Ohio Lawmaker Proposes Bill Prohibiting COVID-19 Vaccination Discrimination in Schools

An Ohio lawmaker introduced a bill that would prohibit a public or private school from discriminating against an individual based on COVID-19 vaccination status.

Republican Representative Scott Lipps (R-OH-62) put forward House Bill (HB) 739 earlier this month. Although the state does not mandate COVID-19 vaccines in schools, Lipps said HB 739 is a preemptive measure for future law changes.

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Ohio Law Enforcement Seizes Enough Fentanyl to Kill 190,000 People

Law enforcement officials seized 570 grams of fentanyl on Monday in southwest Ohio which the Butler County Sheriff’s Office says is enough to kill 190,000 people, which is roughly half the population of Butler County.

Law enforcement seized the lethal drugs as part of an operation by the Butler County Undercover Regional Narcotics (BURN) Task Force with the assistance of the Hamilton Police Department’s Vice and Neighborhood Police Section.

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Judge Grants Injunction Against Ohio Abortion Law

On Friday, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas sided with Ohio abortionists in granting a preliminary injunction against a law forbidding termination of pregnancies in cases when the unborn child has a detectible heartbeat.

Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed the Heartbeat Act in 2019, though the statute could only take effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision this June. Judge Christian Jenkins (D) placed a freeze on the law pending a determination. The state of Ohio is expected to appeal the injunction.

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Abortions Increased in Ohio from 2020 to 2021

Pro-lifers who marched on Ohio State Capitol Square in Columbus on Wednesday had some cause for celebration in light of the June Dobbs decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. But marchers also had much to lament, including an increase in the number of abortions performed in the Buckeye State. 

According to the Ohio Department of Health’s recent report titled “Induced Abortions in Ohio, 2021,” deliberate killing of unborn children via surgery or medication rose seven percent from 2020 to the following year. In total, 21,813 pregnancies were so terminated in the state in 2021, 95 percent of those terminations obtained by women who reside in Ohio. 

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Hamilton County Judge Temporarily Halts Ohio Abortion Restriction

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Christian A. Jenkins this week imposed a two-week suspension on the Ohio law banning abortions for women whose unborn children have detectable heartbeats. 

Effectively, the statute, known as the “Heartbeat Law,” generally prohibits terminating pregnancies that have gone on for longer than six weeks. Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed the legislation in 2019 but agencies could not enforce it until this year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion nationwide. 

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Cincinnati Drops Mandated Masking and Testing for City Employees

The city of Cincinnati Tuesday announced that it would end all mask and vaccine mandates for city employees, effective immediately. 

“Today, alongside top health experts and City leaders, we announced the removal of masking and testing requirements for all City employees and facilities,” Mayor Aftab Pureval (D) said on Twitter. 

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Ohio Department of Health Still Won’t Provide Pandemic Update Despite CDC’s New Mask Guidance

Three people wearing masks, one focused on center

After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday recommended that 70 percent of the U.S. population can stop wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is still unwilling to update Ohioans on the status of the pandemic. 

When contacted by The Ohio Star to ask for the department’s professional opinion on whether Ohioans will soon be able to return to pre-pandemic life, ODH spokesman Ken Gordon declined to comment. The Star also noted that even Congress – which has had a mask mandate in place for two full years and threatened to fine members who refused to wear masks – finally made masks optional ahead of President Joe Biden’s Monday night State of the Union address. 

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Ohio Study Links Stimulus Checks with Spike in Opioid Deaths

Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released a study Thursday and suggested there is a link between the distribution of COVID-19 pandemic-related stimulus checks and high rates of opioid-related overdoses in his state.

The pandemic and the epidemic of drug overdoses in the U.S. have created a “perfect storm” for high rates of overdose deaths, the authors of the study wrote.

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Ohio’s COVID-19 Case Average Falls to Pre-Omicron Levels

Ohio’s seven-day COVID-19 case rate has now fallen to about the same level of seven-day cases as the state saw in mid-September, when the more deadly Delta variant was the virus’ prominent strain. 

As of February 2, Ohio had an average seven-day case rate of 7,806, a drastic drop in that average over a period of just two weeks, according to publicly available data. On January 19, the seven-day average caseload was 27,462 cases. 

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Average Ohio COVID Cases Drop by 10,000 in One Week

Healthcare workers

According to Ohio’s COVID-19 data, the caseload in the state is declining dramatically from what appears to be the Omicron variant’s peak.

