Morning Headlines: Walsh Offers Free Housing for Freshmen; 800 COVID-19 Test Kits Damaged

May 14, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, May 14: 

  • Walsh University offers free housing for freshmen;
  • Nearly 800 COVID-19 test kits damaged;
  • Akron scales back road paving, construction projects;
  • Ohio Democrats speak out about House floor safety;
  • Ohio high court: Law on 'school takeovers' is constitutional;
  • Shuttered casinos, racinos sink Ohio's gambling revenues;
  • State bar exam moved to fall;
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo considers drive-thru exhibits;
  • Ohio to distribute that's affective against coronavirus;
  • Ohio school districts draft plans to reopen;
  • State fails to post nursing home COVID-19 cases as promised;
  • State coronavirus cases grow toward 26,000;

Walsh University offers free housing for freshmen
A small Stark County private college says it’s planning for students to be back on campus this fall. Walsh University says it formed a task force and is working with local hospitals on ways to reopen safely. Walsh will offer free housing for freshmen and transfer students for the first eight weeks, and will expand a tuition freeze. It will also shorten the semester from 15 weeks to eight. Classes will be both in person and online. Other schools including Kent State and Akron have yet to announce their plans for the fall.

Nearly 800 COVID-19 test kits damaged
Summit County officials said hundreds of coronavirus test kits arrived damaged and unusable. The Beacon Journal reports nearly 800 kits were exposed to above normal temperatures during shipment. The Ohio Department of Health will file a damage claim. The Summit County health department has nearly 2,800 kits on hand and more than 300 have been sent for processing.

Akron scales back road paving, construction projects
Akron is scaling back road resurfacing projects and postponing a firehouse reconstruction to offset revenue declines caused by the coronavirus. The city will reduce its paving budget by a third and many residential roads will be redone next year. A project to rebuild a fire station in the Wallhaven neighborhood using income tax dollars is on hold until next year. The city projects a 20% drop in income tax revenue.

Ohio Democrats speak out about House floor safety
Democrats in the Ohio House are accusing Republican leadership of failing to provide a safe workplace while they vote on bills in the Ohio Statehouse. Democrats expressed their dissatisfaction with House Speaker Larry Householder and his decision to allow all 98 representatives to be on the House floor at the same time. They also said some lawmakers weren’t wearing masks. Householder said everyone was set six feet apart, and that getting all elected officials into the same room was a matter of fairness.

Ohio high court: Law on 'school takeovers' is constitutional
The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a law that changed how the state intervenes in repeatedly poor-performing school districts. It ruled Wednesday that the law enabling state-appointed academic distress commissions to take over operational control of such districts is constitutional. The court also rejected arguments that lawmakers skirted a procedural rule about repeated legislative consideration when the changes were pushed through in one day in 2015. A lawyer who argued the challenge by the Youngstown school board and school employees’ unions said they worry the ruling opens the door for lawmakers to use similar tactics to pass other legislation with limited opportunity for public input.

Shuttered casinos, racinos sink Ohio's gambling revenues
Gambling revenue at Ohio’s 11 casinos and racinos is down about $229 million for the first four months of the year compared to the same quarter last year. The industry started the year with a roar, setting monthly records in January and February. But things changed when the sites across the state were shuttered in March. Revenues for Jack Cleveland Casino and Thistledown and MGM Northfield Park racinos are all down about 35% for the first four months of the year.

State bar exam moved to fall
This summer's state bar exam for law students has been postponed. It will now be administered in September because of COVID-19 concerns. Students have petitioned the Supreme Court and asked for "diploma privilege" to allow them to practice law with their juris doctorate degrees. 

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo considers drive-thru exhibits
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is considering drive-thru exhibits as it explores how to reopen. Cleveland.com reports people would be required to stay in their cars and have access to curbside food and gift shop. The zoo is asking the public to fill out a survey about what to call the format, such as Wild Ride. The Metroparks has furloughed or cut pay for 650 workers because of the pandemic.

Ohio to distribute drug that's affective against coronavirus
Ohio is getting a supply of a drug shown to be effective against the coronavirus. The Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for remdesivir, which can shorten the effects of COVID-19. Ohio has enough for 100 patients, and it's up to health officials and hospitals to determine who gets it. The FDA has not labeled it as an official treatment for COVID-19.

Ohio school districts draft plans to reopen
Ohio schools are drafting plans to reopen this fall, including temperature checks, hand sanitizing stations and mandated face masks. Cleveland.com reports other ideas include spacing desks and limiting or prohibiting visitors. It's ultimately up to each district to determine how to operate. Many are considering a blended curriculum of in-person and remote classes

Ohio fails to update nursing home COVID-19 cases as promised
The Ohio Department of Health has yet to provide this week's latest coronavirus data for nursing homes. It's expected to be posted on the website weekly and Cleveland.com reports a spokeswoman said that was again the plan on Wednesday. As of last week, nearly 500 residents and staff have tested positive at facilities statewide. 

State coronavirus cases grow toward 26,000
The state has more than 25,700 total confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday and nearly 1,500 deaths. Cleveland.com reports data from the Ohio Hospital Association said the number of coronavirus patients in reporting hospitals across the state fell below 1,000 for the first time in weeks.