Judge: Legitimate cause to limit Ohio businesses amid virus


By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge gave Ohio officials an early victory in a lawsuit challenging the shuttering of nonessential employers in response to the pandemic.

The judge rejected a Columbus bridal shop’s bid for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed it to reopen.

While another hearing on the lawsuit is set for May 11, U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley said in his decision Monday that state officials have legitimate reasons for setting the restrictions on businesses.

The bridal shop and its attorneys argue the state should give businesses a way to appeal individual closings. But Marbley said that isn’t practical.

Other coronavirus-related developments in Ohio:

SCHOOL SPORTS

The Ohio High School Athletic Association officially canceled spring sports after Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced that schools statewide will stay closed for the remainder of the academic year while classes continue remotely.

Health and safety remains OHSAA’s top priority as it considers how the pandemic might also impact fall sports, Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said.

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PRISONS

A former Republican fundraiser convicted in a state investment scandal was released from prison Tuesday after the GOP governor ordered early release for him and some other inmates who are older or have health issues that make them more vulnerable to the virus, The Blade reported.

Former Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe, 65, had served nearly 12 years of an 18-year state sentence.

He was freed from Marion Correctional Institution, where about 1,950 of the 2,500 inmates have tested positive for the virus. Noe has not, his attorney told the newspaper.

The Marion prison and the Pickaway Correctional Facility are getting attention as hot spots for coronavirus cases while such facilities around the country struggle to manage amid the pandemic.

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CASES

More than 13,700 cases of the virus have been reported statewide, including 557 deaths and 2,800 hospitalizations, Ohio officials said Tuesday. DeWine announced the death of a resident of Northwest Ohio Developmental Center in Toledo, the first death in a a state developmental center.

DeWine said Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new version of the testing reagent, a development that will significantly expand Ohio’s ability to test for the coronavirus.

DeWine also announced he had appointed former governors Bob Taft, a Republican, and Dick Celeste, a Democrat, to lead a statewide task force focused on obtaining supplies to ramp up testing further.

Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said the state can expect cases to rise as the state gradually reopens May 1. DeWine called this part of the “high-wire” balancing act Ohio must undergo.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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CELEBRITIES HELP CHARITY

TV talk show host Jerry Springer, the bands OneRepublic and Train, singer-songwriter Jewel and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo are among the planned participants in a Wednesday night livestream telethon to benefit United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

Donations will fund help for people in 10 counties in southwest Ohio, southeast Indiana and northern Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati-based UC Health said Monday that veteran Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and his wife JJ Dalton have donated $150,000 to the UC Health Crisis Response Fund as clinicians work to understand, treat and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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THE NEW NORMAL

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is encouraging residents to reach out to five people each day for the next month through its “Strive for 5” campaign, whether by phone, email, text, social media, video chat or some other socially distanced means.

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Associated Press reporters John Seewer in Toledo, Dan Sewell in Cincinnati and Kantele Franko and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus contributed to this report.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press