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“Very sad week,” Franklin County considering 2nd morgue for overdoses

614now Staff



The Franklin County coroner is facing unprecedented challenges in the face of the opioid overdose epidemic that continues to claim lives in Central Ohio.

According to a report from CNN, there were 23 reported overdose deaths in the county from January 31 to February 7, prompting coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz to make the following statement on Facebook:

In the day following Dr. Ortiz’s heartbreaking message, five more overdoses occurred. In a separate report from ABC6, Dr. Ortiz said that Franklin County morgue techs are “constantly working [and] don’t take lunch,” adding that the county may be forced to consider opening a second temporary morgue if the overdose rate maintains the same pace or worsens.


The synthetic opioid fentanyl is believed to be the cause of the spike in overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is the deadliest drug in the US, and up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

For a list of resources that can help battle this epidemic—such as treatment options, fentanyl testing strips, and the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone—visit the City of Columbus’s Overdose Crisis Information page.

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Govt & Politics

Elizabeth Brown hosts virtual public hearing on demilitarization of police




President Pro Tempore and Finance Committee Chair Elizabeth Brown and several other Columbus City Council members held a virtual finance committee public hearing Tuesday afternoon that lasted long into the evening. The hearing was held to “discuss equipment purchased for and allowed to be purchased for by the police department.”

“I believe that in this country...we strive to have community-based safety forces,” Brown said during the hearing. “I believe for the protection of our residents, for that to exist, there should be a covenant between police and people that we are on the same side.”

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive order limiting the amount of military-grade gear going to police departments. In that executive order, there were two lists of military-grade weapons: prohibited and controlled.

In 2017, President Donald Trump rescinded that executive order, effectively opening the door to the militarization of police departments across the country.

Deputy Chief Michael Woods thoroughly listed the use of certain military-style equipment, not limited to weapons, and physical purchases by the Columbus Division of Police. Deputy Woods outlined the equipment that the CPD doesn’t possess as well.

Some of the prohibited items discussed included: 

  • Trekked armored vehicles – none owned by CPD
  • Weaponized aircraft vessels /vehicles of any kind – none owned by CPD
  • Firearms and ammunition of 50 caliber or higher – none owned by CPD
  • Grenade launchers – none, but do use gas guns ($936 each)
  • Camouflage uniforms – CPD wears a woodland pattern ($316/uniform)

Some of the controlled items discussed included:

  • Helicopters – CPD ranks higher in helicopter fleet (six helicopters)
  • Riot shields and batons – haven’t purchased new ones in 15 years ($200 each)
  • Tasers
  • M16 military rifles and gas guns
  • Armored vehicles

There are arguments to be made on both sides when it comes to using military-grade equipment. For example, the roar of helicopters may incite fear in communities, but they provide valuable community resources in locating missing persons or during natural disasters. And if their use is valid, is six excessive and even wasteful?

Columbus residents were encouraged to submit written testimony to Brown’s office and participate in the virtual press conference. Columbus City Council received an outpouring of community engagement, including 906 written comments and 69 speaker testimonies. Many spoke in length about the unprovoked and violent force used by the police since the protests started at the end of May.

“The overwhelming public engagement we received is more evidence of the urgent need to think differently about how we keep every resident safe in our city. I’m grateful to the nearly 1,000 people who lent their voices. I also appreciate (the) Division of Police personnel for providing information to Council and residents — they answered some important questions, and we will continue to ask more questions. Creating public policy is not just putting words on paper; it’s about making a difference in people’s lives. We are all better prepared for that job by having given residents the mic last night.”

President Pro Tempore and Finance Committee Chair Elizabeth Brown said in a statement to (614)

Those who spoke included the Department of Finance Director Joe Lombardi, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Chair Mitchell J. Brown, Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus, and several other council members.

Before the list of prohibited and controlled equipment was outlined by Woods, Lombardi went through the process that the city goes through when setting a specific budget. Here is the procedure for 2021:

  • The budget process begins in June, and the Department of Finance puts together target budgets; target budgets are based on estimates of available resources from following fiscal year
  • A series of meetings will take place between August and October
  • Budget is adopted in February

(614) reached out to the CPD for comment after the press conference and had not received a response at the time of publishing.

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Two down, one to go: City Hall Columbus statue comes down




Photo by Julian Foglietti

Another early morning in Columbus, another construction crew tasked with disassembling Mr. Columbus.

The Christopher Columbus statue on the Broad Street side of City Hall is getting its last view of downtown today. With the guidance of the Columbus Art Commission, McKay Lodge Art Conservation Laboratory, and Smoot Construction, the statue will be taken into safekeeping, according to a press release from the city.

The Columbus Art Commission has been chosen to launch a community-driven process that embraces diversity to determine what will replace the statue. The Commission has also been asked for recommendations on reimagining other symbols associated with Columbus, such as the state seal and flag.

How far do you think the city of Columbus should go in the removal of statues and symbols? Sound off in the comments below!

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COVID antibody testing—get yours today!




For those who swear they had coronavirus and just powered through it can now more easily find out if those claims carried any weight as testing centers have expanded and become more open to the public, making it a quicker and easier process than it used to be. 

You can now sign up for an antibody test at multiple locations, though makes it pretty easy with a quick online sign-up, $10 fee, and results in 24-72 hours 

You can find your nearest LabCorp location here. LabCorp suggests that you take the antibody test if you: 

  • are not experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • have not experienced a fever in the past three days
  • have had or suspect you have had COVID-19, but have not experienced any new symptoms in the past 10 days 

As outlined by OhioHealth, the reasons you should take an antibody test are to know if you have antibodies, donate convalescent plasma, and help researchers understand the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. 

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center started administering antibody tests at the end of April. OhioHealth has been administering antibody tests since earlier this May.

The turnaround time on antibody tests has drastically improved as well. Quest Diagnostics reported that they have the capacity to perform approximately 200,000 antibody tests a day with an average turnaround of one to two days. One million more antibody tests were performed in May compared to this month.

The Ohio Department of Health lists all the COVID-19 test centers in Ohio, including pop-up locations. You can easily find a testing location here.

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