Morning Headlines: Ohio Health Dept. to Restructure After 4K Unreported Deaths; Ohio State Patrol Security Aid Bill Tops $2.4M
Here are your morning headlines for Friday, February 12:
- Ohio health dept. to restructure after 4K unreported deaths
- Ohio State Patrol security aid bill tops $2.4M
- Ohioans with some medical conditions eligible for vaccine next week
- State allows restaurant buffets to reopen
- State curfew lifted
- Unemployment benefits delayed over ongoing fraud
- Court tosses Ohio Libertarians' latest play for more access
Ohio health dept. to restructure after 4K unreported deaths
Ohio's Health Department says it's restructuring its infectious disease division following the discovery of as many as 4,000 unreported COVID-19 deaths. Director Stephanie McCloud said Thursday that the department has begun a standard review to determine how the error happened and why it wasn't discovered earlier. On Thursday, the state listed 721 newly reported deaths in the last 24 hours, which includes about 650 deaths improperly recorded over the past several months.
Ohio State Patrol security aid bill tops $2.4M
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says the cost of providing security after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach was more than $2.4 million. The extra security needed to patrol state facilities in the aftermath of the breach included $2.3 million in payroll costs and about $178,000 for things such as lodging. Along with members of the Ohio National Guard, the patrol prepared for potential protests on Jan. 17 as well as Inauguration day on Jan. 20. Those costs are on top of $1.2 million spent to activate Guard members for security duty.
Ohioans with some medical conditions eligible for vaccine next week
Beginning next week, Ohio will expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to people diagnosed with an ongoing, high-risk medical condition. Gov. Mike DeWine says that includes about 200,000 people under the age of 65 who could begin signing up with their providers on Monday. The list of conditions includes Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, spinal bifida and people with severe type 1 diabetes who have been hospitalized in the past year. DeWine says Ohio received a total of around 214,000 first doses of vaccine this week and will get around 223,000 next week.
State allows restaurant buffets to reopen
The state health department is allowing buffets and other self-serve food stations in restaurants and banquet halls to reopen. Guidelines must be followed, including customers wearing a mask while in line. Buffet tables and salad bars must be at least six feet from customer seating, along with one-directional flow for traffic. Customers must use hand sanitizer, which will be placed at the beginning and end of the line.
State curfew lifted
As expected, Gov. Mike DeWine allowed the state’s 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to expire on Thursday after hospitalizations stayed below 2,500 for one week. Still, DeWine urged residents to continue to wear masks and stay at least 6 feet from other people, and said that a curfew may be reinstated in the future. JACK Entertainment announced that it will resume 24-hour operations at its Cleveland casino and Thistledown Racino, effective immediately.
Unemployment benefits delayed over ongoing fraud
Some Ohioans who have recently filed for unemployment may not be getting their checks soon due to another problem with fraud in the system. Many claims have been put on hold while the state investigates why more than 140,000 new requests for benefits were filed last week. That's about three times the number filed in each of the prior three weeks and the most since April. More than 44,000 of the new claims were flagged under suspicion of fraud. The state has called a private company in to help.
Court tosses Ohio Libertarians' latest play for more access
Representatives of minor political parties in Ohio are conferring on whether to appeal after suffering their latest blow in a legal battle for more visibility and access in state elections. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s finding against the Libertarian Party of Ohio upholding the structure of the Ohio Elections Commission as constitutional. The seven-member board consists of three members of each major party and one who’s unaffiliated. Libertarians argued that structure sets up an unconstitutional condition on its members' full participation in Ohio's political community. The court disagreed.