COVID Hospital Utilization 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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Ohio’s Advisory System Counts COVID-like ER Visits

This is the sixth story in and eight-part series on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). The system assigns one of four colors to each of Ohio’s 88 counties based on the level of COVID exposure and spread.

OPHAS is a supplement to the numerous statewide COVID mandates and is supposed to be a data-driven framework that gives local leaders a tool for use in deciding local and county school, business and other public policies.

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Richland County Is Close to Becoming the First Ohio County to Reach ‘Code Purple’ on Ohio’s Emergency Map

  Richland County is teetering on the verge of becoming the first Ohio county to reach code purple on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). According to OPHAS,  purple means that the county is experiencing “severe exposure and spread” and residents are to leave home for only “supplies and…

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Robbed: Ohio Department of Health, Governor DeWine Take High School Golfer’s Historic Moment

Lauren Bevins made school history.

The senior golfer was the first female from Eastern High School (Beaver, Ohio) to qualify for the district golf tournament.

On Tuesday morning Bevins would have not only been the first to qualify, she would have been the first to compete.

Lauren never got the chance to pull a club from her golf bag.

The senior golfer was named in a COVID case and contacted by public health officials who told her to quarantine for 14 days. The district golf tournament fell on day 10 of Lauren’s quarantine.

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Ohio Public Health Advisory System: Indicator Five – Outpatient Visits for COVID-like Illness

OPHAS has seven indicators and each of Ohio’s 88 counties is assigned a color based on the number of indicators that are triggered.

Indicator five measures the sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness.

According to the state website, the indicator “provides information on the health care seeking behavior of the population and a sense of how concerned residents are about their current health status and the virus.”

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Gov. DeWine Sends Mixed Signals on Mask Orders

  Last week The Ohio Star broke the story of Alecia Kitts.  She is the Ohio mom who was tased, arrested and escorted from a football stadium because she refused to wear a mask at her son’s middle school football game – consequently, Kitts was charged with criminal trespass, resisting…

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Interim Ohio Health Director Himes Succeeds in Moving Mask Lawsuit to His Home Turf

Interim Ohio Health Director Lance Himes succeeded in requesting that a lawsuit to overturn the use of masks in public schools be moved out of Putnam County Common Pleas Court and into his home turf, The Lima News reported.

The case has moved to Franklin County. The plaintiffs live largely in Northwest Ohio, in communities including Leipsic, Berkey and Perrysburg.

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Ohio Mother Flagged for Three Charges After Not Masking at Middle-School Football Game

Since The Ohio Star broke the story about Alecia Kitts, the Marietta mom who was tased and arrested for not wearing a mask, the incident got the attention of Breitbart, TheBlaze, HuffPost, Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, and Covington Catholic High student Nick Sandmann’s attorney Lin Wood.

The Ohio Department of Health has issued a plethora of orders since march, including a statewide mask mandate announced by Governor Mike DeWine on July 22 – effective July 23, with exemptions. The mask mandate was the catalyst to the situation involving Kitts that unfolded in Logan, Ohio on Wednesday, September 23.

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Self Serve Is Back, at Risk No Longer Cautioned in Dine Safe Order

Ohio’s Interim Health Director Lance D. Himes released an amended version of the “Dine Safe Ohio” order Wednesday.

The new order has permitted the use of “self service” food stations at “retail food establishments. The order stated that all “Retail food establishments that are regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture are permitted to resume use of their self-service food stations in accordance with guidance from the Department of Health.”

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State Rep. Grendell’s ‘Restore Ohio Now’ Bill Gains Momentum in Ohio House, Needs Speaker’s Guidance

Nineteen state representatives signed on to support law that would effectively put an end to COVID restrictions, the bill’s author, State Representative Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland) told The Ohio Star Wednesday.

“Government cannot protect us from every single one of life’s risks,” Grendell said.

The Star reported that the Representative-crafted a bill that would immediately cancel Governor Mike DeWine’s Executive Order declaring a state of emergency in Ohio.

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Governor DeWine’s Comments on Nursing Home Visitation Spark Questions

Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes signed an order on July 2 that went into effect on July 20. The mandate permits outdoor visitations at senior homes around the state and prohibits indoor visits.

“If you have a loved one and you cannot get into a nursing home, that is the nursing home that is stopping you from going in – it is not the health department” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on September 17 during a semiweekly COVID press conference.

