Ohio one of six states driving current COVID-19 surge that is straining hospitals

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The state’s top doctor says the current surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is putting a dangerous strain on the state’s healthcare infrastructure.

Over the last two weeks, Doctor Bruce Vanderhoff says 62-percent of new hospital admissions were occurring in Northeast Ohio. Ohio is one of six states along with Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York that are driving the national surge in cases and hospitalizations.  Together the six states currently account for 60% of the hospitalizations nationwide. Doctors say the cases and hospitalizations are largely the result of unvaccinated people getting COVID-19. Ohio currently has a little more than 50% of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

An effort to put a measure on the ballot banning vaccine mandates and passports failed to get past its first objective. Yesterday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost rejected some of the proposed petition language for the measure. The group, Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom, is pursuing the ballot measure saying current legislation regarding vaccine mandates and passports do not go far enough.

More than three years after the United States Supreme Court cleared the way for states to set up sports betting, Ohio lawmakers have approved a bill to legalize sports gambling in Ohio. The bill puts the oversight for sports betting with the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The legislation sets up sports book betting at casinos and racinos as well as mobile betting.  In addition, there will be licenses for sports betting kiosks available for bars and restaurants. The bill goes to Governor DeWine.  But before you go to put that bet on the Browns or Cavs, the bill requires the implementation no later than January 1, 2023.

The Ohio Supreme Court will decide whether newly drawn maps for the state’s legislative districts conformed to voter-approved reforms to prevent gerrymandering. The maps were the focus of arguments before the Ohio Supremem Court on  Wednesday. Three groups including the League of Women Voters of Ohio sued over the maps. As drawn, the maps would award Republicans 62 seats in the Ohio House to 37 for Democrats.  Republicans would have 23 seats to 10 for Democrats in the Senate.

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, a Democrat from Akron, is stepping down from that leadership position at the end of the year. But Sykes says she is not stepping away from public service.  Sykes says she is considering her options.

The Ohio Supreme Court is considering the fate of the Icebreaker wind farm project. The plan calls for six wind turbines to be built eight miles off Cleveland’s shoreline.  It is heralded as the nation’s first freshwater wind farm. Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the Ohio Power Siting Board improperly granted the permit to build the turbines.

Guests: 

Anna Huntsman, Health Reporter, Ideastream Public Media 
Kabir Bhatia, Reporter, WKSU 
Jo Ingles, Reporter, Statehouse News Bureau  

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