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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Morning Headlines: DeWine to Cut $775M; Kent State Trustees Discuss Buyouts, Budget Cuts

photo of Kent State
KENT STATE UNIVERSITY

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, May 6:

  • DeWine to cut $775M;
  • Kent State trustees to discuss buyouts, budget cuts;
  • Cuyahoga juvenile detention center employee tests positive for COVID-19;
  • Students could return to school in fall on part-time basis;
  • ACLU requests release of 20 detainees in Morrow County Jail;
  • Coronavirus deaths jump within 24 hours;
  • Greater Cleveland RTA to install barriers for drivers, require masks;
  • Akron Art Museum faces nearly $1M deficit, discrimination allegations;
  • Ohio Supreme Court asked to stop Ashland County in-person trial;
  • Ohio elections chief pushes for changes before fall vote;
  • Lake Erie sets new record as water level continues to surge;

DeWine to cut $775M
Gov. Mike DeWine said $775 million will be cut from the state budget to ease the impact of COVID-19. K-12 education funding will be cut by $300 million, Medicaid spending will be reduced by $210 million and higher education will take a $110 million budget cut. DeWine expects the budget woes to continue for the next year or two, so he wants to wait before dipping into the state’s rainy day fund. 

Kent State trustees to discuss buyouts, budget cuts
The Kent State University Board of Trustees will meet Wednesday to discuss budget cuts and employee buyouts to prepare for the next fiscal year. The university has already announced an expected shortfall of $110 million. President Todd Diacon alerted departments to plan for 10% to 20% budget cuts. Salaries will be reduced for nonunion employees who make more than $38,000. Layoffs are likely to follow and some positions will be eliminated.

Cuyahoga juvenile detention center employee tests positive for COVID-19
A Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center employee is the first at the facility to test positive for COVID-19. The employee came into contact with four others, who are now in quarantine. No inmates have tested positive.

Coronavirus deaths jump within 24 hours
COVID-19 deaths in the state spiked Tuesday to 1,135, a nearly 8% increase from Monday. Total confirmed cases are reaching 21,000. Nearly 4,000 people are hospitalized and more than 1,100 have been admitted to the ICU. 

Students could return to school in fall on part-time basis
Ohio’s K-12 students may return to the classroom in August part-time. Gov. Mike DeWine said one option is having students attend class in-person two days a week and continue online learning for the rest. Another option is splitting students into two groups that attend on alternate days. DeWine has appointed a task force of school officials to make the decision. Nothing has been finalized.

ACLU requests release of 20 detainees in Morrow County Jail
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is asking a federal judge to release 20 immigrant detainees in custody in the Morrow County Jail, where dozens of inmates have tested posted for COVID-19. The ACLU argues the detainees are at high-risk for the virus. So far, three inmates at the Butler and Morrow County Jails have been released from ICE custody, as well as others detainees in Geauga and Seneca counties. 

Greater Cleveland RTA to install barriers for drivers, require masks
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will install clear barriers on all 350 busses to protect drivers from COVID-19. All employees are required to wear face masks, and RTA is encouraging riders to wear them as well. Eight employees have tested positive for the virus including two bus drivers.

Akron Art Museum faces nearly $1M deficit, discrimination allegations
The Akron Art Museum is facing a $933,000 hit to its budget due to the coronavirus crisis. Crains Cleveland reports that funding from the CARES Act passed by Congress in March will allow the museum to call back some furloughed workers. The budget challenges come as museum leaders fend off lingering allegations of staffing turmoil. Last year, according to ArtNEWS, 27 employees signed an anonymous letter claiming discrimination and intimidation at the museum. They also claim the musuem used the coronavirus shutdown to get ride of employees as retribution. Board president Drew Engles said a group of employees went through an anti-bias training session in February and more are planned once staff are recalled. Museum Director Mark Masuoka has not commented on the allegations.

Ohio Supreme Court asked to stop Ashland County in-person trial
A defense attorney is again asking the Ohio Supreme Court to stop Ashland County Judge Ronald Forsthoefel from trying to hold an in-person trial amid the pandemic. Cleveland.com reports a trial attempt failed when the defendant, Seth Whited, who faces child endangerment charges, was rushed to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms during jury selection. He tested negative for the virus and doctors said he likely had a panic attack. His attorney argues that holding the trial next week with social distancing measures in place would deprive Whited of his right to a fair trial. The high court rejected a request to delay the first trial attempt.. 

Ohio elections chief pushes for changes before fall vote
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Ohio needs to take the application process for mail-in ballots online, agree to pay postage on return applications and ballots, and make other voting-law changes to assure the presidential election runs smoothly in November. He said he's begun lobbying Ohio lawmakers on the need to act quickly. Other changes LaRose proposes would shift the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot to a full week before the election rather than the Saturday before and bolster financial support to counties for equipment and added staff. 

Lake Erie sets new record as water level continues to surge
The water level in Lake Erie has surpassed the record set this time last year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Lake Erie’s water level rose 9 inches above the April 2019 level. The increase also exceeded the record-breaking level set in March of 573.98 feet by 4 inches. But the Corps predict the lake won’t continue to break records in May and should be 4 to 6 inches below record high levels for the rest of the summer. Cleveland.com reports that at any rate, the lake should be more than 2 feet above average for the next six months.