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Morning Headlines: COVID Cases, Hospitalizations Jump; Ohio Closer to Getting Rid of Cash Bail

A picture of a woman in a hospital bed.
PIXABAY
New coronavirus cases in Ohio jumped Tuesday to more than 2,500, the second spike in the past five days. Hospitalizations are also on the rise with 155 people admitted Tuesday and new ICU admissions jumped to nearly three times average.

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, March 31:

  • COVID cases, hospitalizations jump
  • Ohio closer to getting rid of cash bail
  • Akron firefighter on leave after spraying activist with fire hose
  • JobsOhio to invest in more start-ups
  • Port of Cleveland finishing project to speed iron ore delivery
  • Study will examine COVID-19 vaccines and pregnant women
  • Ohio universities rank among the best graduate programs in the U.S.
  • Akron hires new director to focus on equity in city contracts
  • Flannery joins 11th District Congressional race
  • Top Columbus Zoo officials resign following investigation
  • Akron coach Groce agrees to contract extension thru 2026

COVID cases, hospitalizations jump
New coronavirus cases in Ohio jumped Tuesday to more than 2,500, the second spike in the past five days. New cases had plateaued in recent weeks with around 1,500 per day throughout March. Hospitalizations are also on the rise with 155 people admitted Tuesday and new ICU admissions jumped to nearly three times average. Health officials remain concerned that the spread of new, more contagious variants will outpace vaccinations. Currently more than 3.3 million Ohioans have received at least one dose. Holmes County has the lowest vaccination rate in the state, with around 10% of the population receiving shots.

Ohio closer to getting rid of cash bail
Ohio closer to getting rid of cash bail for people being held in jail. The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that starting July 1, all 28 counties with more than one municipal or county court must adopt a uniform monetary bail schedule. The first option must be to release people on non-monetary, or personal recognizance bonds. If the courts in a county can’t agree on a uniform schedule, they’ll have to use a model developed by the Supreme Court. An ACLU of Ohio report from last September said Ohio could save up to $264 million a year by reducing the use of cash jail. The report also found racial disparities throughout the bail system, with Black people charged and jailed at much higher rates than white people in four counties studied: Cuyahoga, Vinton, Athens and Franklin.

Akron firefighter on leave after spraying activist with fire hose
An Akron firefighter who used a fire hose to spray an activist who was filming him as he cleaned a sidewalk after a stabbing has been put on administrative leave while the matter is investigated. Their names have not been released. The Beacon Journal reports that city Fire Chief Clarence Tucker told city council he would “take care of the situation” once the investigation was completed.

JobsOhio to invest in more start-ups
Ohio’s private jobs creation arm will invest $50 million in start-ups as a way to boost economic growth. JobsOhio says it will be taking ownership stakes in more small companies in a new venture capital program. It will focus on health care and technology startups and will partner with local organizations like JumpStart in Cleveland to come up with deals and develop the terms. Last year, JobsOhio for the first time took $47 million in ownership stakes in six companies.

Port of Cleveland finishing project to speed iron ore delivery
The Port of Cleveland is finishing up an $11 million project that will speed delivery of iron ore to local steel mills. Cleveland.com reports that expansion of the bulk terminal and another infrastructure on the Cuyahoga River will allow an additional million tons a year in cargo to the port. ArcelorMittal steel plant, for example, receives around 4 million tons of iron ore per year shipped along the Cuyahoga.

Study will examine COVID-19 vaccines and pregnant women
Researchers in Cleveland are examining how coronavirus vaccines affect pregnant women and their babies. WEWS reports that University Hospitals, MetroHealth and Case Western Reserve University are teaming up on the study based on research in Boston that showed some immunity is passed down to an unborn child. Researchers are looking for pregnant women who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to join the local study.

Ohio universities rank among the best graduate programs in the U.S.
A number of Ohio universities rank among the best graduate programs, according to the U.S. News & World Report. The publication uses different methods to rank each area of graduate study. Ohio State and Case Western ranked in the top 100 for master’s in business, law and nursing. Kent State ranked in the top 200 in business, education and nursing, while Akron is on the list for both law and nursing.

Akron hires new director to focus on equity in city contracts
Akron has hired a new director in charge of leading the effort to award more contracts to minority-owned, woman-owned, disadvantaged and local businesses. Cleveland.com reports Sheena Fain’s title is contract compliance and supplier diversity officer. She’s a local human resources professional and small business consultant. The new position was one of five recommendations from a report released last June that outlined the city’s plan for making city contracts more accessible for minority-owned businesses.

Flannery joins 11th District Congressional race
Former state Rep. Bryan Flannery formally launched his campaign for Marcia Fudge’s U.S. House seat on Tuesday. Flannery is entering an already-crowded Democratic primary field that includes former state Sen. Nina Turner, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, former Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson, former State Sen. Shirley Smith, former State Rep. John Barnes and Navy veteran Tariq Shabazz. The Aug. 3 special primary will likely determine who will serve out Fudge’s term in the heavily Democratic district that includes parts of Cleveland and Akron. Fudge has left the seat to become the Biden administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary.

Top Columbus Zoo officials resign following investigation
The top two officials at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have resigned following a Columbus Dispatch investigation about the improper use of zoo resources. A statement from the zoo said CEO Tom Stalf and CFO Greg Bell stepped down immediately after the zoo’s board received the results of an investigation from an outside law firm. The Dispatch reported Stalf and Bell let relatives live in houses owned by the zoo and got family members tickets for entertainment events. Former zoo executive director Jerry Borin will serve as interim CEO as the zoo starts a national search for a new CEO. The Ohio Ethics Commission is reviewing whether it has the authority to launch a state-level investigation.

Akron Coach Groce agrees to contract extension thru 2026
Akron basketball coach John Groce has agreed to a contract extension through 2026. Athletic director Larry Williams announced the agreement with Groce, who just completed his fourth season leading the Zips. Williams called Groce “a uniquely talented leader who has done and will continue to do a remarkable job.” Groce is 70-49 overall since he was hired in 2017 by Akron after five seasons at Illinois. The Zips are 26-10 in the Mid-American Conference over the past two seasons with Groce. He also coached at Ohio, leading the Bobcats to two NCAA Tournament appearances.