The "vax-a-million" lottery appears to be working, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The program will provide million-dollar prizes to vaccinated adults and full-ride college scholarships to vaccinated minors over the course of five weekly drawings. The first winners will be announced on Wednesday evening. Already, the lottery is paying dividends. The health department says vaccine distribution is up 28% for Ohioans 16 and older since Governor DeWine first announced the lottery in his statewide speech May 12. More than a million people have entered the lottery. Tens of thousands of entries have been received for the youth scholarship drawings.
Ohio plans to drop its pandemic health orders on June 2 including a mask mandate. But the Centers for Disease Control late last week announced revised mask guidance for the vaccinated, and that led Governor DeWine to provide an update for Ohioans.
Last week, we talked about Ohio's plan to reinstitute a "work search" requirement for unemployment recipients beginning this Sunday. Also, the state will withdraw next month from the federal program that provides the extra bump of $300 per week for people on unemployment. Critics say the extra money is keeping workers from returning to jobs and creating a labor shortage. Worker advocates say that's overly simplistic, and issues such as long hours, low pay, and COVID-19-related health concerns play a big role. Now, the state is making it easier for employers to report workers whose jobs are again available, but who do not return. It's a simple form.
An issue that is getting some traction in Columbus, with actual bi-partisan support: overhauling the state's cash bail system. It is estimated that 60% of people in jail are there because they cannot post bail. Faith leaders in Ohio are pushing lawmakers to consider two bills that would abolish the death penalty here. Governor DeWine has effectively put executions in the state on hold. There has not been an execution in more than three years.
The Cleveland Browns are the driving force behind a new lakefront development plan for the city. The vision calls for connecting downtown to the lakefront by extending the grassy downtown mall over the tracks and Shoreway. The preliminary plan also includes a hotel and pedestrian promenade near FirstEnergy Stadium. The plan requires more study, and the city is asking for a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to help meet those costs.
Lisa Ryan, health reporter/producer, Ideastream
Gabriel Kramer, radio and videojournalist, Ideastream
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV