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Ohio House passes bill forbidding plastic bag bans

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UPDATE: A full year after the issue was first raised by lawmakers, the Ohio House passed a measure forbidding any bans on the use of plastic bags, according to a report from The Dispatch.

The majority Republican chamber voted 57-35 on Wednesday to approve House Bill 242, which would prevent bans on the use of plastic bags by grocery stores, restaurants and other retailers. The measure will now move to the State Senate for approval.

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The legislation also would also protect other single-use plastic products such as food containers and plastic straws from being banned.

The city of Bexley passed a ban on single-use plastic bags in May of 2019, but that legislation would be unable to go into effect if House Bill 242 is passed.

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10/18/2018: After Kroger announced its plan to phase out single-use plastic bags and transition to reusable bags across its stores by 2025, some Ohio lawmakers are trying to stop municipalities from doing the same.

The Republican sponsors of HB625 and SB210 say the state as a whole should decide on a ban or fee on disposable plastic bags to avoid a patchwork of regulations from local governments to local governments, reports WOSU.

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Opponents of the legislation believe business owners at the community level should have the right to decide for themselves whether to implement a ban or a fee, though.

HB625 is scheduled for a committee hearing later this month which could result in a vote.

Do you side with the legislation or the opponents?

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Coronavirus

DeWine announces guidelines for Ohio schools to return this fall

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During a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced guidelines “backed by science” that Ohio public schools will need to follow upon reopening in the fall.

Key points from the press conference include:

  • vigilantly assessing for symptoms
  • washing and sanitizing hands to prevent spread
  • thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing school environment to limit spread on shared surfaces
  • practicing social distancing
  • a face-covering policy.

“The risks of being in school outweigh the risks of not being in there,” said Dr. Chris Peter, the president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, also citing that some kids were missing pediatric appointments due to not attending school.

On Tuesday, Columbus City Schools Superintendent and CEO Dr. Talisa Dixon and the Reopening Task Force outlined a safety recommendation plan for Columbus schools, which includes:

  • early childhood students using a blended model based on each child’s individual needs
  • grades K-8 attending school using a blended in-person/online learning model
  • and grades 9-12 attending school remotely full-time from home for at least the first two quarters of the school year.

DeWine mentioned that there was a strong consensus among teachers, principals, and the public around Ohio that kids “need to get back in a building” to learn.

DeWine and state officials talked with dozens of teachers, superintendents, school officials, and medical experts when putting together the document for Ohio school reopening guidance.

“We have an obligation, all of us, to educate our children and keep them safe,” DeWine said.

At the time of the press conference, the webpage featuring the guidance for reopening schools had been hacked. You can find the state’s resources on COVID-19 here.

DeWine mentioned that the recommendation was that students in third grade and up should wear a face mask, with a strong recommendation for those in sixth grade and up.

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Ginther signs executive order requiring masks in public

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On Thursday afternoon, the City of Columbus held a virtual press conference, in which Mayor Andrew J. Ginther signed an executive order that requires residents to wear masks in public starting tomorrow.

Key points of the conference include:

  • Young people under the age of six and those trying to communicate with someone hearing impaired will NOT be required to wear masks.
  • Places like stores, businesses, and outdoor crowds will require a mask, but people will not be cited by the Columbus police for not wearing one.
  • Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts led off the press conference discussing three simple things people can do to slow the spread of COVID-19: Avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing in public; wash your hands with soap and water and use hand sanitizer when those aren’t readily available; and wear a mask.

“In the last few weeks, we’ve gotten growing data that supports how masks are very effective in reducing the spread of the virus within the community,” Roberts said.

Ginther, Roberts, Alex Fischer–President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership–and Chris Suel–Director of My Brothers Keeper Village–were all in attendance to give the address.

Roberts mentioned that she would be making a recommendation to reduce bar capacity by 50 percent and decrease hours of operation. Restaurants and bars won’t be cited if they choose not to follow this recommendation.

Since June 10, Columbus Public Health has significantly ramped up testing, with over 2,800 tests between then and now; 1,500 tests have been administered outside of the CPH system, including increased tests of asymptomatic and people with mild symptoms.

A silver lining has been that Columbus hasn’t seen an increase in hospitalizations, only cases. Roberts mentioned that, currently, 11 percent of cases require hospitalization, with only 20 percent of those requiring treatment in the ICU.

“More testing alone can’t explain why we’re seeing these increasing numbers in our community,” Roberts said.

Ginther made mention of the city’s Masks Equal Kindness Campaign, which has been making strong recommendations toward Columbus residents to wear masks.

“I know we’re fatigued, we’re tired, we’re stressed, and in some cases overwhelmed...but this is an opportunity for this incredible community...to take personal responsibility and do their part to protect the safety and health of our neighbors.”

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther at a press conference on Thursday


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Coronavirus

I pledge allegiance…to the mask

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With Buckeyes set to return to Ohio State University’s campus this fall, a mask will be one of the requirements as students, faculty, and staff head back.

The university announced on Wednesday in an email that those returning to campus would need to wear a mask indoors and sign a pledge “to affirm their understanding of what is needed to help fight the spread of the virus and their intention to do their part.”

The pledge has not been finalized yet.

On top of having to wear a mask in indoor settings and having to sign the pledge, Ohio State students, faculty, and staff will have to complete health and safety training modules.

Ohio State has created a website dedicated to campus-related COVID-19 information. You can find that information here.

What is your opinion on the mask pledge? Mask off? Will this hold up come August? Sound off in the comments below!

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