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Morning Headlines: COVID Case Rate Drops Again; DeWine, Others Can Be Questioned in Gerrymandering Lawsuits

Dashboard of COVID cases and hospitalizations.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
The average transmission rate for COVID-19 has dropped for the second time in the past month to 560 cases per 100,000 people in Ohio. There were more than 6,300 new cases reported statewide on Thursday, with another 323 people hospitalized.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, October 8:

  • COVID case rate drops again
  • DeWine, others can be questioned in gerrymandering lawsuits
  • Cleveland Fed: Relief funding could be transformational
  • State program helps residents finish college
  • Cuyahoga appeals judge dies
  • Ohio casinos and racinos see record months for revenue
  • Divided court upholds death sentence for man who killed 4

COVID case rate drops again
(WKSU) -- Northeast Ohio has so far avoided the worst as the latest surge in new coronavirus cases slowly wanes. The average transmission rate has dropped for the second time in the past month to 560 cases per 100,000 people. The rate is less than half that in Geauga County, which has the lowest rate of new cases in the state. Holmes, Cuyahoga, Lake, and Summit round out the five counties with the fewest new cases. The pandemic is still ravaging parts of central and southern Ohio led by Coshocton, Adams, Muskingum, Meigs, and Morrow counties where more than 1 in 100 people currently test positive for COVID-19. There were more than 6,300 new cases reported statewide on Thursday, with another 323 people hospitalized.

DeWine, others can be questioned in gerrymandering lawsuits
(The Columbus Dispatch) -- Groups suing over Ohio’s new state House and Senate district maps will be allowed to question Gov. Mike DeWine and other members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Attorney General Dave Yost, who is representing DeWine and others, had pushed back on depositions, while lawyers for House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman argued they’re not required to provide any discovery at all. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that attorneys will be allowed to jointly take one deposition of each member of the commission and have until Tuesday to respond to questions and document requests. Three separate lawsuits argue that the new map is gerrymandered to preserve a Republican supermajority in both chambers.

Cleveland Fed: Relief funding could be transformational
(WKSU, Cleveland.com) -- A new report says Cleveland’s $511 million in federal relief funding could be transformational for the city. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland says the windfall from the American Rescue Plan amounts to a year’s worth of tax revenue for the city. It’s the highest relative funding among Ohio’s largest cities. Cleveland.com reports that Akron, for example, will receive 64% of its annual tax revenue. Funding was allocated in part based on unemployment rates during the pandemic. Cities must spend the money by 2026 and must be used as grants to households, businesses, and nonprofits; increasing pay for essential workers; or investing in public health, water, or broadband infrastructure.

State program helps residents finish college
(WKSU) -- A new program from the Ohio Department of Higher Education will help Ohioans who dropped out of college finish their degrees. The Ohio Senate has approved $3 million for the pilot program that will provide $2,000 grants to eligible students. State Senator Jerry Cirino sponsored the bill. He says the program provides “a second chance” for the 1.5 million Ohioans who have some college credit. Qualified applicants must re-enroll in college within five years of stopping school.

Cuyahoga appeals judge dies
(WKSU) -- A third sitting Cuyahoga County judge has died unexpectedly in just over the span of a week. Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge Larry Jones Sr. died on Thursday. No cause has been given. Jones joined the appeals court in 2009 after serving Cleveland Municipal Court for 21 years. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judges Nancy McDonnell and Joseph Russo died on Sept. 28 and Oct. 2.

Ohio casinos and racinos see record months for revenue
(Cleveland.com) -- Ohio’s gambling industry continues to thrive. Casinos and racinos took in more than $185 million in September, that’s more than 12% higher than the same month last year. Monthly revenue records were also set in August, July, and June. So far this year, Cleveland.com reports gambling revenue has totaled $1.7 billion, surpassing $1.4 billion brought in during all of 2020, when the pandemic forced the 11 facilities to shut down for three months.

Divided court upholds death sentence for man who killed 4
(AP) — A divided Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of a man who killed four relatives including an 8-year-old boy. The high court said Thursday that the slayings of multiple people including a child outweighed Aaron Lawson’s significant mental health issues and other factors raised in his defense. A dissenting justice said the 27-year-old Lawson could appeal based on a new state law prohibiting the execution of people who were severely mentally ill at the time of their crime.