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Morning Headlines: UH Cuts Pay to 4,000 Employees, Closes ERs; Akron Cancels Summer Events

University Hospitals Twinsburg Medical Center

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, April 23: 

  • UH cuts pay to 4,000 employees, closes ERs;
  • Akron cancels summer events;
  • Cuyahoga County Public Library announces layoffs, furloughs;
  • Sykes to serve on task force addressing coronavirus racial disparities;
  • Cuyahoga County likely to delay plastic bag ban;
  • DeWine condemns anti-Semitic acts;
  • State senator relates stay-at-home order to Nazi Germany;
  • State panel rules Gabe's is essential;
  • Giant Eagle dedicates curbside timeslots to health care workers;
  • Ohio confirms first COVID-19 case in juvenile prison;
  • State deaths from coronavirus spikes;
  • Judge orders Elkton to transfer high-risk inmates;
  • DeWine allows hospitals to resume elective surgeries;

UH to cut pay to 4,000 employees, closes ERs
University Hospitals (UH) is temporarily reducing hours and pay for more than 4,000 employees who are not directly involved with patient care. Non-clinical staff will see a 20% pay cut over the next 10 weeks. The roll-back includes executives, managers and department chairs. UH is also temporarily closing five freestanding emergency departments in Kent, Twinsburg, Avon, Amherst and Broadview Heights starting Sunday. The health system said it's losing money from canceling elective surgeries and in-person visits.

Akron cancels summer events
Akron’s summer programming at Lock 3 has been scrapped. The annual slate of downtown concerts, festivals and other events have been called off as the city limits gatherings due to the coronavirus. Many smaller events are still scheduled but may reconfigured for public safety. The city said community centers will reopen in June to hold summer camps.

Cuyahoga County Public Library announces layoffs, furloughs
Cuyahoga County Public Library will lay off or furlough more than 300 contract and seasonal employees. The library said it's projecting a nearly $5 million loss because of the pandemic. Those who are unionized will have their hours reduced by 50%. The library said the cuts will save nearly $2 million. Many other libraries have made similar decisions, including the Akron-Summit County Library.

Sykes to serve on task force addressing coronavirus racial disparities
A new state task force aimed to address racial disparities in coronavirus cases with include Akron-area Rep. Emilia Sykes. The Ohio Department of Health reported nearly 21% of black Ohioans make up for COVID-19 cases even though they only make up 14% of the state's population. Sykes will work alongside 38 others including state, local and public health officials. The Beacon Journal reports Sykes is thankful for the group, but worries inaction before the force's creation caused damage to minority communities.

Cuyahoga County likely to delay plastic bag ban
Cuyahoga County plans to delay enforcement of its plastic bag ban again because of the pandemic. The ban was already delayed until July 1, but it's possible it could be pushed back to fall. Cleveland.com reports county council expressed worries about bringing reusable bags to grocery stores and potentially spreading COVID-19. Other members tell Cleveland.com they hope to include guidelines on how to safely use reusable bags. Some grocery stores in the state have temporarily stopped people from bringing in their own bags, including Giant Eagle, Heinen's and Dave's Supermarkets.

DeWine condemns anti-Semitic acts
Gov. Mike DeWine made his stance known on recent coronavirus protests involving anti-Semitic language. At a press conference Wednesday DeWine said protests are a part of the First Amendment but anti-Semitic views have no place in the discussion. At a protest in front of the Statehouse over the weekend, two people held a sign showing a rodent with the Star of David and wrote “The Real Plague.” DeWine and other politicians like Secretary of State Frank LaRose called the sign and other hateful messages disgusting. He then posted on Facebook Wednesday night condemning the protestors' actions.

State senator relates stay-at-home order to Nazi Germany
A Columbus-area Republican state senator and his wife related the state's stay-at-home order to Nazi Germany in a Facebook post. State Sen. Andrew Brenner's wife Sara Brenner posted a picture of Ohio Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton, who is Jewish, and said, "This actually feels like Hitler's Germany" among other comments. The senator then replied to the post saying he wouldn't allow that to happen in Ohio. The post came hours after Dr. Amy Acton made a reference to Holocaust Remembrance Day Tuesday. The Brenners deleted the post and in a statement, and Brenner claimed he had been misquoted by the Columbus Dispatch. He then issued an apology. Gov. Mike DeWine condemned the comments on social media, and other state lawmakers have issued statements, some calling for Brenner’s resignation

State panel rules Gabe's is essential
A state panel has ruled that discount retailer Gabe's can remain open as long as it implements precautionary measures. The ruling comes a few weeks after the Summit County Public Health Department said it was nonessential and must close. Gabe's argued it carries everyday items Ohioans need, like disinfectant wipes and toothpaste. The decision from the three-member Dispute Resolution Commission is final. 

Giant Eagle dedicates curbside timeslots to health care workers
Giant Eagle is dedicating time slots at two curbside pickup locations for health care workers. Cleveland.com reports the stores in Legacy Village Lyndhurst and Middleburg Heights Southland will have reserved times from 8 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Giant Eagle said it hopes to do the same at other locations in the near future. Health care workers with a valid ID can also get a free coffee or fountain drink at any GetGo station.

Ohio confirms first COVID-19 case in juvenile prison
An 18-year-old inmate at the Highland Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility in Cuyahoga County has tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s first confirmed case in the state’s three juvenile facilities. The inmate was tested after exhibiting symptoms Monday and has been in isolation. Staff has been taking temperatures of others who were housed in the same unit. It has also limited visitors and provide everyone with masks. In the state's adult prisons, nearly 3,800 inmates have tested positive and more than 33,000 are in quarantine.

State deaths from coronavirus spikes
Ohio's COVID-19 deaths jumped 10% between Tuesday and Wednesday. Health officials have confirmed 610 deaths and more than 14,100 cases. More than 2,800 are hospitalized and nearly 900 are in the ICU. The Ohio Department of Health has updated the list of cases in long-term care facilities. More than 550 residents and 220 staff members have tested positive.

To view the list of nursing homes with cases, click here

Judge orders Elkton to transfer high-risk inmates 
A federal judge has ordered Elkton Correctional — the state’s only federal prison — to transfer inmates who are susceptible to COVID-19. U.S. District Judge James Gwin is giving the Federal Bureau of Prisons one day to identify inmates over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions, which could be hundreds. They also must determine who can actually be released depending on their charges and sentences. If officials find that some inmates may be a danger, they must take extensive measures such as putting them in a single cell or even isolation. The order follows a lawsuit from the ACLU which claims the state didn't do enough to protect the prison from exposure. Six inmates have died at the facility in Columbiana County.

DeWine allows hospitals to resume elective surgeries
Gov. Mike DeWine is preparing to ease up on the prohibition of elective surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic. DeWine said Wednesday that doctors can now review postponed procedures and surgeries with patients in terms of their current health situation and quality of life. The governor said doctors and patients can make a joint decision about whether to proceed. DeWine said patients must be informed of the risk of contracting COVID-19. They must also be told of the impact of contracting the illness during the post-operative recovery process. Ohio has more than 14,000 cases, including 610 deaths.

Amanda Rabinowitz is the host of “All Things Considered” on Ideastream Public Media.