Week in Review > Week in Review – 07/31/2020

Posted by on July 31st, 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Child care centers can return to pre-pandemic child-to-staff ratios and class sizes starting Sunday, Aug. 9, Gov. Mike DeWine said, although providers will have the choice to maintain lower pandemic ratios and continue to receive state subsidies.

A national study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that 86 percent of Ohioans who died due to COVID-19 in the week ending July 11 were 65 years or older, slightly above the national rate of 80 percent.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said Wednesday that Ohio hospitals have the highest number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 since the pandemic began on March 9, with 1,122 COVID-19 patients. Of those, according to the Ohio Hospital Association, 348 are in ICUs and 174 on ventilators. “The previous high was in late April when the state saw 1,103 COVID-positive patients,” the department noted in a release.

With the 2020-21 school year approaching, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released a report stating that even though children under 18 are less likely to become ill from COVID-19, they can still carry the disease asymptomatically and transmit it to others. KFF concludes that, “the risk of re-opening schools needs to be considered carefully in light of the recognized benefits of in-person education.” This risk is higher in areas with higher recorded incidence of community spread.

EDUCATION

Leadership of Columbus City Schools announced Tuesday all students will be taught remotely at least for the first quarter of the academic year. Meanwhile, teachers unions are urging virtual school starts and expressing support for strikes as a “last resort” safety measure. While Columbus Superintendent Talisa Dixon initially recommended putting students in classrooms two days per week, “public health conditions have drastically worsened in Franklin County,” the district said in announcing the decision.

As state and local officials prepare for a new school year, parents with children who normally attend school overwhelmingly prefer that schools wait to restart in-person classes to reduce infection risk (60 percent) rather than open sooner so parents can work and students can return to the classroom (34 percent), a new poll released recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) finds. Parents of color (76 percent) are even more likely than White parents (51 percent) to prefer that schools wait to return to in-person classes. The poll also finds a large partisan divide, with 87 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents preferring schools open later while 60 percent of Republicans prefer that schools open sooner.

While Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Interim Executive Director Bob Goldring said the organization is “on track” to allow practices for contact sports to begin on Saturday, Aug. 1, school vs. school scrimmages are suspended indefinitely. In a memo to school superintendents, principals and athletic administrators, Goldring said OHSAA is still waiting on further guidance from the governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) on when school vs. school competition can begin for the contact sports of football, soccer, field hockey and cross country.

Ohio State University Department of Mathematics is offering a free virtual summer camp to take place Monday, Aug. 3 through Friday, Aug. 7. The summer camp, called “Open Beyond the Classroom” (BTC), is a non-residential, self-paced, summer program open to students of all ages. Registration opened Monday, July 27. Email outreach@math.osu.edu or visit https://math.osu.edu/btc-gem for more information.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

House Republicans voted Thursday to remove House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) from his leadership position and elect Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) as his replacement. Several candidates had emerged in the race to succeed Householder, who has been charged along with four others in a bribery conspiracy related to his ascension to leadership and the passage of HB6, and was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday as well, as were co-defendants Matt Borges, Juan Cespedes, Neil Clark and Jeff Longstreth. Other contenders included Speaker Pro Tem Jim Butler (R-Dayton) and Reps. Rick Carfagna (R-Columbus), Craig Riedel (R-Defiance) and Tim Ginter (R-Salem). House Republicans had met at a Columbus hotel Tuesday for a caucus meeting at which they voted informally to remove Householder.

 

Ahead of that vote, Attorney General Dave Yost had sent House Republicans a letter outlining their options for removing Householder under state law and the Ohio Constitution. Wednesday night, Carfagna, Ginter and Riedel withdrew and threw their support to Cupp, making it a two-person race. After voting unanimously to remove Householder, the House took a break for Republicans to try to agree on a leader, and they emerged hours later after a reportedly close caucus vote with Cupp the victor. The vote for Cupp on the floor was sufficient to elect him but was not unanimous. All House Democrats voted against his candidacy, as did Reps. Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati), Bill Dean (R-Xenia) and Candice Keller (R-Middletown).

 

Cupp said one of the first priorities of the House under his speakership will be to take a new look at HB6, though he did not set a timetable as to when that will happen. A former state senator and Ohio Supreme Court justice, Cupp said he never intended to seek a leadership position when he returned to the Legislature, and instead wanted to focus on public policy like school finance reform. After Householder was arrested, Cupp said several other legislators approached him and asked if he would be willing to step in. Democrats proposed but Republicans tabled a motion to expel Householder as a House member as well. Cupp noted double-jeopardy protections that prevent a person from being expelled twice for the same reason, which is relevant because Householder is unopposed on the ballot and could be re-elected despite the charges against him.

Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) — who co-sponsored HB6 along with Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro) — issued a statement Monday saying the alleged actions in support of the bill by House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) “crossed the line and [he] should resign immediately.” Callender said that he had known Householder “strongly supported” HB6 but did not know until reading the charging document “all of the actions and behind-the-scenes maneuvers that [Householder] and his political advisors used to support it.”

In a letter to the House Republican caucus Sunday, Rep. Stephen Hambley (R-Brunswick) called for all in leadership positions — including committee chair and vice chair roles — to commit to stepping down upon the election of a new speaker. Hambley’s letter included an announcement of his intent to step down as chair of the House Civil Justice Committee.

Posted by on July 31st, 2020

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