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Morning Headlines: Ohio’s COVID transmission rate rises; Cleveland’s new mayor launches COVID task force

A scientist or doctor holding test tubes of blood.
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Ohio’s COVID transmission rate has jumped to 1,800 per 100,000 people. That means nearly 2% of all Ohioans currently have COVID. Officials say about 95% of hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths in Ohio are among unvaccinated people

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, January 7:

  • Ohio’s COVID transmission rate rises
  • Cleveland’s new mayor launches COVID task force
  • Appeals court keeps vax mandate ban in place for 3 states
  • Cleveland schools to return to in-person classes Monday
  • DeWine meets with Guard staff deploying to hospitals
  • Ransom freed some missionary hostages in Haiti, workers say
  • Video shows cop shoot without warning at man firing into air

Ohio’s COVID transmission rate rises
(WKSU) -- Ohio’s COVID transmission rate has jumped to 1,800 per 100,000 people. That means nearly 2% of all Ohioans currently have COVID. The increase over the past week has been highest in places like Holmes County which, until the omicron wave, had maintained a low rate of spread despite the lowest vaccination rate in the state. Cases there are up by 86%. There are about 30,000 people in the Cleveland area currently positive and nearly 2,000 people are hospitalized in Cuyahoga County. Officials say about 95% of hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths in Ohio are among unvaccinated people

Cleveland’s new mayor launches COVID task force
(WKSU) -- Cleveland’s new mayor is starting his first week on the job by launching a COVID-19 task force. Mayor Justin Bibb says the task force is comprised of about 22 local health, government, and community leaders who will meet weekly to address the surge in cases, review data, and provide the community with information. Another top priority will be increasing awareness about vaccinations.

Appeals court keeps vax mandate ban in place for 3 states
(AP) — A federal appeals court has declined to lift a three-state ban on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court in Cincinnati comes after a federal judge in Georgia last month imposed a nationwide ban on the mandate. The lawsuit from Ohio and two other states claims the vaccination requirement is unlawful and unconstitutional.

Cleveland schools to return to in-person classes Monday
(Ideastream Public Media) -- Cleveland Schools CEO Eric Gordon says the district will return to in-person learning on Monday after starting this week remotely. Gordon reminded students they must be masked indoors and encouraged students to take advantage of free, voluntary weekly COVID tests being provided at all schools. December saw nearly 51,000 children testing positive in Ohio, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

DeWine meets with Guard staff deploying to hospitals
(AP) — Gov. Mike DeWine has met with members of the Ohio National Guard deploying to hospitals as the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 continues to hit record highs. The governor has ordered 2,300 Guard members into hospitals to relieve pressure on overworked staff. DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine met with Guard members Thursday in Columbus as the Guard reported to duty ahead of their hospital assignments. The state Health Department says a record 6,536 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Thursday, filling more than one of every four beds statewide.

Ransom freed some missionary hostages in Haiti, workers say
(AP) — Workers for a Holmes County-based missionary group say that in early December an unidentified person made a ransom payment that freed three of their kidnapped colleagues from a Haitian gang. That ransom agreement was supposed to have led to the release of all 15 of the North American hostages. But ex-hostages and others say the gang reneged on the deal. The person who paid the ransom was not affiliated with Christian Aid Ministries. The workers say they don't know the identity of the individual or how much was paid. Ex-hostages have recently been telling church groups about their ordeal, which they said ended in a dramatic escape on Dec. 16.

Video shows cop shoot without warning at man firing into air
(AP) — Police in Canton have released body camera footage showing an officer firing multiple rounds through a wooden privacy fence without warning at someone shooting gunfire in his backyard. Forty-six-year-old James Williams was shot in the chest minutes by an officer who had parked his cruiser in front of the house and surveyed the home with his weapon drawn. Marquetta Williams says her husband had been using her AR-15 rifle to fire celebratory rounds that she said were a New Year's tradition in their neighborhood. Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo claims the officer feared for his life. State officials are investigating the shooting. The officer’s name has not been released.