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Morning Headlines: Most State Virus Orders to End June 2; Ohio to Offer Lottery Prizes for Vaccinations

A photo of Gov. Mike DeWine.
DAN KONIK
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
Gov. Mike DeWine announced during a Wednesday evening address that state COVID-19 restrictions including the mask mandate will expire on June 2. The one exception is nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, May 13:

  • DeWine: Mask mandate, most Ohio virus orders end June 2
  • Ohio's million-dollar idea: Lottery prizes for vaccinations
  • Summit County to offer drive-thru vaccination clinics for kids
  • MetroHealth to require COVID testing for unvaccinated employees
  • Ohio Senate passes bill aimed to help small businesses during an emergency
  • Ohio urges judges to keep Census Bureau on data deadline

DeWine: Mask mandate, most Ohio virus orders end June 2
Nearly every health restriction in Ohio will be lifted in the next three weeks. Gov. Mike DeWine announced during a Wednesday evening address that restrictions including the mask mandate will expire on June 2. The one exception is nursing homes and assisted living facilities. DeWine previously said health orders would be lifted when the state drops to 50 COVID cases per 100,000 residents. While the number has been dropping for weeks, the current case rate stands at close to 123 cases per 100,000 people. A copy of DeWine's statewide address remarks (as prepared) is available here.

Ohio's million-dollar idea: Lottery prizes for vaccinations
Gov. Mike DeWine has unrolled incentives including a weekly $1 million lottery prize and drawings for full college scholarships to encourage people to get vaccinated. Drawings will be held every Wednesday for five weeks, starting May 23 to pick the winners. The money will come from COVID relief funds, which both Republicans and Democrats have criticized. DeWine said 12- to 17-year-olds can sign up for the scholarship drawing via an electronic portal that will open May 18.

Summit County to offer drive-thru vaccination clinics for kids
The Summit County Health Department is getting ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines to kids ages 12-15. Officials say drive-through clinics will be held at the department’s Akron headquarters every Wednesday starting next week through June 30. Appointments can be made by calling the COVID-19 call center at 330-926-5795. Walk-ins are also accepted. Vaccines will also be administered at the National Missing Kids Day event on May 22 at Akron’s Hardesty Park.

MetroHealth to require COVID testing for unvaccinated employees
MetroHealth Medical Center will begin requiring employees who have not received a coronavirus vaccine by July 1 to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Cleveland.com reports the policy will apply to all employees who enter MetroHealth facilities, not just those who work directly with patients. The health system says more than 72% of employees have already been vaccinated. MetroHealth, like many hospitals in the country, require their employees to get a flu shot.

Ohio Senate passes bill aimed to help small businesses during an emergency
The Ohio Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that lawmakers say will level the playing field when businesses are shut down during an emergency. The Business Fairness Act would prevent the governor from closing small businesses while larger competitors remain open. That was the case last year during the lockdown when more than half of small businesses closed for up to three months. The House must pass the measure before it heads to Gov. DeWine’s desk. DeWine previously said he would veto the bill.

Ohio urges judges to keep Census Bureau on data deadline
Ohio’s solicitor general urged a panel of appellate judges to hold the U.S. Census Bureau’s feet to the fire by issuing an order that would require the statistical agency to release data used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts by mid-August. Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers told the federal judges that an order was needed, given past deadlines the Census Bureau has blown. The bureau has cited the pandemic and anomalies that needed fixing as reasons for its deadline delays. Ohio sued after the Census Bureau said it would be unable to meet a March 31 deadline. The case was dismissed and Ohio appealed.