Food banks seek emergency funding; inmate release considered


By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS - Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. Mike DeWine is recommending the early release of 38 prison inmates, including some who are pregnant, and the Ohio Association of Foodbanks is asking for $25 million in emergency state assistance.

A look at coronavirus-related developments in Ohio on Friday:

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ECONOMY

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks asked for $25 million in emergency state assistance to respond to record-breaking requests for food distribution. Executive Director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt also encouraged private monetary contributions and urged Ohioans to stop hoarding food.

“If you have enough, please make sure that your family, friends and neighbors have the food that they need,” Hamler-Fugitt said. “Hunger is just six doors away, and it looks a whole lot like you and me.”

Food bank operators say as many as one in three clients are new to the food bank system since the pandemic hit.

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CARE

Ohio University’s medical school is deploying about 250 third-year students to local health agencies to assist in efforts to contain the pandemic.

DeWine announced that Ohio State University and the state Health Department are working to boost made-in-Ohio supplies of coronavirus testing swabs, tubes and transport liquids.

“Because of supply chain problems, we can’t always get the swabs and tubes and transport liquid, and there is also a shortage in the chemicals or reagents necessary to run the tests,” said Governor DeWine at the news conference. “Through this new partnership, we are working to get these resources and provide them to those conducting the testing.”

Chemical Abstracts Service, a Columbus-based chemical research clearinghouse, has released an open access dataset of chemical compounds with known or potential antiviral activity to help support research, data mining and analytics applications involving COVID-19. The nearly 50,000 chemical substances extracted from the clearinghouse’s proprietary registry of compounds are now available for download by scientists and other researchers.

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CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES

In a series of letters to local judges, DeWine is recommending that 23 female prison inmates who are pregnant or have a child with them behind bars, and 15 inmates over the age of 60 with upcoming release dates, be considered for early release.

Six inmates from a single Cuyahoga County Corrections Center housing unit in Cleveland have tested positive and two inmates have suspected cases of COVID-19. All eight have been isolated.

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CASES

More than 3,300 Ohio cases are confirmed, with 91 deaths as of Friday — with ages of positive cases ranging from less than a year old to 101 — and nearly 900 people hospitalized, officials reported. That doesn’t reflect all cases in Ohio, because the state limits testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center said it has employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. It didn’t provide more details.

For most people, COVID-19 displays mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can be more severe, causing pneumonia or death.

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THE NEW NORMAL

The crisis is beginning to take down summer festivals, among them southern Ohio’s Washboard Fest in Logan, the Columbus Arts Festival, and western Ohio’s Troy Strawberry Festival, which all were scheduled for June and announced cancellations or postponements.

Wayne National Forest in eastern Ohio temporarily closed its developed campgrounds and prohibited all camping at trailheads. The state closed Hocking Hills State Park, home to Old Man’s Cave, because trails are too narrow for social distancing.

Shawnee State University in Portsmouth joined numerous universities in announcing a virtual graduation, on May 9, with an in-person opportunity in December, the Portsmouth Daily Times reported.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is thanking its workers by lighting bridges in red, white and blue, including the George V. Voinovich Bridge in Cleveland, the Veterans Glass City Skyway in Toledo, and the Ashtabula Harbor Bridge. ODOT also says traffic is down nearly 60% across the state since March 29.

Most houses of worship have stopped in-person gatherings, including Roman Catholics, whose Ohio bishops this week suspended all services through May 3.

“The church is not the building,” said the Rev. Derek Terry of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, speaking of his decision to move services online, according to WCPO-TV.

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Additional updates provided by the Office of Governor Mike DeWine included:

N95 MASK SANITIZING

Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced today that Battelle and JobsOhio have partnered to provide free N95 mask sanitizing for hospitals for the next two weeks.

Last week, after urging from Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of new Battelle technology to sanitize these masks for reuse.

Ohio still faces a critical shortage of PPE. Anyone with items to donate should email together@governor.ohio.gov. Manufacturers that may be able to temporarily repurpose to create PPE are asked to visit repurposingproject.com.

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NEW EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE:

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) today released a special guide to help schools, educators, students, parents, and caregivers as they navigate remote learning.

The new Remote Learning Resource Guide will support the ability of each child to carry on learning during this time of social distancing.

ODE consulted with educators across Ohio as they compiled the remote learning guide and incorporated their best advice for finding remote-learning information and how to use it.

The guide includes online learning resources, as well as several less technical resources.

The guide is available on the Ohio Department of Education’s website and on coronavirus.ohio.gov.

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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Associated Press writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati, Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, and Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this report.

Additional information provided by the Office of Governor Mike DeWine.

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS

Associated Press