Just in time for the beginning of the holiday season, Ohio's top doctor says coronavirus case numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Both case numbers and hospitalizations are up. Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says the delta variant-that drove the previous spike-appears to have new momentum and a "second wind." The increasing cases comes as millions prepare to travel and gather together for Thanksgiving. Health experts are concerned that holiday gatherings could drive another spike in cases.
As the Ohio Department of Health gave its pandemic update yesterday, lawmakers in an Ohio House committee moved ahead with a bill that would prevent COVID-19 vaccine mandates, vaccine passports and broaden exemptions. The full Ohio House later voted to approve the bill, but the vote was not veto-proof. Last month the House Speaker said he wanted to move on from anti-vaccine mandate legislation because the Republican caucus could not reach a consensus.
The Ohio House has passed a new congressional district map for the state that heavily favors Republicans. The vote for the map was 55 to 38. The map now goes to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
The map carves the state into 15 congressional districts. Ohio is losing one district as a result of the 2020 Census.
The maps passed without bi-partisan support. This means the maps will be in effect for four years rather than 10.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid overdose epidemic never went away. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 100,000 people died of drug overdose between April 2020 and April 2021. Those deaths are being driven by fentanyl and also by methamphetamines, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Ohio's numbers were also grim. Over the same period, drug overdose deaths in the state increased by more than 26%.
The Ohio House has passed two gun-related bills that change current law on the books. One lowers the training required for teachers and school personnel to carry a firearm on school grounds from 700 hours to 20. The other drops the training and licensing requirement for someone to carry a concealed weapon in public.
Cleveland's baseball team is now the Guardians. The team put the first merchandise for the new nickname on sale Friday morning. New gear is being sold both online and in-person at the Guardians team store at Progressive Field. The merchandise sale date had to be moved back due to a lawsuit challenging the name. But the Guardians baseball team and the Guardians roller derby team settled the suit amicably. Both clubs will share the nickname.
Marlene Harris-Taylor, Managing Producer for Health, Ideastream Public Media
Glenn Forbes, Host-Producer, Ideastream Public Media
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV