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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Morning Headlines: Ohio Lawmakers Address Pandemic; BW Poll Shows Midwest Voters Lean Toward Trump

Age distribution of COVID-19 cases in Ohio

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, March 26: 

  • Lawmakers address pandemic with sweeping legislation;
  • Baldwin Wallace poll shows Midwest states leaning toward Trump;
  • 2,000 child care centers receive pandemic licenses;
  • DeWine: coronavirus cases will likely peak in May;
  • Census shows drop in Greater Cleveland, Akron population;
  • New data shows ages 40-50 hit hard by coronavirus;
  • Businesses donate protective equipment at Cuyahoga Co. drive-thru;
  • Cleveland off the hook on $13M judgment in wrongful conviction;
  • Cleveland International Film Festival to host streaming event;
  • Kent State hadn't yet paid any speakers for now-canceled May 4 events;

Lawmakers address pandemic with sweeping legislation
Ohio lawmakers have approved a bill canceling mandatory school testing this year. The change came as part of wide-ranging legislation passed unanimously on Wednesday by House and Senate lawmakers to deal with the impact of the coronavirus. The bill would set an April 28 deadline for voting in the postponed March 17 primary. Voting will be done by absentee ballot. The legislation also would grant recent nursing graduates a temporary certificate to allow them to begin work immediately, and it addresses numerous other disruptions Ohioans are experiencing because of the virus. 

Other proposed changes: 

  • Allow schools to continue serving meals to students throughout the summer
  • Ohio EPA would prohibit water utility shutoffs
  • Waive waiting period for unemployment benefits
  • Extend tax filing to July 15
  • Rehire retired workers at state and youth prisons, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Department of Veteran Services and Department of Developmental Disabilities

Baldwin Wallace poll shows Midwest states leaning toward Trump
The latest Baldwin Wallace University November election poll is an upbeat result for President Donald Trump. The first survey of around 4,000 Midwest voters in January showed Trump losing support in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. But the latest results show Trump beating a hypothetical matchup against Joe Biden in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Michigan leans toward Biden, and it's a dead heat in Wisconsin. More than 50% of voters in all four states said they approved of President Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak and a similar portion of voters said they approved of Trump’s handling of the economy.

Trump vs. Biden: 

  • Ohio: 47% Trump, 43% Biden
  • Michigan: 42% Trump, 47% Biden
  • Pennsylvania: 47% Trump, 45% Biden
  • Wisconsin: 45% Trump, 45% Biden

Trump vs. Sanders: 

  • Ohio: 47% Trump, 41% Sanders
  • Michigan: 42% Trump, 45% Sanders
  • Pennsylvania: 48% Trump, 42% Sanders
  • Wisconsin: 46% Trump, 42% Sanders

2,000 child care centers receive pandemic licenses
About 2,000 child care centersin Ohio have been approved so far under a special “pandemic license" to care for the children of first responders, health care workers and others deemed essential. Lawmakers have passed legislation that aims to eliminate mandatory school testing and allow absentee voting in the postponed primary until April 28. In Dayton, plans are on hold to rebuild homes damaged in last year's Memorial Day weekend tornado outbreak. So far, Ohio has more than 700 cases of the new virus and 10 deaths. Health care workers account for one of every six cases in the state.

DeWine: coronavirus cases will likely peak in May
Gov. Mike DeWine said the coronavirus outbreak in Ohio is just getting underway and will likely peak in early May. Ohio currently has 704 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Around one-fourth of those people are hospitalized and nearly half of those cases are in intensive care. Ten Ohioans have died of the coronavirus. The state said nearly 15,000 have been tested for the virus. The number of negative tests hasn't been reported since March 15. DeWine on Wednesday said he thinks the virus will peak May 1, raising the possibility that the state’s stay-at-home order could be extended past April 6.

Census shows drop in Greater Cleveland, Akron population
New census estimates show the Greater Cleveland and Akron area's population dropped by nearly 5,800 last year to around 2.7 million people. Cuyahoga County lost the most residents — around 6,600. It’s the second-largest county behind Franklin. Three counties in the region gained population – Lake, Medina and Lorain — but all others lost population from 2018 to 2019, including Summit, Geauga and Portage.

New data shows ages 40 to 50 hit hard by coronavirus
New statistics show people between the ages 40 to 50 are most-affectedby COVID-19. Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said that group has a fatality rate of one in 250. Acton also said the state has had more than 14,000 people take a coronavirus test. There are now more than 700 confirmed cases in the state. Nearly 25% of them are hospitalized at this time. Ten deaths have been reported, up from eight on Tuesday.

Businesses donate protective equipment at Cuyahoga Co. drive-thru
Many businesses donated thousands of pieces of protective equipment at a Cuyahoga County drive-thru center. Cleveland.com reports the Newburgh Heights drive-thru received roughly 7,000 respirator masks, nearly 100,000 gloves and 1,500 surgical masks and face shields since it opened last week. Many of the donations came from vets, dentists, hair and nail salons, and surgeons who perform elective surgeries. The collection point is at the county’s Public Works garage and is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Cleveland doesn't have to pay $13M to wrongfully convicted man
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that the city of Cleveland does not have to pay a $13 million wrongful death payout. DNA evidence in 2011 cleared David Ayers, 63, of a 1999 murder. In 2013, jurors decided that two Cleveland police detectives were responsible for framing Ayers and issued a $13.2 million wrongful death judgment. In the ruling Wednesday, the high court ruled that plaintiffs can't force the government to pay out civil judgments on behalf its employees. 

Cleveland International Film Festival to host streaming event
The Cleveland International Film Festival is keeping this year’s event alive with an online streaming event next month. More details will be announced soon. The film festival set to begin this week was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. The organization will also release new episodes of the CIFF Speaks podcast at their website, where you can also find this year's festival trailer. CIFF also launched its annual Challenge Match Wednesday, encouraging people to make donations to support the film industry.

Kent State hadn't yet paid any speakers for now-canceled May 4 events
Kent State University said the financial impact of cancelling May 4 commemoration events is minimal. The school cancelled all events tied to the 50th anniversary of the campus shooting due to the coronavirus outbreak. Cleveland.com reportsKent State hasn’t yet paid any speakers, including the $83,000 to activist Jane Fonda. 

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