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Data Show 40 Percent of Ohio Counties Experience Rise in Coronavirus Cases 7 Weeks After Mask Mandate Despite Claims by DeWine, CDC

Has Ohio’s statewide mask mandate affected the coronavirus case counts in counties? Data show 40 percent of counties saw a net increase during a 21-day period, despite claims by Gov. Mike DeWine and the CDC.

The Ohio Star examined the state health department’s historic case counts. The summary data is available in a CSV file from a link on the Ohio Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard here.

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Gov. DeWine’s Pick for New State Health Director Withdraws Her Name from Consideration

The doctor named by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to be the state’s new health director has withdrawn her name from consideration.

The move came just hours after DeWine announced that he’d chosen Dr. Joan Duwve to take the position. The governor announced the decision on Twitter stating that Duwve cited “personal reasons” for the decision and that his office would continue searching for a full-time replacement.

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Ohio to Test Wastewater for COVID-19

In an effort to get ahead of COVID-19, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state would begin testing wastewater at a network of water treatment plants across the state.

Information from the new Coronavirus Wastewater Monitoring Network can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

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DeWine Administration Lays out Its Work Over the Past Week, from Providing Kids with Books to Implementing School Virus Reporting Requirements

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration provided a “Week in Review” for the past week, with actions ranging from providing free books to kids to requiring schools to report coronavirus cases to local health departments.

The week started off Monday with DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announcing assistance for five projects to create 574 new jobs and retain 1,058 jobs statewide. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought to the board by JobsOhio and its regional partners. Collectively, the projects are expected to result in more than $23 million in new payroll and spur more than $68 million in investments across Ohio.

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Ohio Senate Discusses Limiting Pandemic Executive Powers, Passes COVID Liability Limits and Federal Relief Funds

The Ohio Senate passed two bills and discussed a third this week that would “check and balance” state executive orders. The two passed bills would limit essential workers’ liability for COVID-19 transmissions and grant $650 million of federal relief funds statewide, respectively.

Senate Bill (SB) 311 aims to install a balance of powers between Congress and Ohio’s Department of Health (DOH) during this and any future pandemics. In an interview with The Ohio Star, Senator Andrew Brenner (R-OH-19) explained the historical rationale behind the bill.

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Governor DeWine Requires Schools to Report K-12 Student COVID Cases to Government

Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday his order requiring all K-12 schools to report COVID-19 cases to their local health department. Schools must do so within 24 hours of notification of a positive test result from a student, teacher, staff member or coach.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes issued the order under DeWine. The order requires each school to appoint a coordinator to report positive cases, and to create a “reopening or pandemic operating plan.” It also requires schools to notify all parents and guardians of case reports. The order did not mention a requirement to tell the staff.

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Ohio FEMA Camps – Still More Questions Than Answers

The Ohio Star reported on September 3 that Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes released an order on August 31 – an order creating Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shelters and legalizing their use for people who “are unable to safely self-quarantine in their place of residence and to isolate those diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19.”

The non-congregate FEMA sheltering will be utilized throughout the state for people, according to the examples given by Himes, who “test positive for COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization but need isolation (including those exiting from hospitals); those who have been exposed to COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization; and asymptomatic high-risk individuals needing social distancing as a precautionary measure.”

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State Orders Public Colleges and Universities to Create COVID-19 Quarantine Shelters

Ohio will now mandate public colleges and universities to create non-congregate sheltering space for quarantining coronavirus patients.

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes issued the order Sunday “to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” alongside Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted.

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Trump’s Sunday Presser Forces Hand of Ohio’s Dept of Health and Governor DeWine

President Donald J. Trump announced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma as a therapeutic treatment in COVID patients Sunday.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of the blood that contains COVID antibodies. Convalescent plasma given to COVID patients during research conducted since April by the Mayo Clinic has resulted in a 35% decrease in the incidence of death in the patients receiving the plasma, according to FDA Director Stephen Hahn.

The announcement is significant in Ohio where Republican Governor Mike DeWine has hinted for months at his hesitation to allow Ohioans to return to normal life until there is a vaccine.

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Ohio COVID Case Measures – Questionable Overall, Punitive for Small Counties

On July 2, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine introduced the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). The color-coded map assigns a color to each of Ohio’s 88 counties that is supposed to be indicative of each county’s COVID spread.

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Ohio Public Health Advisory System – New Cases Per Capita

This is the second story in an eight-part series on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System

Early in the battle with COVID Ohioans were implored to heed recommended measures from Republican Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton to “flatten the curve and ramp hospital capacity.”

Experts displayed epidemiological curves showing as many as 62,000 new cases a day, while county and local health departments received epidemiological reports highlighting the projected death toll on each age group within the locale or county.

