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Morning Headlines: Stark & Summit Rise, Portage Drops On COVID Map; UA Reports 5 New Cases

COVID-19 alert map for September 24, 2020
Ohio Department of Health
Stark County has been upgraded to red alert level for the first time since the state began its color-coded coronavirus risk system. Summit County's level increased to orange while Portage County was downgraded from red alert to orange.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, September 25:

  • Stark and Summit Rise, Portage Drops on COVID map
  • Colleges urged to test 3% of students weekly
  • UA reports five new COVID-19 cases
  • Nursing homes, assisted living can resume indoor visits
  • Ohio Quinnipiac poll shows presidential race is a dead heat in Ohio
  • Summit County offers relief to small businesses
  • Governor urges against rush to judgment over woman's arrest
  • 16 Ohio schools receive national blue ribbons

Stark and Summit Rise, Portage Drops on COVID map
Stark County has been upgraded to red alert level for the first time since the state began its color-coded coronavirus risk system. Gov. Mike DeWine says the county has seen nearly 200 new cases in the past two weeks, and doctor’s visits have doubled. Summit County’s level increased to orange, or level two. Portage County was downgraded from red alert to orange. The number of new cases had spiked due to off-campus spread by Kent State University students. This week the university and city health department issued stern warnings to students to avoid large gatherings. A total of 67 counties stayed at the same level as last week. More information is on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's website.

Colleges urged to test 3% of students weekly
Gov. Mike DeWine says new coronavirus guidelines include a recommendation that all residential colleges and universities regularly test 3% of the student population each week. DeWine says continued random testing of asymptomatic students will provide information for universities to make decisions about when they need to do further testing or take other precautions. The updated guidance will be posted to coronavirus.ohio.gov in the next few days.

UA reports five new COVID-19 cases
The University of Akron on Thursday reported just five new COVID-19 cases in the past week, despite an increase in testing. That’s down from 22 cases the previous week. The university last week offered voluntary testing in the schools’ largest dorm, and next week will begin testing of a random group in the population to gauge if the virus is spreading. Previously, the university only provided testing for students who were showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Nursing homes, assisted living can resume indoor visits
Starting October 12th, Ohio's nursing homes and assisted living centers can start to allow in-person, indoor visits again. They've been limited to outdoor visits only since July, because of the coronavirus. Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy says homes need to first determine how ready they are, and how much community spread there is. She says visitors will have to undergo screenings and wear masks during visits. When visitation resumes, a Long-Term Care Facility Dashboard will be added to the COVID-19 data dashboard at coronavirus.ohio.gov where users can access facility-specific visitation information.

Ohio Quinnipiac poll shows presidential race is a dead heat in Ohio
The latest Quinnipiac poll shows the race between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is a virtual dead heat in Ohio – with Biden leading Trump 48 to 47. Biden is winning in the key demographic of voters over 65, women and wins Black voters overwhelmingly, while Trump has the edge among men and white voters. Among the likely voters surveyed, Trump leads by seven points on the economy, and is up slightly on handling the military. The candidates are tied on who can be trusted to keep families safe. And Biden leads on coronavirus response and by 12 points on handling racial inequality. By comparison, a Quinnipiac poll released October 3, 2016, dad Donald Trump up by 5 over Hillary Clinton in poll released Oct 3, 2016. Within the margin of error of +/-3.5 points. Trump ended up winning by 8.

Summit County offers relief to small businesses
Summit County is offering assistance to small businesses struggling during the pandemic. The county and the Greater Akron Chamber are offering $5 million in federal CARES Act funding. The grant program was created in March and expanded in May and has included several rounds, with $7.6 million in grants provided to 1,889 small businesses.

Governor urges against rush to judgment over woman's arrest
Gov. Mike DeWine says people shouldn't rush to judgment in the case of a woman arrested after refusing to comply with requests to wear a mask at a middle school football game. The Logan Police Department in southeastern Ohio says an officer used a stun gun on the woman after repeated efforts to remove her from stands at the Logan schools stadium on Wednesday. The woman was charged with criminal trespassing. DeWine says the incident was an isolated one and the school was trying to follow guidelines set out to allow students to resume playing sports.

16 Ohio schools receive national blue ribbons
Sixteen Ohio schools were recognized Thursday with National Blue Ribbon awards. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance. Northeast Ohio districts recognized are Avon, Boardman, Cleveland, New Philadelphia, Rocky River and Solon.