Morning Headlines: Ohio Ending Mask Mandate, Enforcement for Vaccinated People; State's Vax-a-Million Lottery is Now a Sign-up System
Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, May 18:
- Ohio ending mask mandate, enforcement for vaccinated people
- Ohio's Vax-a-Million lottery is now a sign-up system
- Ohio overpaid $2B in unemployment benefits
- DeWine signs bill on grant program to help expand broadband
- Judge says shareholders can sue FirstEnergy board
- GOP's LaRose launches reelection bid for secretary of state
- Goodyear to replace all petroleum products with soybean oil by 2040
- Dozens more men sue Ohio State over doc's sexual misconduct
Ohio ending mask mandate, enforcement for vaccinated people
Fully vaccinated Ohioans will no longer be required to wear masks indoors in most situations, under a revised health order released late Monday afternoon. The state's mask mandate will be lifted on June 2. Akron City Council voted Monday to drop a mask mandate in public spaces effective immediately, following Summit County, which did so last week. Some businesses are following suit. Target has dropped its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers, joining Walmart, Trader Joe's, Starbucks, Costco, and others. Masks are still required in all health care settings and nursing homes, along with public transportation, airports, and airplanes.
Ohio's Vax-a-Million lottery is now a sign-up system
With the first drawing for Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery system scheduled for May 26, state officials announced major changes to the process Monday. The lottery system unveiled by Gov. Mike DeWine last week will begin next Wednesday and continue for five weeks, offering residents a $1 million prize or a full-ride scholarship to a four-year university in the state. Ohio had initially planned to use state voter registration in addition to an opt-in program to automatically enroll every resident into the drawing but changed it Monday to opt-in only at www.ohiovaxamillion.com.
Ohio overpaid $2B in unemployment benefits
The state of Ohio overpaid more than $2 billion in unemployment benefits to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans during the pandemic. And a significant percentage of that money went to fraud. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services interim director Matt Damschroder says in the last year, Ohio issued $462 million in fraudulent payments and $1.6 billion in overpayments. Last week, State Auditor Keith Faber said state unemployment officials misled his office for months about the extent of the fraud. The state has contracted with Google and others to help better detect and prevent fraud.
DeWine signs bill on grant program to help expand broadband
Gov. Mike DeWine has signed legislation creating a grant program to help expand broadband access in underserved and rural areas of Ohio. The measure provides $20 million for grants this year. Lawmakers are considering providing additional funding. Supporters say the pandemic has highlighted how high-speed internet access is a necessity these days. State officials say an estimated 300,000 Ohio households and more than 1 million residents lack high-speed internet. The grants would fund the so-called “last mile” parts of broadband projects that providers might otherwise consider unjustifiable from a business perspective.
Judge says shareholders can sue FirstEnergy board
A federal judge has cleared the way for several shareholder lawsuits against FirstEnergy. U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley says the evidence supports the allegation that the Akron-based utility took part in a criminal scheme and the board of directors did nothing to prevent it. FirstEnergy and its former subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions, are unnamed entities in a federal affidavit. They’re accused of funneling more than $60 million to former Republican House Speaker Larry Householder to guide the passage of a $1 billion nuclear bailout in 2019. Householder and four others have been indicted under federal corruption charges. The lawsuits filed by pension funds and other shareholders blame the board for the substantial losses in their investments in the fallout of the scandal.
GOP's LaRose launches reelection bid for secretary of state
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has launched his 2022 reelection bid. The 42-year-old Republican touted the state’s smooth 2020 election in a one-minute video released Monday. LaRose's statements on the election come as many fellow Republicans disbelieve the contest’s presidential result and GOP lawmakers are backing a major voting law rewrite that LaRose supports.
Goodyear to replace all petroleum products with soybean oil by 2040
Goodyear Tire and Rubber says it will move away from petroleum-based rubber and switch to renewal sources. The Akron-based tire maker has vowed to switch to all plant-based raw materials by 2040. Goodyear’s researchers say tires made from soybean oil perform better in cold temperatures. The company is already producing four soybean oil-based consumer tire models.
Dozens more men sue Ohio State over doc's sexual misconduct
Dozens more men are suing Ohio State over the university's failure to stop sexual abuse and misconduct decades ago by team doctor Richard Strauss. They echo claims filed previously by over 400 men, many of whom allege they were groped during medical exams. The newest federal claims were filed on Friday and on Monday, which marked two years since OSU released a law firm report that concluded university employees knew of concerns about Strauss but didn't stop him. Strauss died in 2005. The school has publicly apologized and promised a “monetary resolution" for survivors. It already reached nearly $47 million in settlements for 185 plaintiffs.