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The silver lining of quarantine: Cleaner air, parks and rec

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It’s easy to lament on the negatives that have come out of the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But let’s take a quick second to focus on a couple of positives that emerged from the stay-at-home order.

On Thursday, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s (MORPC) released a report detailing the effects that COVID-19 had on transportation and sustainability. Of course, we know there were fewer cars on the road with people quarantined to their houses, which means less pollution. 

But what have been some of the specific effects of the shutdowns?

With fewer people traveling, here have been some of the positives of quarantining during COVID-19:

  • Ozone pollution has decreased eight percent below its five-year average, with values being measured at a 20-year low
  • Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks visits increased 35 percent in April, compared to data from April 2019

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On top of decreasing ozone pollution, quarantining has also brought Columbus residents back to the parks. With an assortment of running, hiking, and biking trails, archery and disc golf courses, kayaking and fishing spots, and much more, people from all around the world have once again been using metro parks as a way to reconnect with the world. 

However, with the world starting to take off the yellow tape that kept us closed for a couple of months, the MORPC has already seen an increase in public transportation. The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) scaled back its fixed-route services to 53 percent capacity from March 17 until April 27. That number has steadily increased since May 4, when minor service additions were made.

So as more ways of entertaining ourselves inch back into our lives, will you continue to take your dog for a walk around the metro parks with entertainment venues reopening? Has reconnecting with nature been a positive experience for you? Sound off in the comments below!

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Coronavirus

Big Ten sports will be conference-only come this fall

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Hold your beers, Buckeyes!

If you had plans to head out to Oregon come September to see the Buckeyes take on the Ducks, you’ll have to put your cooler back in the garage, because cross-country football road trips are on hiatus for 2020. 

According to reports from The Athletic and ESPN, the Big Ten Conference is going to announce conference-only play for fall athletics. You can read the official statement from the Big Ten here.

The Big Ten is the first of the Power 5 conferences to announce the decision to scrap non-conference games. After losing non-conference games with the Big Ten, the Pac-12 is expected to make a similar announcement, according to The Athletic.

Some of the reasons behind a conference-only schedule include cutting down on travel while also making sure that athletes are being tested diligently for COVID-19.

There is support amongst Big Ten teams to keep one non-conference game, but the majority support a shortened 10-game schedule.

If this were the case, and basing it off of the original 2020 OSU football schedule, here is who the Buckeyes would match up against this fall:

  • vs. Rutgers on Sept. 26
  • vs. Iowa on Oct. 10
  • @ Michigan State on Oct. 17
  • @ Penn State on Oct. 24
  • vs. Nebraska on Oct. 31
  • vs. Indiana on Nov. 7
  • @ Maryland on Nov. 14
  • @ Illinois on Nov. 21
  • vs. Michigan on Nov. 28

As long as we get to beat Xichigan, right? You can keep an eye on the OSU football schedule here.

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DeWine outlines college requirements for Fall, updates Franklin County’s COVID-19 level

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Gov. Mike DeWine started off his weekly COVID-19 update, which will take place once a week on Thursdays moving forward, outlining a plan to reopen Ohio colleges and updates to the COVID-19 warning levels for each Ohio county.

Here were some of the major talking points as they pertain to Columbus residents:

  • DeWine outlined the minimum requirements for the 167 institutions of higher learning in Ohio to reopen in the fall. They include:
    • Strict testing tailored toward their particular campus and community.
    • Isolation of those showing symptoms
    • Designated housing for relocating those requiring isolation
    • You can visit coronavirus.ohio.gov for a full list of minimum operating standards and best practices for further enhancing those standards
    • DeWine is asking for $200 million in CARES Act funds toward institutions of higher learning in Ohio.
    • “Colleges and universities really drive our economy,” DeWine said.
  • Franklin County, which was on the watchlist approaching Level 4 last week, was taken off the watchlist on Thursday.
  • Franklin County was taken off of the watchlist because it saw a decrease in the number of residents being admitted to the hospital.
  • The county still remains at Level 3 due to the following factors:
    • There have been 2,200 cases within the last 14 days, which means that the county exceeds the high incidence category for COVID-19 as defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
    • COVID-19 cases have increased from an average of 94 cases per day on June 16 up to 175 cases per day on July 2.
    • More residents have been seeking medical care, up from 171 to 302 outpatient visits per day.
    • COVID-19 emergency room visits have increased from an average of 27 ER visits on June 16 up to 56 ER visits on July 4.
  • Franklin County is still considered at Level 3 because they are still experiencing four to five COVID-19 indicators and its category can’t improve unless it sees a decline for two consecutive reporting periods.
  • Hamilton, Butler, and Cuyahoga counties were upgraded to approaching Level 4 on Thursday.
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COSI to delay reopening due to COVID-19 concerns

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COSI will not reopen today as hoped.

After making plans at the end of June to reopen this week, COSI has made the difficult, yet cautious, decision to delay welcoming guests back in its doors.

On Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine declared Franklin County to be approaching Alert Level 4—the highest level alert—of the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System for COVID-19 response. Currently, Franklin County is the only Ohio county approaching Alert Level 4, and COSI has taken Gov. DeWine’s declaration very seriously.

You can read a statement provided by COSI below:

“After careful consideration of the current COVID-19 situation in Franklin County, COSI has made the difficult decision to delay its planned reopening. COSI has undertaken this action out of concern for the health and safety of its Members, Guests, and Team. The Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System currently ranks Franklin County as an Alert Level 3, indicating a very high exposure and spread of coronavirus, and the State of Ohio has announced that Franklin County is currently approaching Alert Level 4. COSI will continue to monitor the situation along with state and local health officials.”  

Statement from COSI on Wednesday


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