As of January 17, the seven-day average number of new cases peaked at 28,054. As of Monday, one week later, that number was 17,438, or a drop of about 10,500 average cases over the past seven days. 

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Ohio’s Seven-Day Average COVID-19 Death Numbers Near Pandemic Norm Despite Omicron

Despite continued panic from some of America’s COVID-19 officials, and even though the Omicron variant has cause cases to skyrocket, Ohio’s seven day average for deaths is not much higher than it has been throughout the entire pandemic.

As of Jan. 17, Ohio’s seven-day average for COVID-19 was 121 deaths, or 17.2 deaths per day. For context, Ohio’s population is nearly 12 million. 

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Discrepancies in Ohio’s Official COVID-19 Data and Data from Other Sources

There are discrepancies in COVD-19 data provided by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and other prominent sources of information, The Ohio Star has learned. 

“According to our data, 1,704 Ohio residents died from COVID-19 in December,” Michelle Fong, a Public Information Officer for ODH said Wednesday. “Our report information is based on date of death when reported residence was inside Ohio.”

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Data Shows Ohio Hospitals Not ‘Overcrowded’ with COVID Patients Despite Case Surge

Despite reports that some hospitals in the state are “overcrowded,” data from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) says otherwise. 

Many in the media and within the U.S. government’s public health apparatus are panicking as cases of COVID-19’s Omicron variant soar to record levels. 

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DeWine’s Office Declines to Comment on COVID Plan as Cases Surge

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s office told The Ohio Star Thursday that it will not address concerns about whether the current protocols in place to end the COVID-19 are actually working. 

The Star asked DeWine’s office if, amid the surge of Omicron variant COVID-19 cases, the governor’s office had any plan to implement new measures other than mandating mandates and encouraging vaccines that might help control the pandemic. 

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Ohio National Guard Called to Help with Hospital Staffing Shortages

Military men in uniform, on the steps of the National Mall in Washington D.C.

More than 1,000 Ohio National Guard members began working in hospitals across the state Monday to help combat what Gov. Mike DeWine called a growing strain caused by the rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The Ohio Department of Health also has begun working with a staffing company to bring more nurses and other providers from out of state to help ease pressure on current hospital staffs as the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has reached its highest level of the year.

“While the staff will be concentrated in the places where they are most needed, the entire state will feel relief as the arrangement supports the coordination of patient care that has been happening really since the beginning of this pandemic,” DeWine said at a news conference.

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Exclusive: Nurse’s Affidavit Says She Could Not Get FDA-Fully Approved Pfizer Vaccine for Ohio’s Miami University

According to an affidavit obtained by The Ohio Star, a nurse in Ohio who was in charge of procuring COVID-19 vaccines for Miami University says she was never able to obtain Pfizer’s FDA-approved version of the vaccine, called Comirnaty. 

The affiant is a nurse practitioner and employee of TriHealth, which runs two hospitals and 130 sites of medical care in the Cincinnati area. From June 4 to Nov. 3, she was put in charge of procuring vaccines for Miami University, located in Oxford. The Star has redacted the nurse’s name out of concern of reprisal. 

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Ohio National Guard Called to Help With Hospital Staffing Shortages

More than 1,000 Ohio National Guard members began working in hospitals across the state Monday to help combat what Gov. Mike DeWine called a growing strain caused by the rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The Ohio Department of Health also has begun working with a staffing company to bring more nurses and other providers from out of state to help ease pressure on current hospital staffs as the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has reached its highest level of the year.

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Attorneys File Lawsuit Against University of Cincinnati over Vaccine Mandates

Attorneys at Mendenhall Law Group in Akron have filed a lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati over the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

“School officials are overriding students’ civil rights to bodily autonomy under the United States and Ohio constitutions.  Young people do not experience this as a grave illness.  It is unprecedented for a university to require students to participate in experimental medical procedures such as injections or masking,” Warner Mendenhall told The Ohio Star Friday.

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Ohio Health Department Won’t Say Which Version of Pfizer Vaccine It Is Distributing

Following Wednesday’s story in which The Ohio Star reported that Pfizer is currently still shipping it’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) COVID-19 vaccine, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) won’t say which version of the vaccine it is distributing. 

ODH is responsible for acquiring and distributing at least some of the state’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines, though Alicia Shoults of the ODH’s Office of Public Affairs told The Star by phone Thursday afternoon that some healthcare providers procure the vaccine directly from the federal government. 

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Ohio Releases Less-Restrictive COVID Guidelines for Schools

More school districts around Ohio continue to drop mask mandates in favor of optional policies as the number of COVID-19 cases has dropped over the past month.

