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Morning Headlines: DeWine Pauses Use of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine; Ohio Supreme Court to Hear Case Involving Stark Purchase of Dominion Voting Machines

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The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to fast-track a ruling in the case pitting the Stark County Board of Elections against the county’s commissioners over the purchase of Dominion voting machines. The board is seeking to force the commissioners to agree to the purchase of nearly 1,500 Dominion touchscreen voting machines.

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, April 13:

  • DeWine Pauses Use of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine
  • Ohio Supreme Court to Hear Case Involving Stark Purchase of Dominion Voting Machines
  • State Will Not Release Data on Positive COVID-19 Cases in Health Care Workers
  • Despite Confusion, Ohio’s Mask Mandate Still in Effect
  • Home Developers and Conservation Groups Vying for City-Owned Merriman Valley Acreage
  • Ohio Edison to use Helicopters Equipped with Chainsaws for Tree Trimming
  • Police Investigate Statehouse Break-in

DeWine Pauses Use of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine
Gov. Mike DeWine's office and the head of the state department of health have temporarily paused the use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Ohio. The move Monday is in response to the FDA and CDC advising state's pause the use of the one-shot vaccine following rare blood-clotting events in six people who had received the vaccine. Officials say the administration of the two-shot vaccines from Pfizer and Modern will continue.

Ohio Supreme Court to Hear Case Involving Stark Purchase of Dominion Voting Machines
The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to fast-track a ruling in the case pitting the Stark County Board of Elections against the county’s commissioners over the purchase of Dominion voting machines. The Canton Repository reports that the high court should have a decision before a June 15th deadline laid out in the board of elections suit. The board is seeking to force the commissioners to agree to the purchase of nearly 1,500 Dominion touchscreen voting machines. The commissioners last month rejected the purchase influenced in part by a campaign to discredit Dominion in the wake of Donald Trump’s election loss. Stark County has used Dominion machines since at least 2005. Dominion has filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News which repeated unsubstantiated claims that their machines contributed to election fraud.

State Will Not Release Data on Positive COVID-19 Cases in Health Care Workers
Despite Gov. Mike DeWine promising last April to disclose the number of Ohio doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who became infected with COVID-19, the Ohio Department of Health says it will not release that information. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the USA Today Network Ohio requested the data in November 2020, but was denied March 30 with the state health department citing the information as protected health information. Officials also say a person’s employer may or may not be reported with a positive test.

Despite Confusion, Ohio’s Mask Mandate Still in Effect
Ohio’s requirement that masks be worn in businesses, restaurants, and other public spaces is still in effect. The Beacon Journal reports that some people expressed confusion over Gov. Mike DeWine’s decision to cancel the previous mask mandate, and reissue it Friday as part of a consolidated health order. The mask mandate and social distancing guidelines remain in effect in the new order announced last week, which also updated attendance limits at indoor events to no more than 25% capacity. The order also allows gatherings for outdoor events but requires groups of 10 or less to distance from each other. A bill passed last month over DeWine’s veto will allow a legislative committee to cancel any health orders issued by the governor. That law goes into effect on June 22nd.

Home Developers and Conservation Groups Vying for City-Owned Merriman Valley Acreage
The City of Akron has a decision to make in a closely watched real estate deal. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy is one of seven bidders for 45 city-owned acres in the Merriman Valley that has become the focus of a campaign to preserve the property for park land. Crain’s Cleveland Business reports that six home builders are also vying for ownership of the approximately $400,000 property. James Hardy, Akron's deputy mayor for integrated development, said the city will consider the conservation bid, but did not provide a timetable for a decision. Activists have been pressuring the city to craft a master plan for the Merriman Valley before committing to continued residential development.

Ohio Edison to use Helicopters Equipped with Chainsaws for Tree Trimming
Ohio Edison will use chainsaws suspended from helicopters to trim trees in hard-to-access areas in Portage, Mahoning, Trumbull, and Stark Counties starting this month. The Beacon Journal reports the First Energy subsidiary is investing $22 in million vegetation management to help prevent tree-related power outages. The aerial saws are used along power lines located in areas that are inaccessible to trucks or may be environmentally sensitive.

Police Investigate Statehouse Break-in
The State Highway Patrol said a man broke into the Ohio Statehouse overnight, used a fire extinguisher to spray chemicals on the historic building’s Rotunda floor, and then called 911 seeking medical help. Columbus police responding to the call Monday found the man outside on the west lawn of the downtown building near the monument to former Ohio governor and president William McKinley. Police said the man appeared to be under the influence and said was trying to get medical assistance related to his use of illegal narcotics.