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Can’t drive 45? SmartLane speed limit will increase soon

614now Staff

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The SmartLane has been a hit with the commuting public on I-670 since opening in the fall of 2019. For the unfamiliar, the high-tech new interstate system uses cameras to detect traffic flow, opening the left shoulder of eastbound Interstate 670 when traffic slows from an average of 55 mph to 45 mph.

According to Ohio Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Brooke Ebersole, the SmartLane has made a serious impact on rush hour traffic in the area, with average commute times on I-670 east cut in half.

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With its success established, ODOT is continuing to tweak aspects of the SmartLane to further improve the commuter experience. According to a report from the Dispatch, transportation officials are preparing to increase the speed limit for all lanes of 670 east from 45 to 55 mph during times when the SmartLane is active.

The new speed limit for the SmartLane will take effect Monday, March 9.

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COVID-19 puts Columbus Arts Festival on hold until next year

Mitch Hooper

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Citing the COVID-19 outbreak, the Greater Columbus Arts council board has voted to cancel the 2020 Columbus Arts Festival, formerly scheduled for June 12-14.

"As much as we desperately want to go on as planned, we recognize that we must put the health and safety of our patrons, artists, performers, vendors and sponsors first," said Tom Katzenmeyer, President & CEO of GCAC, in a press release. "As we’ve watched the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, with all the uncertainty it holds for the near future, we could not in good conscience hold a festival that would bring artists and visitors from 38 states and four countries, and more than 500,000 people within close proximity to each other on the downtown riverfront."

In past press conferences, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, has said that we could see the impacts of COVID-19 lasting into May with a gradual drop-off. Currently, Columbus has seen many events in May be canceled including Taco Fest and Six One Pour, both citing public health taking priority over the festivals.

This announcement comes as one of the first events in June to officially cancel due to the Coronavirus. Though it won't be taking place this year, Katzenmeyer remains hopeful for the future of Arts Fest.

"I will miss this energy. I will miss these people. I will miss being a part of this experience, and yes, I will miss fresh lemonade shake ups. But we made this decision to ensure that we all remain healthy and able to enjoy all these wonderful experiences at next year’s Arts Festival. And that is where I have my heart set."

In Central Ohio, June also plays host to the Memorial Tournament, the Pride Parade and Festival, and the Creekside Jazz and Blue Fest. 614Now will have more updates about upcoming events as they become available.

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Aunt Flow pivots manufacturing to help with the COVID-19 outbreak

Mitch Hooper

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Of the many things COVID-19 has exposed a need for, one of the largest topics of conversation has been face masks. From nurses in hospitals to grocery store clerks, these are becoming equally important as they are difficult to find. However, Claire Coder, founder and CEO of Aunt Flow, is pitching in her manufacturing resources to assist in the crisis.

In a Facebook post on March 26, Aunt Flow announced that it has been working around the clock to produce FDA-approved face masks for those in need.

"We are here for YOU. People helping people. PERIOD," the post stated.

https://www.facebook.com/goauntflow/posts/2641440882845957?__xts__[0]=68.ARBUMS95oPw2ZCc9mPy8pgjRK0I51qu-SBsit1FXkGvUkkR2p82F4yiscUHdZ2-ZG-rPDXhpsr75Lb6dfWhaC8TlLSko_Ny5MMYnY_z37TwaEm2CZoHkPA-YHSo3E2e9HpiyGPpzd7kocPW-tx676xDTWWcAtmQC1Vcc6Io_-JPyWSGnpqCYNfpc-5kG6VbjwpXRdnJ6TSAE0sN277g8-DvBZOs0n4WtEKb_sADA6aOA6Gw1FLlzhVXhsoBHtGpbcEFBrK8Xk7IRd_nxbFgBBI_4ZH5avE1kzTtv2ATlJcAdZHgInmjkcz5sG4deeIJeUN2NZP-jaIL_6doeThzbtO4iJtHf&__tn__=-R
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By The Numbers: How COVID-19 has impacted Ohio thus far

Mitch Hooper

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While these numbers are subject to fluctuate and grow throughout the upcoming days and weeks, Ohio.gov has released its current numbers on COVID-19 and its impacts.

Currently, as of March 31, 2020, here are the reports:

  • 2,199 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio
  • 585 total hospitalizations
  • 198 ICU admissions
  • 55 total deaths

The median age of these cases was reported at 53 with a sex split at 49% males and 51% females with a less than 1% not reporting their sex. The age range, however, goes from one year olds to 99-years-old.

614Now will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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