Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, April 8:
- Plain Dealer will no longer cover Cleveland;
- State alters graduation requirements;
- Brown endorses Biden for president;
- Restaurants allowed to sell alcohol during pandemic;
- Ohio confirms 4,800 COVID-19 cases;
- Medina senior living facility confirms 4 residents with COVID-19;
- College of Wooster drops test requirements for fall admission;
- Strong storms cause outages, tornado warnings overnight;
- DeWine considers release of 141 inmates;
Plain Dealer will no longer cover Cleveland
The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper will no longer cover Cleveland, Cuyahoga and Summit counties, or statewide issues. It comes on the heels of 22 reporters who were laid off on Friday. Editor Tim Warsinskey says the newsroom's 14 remaining reporters will serve outlying areas of Lake, Geauga, Lorain, Medina and Portage counties. That moves several staff members off longtime beats including education, real estate, investigative and arts reporting. Four staff members would continue on their local beats. The News Guild alleges the move is meant to punish union members and calls it a loss for the community. Staff at its sister outlet Cleveland.com will take over the Plain Dealer beats. No layoffs have been announced for Cleveland.com.
State alters graduation requirements
The Ohio Department of Education has released new graduation guidelines in the wake of the pandemic. Prior to the outbreak, the class of 2020 had three pathways to graduate along with two alternative routes. Now that state tests have been canceled and a stay-at-home order in place, the state indicates seniors can graduate if they've successfully completed required courses and are on track to graduate. The state said the student’s principal, teachers, and counselors should decide if those requirements have been met. Gov. Mike DeWine extended his school building closure through May 1.
Brown endorses Biden for president
Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is endorsing Joe Biden for president. Brown had said he would wait until the primaries were over to announce his decision, but cited the pressures of a worsening economy amid the pandemic. In a statement, Brown said he believes Biden can help lead the nation through a crisis and can empathize with blue-collared workers.
Restaurants allowed to sell alcohol during pandemic
All Ohio restaurants with a liquor license are now able to sell alcohol to customers. The Ohio Division of Liquor Control has approved the sale of up to two prepackaged drinks. Gov. Mike DeWine said restaurants requested the move to generate more business during the pandemic. Last month, DeWine ordered all dine-in restaurants to close and shift to delivery or carry-out only. Liquor sales skyrocketed last month to about $125 million — a nearly 30% increase over the same month last year.
Ohio confirms 4,800 COVID-19 cases
Ohio has confirmed nearly 4,800 cases of COVID-19 and 167 deaths. That's a 7% increase from Monday. More than 1,300 are hospitalized and 30% have been admitted to the ICU. Cuyahoga and Mahoning counties have reported the most deaths with 19 each. There's nearly 40 confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the state.
Medina senior living facility confirms 4 residents with COVID-19
A Medina senior living community has confirmed four residents tested positive for COVID-19. The Beacon Journal reports the Western Reserve Masonic Community is working with state and local health departments to contact those who were possibly affected. The facility said they're taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the disease, such as not letting staff members cross from one area to the next. Employees are also wearing gowns, N95 masks and gloves at all times. Altercare Integrated Health Services in Stark County reported four resident deaths from COVID-19 last week.
College of Wooster drops test requirements for fall admission
The College of Wooster is joining others in the state in dropping SAT or ACT scores for consideration for fall admission. Eligibility for the college’s academic and merit-based scholarships won't be affected if students decide not to take the tests. Other Ohio schools have made the same decision, including Kent State, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Akron.
Strong storms cause outages, tornado warnings overnight
Roughly 100,000 people were without power overnight after strong storms swept the region. The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for parts of several counties, including Summit, Lorain and Medina. Some of the storms produced up to 70 mile per hour wind gusts and large hail. No tornado touch downs have been reported.
DeWine considers release of 141 inmates
Gov. Mike DeWine plans to release 141 inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state's prisons. The inmates being considered for release are nonviolent offenders whose sentence has almost been completed. Those who are at high-risk for the disease might also be released. DeWine has asked local judges to waive the required 60-day notice for release. Fourteen Ohio inmates have tested positive for the virus so far, and more than 7,000 are in quarantine. Among inmates who could be released early is a former Republican fundraiser convicted in a state investment scandal: Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe. He was the central figure in the scandal that engulfed Ohio’s Republicans in 2005. The investigation led to 19 convictions that reached up to then-Ohio Gov. Bob Taft. DeWine said the Ohio Parole Board will decide whether to release Noe and 25 other inmates who are over 60 and have medical problems that could make them vulnerable to the virus.