Morning Headlines: Ohio’s COVID Case Ratio Drops Again; Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to Retire
Here are your morning headlines for Friday, May 7:
- Ohio’s COVID case ratio drops again
- Ohio making another play at legalizing sports betting
- Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to retire
- Wolstein Center to resume J&J vaccine
- Ohio GOP lawmakers propose universal K-12 voucher program
- Ohio is latest state to see GOP-backed voting law rewrite
- Hall of Fame creating behavioral health program for players
Ohio’s COVID case ratio drops again
The state's COVID-19 case ratio has dropped for the third consecutive week, down to the lowest rate in six months. The average is now at just more than 140 cases per 100,000 people. That's a drop from 155 cases per 100,000 a week ago. In March, Gov. Mike DeWine announced all health restrictions would be lifted once the state hits 50 cases per 100,000 people. There are now 38 Ohio counties on Level 3 red alert for the spread of the virus, including most of Northeast Ohio.
Ohio making another play at legalizing sports betting
Ohio lawmakers are rolling out another proposal to bring legalized sports betting to the state. The latest plan announced Thursday calls for issuing 40 licenses to allow people to place wagers on college and professional sports, either online or at casinos, sports bars, and betting shops. Backers want to have a bill approved by the end of June. The bill will be sent to the House for consideration after Senate hearings and approval. It also allows for electronic bingo at veteran’s and fraternal organizations overseen by the Ohio Attorney General's Office and sports pool betting run by the Ohio Lottery Commission.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to retire
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced Thursday he will not seek an unprecedented fifth term. He used a town hall to reflect back on his 16 years in office. Jackson did not endorse a successor during the event but said he’ll evaluate the crowded field before putting his support behind a candidate. There are five high-profile candidates currently in the race. Cleveland Councilman Basheer Jones announced his bid yesterday, joining City Council President Kevin Kelley and former councilman Zack Reed, along with state Sen. Sandra Williams and nonprofit executive Justin Bibb.
Wolstein Center to resume J&J vaccine
Plans to offer the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland are back on, starting next week. The site was initially supposed to offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the end of April but had to switch to Pfizer shots after J&J was temporarily paused due to rare blood clot concerns. The mass vaccination clinic will offer the single-dose vaccine to anyone over the age of 18 starting Tuesday through May 17.
Ohio GOP lawmakers propose universal K-12 voucher program
All Ohio students could be eligible for vouchers to go to any private school in the state under a bill being proposed by House Republicans. The two-page bill isn’t complete, right now it just says the school funding formula will allow state education aid to follow students to the public or private school their families choose. It would create what's known as universal vouchers or "backpack funding". The bill has 16 Republican co-sponsors. But Senate President Matt Huffman, a strong supporter of vouchers, said he’s not sure how universal vouchers would work in a state that already has several voucher programs.
Ohio is latest state to see GOP-backed voting law rewrite
Ohio has become the latest state where Republicans are proposing a significant rewrite of state election laws. Legislation introduced Thursday calls for prohibiting off-site ballot drop boxes, eliminating a day of early voting, and tightening voter ID requirements, all restrictions criticized by Democrats. The bill also would add some conveniences to elections, including an online absentee ballot request system and automated voter registration. Its sponsor, Republican state Rep. Bill Seitz, says the sweeping overhaul isn't suppressive but incorporates changes advocated by both parties, as well as election officials and voting rights advocates. It comes despite a smooth 2020 election.
Hall of Fame creating behavioral health program for players
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton is forming a behavioral health program seeking solutions to mental and behavioral issues for current and former athletes and their families. Hall of Fame Behavioral Health will offer a concierge call center and crisis line to match treatment and counseling services with an accredited network of providers nationwide.