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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Heinen's Pepper Pike Store Reopened After Deep Cleaning Following Employee's Positive COVID-19 Test

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 9:43 AM

  • Heinen's FB
Update: An overnight deep cleaning and Heinen's in Pepper Pike is back open this morning, the chain announced.

April 1, 2020

Dear customers,

We were pleased to be able to reopen our Pepper Pike store this morning at 8 a.m. EDT. We had closed due to an associate having a positive test for COVID-19, and we have finished our cleaning and sanitizing based on CDC guidelines. We will continue our already stringent sanitation practices and are happy to welcome you back.

Thank you,
Tom and Jeff Heinen


(Original story 3/31/2020): Heinen's announced today that the Pepper Pike store is temporarily closed for a deep cleaning after an associate tested positive for COVID-19. The employee hadn't worked since March 25. The announcement, which you can read below, was shared by Heinen's on its various social media pages.

Dear Customers,

We want to let our Cleveland-area shoppers know we had a Heinen's associate at our Pepper Pike store test positive for COVID-19. We were informed today and then followed our process of closing the store. The associate is in self-quarantine and has not worked at the store since Wednesday, March 25.

The store will remain closed while we do a deep clean performed by a professional crew using a food-approved antiviral cleaner. We will be cleaning the sales area and the backroom areas in accordance with CDC guidelines. We will post on our website and social media when the store is reopened.

In all of our stores, we will continue to follow our already stringent sanitation practices and have increased the frequency of our cleaning to continue to protect the safety of our customers and associates.

Tom & Jeff Heinen

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Local Restaurants Are Helping the Greater Cleveland Community by Feeding the Needy and Our Frontline Healthcare Workers

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 5:08 PM

  • Photo via Goldiesdonuts/Instagram

We're currently living through a global pandemic, affecting millions around the country and many right here in Northeast Ohio. During these tumultuous times, it can also bring out the best in some, and restaurants around town are lending a hand.

A multitude of different restaurants and establishments are donating food to those in need in addition to providing meals to frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic. Do what you can to support them or note which ones might be of service to you and yours during this tumultuous time.

Goldie's Donuts is offering 'a dozen for a dozen', meaning any time someone buys a dozen donuts in their store, they then donate a dozen donuts to a local hospital announced. On the first day of the deal, they donated 23 dozen donuts to the Cleveland Clinic main campus.

"It's a privilege for some of us to be able to stay home, in comfort and safety," said Goldie's co-owner Paloma Goldberg. "Some are not so lucky and we hope to support our community and to uplift the spirits of these individuals during these tough moments with lots of homemade donuts!"

In addition to Goldie's, these restaurants are also taking part in some sort of food donation program:

Banter is offering weekly free community lunch boxes for anyone who has been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Kids, families, industry friends and any of those in need are encouraged to come in for a free lunch.

Cocky's Bagels is dropping off bagel sandwiches to local hospitals and nursing homes. For every 60 bagel sandwiches they sell, they're donating 20 bagel sandwiches and are asking for help to identify local facilities to drop off their bagels.

Danny Boy's Pizza is doing a few different charitable programs, including 'Pass it on Pizza Day,' where you can buy a second pizza for just $5 to donate to an elderly neighbor, first responder, healthcare worker or someone in need.

Geraci's Restaurant added an option on their menu where, for $15, any customer can donate a free pizza to be dropped off at a local hospital and the restaurant will match that and donate an additional pizza.

Lago East Bank is offering Essential Meals for Essential Employees, allowing customers to purchase meals for companies and organizations that are deemed essential businesses during the shutdown. Sponsors will receive 15% of their donation back that they can use at the restaurant and the restaurant is also paying it forward by donating meals on their own.

Ohio Pie Co. is doing free pizza Monday for service industry workers and gave away 100 free pizzas yesterday. They are working on a plan to expand the giveaway going forward.

Know of others? Drop 'em in the comment section.

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DeWine Orders State Water Utilities to Halt Shutoffs, Restore Service During COVID-19 Crisis

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 3:55 PM

  • State of Ohio photo
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statewide order Tuesday that will prevent water utilities from shutting off connections due to non-payment and will require them to restore service to those customers whose water has been disconnected.

The statewide policy has been in effect locally for several weeks. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced a moratorium on water shutoffs, alongside electric power shutoffs, on March 13. As of Monday evening, the Cleveland Water Department had restored service to 575 customers. 

