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Morning Headlines: Statehouse, State and Cleveland Offices to Close Amid Protest Threat; Ohio Surpasses 800,000 COVID-19 Cases

Photo of the Statehouse Capola.
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
Gov. Mike DeWine says the Statehouse and other state buildings in downtown Columbus will be closed through Inauguration Day. Police officers, National Guard members and state troopers will provide security as authorities prepare for possible protests by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, January 15:

  • Statehouse, state and Cleveland offices to close amid protest threat
  • Ohio surpasses 800,000 COVID-19 cases
  • Ohio to roll out online tool to look up vaccine locations
  • Cleveland school therapist charged in Capitol Hill riots
  • Ohio AG moves to block another $102M in FirstEnergy fees
  • Ohio unemployment claims rise again amid pandemic
  • Mahoning Valley gets $12M in GM settlement
  • Summit councilwoman is the new Ohio Democratic Party chair
  • Rock Hall gets largest archival donation, reopens Monday

Statehouse, state and Cleveland offices to close amid protest threat
Gov. Mike DeWine says the Statehouse and other state buildings in downtown Columbus will be closed through Inauguration Day. Police officers, National Guard members and state troopers will provide security as authorities prepare for possible protests by supporters of President Donald Trump. DeWine was joined by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and leaders of the state’s highway patrol and National Guard forces to announce the restrictions. Cleveland is closing city hall and all downtown city non-emergency office buildings and facilities Friday through Wednesday. All Neighborhood Resource & Recreation Centers, as well as Cleveland Public Auditorium, will be closed Monday through Wednesday.

Ohio surpasses 800,000 COVID-19 cases
Ohio has surpassed 800,000 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic with more than 7,600 reported on Thursday. Ohio is also approaching 10,000 deaths with another 109 reported Thursday. This week, one county — Hamilton, which includes Cincinnati — turned purple, or the highest level on the state’s color-coded alert map. Lorain and Clermont are on the watch list. All but five Ohio counties remain red, or level 3.

Ohio to roll out online tool to look up vaccine locations
Gov. Mike DeWine says the state is rolling out an online tool allowing residents to look up locations where the coronavirus vaccine is available. The tool on the state coronavirus website will allow Ohioans to check by county and ZIP code beginning Friday. DeWine says all local health departments should also have the information on their websites. The news comes as Ohio is set to begin offering vaccines to people 80 years old and up beginning Tuesday. The Health Department says more than 338,000 Ohioans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine to date.

Cleveland school therapist charged in Capitol Hill riots
A Cleveland woman who worked as a school occupational therapist has been charged with taking part in the breach at the U.S. Capitol. The FBI says Christine Priola, 49, faces charges of entering a restricted building and unlawful activities on the Capitol grounds. Priola submitted a resignation letter to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District after social media users linked her to photos taken of supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol.

Ohio AG moves to block another $102M in FirstEnergy fees
Ohio’s top lawyer is asking a court to block FirstEnergy Corp. from collecting special fees from customers that were set up under a now-tainted nuclear bailout bill. The so-called ‘decoupling’ fees allow the Akron-based utility to maintain record-high profits even if electricity sales dip. Attorney General Dave Yost asked a Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge to prevent FirstEnergy from collecting $102 million in 2021 through a mechanism tied to the company's profits in 2018, when high temperatures and other factors led to unusually high profits.

Ohio unemployment claims rise again amid pandemic
The state says claims for initial and continuing unemployment in Ohio have jumped amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Job and Family Services says Ohioans filed over 37,000 initial jobless claims for the week ending Jan. 9. That's a jump of more than 25% from the previous week and the highest number of weekly claims in a month. The state also says Ohioans filed over 278,000 continued jobless claims last week, a slight increase.

Mahoning Valley gets $12M in GM settlement
The Mahoning Valley has received an influx of cash from GM as part of its settlement for closing the Lordstown plant two years ago. Of the $12 million deal, $5 million will go to Youngstown State University to build a new battery research center in partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College. GM is building a battery plant in Lordstown with Korean tech-giant LG. An additional $3 million will go toward building a new water tower in Lordstown. The rest of the funding will go toward workforce training and infrastructure improvements.

Summit councilwoman is the new Ohio Democratic Party chair
The Ohio Democratic Party has a new chair. Summit County councilwoman Liz Walters was elected Thursday night by the party’s executive committee. Walters, who was executive director of the party in 2014, received public endorsements from Sen. Sherrod Brown, labor union figures and young Democratic coalitions. She replaces David Pepper, who resigned last month, saying the party needs new leadership following Republican wins in 2020.

Rock Hall gets largest archival donation, reopens Monday
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has received its largest archival donation in its history. The more than 100,000 images were taken by Rolling Stone magazine's first chief photographer, Baron Wolman, who died in November. It includes images of iconic musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Miles Davis that will be on display at the museum, which reopens to the public on Monday. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Museum of Art will also reopen on Monday after begin closed since November due to the pandemic.