Morning Headlines: COVID Cases Plateau, State May Shift Strategy; Summit Fairgrounds Vaccination Site Scaled Back
Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, April 22:
- COVID cases plateau, state may shift strategy
- Summit scales back fairgrounds mass vaccination site
- Outrage after Black teenager shot by Columbus police
- Ohio Supreme Court takes case over voting machines purchase
- Ohio House OKs 2% income tax cut as part of $75B budget bill
- Police reform legislation to be introduced soon
COVID cases plateau, state may shift strategy
Gov. Mike DeWine says that cases of COVID-19 in Ohio appear to be leveling off. The state reported just under 1,800 new cases Wednesday, below the 3-week average, but many parts of northern Ohio are still seeing case rates 3 and a half times what the CDC considers high incidence. Currently, 38% of Ohioans have gotten the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 27.5% have received both doses. Of those aged 16 and 17, just over 18% have received their first dose. DeWine said they're looking at possibly changing the metric for when restrictions can be lifted. It's currently based on reaching 50 cases per 100,000 people, and the state sits at around 200 cases. Kentucky, for example, will lift restrictions when 2.5 million of the state’s nearly 4.5 million residents get vaccinated.
Summit scales back fairgrounds mass vaccination site
Summit County Public Health is scaling back its mass vaccination clinic at the county fairground due to decreasing demand. The clinic set for this Tuesday has been canceled, and those with appointments will be contacted to reschedule. Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says they will be shifting resources to target individuals who have not yet been vaccinated. Meanwhile, the state has decided that Pfizer vaccines will be administered in the final weeks of the mass vaccination clinic at the Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland, where the Johnson & Johnson shot was supposed to be given. The federal government suspended its use last week.
Outrage after Black teenager shot by Columbus police
Black leaders are expressing outrage over the police shooting in Columbus of 16-year old Ma’Khia Bryant. The teenager was killed Tuesday afternoon when police responded to a disturbance call. In a news release, Franklin County Children Services said Bryant was under the agency’s care at the time of her death. Columbus Police say the officer who shot Bryant four times had no choice because she was wielding a knife, threatening the life of another person. The Columbus Dispatch reports officer Nicholas Reardon, hired in 2019, was the officer who shot Bryant. An independent investigation is being conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Hundreds of people, many Ohio State University students, marched down High St. yesterday, and a vigil was held near where Bryant was shot.
Ohio Supreme Court takes case over voting machines purchase
The Ohio Supreme Court is hearing a case over the purchase of voting machines that stems from the 2020 presidential election. At issue is a dispute between the bipartisan elections board in Stark County and that northeastern county's GOP-dominated board of commissioners. The elections board voted in December to move ahead with a $1.5 million purchase of new machines manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems. The board says it reviewed and rejected unfounded allegations that the company's machines altered the results of the presidential election. The county commissioners delayed the purchase, saying more information was needed. The elections board has sued to force the county to buy the machines.
Ohio House OKs 2% income tax cut as part of $75B budget bill
A $75 billion state budget containing a 2% personal income tax cut and an overhaul of the state’s school-funding system cleared the Ohio House on Wednesday. The spending blueprint lays out spending for state programs for the two years beginning July 1. It must next clear the Ohio Senate, where hearings have already begun. The income tax cut would cost the state $380 million in tax revenue over the biennium. Majority Republicans characterized it as an important benefit for Ohioans economically strapped by the past year’s global pandemic. House Democrats largely opposed the bill, arguing its funding priorities were misplaced.
Police reform legislation to be introduced soon
A bill to reform law enforcement is expected to be introduced in the Ohio legislature in the next few days. Gov. Mike DeWine says the package is being sponsored by State Rep. Phil Plummer, the former sheriff of Montgomery County. He says it’s been developed with input from law enforcement organizations, civil rights leaders, and the state attorney general. It calls for establishing a Peace Officer Oversight Board, a use of force database, and a database with information about an officer’s discipline record. DeWine says funding for additional training is also part of the legislation. He says the state is collecting input through the end of the month in a survey about training needs. He expects the training to be mandatory and to include topics such as de-escalation and use of force.