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Editorial Roundup: Ohio

March 30, 2020 - 11:56 AM

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

Recovery is hand-in-hand

Sandusky Register

March 26

This has been a month like one most everybody cannot recall.

Bad news followed by worse news followed by "never-conceived-anything-like-this-could-happen" news.

Restaurants and retailers closed. Payrolls can't be met. Businesses are at risk of closing down for good — not to mention job losses and fear of the unknown.

It's understandable: We're all stressed.

Ventra, the old Ford Motor Co. plant on Tiffin Avenue, shuttered already, idling about 3,000 workers. Service industry employees and others, too, have been laid off due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Biggest Week in American Birding, scheduled for May 8-17 was officially cancelled this week, another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Black Swamp Bird Observatory said the annual event attracts thousands and has an economic impact of $40 million for the area. Lake Erie Shores & Islands, Destination Toledo, Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and others partner with the Black Swamp Bird Observatory to host the event.

Cedar Point, too, already announced it would delay the park's opening until later in May. The park attracts millions of tourists, who stay at our hotels and eat and shop at our retail centres. Given the circumstances and the math related to the rates of COVID-19 infection, opening day could happen much later than later in May.

Kalahari Resorts, Great Wolf Lodge, the Cedar Point Sports Center and other major attractions in our area aren't sure when they will be allowed to reopen.

And, chances are, despite the optimism of our president, that won't happen at Easter, and churches will still be empty on the holy day.

Revenue from tourism — to our restaurants and other businesses — and from the lodging tax tourists pay when they spend nights in our hotels here is going to suffer, mightily, and that will have a trickle-down impact on the local economy from sales tax revenues to losses in service industry jobs in addition to more tourism jobs disappearing.

We're grateful Congress approved a bipartisan stimulus bill that includes relief for businesses, industry and the average working citizen. We expect it will be carefully monitored by the committee appointed to oversee the big loans and the repayment schedules for the corporations that need taxpayer help, right now.

But we also expect families that need to put dinner on the table and provide roofs over their heads will be treated with equal or greater priority.

It's a hand-in-hand pandemic. It will be a hand-in-hand recovery.

The time for partisan bickering or attacks on the media from our president has ended.

Online: https://bit.ly/39y06GS


Be wary of would-be scammers

The Lorain Morning Journal

March 28

In these difficult times when there are so many people helping others, unfortunately, there are crooks at work scamming unsuspecting victims in the name of the novel coronavirus.

Despite these scams, there are great acts of humanitarianism and it's pretty amazing.

On March 25, Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio along with Ohio National Guard soldiers distributed food through a "no-touch" drive-thru distribution at Black River Landing in downtown Lorain.

And the Community Foundation of Lorain County recently provided $250,000 to Second Harvest for its food pantries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But back to the morons who are trying to take advantage of others, especially the vulnerable — including senior citizens — with these online scams.

Some of the people are victimized because they are simply trying to help others.

Unfortunately, others are scammed because they see that great windfall.

Either way, the scammers are wrong.

We have to ask, do they even have a conscience?

Probably not.

But that's where our family, friends, neighbours, strangers, and even the government has tried to lend advice to be careful of these crooks.

These scammers are immoral by leveraging the novel coronavirus pandemic to steal money and personal information from residents.

The FBI Cleveland Office is telling people to protect themselves and to research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits.

The FBI also advises to be on the lookout for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus.

Fraudsters use links in emails to deliver malware to computers to steal personal information or to lock computers and demand payment.

And just be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide.

The criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.

In recent days, the World Health Organization and other authorities began working to debunk spurious claims about possible cures.

The agency says criminals are increasingly posing as WHO officials in calls and phishing emails to swipe information or money.

Fortunately, the United Nations also set up a website to help prevent fraud.

They include false assertions that silver, bleach and garlic could protect against the coronavirus, or that bananas prevent it.

People need to know that there are no cures for COVID-19, so they need to immediately delete those types of emails.

Also, look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government.

Government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send money.

Phishing emails may also claim to be related to charitable contributions, general financial relief, airline carrier refunds, fake cures and vaccines, fake testing kits and counterfeit treatments or equipment.

So, be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19.

And it's not just in Northeast Ohio.

The Associated Press reported March 25 that police in Bowie, Md., investigated reports of a man wearing an orange vest and blue surgical mask who approached people at two homes claiming to inspect for coronavirus.

And the man actually entered one home before a resident confronted him.

That's scary.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined 33 senators March 27 urging Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams.

In response to the recent increase in these scams, the letter to Simons calls on the Commission to better inform seniors about coronavirus scams and assist victims in understanding their recourse options to ensure that seniors are protected from those attempting to financially exploit them during the pandemic.

We agree.

At this time of heightened public fears, the senators wrote that reports have highlighted that scams pertaining to the coronavirus are increasing, and that seniors — arguably the most vulnerable population to both the coronavirus and bad actors — are targeted with calls telling them that the COVID-19 vaccination is ready when no such treatment currently exists.

The letter states that other reports have outlined how scammers have gone to the homes of elderly people to administer fake tests while also charging them and obtaining their social security numbers.

Although the Federal Trade Commission has sent warning letters to seven sellers of fraudulent COVID-19 treatments, the senators are concerned that further action is needed to protect the financial well-being of seniors -- who lose an estimated $3 billion annually from financial scams.

