Ohio Guard to distribute food; unemployment claims top 100K


By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has activated 300 members of the Ohio National Guard to help ensure needy communities get food, while the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it received 111,055 unemployment insurance benefit applications online in the past four days. A look at coronavirus-related developments in Ohio on Thursday.

CASES

The state has nearly 120 confirmed cases of the virus, with 33 hospitalizations. The state is limiting testing to those who are hospitalized and to healthcare workers. The Ohio Health Department says people with suspected symptoms should call a medical provider first, but seek immediate help if symptoms are serious, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

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ELECTIONS

As the Ohio Supreme Court hears a challenge to Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s decision to move the primary to June 2, Justice Pat DeWine — the son of Gov. Mike DeWine — removed himself from the case.

Voting rights groups demanded that LaRose allow registration of new voters ahead of the June 2 date, saying prohibiting such registration violates federal law and the Ohio Constitution. A LaRose spokeswoman responded that the election was simply extended for people who had already registered by the normal deadline, not rescheduled, which might allow for new registrations.

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JOBS

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it received 111,055 unemployment insurance benefit applications online in the past four days, compared to 3,895 during the same four days last week.

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THE NEW REALITY

DeWine activated the National Guard members to package, transport and distribute food in needy communities, including rural areas. DeWine also urged all Ohioans to fly the flag as a show of faith. Grocery stores, including Cincinnati-based Kroger, have reduced hours to allow for overnight cleaning and restocking, as mornings often bring shopping surges.

The state is making it easier for more doctors in more specialty areas to provide consultations online or over the phone. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is urging courts to put off trials when possible, lower bonds to reduce jail populations and conduct hearings by video. She’s making $4 million available for courts to add video conferencing.

The central Ohio bus system suspended fares and asked riders to enter through the rear door. Clermont County in southwestern Ohio delayed jury trials for 30 days. Police in Wellston in southeastern Ohio joined several departments in taking non-emergency reports over the phone. Cuyahoga County will begin issuing marriage licences online.

The Ohio Natural Resources Department temporarily closed the state’s nine lodges, while Attorney General Dave Yost warned against scams such as groups offering a coronavirus cure or vaccine.

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IT TAKES A VILLAGE

“Obviously times are tough, and we were brainstorming a lot of ideas.”

— Chad Gill, assistant manager at Lindey’s restaurant in Columbus, on the decision to include a roll of toilet paper with every carryout order, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Associated Press writers Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, John Seewer in Toledo and Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this report.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press