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Ohio Public Health Advisory System – Driving Policies Based on ‘What If’ Instead of ‘What Is’

This is the first story in an eight-part series on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System

On July 2, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine introduced the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). The color-coded map assigns a color to each of Ohio’s 88 counties that is supposed to be indicative of each county’s COVID spread.

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Attorney Defending Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Called to Testify in Epstein Accuser Case

John Zeiger is a partner at Zeiger, Tigges & Little LLP, the law firm the Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office hired to defend the State of Ohio in litigation popping up around the state as a consequence of Ohio’s COVID orders, mandates and policies – lawsuits naming as defendants Governor Michael DeWine, Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes, former Director of Health Amy Acton, and certain health districts.

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Nearly 60 Percent of Ohio Now Required to Wear Face Coverings in Public

  Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Thursday that eight new counties were added to the Red Level 3 Public Emergency. When an Ohio county reaches this level its population is required to wear a face covering in public. Level 3 is considered an area where exposure and spread of the…

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Ohio Lawmakers Introduce Bill That Would Make February 26 ‘Dr. Amy Acton Day’

Two Ohio lawmakers want to honor former Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton by giving her own day.

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) introduced House Bill 724 on Monday that would be designated February 26 “Dr. Amy Acton Day.”

February 26 is the date of choice because Gov. Mike DeWine named Acton the ODH director on this date in 2019.

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Amy Acton Steps Down as Director of Ohio Department of Health

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, who during the COVID-19 pandemic has been both a magnet for praise and a lightning rod for criticism, is stepping down from her post. She will remain an advisor to Gov. Mike DeWine.

Republicans in the legislature and small business owners who felt the state took a heavy-handed approach with its pandemic response were particularly critical of Acton.

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Eight Bars, Restaurants Sue Acton, DeWine Over ‘Constitutionally Vague’ Restrictions

A lawsuit has been filed against Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and Gov. Mike DeWine in Lake County Common Pleas Court over “constitutionally vague” restrictions on restaurants and bars, The News-Herald reported.

The case has been assigned to Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge John P. O’Donnell. The plaintiffs are eight bars and restaurants, all but one being located in Northeast Ohio.

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Ohio Antibody Testing Traces History of Coronavirus to January

Dr. Amy Acton claims the Ohio Health Department found five cases in five counties where COVID-19 symptoms were experienced in January.

Acton mentioned serological antibody testing and hinted that contact tracers were involved in investigating the patients’ cases during a press conference Monday, WLWT reported.

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Conservatives Say Obhof’s Canceling Session Before Acton Vote is ‘Betrayal’

Conservatives are using words like “betrayal” to describe Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof’s late-night move to kill a vote on a bill to curb Dr. Amy Acton’s unrestrained powers in shutting the state down, and suggests he had an ulterior motive.

The Senate will not act this week on Senate Bill One pulling back the Health Department director’s powers, meaning it will likely fail, Fox 19 Now reported. The Senate is only having committee meetings this week and will hold a session next week.

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Newspaper Builds Convoluted Case to Accuse Rep. Vitale of Being Anti-Semitic for Calling Health Department Director ‘Globalist’

Thinking local is racist, according to The Columbus Dispatch, which built a convoluted case to accuse Ohio Rep. Nino Vitale (R-OH-85) of being anti-semitic for using the dirty word “globalist.”

On May 1, the Urban-area Republican posted on Facebook:

While you were sleeping, UNELECTED Acton declared Ohio closed until May 29th.

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State Rep. Grendell Drafts Bill to Force More Data Transparency from Dr. Amy Acton on COVID-19

State Rep. Diane Grendell (R- Geauga County) wants Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton to be more forthcoming about COVID-19 statistics.

Grendell drafted the “Truth in COVID-19 Statistics” bill, the Record-Courier reported. She said the bill will be introduced in the House later this week, and she expects it to gain bipartisan support.

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State Rep. Vitale’s Facebook Campaign Account is Alive and Well, Despite Reports to the Contrary

State Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) says reports of his Facebook campaign page’s demise are greatly exaggerated — it was down temporarily, but the social media giant was very cooperative in restoring it.

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Gov. DeWine Eases Restrictions on Elective Surgery Ban

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine during his daily news briefing Wednesday, announced an easing up on the prohibition of elective surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine said that doctors can now review postponed procedures and surgeries with patients in terms of their current health situation and quality of life, after which doctors and patients can make a joint decision about whether to proceed. New or other chronic conditions that may have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life should also be evaluated.

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