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Morning Headlines: 84 of Ohio’s 88 Counties Remain on Red Alert for COVID-19; GOP's Rep. Jim Jordan Won't Seek Portman's Senate Seat

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OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
All but four of Ohio’s 88 counties are on red alert for the spread of the coronavirus this week, despite continuing declines in cases and hospitalizations. The only change from last week was Hamilton County improving from purple to red.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, January 29:

  • 84 of Ohio’s 88 counties remain on red alert for COVID-19
  • GOP's Rep. Jim Jordan won't seek Portman's Senate seat
  • Columbus police chief forced out in wake of Andre Hill killing
  • HUD nominee Fudge pledges action to prevent home loss in pandemic
  • New electric truck maker to finish first prototypes in March
  • 100,000 Ohioans can apply for extended unemployment benefits this weekend
  • Amur tiger cubs born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

84 of Ohio’s 88 counties remain on red alert for COVID-19
All but four of Ohio’s 88 counties are on red alert for the spread of the coronavirus this week, despite continuing declines in cases and hospitalizations. The only change from last week was Hamilton County improving from purple to red. The state, meanwhile, surpassed 11,000 total COVID-19 deaths on Thursday. State data shows about 8% of Ohio’s adults have now received vaccinations. A county-by-county breakdown of Ohio's 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's website.

GOP's Rep. Jim Jordan won't seek Portman's Senate seat
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH 4), a fiery Donald Trump supporter, won’t run to succeed Sen. Rob Portman, who announced this week he isn’t going to seek a third term in 2022. The eight-term congressman’s name surfaced soon after Portman’s announcement as a potential strong contender in what’s expected to be a crowded GOP field. Six-term Rep. Bill Johnson, from heavily pro-Trump southeast Ohio, former Rep. Jim Renacci and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, and at least two current Ohio Cabinet officials are viewed as potential GOP candidates.

Columbus police chief forced out in wake of Andre Hill killing
The mayor of Columbus has forced out the police chief amid cries of racial injustice and continued anger over the killing of Andre Hill. Andrew Ginther announced the removal Thursday of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan. Ginther said it had become clear to him that Quinlan could not implement the changes that Ginther wanted. Ginther said Columbus residents have lost faith in Quinlan and the police department's ability to change by itself. Quinlan said while he hoped to remain in the position, he respects the decision.

HUD nominee Fudge pledges action to prevent home loss in pandemic
Housing secretary nominee and Cleveland-area Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH 11) has told senators that she'd take “extraordinary actions” to prevent people from losing their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fudge is championing homeownership as a classically American “ticket to the middle class” and endorsing federal financial assistance to expand the ranks of minority homeowners. But during her appearance before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Fudge said her most immediate priority, if confirmed for President Joe Biden’s Cabinet, would be protecting the millions of people who have fallen behind on rent or mortgages due to loss of income during the pandemic.

New electric truck maker to finish first prototypes in March
An upstart electric vehicle maker near Youngstown says it expects to complete the prototypes of its new pickup truck in March. Lordstown Motors also said Thursday that it remains on target to start full production of the Endurance trucks in the fall. That work will take place at the former General Motors assembly plant. Lordstown Motors acquired the plant from GM in 2019 after the automaker shut down production there. The startup says it will hire hundreds of people to build the first line of Endurance trucks. But its long-term plan is to add thousands of jobs.

100K Ohioans can apply for extended unemployment benefits this weekend
The state says it’s finishing a system update that will allow around 100,000 more Ohioans to begin claiming unemployment benefits this weekend. The updates were required as part of the stimulus bill passed by Congress to allow people who exhausted their benefits to receive up to an additional 11 weeks of checks, along with an extra $300 a week. New applications for the assistance will open Feb. 6. Starting Feb. 19, applications should open for those who exhausted their benefits before the initial stimulus expired on Dec. 27. Meanwhile, the state says Ohioans filed nearly 50,000 initial jobless claims for the week ending Jan. 23, a 16% jump from the previous week. Details about Ohio unemployment benefits can be found here.

Amur tiger cubs born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is now home to two Amur tiger cubs, the first born there in 20 years. They’re expected to be on display in the next few months. Amur tigers are an endangered species, with just about 500 in their native region of the far eastern side of Russia and northeastern China.