Morning Headlines: Southwest Ohio Sees Rise in Covid-19 Cases; Ohio Casinos Reopen

Jun 19, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, June 19:

  • "Worrisome" rise in southwestern Ohio coronavirus cases
  • Warrants issued for suspects in Na'kia Crawford murder
  • Columbus statue to be removed from namesake city
  • Voting ballot campaign suspended after signature fight
  • Ohio sitting on four million hydroxychloroquine pills
  • Nursing home residents still majority of coronavirus deaths
  • Ohio Casinos set to reopen this morning
  • Ohio may force GM to repay $60M after it shut down plant
  • Cleveland approves $300-million funding for Sherwin-Williams new headquarters
  • Ohio House introduces resolution to make Juneteenth a paid federal holiday
  • Covid-19 pop-up testing site open in Elyria today

"Worrisome" rise in southwestern Ohio coronavirus cases
Gov. Mike DeWine has announced a “worrisome” rise of coronavirus cases in southwestern Ohio, including in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas. DeWine says the increases come from spikes in nursing homes, distribution centers and churches, among other places. DeWine said he's in contact with local doctors and mayors and the Ohio National Guard will begin widespread testing in the area. The counties in question are Clark, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Warren.

Warrants issued for suspects in Na'kia Crawford murder
Akron police have issued three warrants for suspects they say were involved in the murder of 18-year old Na’kia Crawford. The recent North High School graduate was shot to death last Sunday afternoon in her car while stopped at a red light. Police say Adarus Black, 17, of Lakemore will be charged with murder. Jaion Bivins of Akron, 18, is expected to turn himself in to face obstruction charges, along with Janisha George, 24, of Tallmadge. Police say the suspects did not know Crawford. Meanwhile, people gathered Thursday morning to paint a giant “Black Lives Matter” message on Akron’s Howard Street near the intersection where Crawford was killed.

Columbus statue to be removed from namesake city
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says a statue of Christopher Columbus will be removed from the Ohio city named after him. The statue located by City Hall will be removed immediately and placed in storage. There has long been debate across the nation over the explorer’s legacy, with some calling him a symbol of the conquest and subjugation of indigenous people.

Voting ballot campaign suspended after signature fight
Backers of a ballot proposal that aimed to modernize Ohio’s election laws to make voting easier have suspended their campaign. Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections cited its inability to collect signatures during the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement Thursday came a day after the group's protracted legal fight to make November’s ballot made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ohio sitting on four million hydroxychloroquine pills 
Ohio is sitting on a stockpile of an anti-malaria drug thought to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The Columbus Dispatch reports The Ohio Department of Health ordered four million hydroxychloroquine pills for around $600,000 back in April. Another two million were donated to the state. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday recommended against hydroxychloroquine, saying the side effects -- which can include heart problems -- outweigh any potential benefits. The state could sell and distribute the stockpile like any other wholesaler. But the Dispatch reports it hopes to return the purchased pills. 

Nursing home residents still majority of coronavirus deaths
New data shows that coronavirus deaths in nursing homes continue to make up the vast majority of pandemic fatalities in Ohio. Wednesday marks at least the fifth week in a row that seven of every 10 COVID-19 deaths have involved long-term care residents. Health Department statistics say 1,860 nursing home residents have died since the pandemic began. The governor has ordered teams of National Guard medical personnel into nursing homes to ramp up testing.

Ohio Casinos set to reopen this morning
Ohio's casinos and racinos are reopening under Gov. Mike DeWine's orders. JACK Cleveland Casino and Thistledown Racino open their doors this morning. MGM Northfield opens Saturday. Gaming floors have been reconfigured to allow for social distancing. Machines have been moved or disabled to provide at least a 6-foot distance between players. Table game players are required to wear masks, which the facilities will supply.

Ohio may force GM to repay $60M after it shut down plant
Ohio officials are weighing whether to force General Motors to repay $60 million in public incentives after it shut down its Lords town assembly plant. The issue is centered on an economic development agreement that gave GM millions in tax breaks in exchange for a promise to keep the plant operating at least through 2027. But GM closed the plant last year. GM later decided to build a new electric battery cell factory in the same area, but it will have far fewer jobs.

Cleveland approves $300-million funding for Sherwin-Williams new headquarters
Cleveland City Council this week approved tax financing to help Sherwin-Williams develop a $300-million world headquarters near Public Square. The package will allow the global paint company to divert money it would have paid in new property taxes toward financing of the building. The complex is expected to retain more than 3,000 jobs downtown and generate about $8.6 million in income taxes for the city annually. The company hopes to move into the new headquarters by 2023. The project is also receiving about $50 million from Cuyahoga County and JobsOhio.

Ohio House introduces resolution to make Juneteenth a paid federal holiday
Today is Juneteenth, and a resolution was introduced in the Ohio House Thursday to declare June 19 a paid federal holiday in Ohio. It commemorates the date in 1865 which Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that the Civil War had ended and all those still enslaved were to be free. There are celebrations planned across Northeast Ohio including events at Hardesty Park and Lock 4 throughout Akron today, and an NAACP Freedom walk in Cleveland steps off Saturday at 11 a.m. at Benedictine High School.

Covid-19 pop-up testing site open in Elyria today
The Ohio Department of Health is offering a COVID-19 pop-up testing site today in Elyria. Anyone can get a free test and no appointment or doctor's referral is needed at city hall. It's open from 9 -3 p.m. The state says other regional pop-up testing sites will be announced soon.