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COVID-19 cases soar again in Ohio and Northeast Ohio hospitals overwhelmed by patients

A photo of a stack of newspapers on a table.
A photo of a stack of newspapers on a table.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ohio—with daily case numbers rivaling those that we haven’t seen in months. The Ohio Department of Health reported more than 9100 new COVID-19 cases yesterday.  Cuyahoga County's rate of transmission is now at just under 690 cases per 100,000 people. Hospitalizations are also up with the greatest impact being felt in Northeast Ohio. Layered into this continued surge is the omicron variant that the World Health Organization says is a variant of concern. Doctors say it is too early to know yet what impact it may have as it spreads.

Cleveland City Council approved this week its part of the lease deal to keep Major League Baseball in the city through 2036 and renovate Progressive Field using public money. Council voted 13 to 3 to approve the deal which will cost the city about $8.4 million a year. The city’s share will come from a variety of sources including admission tax collection and revenue from a city-owned parking garage as well as $350,000 yearly from the city’s general fund. The county approved its side of the lease extension and renovation deal on November 9 also with some opposition.

Cleveland mayor-elect Justin Bibb added dozens of transition advisors this week to help guide his new administration as it takes shape and prepares to take office next month. Those advisors come from a wide cross-section of the city including the leaders of all three hospital systems, the founder of Cleveland Black Lives Matter and a former leader of the city’s police union. Also among the advisors: former Ohio Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton.  Mayor-elect Bibb is also looking to fill key positions in his administration including law and finance directors. 

A coalition of voter-rights groups has filed a legal challenge in the Ohio Supreme Court over the state’s new congressional district map. The map carves the state into 15 districts.  Ohio is losing a seat in Congress based on 2020 Census results. The legal challenge argues the map unnecessarily splits counties—specifically Cuyahoga, Summit and Hamilton—to minimize “the efficacy of Democratic votes.” The map creates boundaries that favor Republicans in 12 of 15 districts. Governor DeWine signed off on the map and defended the districts saying they are compact and do not split up the state’s cities. The map passed without any support from Democrats

The Ohio Fairness Act which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is moving in the legislature again and a bill sponsor is hopeful that it will get a hearing. The measure has been proposed 10 times in the last two decades. All 34 House Democrats sponsored the bill as have two Republicans. 

Gabriel Kramer, Multiple-Media Producer, Ideastream Public Media  
Ken Schneck, Editor, The Buckeye Flame  
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV  

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."