimously on Monday, Oct. 12, to demand repayment for money meant to go to teachers and students. The state investigation determined that the school’s administrators used most of the taxpayer money to increase their salary and fund their company, Epic Youth Services.

Epic Charter Schools must pay back the funds within 60 days of initial notice.

Epic has been under investigation since last year since accusations of inflating enrollment numbers arose. According to Superintendent Bart Banfield, the school denies any wrongdoing and will seek to dispute the audit’s findings.

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