Ohio marks two long years since declaration of coronavirus pandemic

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Here are some of the topcs on this week's Reporters Roundtable.

It has been a long strange, road for everyone over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.  Today marks two-years since the World Health Organization declared the novel virus a pandemic and a global health threat.

This week, on March 9, marked two-years since Ohio’s first cases were confirmed.  Those cases involved three patients in Cuyahoga County. The day of that announcement brought Ohio’s declaration of a state of emergency.  Then the floodgates opened.  DeWine acting with then health department director Dr. Amy Acton took actions to shut down the state.  Remember we were “flattening the curve.”

One of the first indications this was real: the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day was canceled.  It’s back this year after being cancelled in 2021.

By March of 2021, DeWine announced a benchmark for ending the pandemic health orders: 50 cases per 100,000 for two weeks.  But by then political winds had shifted and he was in opposition with his party.  DeWine ended the pandemic health orders on June 2, 2021 and lifted the state of emergency on June 18, 2021. 

But the virus was not done.  First came the Delta wave in the summer of last year and then in late fall Omicron.

And that brings us today were the cases per 100,000 are down to 70 and the Ohio Department of Health says it will only update case numbers per week now not every day as for the last 24 months.

Bills under consideration in Columbus could impact high school students’ efforts to take Advanced Placement or AP courses.  Those are advanced-subject classes that allow students to earn college credit or get a jump on their collegiate studies while still in high school. 

The College Board—which runs the AP program—this week said in a statement on its website that it would remove the AP designation from courses in Ohio if required topics are not taught as part of those courses.  The College Board says it does not support censorship of teachers or students and wants students to develop into independent thinkers.

At issue are House Bill 327 known as a “divisive concepts” bill and House Bill 322 which is similar and focuses on limiting how teachers can instruct on current events, race and sex.

Governor Mike DeWine will skip the debate with his primary challengers scheduled for later this month at Central State University in Wilberforce.

The Ohio Debate Commission will hold Democrat and Republican candidate debates on March 28 and March 29 for governor and United State Senate.

The effort to get new state district and congressional maps drawn and approved that meet voter reforms has been a mess. While the Ohio Supreme Court considers the latest versions of each map—the third version of the Ohio House and Senate maps and the second version of the congressional map--the battle has moved to the primary and whether or not to move it back to accommodate the delays caused by redistricting map challenges.

This week Republicans changed the deadlines for military and overseas ballots but without the support of Democrats who tried to block the move.  Democrats favor moving the primary.

The governor may find himself on opposite sides of his own party over the state’s gas tax. Raising the tax per gallon to 10.5 cents was one of the first things implemented under DeWine as governor—although it took some back and forth first. Now some Republicans are advocating for the gas tax increase to be repealed but DeWine calls the move a mistake.

Two new facilities being proposed for Northeast Ohio would bring the potential for thousands of new jobs. The Bartlett Maritime Corporation is proposing a naval depot in Lordstown and a naval shipyard in Lorain. Speaking on a panel with the mayors of Lorain and Lordstown, company founder Edward Bartlett said the new operations in Ohio would help short up submarine maintenance for the Navy and strengthen national security.



Ken Schneck, Editor, The Buckeye Flame 
Kabir Bhatia, Senior Reporter, WKSU  
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV 

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