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Morning Headlines: COVID Cases Plateau; Half a Million Vaccine Doses Coming Next Week

The dashboard of key indicators for COVID-19 in the state of Ohio.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
New coronavirus cases in Ohio remain flat at around 1,500 per day. The transmission rate remains around 147 per 100,000 people on average, a slight uptick.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, March 26:

  • COVID cases plateau
  • Half a million vaccine doses coming next week
  • Ohio to post list of long-term care facilities not disclosing vaccine info
  • State partners with Google to combat unemployment fraud
  • Lawmakers repeal tainted nuclear plant bailout
  • 6 Ohio officers ordered to cooperate with protest probe
  • United Airlines adds flights from Cleveland

COVID cases plateau
New coronavirus cases in Ohio remain flat at around 1,500 per day. The transmission rate remains around 147 per 100,000 people on average, a slight uptick. Gov. Mike DeWine has set the goal of 50 per 100,000 for two weeks to lift all statewide health orders. Currently just two Ohio counties are below that rate. Fifty-five counties are listed in red on the state’s alert map, which is the lowest number since October 29. But case rates were up in 52 of 88 counties.

Half a million vaccine doses coming next week
Gov. Mike DeWine says around 25% of Ohioans have been vaccinated, and 70% of people over 70 have received at least one shot. Ohio is set to receive more than 570,000 vaccine doses next week, the highest amount the state has received so far. That comes as all Ohioans 16 and older can register for vaccines beginning Monday. Eleven stationary sites, four mobile clinics and 1,300 providers are distributing the shots.

Ohio to post list of long-term care facilities not disclosing vaccine info
Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll make public a list of nursing homes and assisted living facilities that have not asked for the vaccine or said that their staff and residents have been vaccinated. DeWine said 90% of all nursing home residents have been vaccinated since they were among the first to get access in December. The numbers are lower for staff. DeWine said the state has been through its more than 900 nursing homes and over 700 assisted living facilities three times, to make sure people who missed the vaccine got it. And he said the state has set up a vaccine maintenance program to get shots into nursing homes for new residents and staff, or for those who want it but haven't been able to receive it. But DeWine said some facilities have not let the state know whether they need the vaccine or made their own arrangements, though they've been asked repeatedly. A list of 56 nursing homes and 158 assisted living facilities that haven't notified the state is posted here.

State partners with Google to combat unemployment fraud
The state has partnered with Google to conduct data analysis on all outstanding unemployment claims to look for fraud markers and pull those claims. Gov. Mike DeWine also said Thursday that former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers will join the investigation along with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The state has paid out more than $330 million in fraudulent unemployment benefits as of February. About 7,400 were flagged for potential fraud in just the last week.

Lawmakers repeal tainted nuclear plant bailout
Ohio lawmakers have voted to repeal the $1 billion bailout of Ohio’s two nuclear plants at the center of a federal corruption probe. The bill that overwhelmingly passed both chambers also repeals a separate “decoupling” subsidy that allows Akron-based FirstEnergy to collect additional rate payer fees. The repeal comes eight months after former Republican House speaker Larry Householder and four associates were arrested by FBI agents for allegedly funneling $60 million in dark money into a campaign to pass the bailout. The repeal leaves in place provisions that gut Ohio’s renewable energy goals, and retains subsidies for two coal-fired power plants, but adds subsidies for six solar power projects. Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to sign the bill.

6 Ohio officers ordered to cooperate with protest probe
Six Columbus police officers have been ordered by the city to cooperate with an investigation into police violence during last year’s anti-racism protests. A retired FBI agent was hired to investigate the allegations. He says the six officers are not suspected of wrongdoing but are considered witnesses needed to prosecute potential crimes. The city's Department of Public Safety says statements by the officers can't be used against them.

United Airlines adds flights from Cleveland
United Airlines is adding summer service from Cleveland Hopkins to Pensacola, Florida; Portland, Maine; Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina. The new flights from Cleveland will start May 27 and will run three times per week through Labor Day.