The Ohio Department of Health also has relaxed its quarantine recommendations for students and student-athletes, with the idea of reducing what the state is calling unintended consequences of out-of-school quarantining.

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New Ohio Vaccine Incentive Program Expands Prizes, Age Group

Young girl getting COVID vaccination

Ohio’s newest COVID-19 vaccination incentive program doubled in size Friday when state officials announced a total of $2 million in scholarships will be given way and age ranges will expand.

The program that originally targeted 12- to 25-year-olds now will include those age 5-11 once the vaccine is authorized for their use. Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said authorization should come by the end of the month.

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Attorney General Believes Ohio’s Vaccination Raffle is Legal as Lawmakers Question Use of Taxpayer Money

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to encourage more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine by offering millions of taxpayer dollars and college scholarships through a raffle program appears to be legal, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said.

Yost tweeted the opinion, but he stopped short of saying he believed DeWine’s plan was a was a good idea.

“About the $1M [vaccination] lottery: I heard about it yesterday. It doesn’t appear to violate state law, though it depends on how it’s designed,” Yost’s tweet read. “Just because a thing may be legally done does not mean it should be. The wisdom of it is a question for the Governor and the General Assembly.”

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Ohio Judge: Health Dept Director Has No Authority to Issue Mask, Distancing and Other Orders

Ashland, Ohio – An Ohio judge ruled that the Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) does not have the authority to issue mask mandates, social distancing or other types of mandates since Ohio law does not give the agency such stated or implied authority.

Ashland County Common Pleas Judge Ron Forsthoefel wrote that the ODH only has ultimate authority in matters of isolation and quarantine – matters the legislature defined in Senate Bill22, the law enacted when the General Assembly overrode Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s veto of the bill last month.

The case Forsthoefel judged involved Cattlemans Restaurant and the Ashland County Health Department – the latter which issued a cease and desist order against the restaurant for an alleged violation of the COVID-related Dine Safe Order.

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Former ODH Director Acton Will Not Run for U.S. Senate in 2022

Former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton released a statement Tuesday revealing that she will not seek the 2022 Ohio Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

“It has been a tremendous honor to be asked to consider a run for the U.S. Senate. Like many of you, I have a profound reverence for the office, and for those who have answered the calling to public service,” wrote Acton

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Ohio Bill Giving Lawmakers Oversight of Emergency Declarations and Orders Sent to Gov. DeWine

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Wednesday afternoon Senate Bill 22 passed the Ohio House by a vote of 57 to 37.  Five Republicans did not cast a vote – Paul Zeltwanger (Mason), Tracy Richardson (Marysville), Mike Loychik (Bazetta), Jeff LaRe (Violet Twp.), and Ron Ferguson (Wintersville).

One Republican, Nino Vitale, voted against the bill despite being an outspoken opponent to the DeWine Administration’s pandemic health orders. Vitale was also one of a handful of lawmakers who supported articles of impeachment based on alleged executive overreach during the state’s handling of COVID.

The Senate concurred on the House changes so now SB22 will be sent to Governor DeWine where he has the choice to approve, veto or do nothing – in the event of the latter, the bill would become a law after 10 days.

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Gov DeWine One Year Ago: I Wouldn’t Read Too Much into the State of Emergency

COLUMBUS, Ohio – March 9 was the one-year anniversary of Executive Order 2020-01D, the state of emergency “to protect the well-being of the citizens of Ohio from the dangerous effects of COVID-19.”

During a briefing the same day, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the emergency as a tool to allow the State of Ohio to purchase health-related items.

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DeWine Calls Late Press Conference to Announce ‘New Deal’ for COVID Restrictions

Republican Governor Mike DeWine offered Ohioans a new “deal” late Thursday, saying, “When Ohio gets down to 50 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks, all health orders in the state will come off.”

The announcement came in a specially called press briefing that started at 5:30 p.m., during which DeWine encouraged Ohioans to take the of the COVID vaccine and to stay the course with nonpharmacological interventions: masks, distancing, state orders that limit crowds and limits on long personal contact.

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EXCLUSIVE: Three Friends Form New Venture to Tell Story of Central Ohio Businesses Battered by COVID Restrictions

It was spring of 2020 and three friends were sitting in their regular gathering place in the Short North – the district just north of downtown Columbus.

“We were looking around at all these businesses downtown; boarded up, closed or empty – more employees than customers,” said Lad Dilgard, a management consultant and real estate investor.