These tricksters are all around us.

Be careful.

Online: https://bit.ly/2QUauT2


We must be vigilant to curb coronavirus in Licking County

Newark Advocate

March 29

It is shocking how much life has changed for so many in just a few weeks.

In that time restaurants have been closed to dine-in patrons, salons are shuttered and the mall served as a refuge for people displaced by flooding instead of a shopping centre.

During this time we have seen heroism in our community: first responders rescuing those stranded by flood waters despite virus concerns, healthcare workers pulling long hours to help those fallen ill and countless parents retrofitting their homes as classrooms for kids removed from school.

We agree largely with Gov. Mike DeWine that compliance is generally good for the health orders issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, it is not uniform.

As the sun peaks out and the weather warmed this past week, there were teens banging into each other on the basketball court, adults ignoring social distancing at stores and kids having fun on public playgrounds – which were supposed to be off limits because of their ability to transmit viruses.

And people playing wasn't the only problem. The Licking County Health Department was flooded with inquiries from people asking them to investigate companies for not following the state’s stay-at-home order. As of Thursday afternoon, 41 such companies were sent warning letters to help prompt compliance.

The temptation to play is understandable. The need for businesses to keep working so people can make a living is obvious. But these are extraordinary times. After spending a few weeks under these restrictions, now is not the time to become complacent.

Just weeks after Ohio’s first confirmed case, the state now tops 1,100, with 19 deaths. Licking County has seen 12 cases in less than a week. On Thursday, we learned the United States now has more confirmed cases than any other country in the world.

We are not sharing these numbers to spread fear, but it is critical for people to take the advice of the medical community seriously. We all must play a part in slowing the spread of the disease. This helps protect firefighters, police officers, nurses and doctors so they can do critical work with a lower risk of infection.

Yes, there are large economic hardships being endured because of the state’s health orders. Thousands of Ohioans are now out of work and some businesses may have shuttered permanently. But there are also tremendous economic costs with continuing business as usual during a pandemic – costs we believe would be far worse in the long run. Allowing the disease to spread unchecked would have dire consequences for the economy. We also believe that preserving the lives of its residents is one of the fundamental tenants of government.

State health director Dr. Amy Acton said in a good scenario Ohio will see 10,000 additional cases of coronavirus per day during its peak. The efforts we take today and every day moving forward will determine if that peak becomes unmanageable.

This isn’t to mean we stop living. So enjoy your walk outdoors, just keep your distance from others on the sidewalk.

Working together, we can get through this.

Online: https://bit.ly/2WUayG3


Northeast Ohio response to coronavirus is to be applauded

March 28


Life in Ohio right now feels a lot different than it did before novel coronavirus began wreaking havoc in the Buckeye State.

Think about all of the changes that have resulted from statewide orders and directives aimed at thwarting the proliferation of COVID-19. These mandates have affected the way that we as individuals work, the activities we pursue in our free time, and under what conditions we can gather with other people outside of our homes.

But the new rules and regulations also have forced government entities and community organizations in our region to re-assess how they can provide services safely and effectively in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Madison Township, for example, is carrying out a plan to continue holding government meetings while at the same time protecting the health of people who attend those gatherings during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The meetings of township trustees and the community’s other government boards have been relocated to the Bill Stanton Community Park banquet hall, at 5585 Chapel Road, from their traditional location in the township Administration Building at 2065 Hubbard Road.

“The trustees have chosen to move all township board meetings to the large banquet hall at Bill Stanton Park because it is larger than our meeting room at the township Administration Building,” Trustee Kenneth Gauntner Jr. said in a Facebook post. “This will allow us to create some distance in seating for the board members, and any public that might attend.”

Along with trustees, other township panels that will assemble for meetings at the banquet hall are the Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Another benefit of shifting the meetings to Stanton Park’s banquet hall is reducing the number of people entering the Administration Building, which houses the Police Department and administrative staff.

Trustee Max Anderson Jr., during the board's March 24 meeting, said he thinks that holding meetings in the banquet hall is a good move.

“Because if we had (government meetings) at (the township Administration Building), we’ve got to worry about the administrative side, and we’ve got to worry about the police side,” he said. “Coming in here (to the banquet hall) it’s just one open room. This can be cleaned quicker and easier than it would be over there.”

Trustees also unanimously agreed that they will hold only one regularly scheduled meeting each month instead of the usual two.

Laketran, meanwhile, has requested that residents limit travel on public transit to “essential trips,” in accordance with Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home-order.

Adhering to a myriad of directed health protocols and for the safety of its employees and customers, Laketran also announced, beginning March 25, it is suspending fare collection for all services until April 30.

In addition, Laketran encourages all riders to sit apart to practice social distancing while on buses.

United Way of Lake County also has risen to the occasion by creating the Lake County Relief Fund to help ensure that individuals, children and families in need are supported during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UWLC is working with its partner agencies and local non-profit organizations to identify critical needs and resource gaps to determine the best use of funds raised.

Based on initial discussions, the UWLC anticipates an increased demand for items like food, medical supplies, cleaning supplies and more.

“We work solely for the benefit of our local community and we need the support of those able to give right now more than ever,” said Jennifer McCarty, president and CEO of UWLC.

Online: https://bit.ly/3bzR9hJ


News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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