Morning Headlines: Ohio Schools COVID-19 Update; Events Canceled Over Coronavirus Concerns

Mar 11, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, March 11:

  • Ohio schools COVID-19 update;
  • Events canceled over coronavirus concerns;
  • Ashland University students self-quarantine;
  • UH caregivers may have been exposed to COVID-19;
  • Counties move polling locations out of nursing homes; 
  • Brown introduces bill for sick leave during public health emergencies;
  • Ohio AG rejects petition language for recreational pot issue;
  • Down syndrome abortion fight in Ohio takes legal twist;

Ohio schools COVID-19 update
Nearly a dozen Northeast Ohio colleges and universities have suspended in-person classes amid COVID-19 concerns, including Kent State, Akron, Ashland, Case Western Reserve and Baldwin Wallace. Schools are either extending spring break or moving classes online until mid-April. At Kent State, school officials are encouraging students to go home, but will keep residence halls and at least one dining hall open. Many have canceled events until in-person classes resume. Three cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Cuyahoga County earlier this week. Oberlin College is telling students to take home valuables and class materials to prepare for the possibility of remote instruction after spring recess. Classes will end two days earlier than expected on March 18. A decision about whether face-to-face classes are canceled will be made by March 25. Click the links below for each university's respective coronavirus FAQ pages.

Akron’s STEM High School and its Early College High School are both located on the University of Akron's campus and will be closed Wednesday. Both schools will reopen Thursday for online classes only. Bio-Med Science Academy, NIHF STEM High School, Ganon Gil Preschool and Gross Schechter Day School will also be closed Wednesday.

Twinsburg City Schools, Vermilion Local Schools and Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools will be closed Friday. St. Rita Elementary is closed Wednesday through Friday. 

Events canceled over coronavirus concerns
Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden canceled their primary-night rallies in Cleveland amid concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus Tuesday night. The Democratic National Committee also announced that the next debate, being held Sunday in Arizona, will not have a live audience “at the request of both campaigns and out of an abundance of caution.” The moves suggest the coronavirus could upend the Democratic primary at a pivotal time in the race for both candidates.

The sports world is also reacting to the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Mike DeWine recommended Tuesday that sporting events taking place indoors occur with no spectators. The Cavaliers' next home game is March 24. The Cavs and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse issued a statement, however, saying that the Cleveland Monsters hockey game will "be played with regular fan access" Sunday despite DeWine’s recommendation. The Cavaliers said they "will continue the monitor the situation in real time." The NBA, along with MLB, MLS and the NHL banned media from locker-room access Monday.

Spectators are not allowed to attend the Mid-American Conference women’s and men’s basketball championships starting Wednesday through Saturday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Only credentialed personnel, student-athlete family members and credentialed news outlets are allowed. Tickets will be refunded in the form of a credit for next year’s tournament or a full refund. 

The Ohio High School Athletic Association will proceed with its boys and girls basketball and wrestling tournaments the next two weeks but with limited attendance.

Ashland University students self-quarantine
A group of students at Ashland University may have been exposed to COVID-19. The Daily Record reports health officials believe the students went to a conference in Maryland and had contact with one of Ohio's confirmed COVID-19 patients. It's unknown how many students are involved. They're cooperating with the Ohio Department of Health and are in self-quarantine. Ashland University announced Tuesday night it's suspending all in-person classes and moving them online until mid-April to help prevent the spread of the disease.

UH caregivers may have been exposed to COVID-19
Six caregivers from University Hospitals (UH) who were in contact with the three confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio are self-quarantining. UH said they are being monitored for symptoms. The three patients first went to their primary care doctors and then were sent to UH Cleveland Medical Center's emergency room. The COVID-19 tests for the caregivers are pending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone who had possible exposure to someone with COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days and call their doctor.

Counties move polling locations out of nursing homes
Summit and Cuyahoga counties have moved a total of 46 polling locations out of nursing homes ahead of Ohio's March 17 primary. The decision comes amid the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio. Three cases have been confirmed, and 15 are being tested. Summit County voters whose poll locations have changed will receive a bright orange card in the mail. Click here for the list of locations that have changed so far. New locations in Cuyahoga County haven't been determined, but Cleveland.com reports the change will affect more than 47,000 voters. Elections officials encourage voters to check their polling location at the Ohio Secretary of State's website before the primary.

Brown introduces bill for sick leave during public health emergencies
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has introduced a bill that would give workers paid sick days during public health emergencies like the coronavirus outbreak without losing jobs or paychecks. Cleveland.com reports the bill would require all employers to let workers have seven days of paid sick leave. They would also have to provide an additional 14 days in the event of a public health emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 700 cases of COVID-19 have been reported nationwide, including three in Ohio.

Ohio AG rejects petition language for recreational pot issue
The Ohio attorney general has rejected petition language for a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana. Attorney General Dave Yost said Tuesday the petition submitted last week fails to include information that's listed in the proposed amendment. The measure titled “An Amendment to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” would allow people 21 and over to buy, possess and consume limited amounts of marijuana and to grow up to six plants. Backers want the issue on the November ballot. Recreational marijuana use is currently legal in 11 states. Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries began opening in January 2019.

Down syndrome abortion fight in Ohio takes legal twist
A federal court in Cincinnati will hear complex legal arguments for and against Ohio's Down syndrome abortion ban Wednesday. The case is viewed as pivotal in the national debate over the procedure. The government will argue before the full U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that the sidelined 2017 law doesn't actually ban any abortions. They say it impedes doctors, not pregnant women. A group of mothers whose children have Down syndrome argues the so-called Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act actually discriminates against their children, singling out their fetal anomaly over many others in order to politicize the issue.