He continued “behind every one of those is a story; the story of an entrepreneur, manager, supplier, landlord, employees and customers. There are horror stories going on. COVID-craziness with all the lockdowns.  We wanted to give businesses some visibility. What they’re going through and the collateral damage they are suffering.”

Fast forward to March 2021 – after weekly Saturday morning sessions during which one of the three buddies would bring breakfast and another lunch, the trio released a short film under the banner of their own production company, Fire Owl – Behind the Mandates: Untold stories of local businesses.

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Ohio Dept of Health Amends Orders Related to Sports, Entertainment Venues and Mass Gatherings

Tuesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) announced Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud endorsed two mandates – one related to sporting events and the other to mass gatherings.

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Following Full Republican Support, Senate Bill to Establish Legislative Oversight of Governor’s and Agency Orders Now in Ohio House

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senate Bill to Establish Legislative Oversite of Governor’s and Agency Orders Now in Ohio House

Last Wednesday Ohio Senate Bill 22 (SB22) passed the upper chamber 25-8 – all Republicans were in favor, all Democrats opposed.

SB22 was introduced by primary sponsors Terry Johnson (R-District 14) and Rob McColley (R-District 1) and establishes legislative oversight to the Governor’s and health orders.  

In its original form, the bill granted the General Assembly authority to immediately rescind a public health state of emergency declaration along with rules and orders the Governor and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) issued related to a public a health state of emergency.

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State Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Reimburse Fines and Expunge Records for Ohio Businesses

  COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) introduced a bill Wednesday that would both expunge the records of businesses cited for COVID violations and return fines and penalties paid. Upon its introduction, House Bill 127 was assigned to the House State and Local Government Committee on Thursday. HB127…

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Lifts Curfew and Last Call Order

During his COVID briefing, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced the statewide curfew – which had been amended to begin at 11:00 p.m. from its original 10 o’clock start – expired Thursday and that he would not extend the order.

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Ohio Ranked 43rd out of 50 in COVID Vaccination Distribution

Ohio is the seventh most populated state in America, but according to CDC COVID data on January 28 the Buckeye State ranked 43RD in vaccine doses distributed per 100,000 people.

Ohio ranked 47th out of 51 (including the District of Columbia) for the number of people who had received a second dose of the COVID mRNA antidote.

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Gov. DeWine Releases First-Round Shot Schedule for Ohio Schools

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Michael DeWine (R) announced on Friday the vaccination schedule for Ohio K-12 schools – public, private and career-tech.

DeWine’s administration identified school personnel required for in-person learning and laid out a four-week schedule for those eligible to receive their first jab containing one of the vaccines the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted authorization for emergency use – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

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COVID Hospital Utilizations Fall but Concerns over Virus Mutations Fuel Ongoing Guidelines

Inpatient hospitalizations due to COVID-19 cases dropped again on Tuesday – brining the overall decrease to 30 percent over the past month, according to the state COVID website.  Despite acknowledging the dip during the Tuesday press briefing, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) shied away from calling it a trend.

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Three Weeks After Christmas, Ohio COVID Hospitalizations Trend Down

January 15 marked three weeks since Christmas – two from New Year’s celebrations. Statewide hospitalizations have trended downward since Christmas and deaths more so, according to the Ohio COVID dashboard.

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Ohio Investigative Unit Stakeout and Issue Summons to Six Ohio Bars and Restaurants Saturday Night

Saturday night the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) cited six establishments around the state for violating Ohio Department of Health (ODH) orders relating to safe dining and staying home after 10:00 p.m.

Citation cases will now go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission – potential penalties include fine, temporary closure, liquor permit suspension and/or revocation.

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Ohio Governor DeWine Delivers Update on State Response to COVID

Governor DeWine held a 90-minute briefing during which Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff contributed.

The following information was relayed by the trio during the Tuesday session.

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Fewer COVID Patients in Hospitals, ICUs and on Vents in Almost Every Region in Ohio

  Governor DeWine or Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff spend a portion of press briefings discussing the issue of hospital capacity, often warning Ohioans that if cases continue to climb, hospitals around the state will be overrun and care for other non-COVID patients may be crowded out. Consequently, The…

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Obhof Backs Down from Early Threat to Override Veto on SB311 but Bill May Not Be Dead

It was Tuesday, December 22, the day many in favor of a veto override on Senate Bill 311 (SB311) believed to be the last day for the Ohio Senate to consider and vote on the bill that would restore power to the legislature and check the authority of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and its director to quarantine and isolate healthy people.

