Morning Headlines: Vaccinations Surpass Total COVID-19 Cases; Ohio Paid $330M in Fraudulent Unemployment Claims in 3 Months
Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, February 4:
- Vaccinations surpass total COVID-19 cases
- Ohio paid $330M in fraudulent unemployment claims in 3 months
- Fired Columbus police officer indicted for murder of Andre Hill
- Ohio Democratic Senator leaves hearing over lack of masks
- Californians charged for pandemic loans to fake Ohio farms
- DeWine proposes $10 million for police body cameras
- Cleveland to award nearly $1M job-creation grant to Quicken Loans
- Bobcat spotting in Summit MetroParks
Vaccinations surpass total COVID-19 cases
Ohio on Wednesday turned a corner in the fight against the coronavirus. The number of people vaccinated for COVID-19 exceeded the total number of people who have tested positive for the disease. Slightly more than 908,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far, which is just over 7% of the population. Meanwhile, The Ohio Department of Health has unveiled a new online dashboard showing how many people have received both doses. So far, nearly 200,000 Ohioans have completed the vaccine, about 1.7 percent of the state’s population.
Ohio paid $330M in fraudulent unemployment claims in 3 months
Fraud in the state’s unemployment system cost Ohio more than $330 million in just the last three months of last year. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kim Henderson says $2.3 million was paid to 2,200 fraudulent claims in October and November. But then in December they identified 56,000 overpayments in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program totaling $330 million. Henderson says around 100,000 claims in the non-traditional federally funded pandemic assistance program were deemed fraudulent. As many as 119,000 claims among more than a quarter million identified as possibly fraudulent last summer are still under review. Some 70,000 people have reported identity theft to the ODJFS website.
Fired Columbus police officer indicted for murder of Andre Hill
Fired Columbus officer Adam Coy has been indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Andre Hill in December. Police bodycam footage showed Hill, who is Black, emerging from a garage and holding up a cellphone in his left hand seconds before he was fatally shot by Coy, who is white. Coy also faces charges for failing to use his body camera and for failing to tell the other officers he believed Hill presented a danger. Coy is just the second Columbus officer to be indicted for shooting a civilian in the last 20 years. The criminal investigation was led by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, with the Ohio Attorney General's Office acting as a special prosecutor.
Ohio Democratic Senator leaves hearing over lack of masks
An Ohio Democratic state senator says he left a committee hearing because so many members of the public weren't wearing masks. Sen. Cecil Thomas is a second-term senator from Cincinnati. He tweeted a picture of the largely unmasked crowd Wednesday in the state Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. Thomas says he has a daughter with a severely compromised immune system and won't put her health at risk. Committee chairperson Sen. Kristina Roegner of Hudson said she appreciated people wanting to testify about the bill, but different measures will be taken to prevent crowding in the future, including fewer chairs in the room.
Californians charged for pandemic loans to fake Ohio farms
Two California residents accused of creating fake Ohio farms to receive $7.4 million in pandemic relief loans have been charged. The affidavit says U.S. Treasury Department investigators identified 64 businesses incorporated by the couple and four others and confirmed 53 loan payments were deposited into bank accounts. Some of the fake Ohio farm names they used included Organic Ohio Berries and Ohio Almonds and Peanuts. A U.S. Attorney's Office spokesperson says charges for the others are forthcoming.
DeWine proposes $10 million for police body cameras
Hundreds of law enforcement agencies in Ohio will be able to buy body-worn cameras through a $10 million grant Gov. Mike DeWine proposed in his budget. DeWine said Wednesday that just over 180 of the state’s about 900 law enforcement agencies both have body cameras for officers and are following the standards set by a state advisory board. The governor says the cost of the camera technology, storing the footage it produces and even hiring personnel to fill public records request for it is expensive for midsize and rural police departments and sheriff’s offices.
Cleveland to award nearly $1M job-creation grant to Quicken Loans
Cleveland City Council on Wednesday approved awarding Quicken Loans LLC a job-creation grant of nearly $1 million. The company now operating as Rocket Mortgage plans to add 700 jobs by the end of 2024 by expanding into the floors above JACK Cleveland Casino downtown. The jobs do not require a college degree and will pay up to $75,000 a year. Rocket Mortgage already employs about 500 people in Cleveland.
Bobcat spotting in Summit MetroParks
Summit Metro Parks officials say a trail camera in at Furnace Run in Richfield recently captured footage of a bobcat. It's the first sighting of a bobcat in Summit County since 2017. The state has verified nearly 500 sightings of bobcats since 2017, mostly in eastern and southern Ohio.