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Morning Headlines: DeWine to Meet with County Leaders to Stem COVID-19 Surge; Far-Right Activists Charged Over Robocalls

Gov. Mike DeWine wears face mask
The Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday that 86 of Ohio's 88 counties are classified as having "high incidence" of COVID-19. He plans to convene virtual meetings with individual counties to find out what they need to help them fight the virus.

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, October 28:

  • DeWine to meet with county leaders to address COVID-19 surge
  • 2 conservative hoaxers charged in Cleveland for robocalls
  • Kent State University reports 66 new COVID cases
  • 2.2 million early votes have been cast in Ohio
  • 2 major Ohio cities sue to block nuclear bailout fee
  • Ohio Supreme Court denies county party's election complaint
  • Sherwin-Williams buys Brecksville property for R&D site
  • Greater Cleveland RTA to offer free rides on Election Day
  • KSU names longtime employee its new provost
  • CSU moves spring break to January to stem virus spread
  • Cleveland tourism takes a big hit after 2019 rise

DeWine to meet with county leaders to address COVID-19 surge
Ohio reported another 2,500 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, prompting Gov. Mike DeWine to urge Ohioans to avoid Halloween parties and gathering to watch sports. DeWine said 86 of Ohio's 88 counties are classified as having "high incidence" of the virus. He plans to convene virtual meetings with individual counties to find out what they need to help them fight the virus. As of Tuesday, a new high of 1,406 Ohioans were hospitalized with the virus.

2 conservative hoaxers charged in Cleveland for robocalls
Two conservative operatives under scrutiny for organizing tens of thousands of hoax robocalls falsely warning about consequences for voting by mail have been charged with telecommunications fraud and bribery in Ohio. Jacob Wohl, 22, of Los Angeles, and Jack Burkman, 54, of Arlington, Virginia, face similar charges in Michigan. The prosecutor for Cuyahoga County, where the men were indicted Tuesday, says 8,100 robocalls were made to residents in the majority-Black cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland warning information from their mailed ballots could be used to enforce arrest warrants, collect debts and forced vaccinations.

Kent State University reports 66 new COVID cases
Kent State University reported 66 COVID-19 cases for the last week, the highest jump since it began tracking cases in July. The Kent City Health Department has also issued quarantine orders for 53 students in Allyn Hall due to possible exposure, the 11th dorm to be issued quarantine orders since the end of September.

2.2 million early votes have been cast in Ohio
More than 2.2 million Ohio voters have cast their ballots. That’s two-and-a-half times as many that had cast their ballots by this time in 2016. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says more than 1.1 million voters cast their ballot in Ohio statewide just in the past week. All but 840,000 of the 3.1 million absentee ballots that have been requested have been returned to the county board of elections.

2 major Ohio cities sue to block nuclear bailout fee
One of Ohio’s major cities are attempting to block the law at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe from going into effect Jan. 1. Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley filed a complaint Tuesday, citing the need to save the state’s electric consumers “from the crushing monetary payments,” the now-tainted legislation would impose on them. The lawsuit seeks a court injunction to block the new 85-cent fee that will be added to every electricity bill in the state that will direct over $150 million a year, through 2026, to two nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

Ohio Supreme Court denies county party's election complaint
The Ohio Supreme Court has denied a county Democratic Party's complaint that the party chairman was wrongly denied an appointment to a county elections board seat. The complaint was dismissed Tuesday in a one-page filing signed by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor. The Ashtabula County Democratic Party said Secretary of State Frank LaRose was wrong in failing to appoint party Chairman Eli Kalil to the vacant seat by citing unproven vote fraud allegations made against Kalil in 2016. Kalil says he's disappointed but respects the court's decision. Party officials will meet Wednesday to consider a new nominee.

Sherwin-Williams buys Brecksville property for R&D site
Global paint maker Sherwin-Williams is making moves on its new headquarters project. Cleveland.com reports the company has bought 119 acres of land in Brecksville that will be home to its new, 500,000 square-foot research and development facility. The land sold for $15.2 million. Sherwin-Williams is also building a new headquarters in Cleveland's Public Square, set to be complete in a few years.

Greater Cleveland RTA to offer free rides on Election Day
Cleveland's public transit agency is offering free rides on Election Day for the first time. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is offering the rides as part of a $75,000 Cleveland Foundation grant. Akron, along with other major cities in the state are offering free fares on Tuesday.

KSU names longtime employee its new provost
Kent State University didn’t end up going far to find its next senior vice president and provost. The university announced Melody Tankersley will the fill job that will pay around $300,000 next year. She’s being serving as interim in the position since last year. Tankersley, who has been with the university since 1993, led the conversion of more than 9,000 courses to online instruction this year. The university launched a national search for the position in February.

CSU moves spring break to January to stem virus spread
Cleveland State University is joining other schools in the region in changing their academic calendar to avoid further spread of COVID-19. CSU is moving spring break from the middle of March to the week of Jan. 9, added on to winter break. Spring semester classes will begin Jan. 16.

Cleveland tourism takes a big hit after 2019 rise
Destination Cleveland says the number of visitors to Cleveland was on the rise in 2019, bringing 19.6 million people to the area and surpassing the national rate of growth. The tourism group says those visitors brought in more than $6 million in direct sales, and had an overall economic impact of nearly $10 billion. But the industry expects to see a drop in visits by as much as 67% for 2020 because of the pandemic. CEO David Gilbert says tourism numbers are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until around 2024.