A Cold Covid Christmas in Cleveland

As moratoriums end Dec. 1, need grows for utility assistance; Guide to avoiding shutoffs

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. CLEVELAND, Ohio – The needs of Greater Clevelanders have come in waves during the pandemic, much like the virus itself: first food, then rent, then internet so students could learn from home.  

Now, as moratoriums that staved off utility disconnections cascade to an end, some families face a long winter unsure how they will keep the lights, heat and water on. Moratoriums on shut-offs with Cleveland Public Power and the Cleveland Water Department, for example, ends tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec.

Ohio’s Hospital Capacity Data in Ten Charts

Interactive: Explore Newly Released Hospital Data

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Updated: Additional data from Nov. 21-24 released on Nov. 27.

After seven month legal battle, Eye on Ohio wins public records lawsuit over hospital capacity numbers

Court of Claims Rules that the Ohio Department of Health must disclose the number of beds and other equipment available

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. As the ongoing pandemic continues to surge, the Ohio Court of Claims ruled last week that the Department of Health must share public records with Eye on Ohio, showing the number of beds and ventilators available for COVID-19 patients at individual hospitals throughout the state. 

The ruling comes seven months after Eye on Ohio initially sought the records. 

“In times of crisis transparency is paramount,” said Rebekah Crawford, who has her Ph.D. in Health Communication, Relating & Organizing from Ohio University. People want credibility and clear lines around what is known and what is uncertain. “When risk communicators are at their best,” Crawford said, “they remain credible by showing what is known and what is not known and by being clear about why we don’t know, and what we’re going to do to find out.” 

When Eye on Ohio first requested records, at the end of March, the state had only about 2,200 confirmed cases and 55 deaths, according to the online Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Coming out while stuck inside: LGBTQ+ youth and young adults face unique mental health risks as pandemic rages on

When Tyler, a sophomore at Cleveland State University, started hormone replacement therapy two months before spring break, the last thing he expected was to spend the rest of the semester with his parents in Westbrook, New York. Tyler had been living with three other trans students he befriended through CSU’s LGBTQ+ Student Services before campus housing closed in mid-March. When Tyler moved in with his parents, they were still uncomfortable with his trans identity and were not using his preferred pronouns (he/his). 

“I wasn’t out in high school and college was the first place I felt like I was actually able to be myself,” Tyler said. “I felt like my sense of community was ripped away all at once.”

Those first few months of quarantine, when Tyler didn’t have a laptop and couldn’t access CSU’s online counseling or the LGBTQ+ center’s virtual drop-ins, were emotionally rough. “The conversations I had with my parents were conversations I was not prepared for, especially being on hormones.

Red tape remains a high hurdle, but Cleveland still able to provide rental assistance to pandemic-stricken tenants

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism . Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Tenants facing eviction in Cleveland Housing Court can access a temporary measure of relief through the current federal moratorium on evictions, and through the city and county’s rental aid programs. But, they’re no silver bullet. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium, started on Sept. 1, was meant to pause pandemic-related eviction cases against tenants, to provide a measure of relief during these challenging times.

Inconsistent Ballot Application Data Leads to Undercount of Disenfranchised Voters

Haley Belisle, a recent graduate of Ohio Northern University, was baffled this spring when the Hardin County Board of elections rejected her application to vote absentee in the state’s presidential primary. 

The problem was her signature on the application: It didn’t match her voter registration signature. “When I originally registered, I was just out of high school and I apparently signed my name in a very curly cursive, which I don’t do any more,” she said. The 24-year-old got a new application and replicated the original style, she said, effectively “forging my own signature.” 

Belisle was able to cast her ballot. 

That wasn’t the case for all potential voters in Ohio’s presidential primary. 

This summer, Eye on Ohio set out to examine how many absentee ballot applications were rejected, why, and how voters could avoid those mistakes. The analysis of millions of Ohio applications from the state’s 88 counties revealed a patchwork and unreliable system for tracking the requests that makes it near-impossible to accurately know how many voters, if any, were disenfranchised. It also called into question the accuracy of information collected by state election officials on rejected applications. 

With only weeks until the 2020 presidential election, and lingering concerns about the novel coronavirus, voters are applying for absentee ballots at a record pace. 

That, along with President Donald Trump’s attacks on the use of mail-in ballots,  though not supported by research, could bring magnified attention to the process, especially in a swing state like Ohio where Trump and Sen. Joe Biden are swapping narrow leads in the polls. 

Applications for mail-in ballots received relatively little attention in the past, as most fair election advocates concentrated efforts on whether absentee and provisional ballots were counted.

How can students learn at home if they have multiple homes or no home at all?

One group succeeds with holistic approach; demand still exceeds supply

Sylvia Rucker has been a caretaker most of her life. As the head cook at Hannah Gibbons Elementary School in Collinwood, she prepares meals for approximately 250 students daily, and has four adult children of her own. But when her oldest daughter died unexpectedly in the summer of 2019, Rucker was suddenly thrust into the role of parent once again. “My daughter went into the hospital with a toothache. She passed away a week later, and left behind three kids,” says Rucker.