Karen Kasler

Ohio Public Radio and TV Statehouse Bureau Chief

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets.  She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.

Karen is a graduate of Otterbein College, and earned her Master’s as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Program for Mid-Career Journalists at The Ohio State University. Karen has been honored by the Associated Press, the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences/Ohio Valley Emmys, and holds a National Headliner Award. 

Ways to Connect

Bars and restaurants in Ohio closed on March 15, and the stay at home order took effect March 23. And the state is now starting to feel the financial effects of those and other restrictions imposed to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Some Ohio breweries have switched from producing alcohol to making hand sanitizer. Other companies are making or recycling medical grade masks needed by doctors and nurses on the front lines, and some have donated medical supplies. But state leaders are not just relying on the state’s businesses to meet those demands.

Over 468,000 Ohioans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks – that’s nearly a third more than the total number filed last year.  The coronavirus restrictions have been a huge blow to workers who lost their jobs, and the fallout has created a tremendous strain on the system that’s set up to help them.

Ohio has gotten all that it’s likely to get from the National Strategic Stockpile of medical supplies – a plane dropped off gowns, gloves, coveralls, face shields, surgical masks and N-95 masks in Columbus Tuesday. But the state says it’s not enough for now or through the surge of COVID-19 patients that is expected in the near future.

Backers of a planned fall ballot issue seeking to raise the minimum wage in Ohio to $13 by 2025 have filed a lawsuit, saying Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus restrictions have halted their effort.  The group says it wants more time and lowered requirements.

Nearly 200,000 Ohioans have filed unemployment claims in the last two weeks, and more are likely to need those benefits soon. But many are reporting still having problems getting through either by the phone lines or online, as the state has been struggling to keep up with a system not built for this kind of volume.

The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to Columbus-based Battelle for its full request to sterilize 80,000 N-95 surgical masks per machine per day, after issuing a letter earlier in the day permitting far less. And it comes after pressure from Ohio officials.

photo of prison bars
WIKIMEDIA

Four of 17 Ohio prison inmates from five facilities are in isolation pending results of COVID-19 tests. Thirteen of the 17 tested had negative results. The state plans to provide a daily update on testing in prisons and youth facilities.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio had asked for those daily numbers. Spokesman Gary Daniels says many people in overcrowded jails and prisons are vulnerable.

With a 30 percent increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in 24 hours and a new total of 19 deaths, new projections on the spread of coronavirus in Ohio suggest the state could be seeing 10,000 cases a day by the time it peaks.

The bill that made some changes across state law related to coronavirus also set a new ending for the Ohio primary, after polling places were shut down just hours before election day.

The legislation making changes across a variety of state policies because of coronavirus also settled an issue that lawmakers had been struggling with for months. That’s the question of how many students would qualify next school year for the state’s largest private school voucher program.

Seventeen people have been tested for coronavirus in five Ohio prisons – 13 results were negative and the rest are pending, and those inmates are in isolation. Those numbers come from a new daily update that the state is now providing on testing in prisons and youth facilities. 

In a strong showing of unity, state lawmakers have unanimously passed a bill making a lot of changes in state law related to the response to coronavirus – but they stress that they’re only temporary. The package now goes on to Gov. Mike DeWine.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 doubled from yesterday - going from three deaths announced Sunday to six today. And Gov. Mike DeWine has issued several orders to state government as it fights coronavirus, saying that he expects state revenues to go to go down dramatically.

The numbers of Ohioans filing for unemployment benefits are rising daily – so many that the state’s unemployment website was having trouble handling them. And the state is now clarifying why it will no longer do daily releases about how many people are filing jobless claims.

Gov. Mike DeWine says the state is limiting prescriptions of two drugs used for malaria and rheumatoid arthritis, after interest in those drugs spiked when President Trump tweeted out that they could be used to treat COVID-19.

OFFICE OF GOV. MIKE DEWINE

While saying it's an "absolutely crucial time", Gov. Mike DeWine said he's issuing an order for all Ohioans to stay at home starting at 11:59pm Monday - what's being called a "shelter in place" order in other states.DeWine said the order includes three parts:

The Ohio National Guard is being deployed on Monday to help with the state’s coronavirus response. But the Guard’s leader wants to make it clear what they will not be doing.

The attorney general is advising Ohio’s courts that they can suspend jury trials to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Nearly 180 charter schools will have to change how they do business or shut down under a new bipartisan bill introduced in the Ohio House. It's the latest attempt to crack down on charter schools.

A photo of Governor Mike DeWine.
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A review of how former inmates are monitored after being released from Ohio’s prisons has resulted in 11 recommendations on better policies for post-release control. That review was ordered after two 6-year-olds were killed in Dayton last year in a chase involving a police cruiser allegedly stolen by a man who’d been released from prison just 16 days before.

“It is the commitment of this administration and of the department that this will become the Bible.”

photo of Opiates
/ SHUTTERSTOCK

A deadline for local governments to sign onto the state’s effort to reach a settlement with drug companies passed over the weekend without being officially extended, but additions to the One Ohio plan apparently are still being accepted.

A significant number of counties have signed the OneOhio deal and dropped their individual suits over the opioid crisis, says Rachel Massoud with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. And she says if counties or local governments want to pass resolutions to join it, they’re encouraged to do so.

photo of ohio statehouse
Karen Kasler / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Among the possible questions voters might face on the ballot this fall is whether they want to make it harder to raise the state income tax by requiring approval from a supermajority of state lawmakers.

photo of Amy Acton and Mike DeWine
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

There are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio, but the state department of health reports three people now under investigation.  

Along with those three people under investigation, there have been seven people who were tested and are negative for the coronavirus disease COVID-19, and 255 people are or have been in self quarantine.

photo of Dave Yost
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Friday is the deadline for Ohio communities suing drugmakers and distributors to decide to continue with their lawsuits or join the state’s effort to reach what’s likely to be a massive settlement over the opioid crisis. 

Attorney General Dave Yost says there are several communities that haven’t yet had a chance to meet and discuss the One Ohio proposal, which he says would find its strength in numbers.

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