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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: Over Half of Ohio Under Mask Mandate; State Jobless Claims Up Slightly

Picture of Ohio coronavirus alert levels by county.
OFFICE OF GOV. MIKE DeWINE
The updated Ohio coronavirus risk alert map removes Cuyahoga County from the watch list for the highest coronavirus alert status, but Richland county has been elevated to level 3.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, July 17:

  • Nearly 60% of Ohio to be under mask mandate
  • Ohio manufacturers get $20M to make, buy PPE
  • Jobless claims up slightly in Ohio
  • Columbus statue to remain on Ohio Statehouse grounds for now
  • Northeast Ohio organizations get grants for trail improvements
  • Women’s suffrage monument a step closer at Ohio Statehouse
  • Alliance, Walsh Jesuit play exhibition baseball at Canal Park
  • MAC postpones Olympic sports season to Sept. 3

Nearly 60% of Ohio to be under mask mandate
Gov. Mike DeWine ordered nearly 60% of Ohioans to wear a mask in public the day after a statewide address pushing the importance of personal responsibility in combating the coronavirus. The state reported 1,290 daily cases Thursday, with 28 deaths and 115 virus-related hospitalizations. The state's updated coronavirus risk alert map removes Cuyahoga County from the “watch list” for the highest coronavirus alert status, however it remains red, at level 3, with the mandatory mask requirement in place. Richland has been elevated to level 3, and Summit and Lorain counties are unchanged at level 3. Stark, Portage and Medina counties are at level 2.

Ohio manufacturers get $20M to make, buy PPE
About 70 Ohio manufacturers will be able to produce and buy personal protective equipment through a $20 million state grant program. The program gives out amounts of up to $500,000 and will create 829 new jobs and maintain 1,133 jobs. More than half of the grants are going to businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Economic development organization JobsOhio and its partners will also distribute 15,000 PPE toolkits to small businesses, including masks and hand sanitizer.

Jobless claims up slightly in Ohio
Unemployment claims rose slightly in the past week in Ohio after 10 straight weeks of decline. Ohio last week reported around 35,000 new unemployment claims, up about 1,600 from the previous week. Ohio has received nearly 1.5 million new unemployment claims over the last 17 weeks, which is more than the state received over the last three years. The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services has distributed more than $5.2 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 747,000 people.

Columbus statue to remain on Ohio Statehouse grounds for now
Officials say a statue of Christopher Columbus will not be removed from in front of the Ohio Statehouse until at least 2025. The 9-foot-tall, copper statue of Columbus will remain erected in front of the Statehouse in the largest city that bears the explorer’s name until a formal process for removal is undergone by the agency that manages the grounds. The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board voted to draft rules in place for the first time that would outline a policy of removing a statue or monument off of Capital Grounds. An individual or group may come forward with a proposal at the next board meeting in October.

Northeast Ohio organizations get grants for trail improvements
More than a dozen Northeast Ohio organizations will share $600,000 in grants to support trail preservation, restoration and other improvements. The Ohio & Erie Canalway Association awarded the grants on Thursday that include restoring the James A. Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery in Cuyahoga County, improving the Boston Mills Historic District at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, improving the Freedom Trail Trailhead and developing the Summit Lake Trail.

Women’s suffrage monument a step closer at Ohio Statehouse
A monument to honor those who fought for women’s right to vote is a step closer to being installed at the Ohio Statehouse. The Ohio Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board gave preliminary approval Thursday to allow the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to begin fundraising for the effort that, if successful, would get final approval in five years. There are no statues of women on the grounds of Ohio Capitol Square in Columbus.

Alliance, Walsh Jesuit play exhibition baseball at Canal Park
Akron's Canal Park continues to fill the void left by the cancellation of the RubberDucks season. High school baseball teams Walsh Jesuit and Alliance will play an exhibition game with fireworks tomorrow night. Alliance replaced Massillon at the last minute, when a member of the Tiger program tested positive for the coronavirus. Attendance will be limited to 1,000 people to maintain social distancing.

MAC postpones Olympic sports season to Sept. 3
The Mid-American Conference, which includes Kent State and Akron, has postponed the start of field hockey, soccer, volleyball and cross country seasons until Sept. 3. The MAC said the decision that aligns those sports with the football schedule was made to “provide additional time to prepare for the safe return to competition" amid the pandemic.