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Morning Headlines: 18 Ohio Counties Now Red on COVID-19 Alert Map; Absentee Ballots Delayed for 100,000 in Summit County

Ohio COVID-19 alert map for October 9, 2020.
Ohio Department of Health
New cases of COVID-19 shot up Thursday to more than 1,500, the highest daily tally since July. The rate of new cases had been slowly ramping up this month, after dipping in September. Eighteen counties are now in red alert status in the state’s color-coded risk system.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, October 9:

  • 18 counties now red on COVID-19 alert map
  • Absentee ballots delayed for 100,000 in Summit County
  • Another 100 KSU students in quarantine
  • Pop-up COVID-19 testing in Akron this weekend
  • Judge again blocks restrictions on ballot drop boxes in Ohio
  • Governor warns against large groups, defends more NFL fans
  • 13 charged in plots against Michigan governor met in Ohio
  • Franklin County still can't say how many wrong ballots sent
  • New Ohio jobless claims rise again
  • Lordstown Motors finalizing a merger
  • UA celebrates a milestone
  • Diddy, Springsteen among rock hall of fame guest list

18 counties now red on COVID-19 alert map
New cases of COVID-19 shot up Thursday to more than 1,500, the highest daily tally since July. The rate of new cases had been slowly ramping up this month, after dipping in September. Eighteen counties are now in red alert status in the state’s color-coded risk system. Portage County this week returned to red alert due to the virus spreading on the Kent State campus. The city of Kent has banned gatherings of more than 10 people. The ordinance gives enforcement authority to the Kent City Health Department which can issue citations. There are exceptions for religious gatherings, First Amendment gatherings, restaurants, warehouses and schools. Meanwhile Mahoning County reached the red alert level for the first time. Trumbull County also made the list this week with an outbreak at a school sports team that led to nearly two dozen cases. Nearly 90% of Ohio counties are now at the orange level or above.

Absentee ballots delayed for 100,000 in Summit County
Hundreds of thousands of Ohio voters who have been looking for their absentee ballots to arrive in the mail will be waiting another week. The Cleveland-based company Midwest Direct has been experiencing equipment problems due to the high volume of requests, delaying ballots until the week of Oct. 13. It affects voters in 20 counties, including nearly 100,000 in Summit.

Another 100 KSU students in quarantine
Kent State University says another 110 students have been ordered to quarantine in a dorm because of possible exposure to the coronavirus. The students are on the third and fourth floors of Fletcher Hall have been ordered to quarantine through October 19 and 20 due to possible exposure to the coronavirus. At least 211 students have quarantined since the semester began.

Pop-up COVID-19 testing in Akron this weekend
The state health department is hosting pop-up coronavirus testing Friday and Saturday at Summit County Public Health on W. Market St. Anyone can get a no-cost test at this location. No appointment is needed; walk-ins and drive-ins accepted both days. For more information about the coronavirus situation in Summit County visit https://www.scph.org/covid-19.

Judge again blocks restrictions on ballot drop boxes in Ohio
A federal judge has temporarily blocked an order by Ohio’s elections chief that limits the number of ballot drop boxes available in next month’s election. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster called his move Thursday “essential to vindicate a vital constitutional right.” Secretary of State Frank LaRose moved immediately to appeal. The judge's decision marked the second time in recent weeks that a judge has ruled against LaRose’s directive restricting drop boxes to a single location in each county.

Governor warns against large groups, defends more NFL fans
Gov. Mike DeWine has issued a warning against Ohioans gathering for big events like weddings and funerals, while defending a decision to boost the number of fans allowed to attend NFL games in the state. The governor also said Thursday that even as cases rise in the state, the economy won't be shut down again. Ohio meanwhile raised fan limits to 12,000 for Browns and Bengals games.

13 charged in plots against Michigan governor met in Ohio
Federal agents say the right-wing militia members who plotted a violent takeover of Michigan met in Ohio to launch the plot. According to the FBI 15 militia members from several states met in the Columbus suburb of Dublin in June to plan the kidnapping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Witmer and other violence. Six have been charged in federal court in the kidnapping plot, while seven others have been charged with trying to target police and the Michigan Capitol. The FBI used informants and undercover agents to thwart the plot.

Franklin County still can't say how many wrong ballots sent
The elections board serving the county that is home to Ohio's capital still can't say how many voters received incorrect absentee ballots mailed out this month. Officials with the Franklin County Elections Board in Columbus say the error happened Saturday afternoon when someone changed a setting on a machine that places absentee ballots into envelopes. Ed Leonard is the election board director. He said Thursday that corrected replacement ballots will be mailed within 72 hours of determining who received the wrong ballots. Also Thursday a private vendor said unusually high requests will delay the mailing more than 1 million absentee ballots until Monday.

New Ohio jobless claims rise again
Unemployment claims in Ohio have risen for the third week in a row. State officials said that more than 18,500 Ohioans filed new jobless claims last week, an increase of about 3%. Continuing claims for unemployment fell slightly. Nationally, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week to a still-high 840,000.

Lordstown Motors finalizing a merger
The startup truck-maker Lordstown Motors is finalizing its $1.6 billion merger with a special investment firm. The acquisition by DiamondPeak Holdings announced in August is scheduled for final shareholder approval later this month. The cash infusion will help fledgling automaker ramp up production of its electric pickup at the former GM plant in Lordstown. DiamondPeak Holdings was founded in 2018 by billionaire investor David Hamamoto.

UA celebrates a milestone
The University of Akron is marking a milestone this weekend. The university is celebrating its 150th anniversary with virtual independent events held among alumni all over the world on Saturday night, featuring a video message by President Gary Miller that will be livestreamed at 8:30 p.m. There will also be an event at Lock 3 in Akron with live music and Miller's video message on the screen.

Diddy, Springsteen among rock hall of fame guest list
Sean “Diddy” Combs, Bruce Springsteen and Alicia Keys will be among a star-studded guest list for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020 induction. The organization announced the guest list Thursday for the ceremony, which will debut Nov. 7 on HBO. The show will honor this year’s inductees including Whitney Houston, the Notorious B.I.G., The Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, T. Rex and Depeche Mode. Jon Landau and Irving Azoff will be honored with the Ahmet Ertegun award. The event was scheduled for May 2, but was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dave Grohl will kick off the show with a “heartfelt introduction” to the new class of inductees.