Morning Headlines: UA Faculty Take Aim at Athletics Amid Layoffs; Cuyahoga Libraries Reopen

Jul 7, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, July 7:

  • UA faculty take aim at athletics amid looming layoffs
  • Cleveland lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19
  • Ohio University study shows skyrocketing suicide rates
  • Ohioans to get an extra 20 weeks of unemployment benefits
  • Ohio Secretary of State issues November election directives
  • Cuyahoga library branches reopen, Columbus hits pause
  • Native American groups issue statement on Indians team name
  • Governor's company receives loan from virus aid program
  • Lake Erie water levels recede from record-high level
  • PGA Tour, Memorial scrap plans to have limited spectators

UA faculty take aim at athletics amid looming layoffs
With staffing cuts and furloughs looming this month, University of Akron faculty are repeating calls to prioritize academics over sports to meet steep budget shortfalls. In a detailed letter, the union representing faculty laid out their arguments for reducing the sports budget. The union says Akron spends around $26 million per year on athletics and debt for its football stadium, and that moving from Division I to Division II – could bring around $20 million in savings. The university responded Monday, arguing it has already dropped three sports teams as part of $4.4 million in cuts to the athletic budget, and that leaving the Mid-American Conference would cost Akron $18 million and millions more in revenue. Administrators are considering deep staffing cuts to fill a $65 million budget hole. 

Cleveland lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19
A Cleveland state lawmaker says she tested positive for COVID-19. State Representative Stephanie Howse made the statement in a video posted to Twitter. She said her symptoms were mild, which included cough, loss of taste and loss of smell. The Ohio House of Representatives last met on June 11 and Howse contacted the Ohio House’s human resources director and those she had been around in the past two weeks. She is the first Ohio lawmaker to announce she had the disease.  

Ohio University study shows skyrocketing suicide rates
new study from Ohio University shows the state's suicide rate has soared over the last decade. The study found that 37 of the 88 counties now surpass the national rate, and the coronavirus pandemic likely is triggering a “staggering” increase in such deaths. Suicide deaths have risen precipitously in Ohio, increasing by 34 percent over the 10 years from 2009 to 2018. Nearly five people die by suicide every day in Ohio, and men account for almost four out of every five suicide deaths. The counties with the most suicides are in rural Ohio where there is less access to healthcare and resources. 

Ohioans to get an extra 20 weeks of unemployment benefits
An extra 20 weeks of unemployment compensation will be made available to eligible Ohioans once they have exhausted their other benefits. Bret Crow with Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says the state’s unemployment is high enough that some Ohioans will be able to get an extension. Crow says there’s no extension of the $600 weekly benefit paid for those receiving traditional unemployment. That expires later this month. He says the department will be notifying Ohioans who are eligible for assistance under this program.

Ohio Secretary of State issues November election directives
Ohio has more of an idea about what November’s election will look like now that the state’s election chief has handed down a directive outlining details to Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections. Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s directive tells local boards to print additional ballots, get plenty of personal protective equipment and increase staff and poll workers. The secretary of state’s office will send absentee ballot applications to about 8 million registered voters in the state. Ohio elections officials must email or call voters who haven’t provided all the necessary information on absentee ballots for the general election in November, not just send them a notice in the mail.

Cuyahoga library branches reopen, Columbus hits pause
The Cuyahoga County Public Library reopened all 27 of its branches this week with limited capacity. The library has expanded curbside service to all branches, helping distribute the more than 40,000 items that were placed on hold while the libraries were closed amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Columbus Metropolitan Library has ended its limited reopening that had been taking place at about half of its branches due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. It's continuing curbside service.

Native American groups issue statement on Indians team name
Four Northeast Ohio Native American organizations are supporting a new name for the Cleveland Indians. The American Indian Movement of Ohio, the Lake Erie Professional Chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance, and the Lake Erie Native American Council issued a statement on Monday encouraging the team to change the name and “eliminate harmful and racist Native American sports mascots, names, and imagery.” The Indians on Friday said they would explore the idea.

Governor's company receives loan from virus aid program
A company partly owned by Gov. Mike DeWine is among those that received loans from a coronavirus aid program. DeWine Seeds-Silver Dollar Baseball received a loan under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for a range of $150,000 to $350,000. The company owns the North Carolina minor league baseball team, the Asheville Tourists, which was purchased by the governor’s family in 2010. The Paycheck Protection Program’s objective is to help smaller businesses stay open and keep Americans employed during the pandemic.

Lake Erie water levels recede from record-high level

Lake Erie water levels have dropped below a record-high level in June. Cleveland.com reports a dry June caused Lake Erie to rise less than an inch from its record-setting May 24 level of nearly 575 feet above sea level. That’s 29 inches above average. The current forecast projects water levels to be 2 to 4 inches below last year’s levels for the rest of 2020.

PGA Tour, Memorial scrap plans to have limited spectators
The PGA Tour and the Memorial have scrapped state-approved plans to have limited spectators next week in Ohio. The Memorial was scheduled to be the first tournament with spectators since golf returned from the COVID-19 pandemic-caused shutdown. Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine approved a plan for there to be 20% capacity at Muirfield Village. The tour said rapidly changing dynamics of the pandemic caused that to change. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan says golf needs to stay focused on health and safety. Muirfield Village is hosting back-to-back events. The Workday Charity Open this week was not planning on having fans.