A group assembled atop the steps leading into the Senate Chamber.  Senate President Larry Obhof (R-22) stepped into the space between doors just outside the entrance to the Senate Chamber and was peppered with shouts. “Get 311 on the floor!”  “Hold the override vote Obhof!”

The Senate President looked at the citizens and repeated the talking point Ohioans had heard from the Senate for over a week – “the House doesn’t have the votes.”

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Governor Mike DeWine Warns Ohioans to Watch Hospital Capacity as Health Director Mulls Outpatient Treatments for COVID-19

During the Thursday COVID briefing, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said that he “took an oath to do everything to protect the lives and wellbeing of fellow Ohioans” and that the next three weeks will be the most critical in battling COVID.

DeWine then stressed the importance of Ohioans understanding and keeping an eye on hospital capacity in their respective communities.

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Ohio’s Biggest Teachers Union Calls for Immediate Closure with Four-Phase Position Statement

On December 3 the Board of Directors of the Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio’s largest labor union for educators, voted unanimously to adopt the position to immediately suspend all in-person learning in the state until January 11.

The OEA released the statement on December 7.

The position statement calls for state leaders and educational institutions to “reset”, “restart”, “re-prioritize” and “resource” in order to “ensure that the needs of Ohio’s students, educators and communities are met,” according to the union’s statement.

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Ohio Will Stop Verifying Antigen Tests, Count Them All Positive

Embattled Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, whose party is considering impeachment and overriding his veto of a recent dually-passed bill to limit the pandemic powers of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), called a COVID briefing on Monday to update Ohioans on the state’s response to the virus.

The most significant announcement was that beginning on Tuesday, November 8 the state will no longer trace people who test positive from antigen tests to confirm results.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Makes Good on Promise to Veto Oversight of Health Orders

Saying he has the backing of health care professionals and business leaders, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill that would give the General Assembly oversight over health orders.

In a statement of reasons for the veto of Senate Bill 311, DeWine, a Republican, said medical experts think it restricts public health officials’ ability to react to public health threats and is “not in the best interest of protecting the health and safety of all Ohioans.”

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Ohio Governor and Chief Medical Advisor Asked About Speeding Up Delivery of Therapies to COVID Patients

The Ohio Star reported that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called a special press conference on Monday, November 23 alongside the Ohio Hospital Association leaders to address the state’s COVID hospitalization rise.

As reported, during the briefing doctors who lead each of Ohio’s three zones (the state is segmented into three areas) disclosed staffing shortages due to COVID quarantine orders, which had further depleted caregiving capacity already run thin by upticks in COVID hospital cases around the state.

The Star has received inquiries from readers describing their situations.  One woman told the story of her husband who was alerted that he had been exposed to COVID and within days began exhibiting symptoms. When he called his doctor seeking preventative therapies, he was denied.  The man was later admitted to a hospital for days, where he received therapeutic treatments that aided his recovery.

Consequently, The Star took the opportunity during Governor DeWine’s twice-weekly COVID presser on Tuesday to ask the following question:

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Gov. DeWine Congratulates Joe Biden on Winning 2020 Presidential Election Before Official Determination

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Thursday “we need to consider the former vice president as the President-elect.”

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Deaths Are Low but DeWine Sounds the COVID Alarm

Governor Mike DeWine said on Tuesday that “all Ohioans should be alarmed” with the trajectory of the state’s COVID numbers.

DeWine reported 2,509 cases, 198 hospitalizations, 20 ICU visits and 22 deaths.

However, reported numbers are always higher than the actual numbers for the day – reported numbers can go as far back as the beginning of the epidemic.

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Lance Himes Email Riles Up Ohioans, Many Believe ODH Will Mandate COVID Vaccine

An email from Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes riled-up Ohioans. The email was sent Tuesday to prospective attendees of an ODH webinar on the state’s vaccine plan. 

In the email, Himes wrote, “It is important to note that the Ohio COVID-19 Vaccination Program strategy is a draft framework outlining how to implement mandatory requirements once more details of a vaccine are known.” 

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Ohio Public Health Advisory System – Indicator Six: Hospitalizations

  This is the seventh story in an eight-part series on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). OPHAS is a tool created to supplement the state’s reporting on cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The color-coded map assigns each of Ohio’s 88 counties a color determined by how many of the…

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Gov. DeWine Rethinking Quarantining Healthy Ohio Students

A Troy High School football player tested positive for COVID, the school announced Tuesday.

Regardless of any COVID test outcomes, the entire team was asked to quarantine for 14-days, forcing the school to forfeit their Division II regional playoff game scheduled for Friday.

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