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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: Akron Children's Plans $40M in Budget Cuts; UA Announces Pay, Budget Cuts

photo of Akron Children's Hospital
Akron Children's Hospital

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, April 24:

  • Akron Children's plans $40M in budget cuts;
  • UA announces plans pay, budget cut;
  • Akron Metro RTA bus driver tests positive for COVID-19;
  • Nearly 3,000 hospitalized with coronavirus;
  • Ohio nears 1M unemployment claims over 5 weeks amid coronavirus;
  • Ohio elections chief says postal office holding up voting;
  • Proposed voting law changes are back to being 1 ballot issue;
  • Summit County creates texting service for coronavirus updates;
  • Greater Cleveland Foodbank serves 2,700 during 6th drive-thru;
  • Federal judge allows certain surgical abortion procedures to continue;
  • West Akron, Stow have highest confirmed cases in Summit County;
  • Summit County to distribute grants to 300 small businesses;
  • Akron Marathon cancels first set of races;
  • Chagrin Falls man refunds customers for price-gouging N95 masks;

Akron Children's plans $40M in budget cuts
Akron Children's Hospital is planning $40 million in budget cuts following declining revenue. The Beacon Journal reportsthe hospital expects to lose tens of millions in dollars after reducing elective surgeries during the pandemic. Plans include temporarily reducing executive leadership and administrative salaries up to 25% and pausing retirement matches beginning in June. The hospital said it wants to avoid furloughing or laying off employees. 

UA announces plans for pay, budget cuts
Budget cuts are being implemented at the University of Akron. In a video message, President Gary Miller said all senior administrators hired before April, including himself, will get a 10% pay cut next fiscal year. He's also advised the athletic department and all non-academic administrative divisions to plan for a 20% reduction. The university has struggled with declining enrollment and expects the numbers to continue to drop because of the pandemic. Akron also had to refund nearly $8 million to students this semester. 

Akron Metro RTA bus driver tests positive for COVID-19
An Akron Metro RTA bus driver has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in self-quarantine. The driver worked weekly routes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Passengers can check with Akron Metro  to see if they came in contact with the driver and are advised to monitor for symptoms. Other workers have been notified and buses are being disinfected. Akron Metro has scaled back its bus lines by nearly 50% to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Greater Cleveland RTA cut service by 15%.

Nearly 3,000 hospitalized with coronavirus
COVID-19 cases had a small day-to-day spike in the state yesterday with nearly 14,700 cases total. That's up 4% from Wednesday. More than 650 have died from the disease. Around half of those deaths have occurred in Northeast Ohio. Nearly 3,000 people are hospitalized and 900 have been admitted to the ICU.

Ohio nears 1M unemployment claims over 5 weeks amid coronavirus
Ohio is reporting that nearly 1 million people have filed unemployment claimsin the past five weeks. The claims come as the state's stay-at-home order continues to depress the economy and lead to widespread layoffs. The Department of Job and Family Services said Thursday there were more than 109,000 jobless claims filed for the week ending April 18. That pushed total claims past 964,000, or almost 250,000 more than the total number of claims over the past two years. The agency said it has distributed more than $926 million in unemployment checks to more than 376,000 claimants.

Ohio elections chief says postal office holding up voting
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is pleading with the state’s congressional delegation for help speeding up mail processing ahead of Tuesday’s nearly all-mail primary election. LaRose wrote senators and representatives Thursday that the United States Postal Service is taking far longer to deliver mail than it advertises, sometimes seven to nine days rather than the promised one to three days. Ohio postponed in-person voting scheduled for March 17 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Voting, mostly by mail, has been extended to Tuesday. That’s put pressure on a mail-in voting system criticized by voting rights groups for being unduly laborious. 

For all details about Ohio's primary including deadlines, click here

Proposed voting law changes are back to being 1 ballot issue
A package of proposed election law changes aimed at making voting easier in Ohio has been restored to a single ballot issue rather than being split into four questions. The Ohio Ballot Board restored the package Thursday in a vote ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court, which said the state panel erred in splitting the package. It ends nearly two months of legal wrangling that delayed signature-gathering required to get the issue on the ballot. The proposal calls for automatically registering interested Ohioans to vote when they do business at Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices, and allowing same-day voter registration and voting, among other changes.

Summit County creates texting service for coronavirus updates
Summit County Public Health has created a texting service for residents to stay updated on COVID-19. The service will provide the latest information on state and local orders, communicate important information and send reminders to social distance. Residents can sign up at the public health's website.

Greater Cleveland Foodbank serves 2,700 during 6th drive-thru
The demand for food remains high during the pandemic. Cleveland.com reports nearly 2,700 people preregistered for the Greater Cleveland Foodbank's sixth drive-thru Thursday. There was enough to feed 4,000. Each person was given a nonperishable box of food and fruit and vegetables. Seventy Ohio National Guard members helped along with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Federal judge allows certain surgical abortion procedures to continue
A federal judge is allowing abortions to continue in Ohio for another two weeks. Columbus U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett on Thursday said that Ohio’s executive order banning non-essential surgeries would risk violating constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade if it stopped abortions. The judge granted the injunction to a group of abortion providers as part of a broader pending lawsuit against Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost and others. A legal battle enseued after Yost ordered three reproductive health clinics to stop performing surgical abortions during the pandemic.

West Akron, Stow have highest confirmed cases in Summit County
Areas of West Akron and Stow have the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Summit County, with more than 30 each. The county public health department updated a map released last week breaking down cases by zip code. The hot spots are likely attributed to testing availability and nursing homes in those areas. Some areas have no confirmed cases, including downtown Akron, likely because there are fewer residents living there.

Summit County to distribute grants to 300 small businesses
Summit County will distribute more than $1.5 million to over 300 small businesses affected by the coronavirus. The COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief fund will provide $5,000 grants to those in need. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 25 employees, half of them must reside in Summit County and the business must demonstrate financial need. The county received more than 1,000 applications.

Akron Marathon cancels first set of races
The Akron Marathon has canceledseveral of its events in its widely popular race series. The 8K/1 Mile in June and the Goodyear Half Marathon and 10K in August are off. The FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, half marathon and team relay are still scheduled for September. Registration fees for the canceled races can either be deferred to September or next year's race series. They can also be donated to Akron Children’s Hospital. The Marathon plans to donate at least $20,000 it would have spent on shirts and medals to local COVID-19 relief efforts.

Chagrin Falls man refunds customers for price-gouging N95 masks
A Chagrin Falls man is refunding $15,000 to customers and is donating his remaining supply of N95 masks to hospital workers in a settlement with the state. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued Mario Salwan, accusing him of stockpiling thousands of masks and price-gouging. He sold them on eBay for nearly $36 each. Salwan said he bought the masks for his construction company last year and didn’t mean harm. 

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