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Delta Variant Renews Call For Masks

A statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger wears a face mask in downtown Columbus.
David Holm

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss the rise in COVID cases due to the Delta variant and the FirstEnergy settlement to avoid prosecution in the nuclear bailout scandal.

Delta Blues

The Delta Variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the county and across Ohio.
Our state has seen a 135% increase in daily COVID cases – about 750 new cases a day. That's more than double our recent average.

The Ohio Department of Health’s medical director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff now says it’s not a matter of if, but when unvaccinated people get COVID.

Officials are now looking ahead to the fall when we start going back inside and when kids go back to school. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends school kids wear masks. The CDC has not gone that far. In Cleveland, school kids will have to mask up - at least at the start of the year.

Meanwhile, there is a move at the statehouse to ban public school mask mandates. State Rep Andrew Brenner of suburban Columbus has introduced a bill that would prohibit public schools and public universities from making students or employees wear masks.

Let's Settle This Once And For All

FirstEnergy, the company long thought to be at the center of a federal investigation into the nuclear bailout law, will pay $230 million to avoid prosecution on charges that the company bribed former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chair Sam Randazzo.

The company admitted it "conspired with public officials and other individuals and entities," according to a release from a press release from federal prosecutors. That comes a year-and-a day after Householder and four others were arrested in connection with the effort to pass the law that gave massive subsidies to FirstEnergy’s two nuclear plants, and the campaign to stop a repeal of the law.

Two of Householder’s alleged accomplices have pleaded guilty. A third, Neil Clark, died by suicide in Florida earlier this year. Householder himself and another alleged accomplice, former Ohio GOP chair Matt Borges, maintain their innocence.

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.
Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.