DeWine said that water utilities will not automatically restore connections. It will be the responsibility of customers to contact their local service provider. But utilities will be required to restore connections regardless of a customer's payment history. (DeWine said that customers will still be required to pay their bills.) 

The goal of the order is to ensure that Ohioans, who have been ordered to remain in their homes for all but essential trips, have access to basic necessities.

DeWine also announced a new order that will require all organizations in the ventilator supply chain to provide regular updates about the number and location of available machines so that medical providers can easily locate devices that provide breathing assistance.

Manufacturers, distributors, hospital systems and all others who own or sell these devices will be required to report them every Wednesday at (Individual ventilators owned for personal use are exempted from the order.)

Ohio's health director Dr. Amy Acton provided daily updates on the spread of COVID-19 in the state. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 2,199 confirmed cases of the virus in Ohio, with 585 hospitalizations and 55 deaths. Cuyahoga County led all state counties in total cases (527) and hospitalizations (129). Mahoning County has recorded the most deaths in the state, with nine. 

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Federal Judge Temporarily Halts Ohio Order Banning Surgical Abortions During Coronavirus Crisis

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 9:45 AM

  • Photo via Progress Ohio/Flickr
A federal judge has put a temporary hold on an order by Ohio officials to cease surgical abortions during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ohio Department of Health issued an order on March 18 telling medical facilities to cease elective surgeries whenever possible to conserve scarce personal protective equipment and medical capacity.

That, state officials later clarified, included surgical abortions that weren't necessary to save the life of the mother.

"You and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions," Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wrote in a March 20 letter to clinics. "Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient."

But U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett yesterday paused that part of the order for 14 days in response to a motion from Ohio abortion providers claiming that the ban would effectively end abortions taking place 10 weeks after conception or later.

In his ruling granting the temporary restraining order, Barrett wrote that Ohio officials pushing for the ban on surgical abortions during the coronavirus crisis didn't demonstrate that the conservation of medical supplies it would achieve would be significant enough that it "outweighs the harm of eliminating abortion."

"Enforcement of the Director’s Order as applied to surgical abortion procedures will result in an unconstitutional deprivation of Plaintiffs’ patients’ Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process because enforcement creates a substantial obstacle in the path of patients seeking pre-viability abortions, thus creating an undue burden on abortion access,” Barrett wrote.

Women's health providers Preterm, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, Women's Med Group and the Northeast Ohio Women's Center filed the motion.

Yost says he will appeal Barrett's ruling. He says the only reason the state issued the order is to save lives during the COVID-19 crisis.

Abortion providers disagree, saying that anti-abortion officials are using the crisis as an excuse to limit abortions.

“Planned Parenthood knows our patients’ health care cannot wait," Planned Parenthood Greater Ohio Executive Director Iris Harvey said in a joint statement with Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio CEO Kersha Deibel. "That’s why we took action quickly. Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure. Today’s ruling is a victory no health care provider should have to fight for in the middle of a pandemic. Anti-abortion activists are creating dangerous distractions when we need public officials to be focusing on the crisis at hand."

A federal judge in Texas issued a similar order for an abortion ban related to COVID-19 there. U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel said Texas' ban would do "irreparable harm" to abortion providers there.

Yeakel also wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court must ultimately decide whether or not banning abortion during a pandemic is constitutional. It is unclear if the high court would take up the cases.

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Ohio Shelters Aren't Built for Social Distancing

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 9:38 AM

  • AdobeStock

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio is starting a new effort to focus on the collision of two public health crises: coronavirus and homelessness. Gov. Mike DeWine announced the creation of a new task force that will examine how to best help homeless programs that are struggling to meet local, state and federal guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus.

According to research from the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, roughly 10,000 Ohioans are living in shelters and cannot abide by the state's "Stay at Home" order. Barbara Poppe, former executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, co-authored the report.

"Congregate shelters are not set up to support social distancing, and people who are unsheltered lack access to proper hygiene and sanitation and must go out into the community to get their basic needs met and will come in frequent contact with other people," Poppe said.

The report also found 87% of regional homeless systems lack sufficient space to isolate and quarantine clients who show symptoms of COVID-19, and 79% are unable to provide the financial assistance necessary to reduce admissions and minimize overcrowding in shelters.

The governor called on Ohio communities to include homeless shelters in their social-distancing planning.

Jessica Jenkins administers the local homeless system for Montgomery County, where she said area shelters are struggling to maintain staff levels to continue operating during the crisis. She said there's a lot of fear and uncertainty.

"There's a lot of anxiety both among providers about not feeling prepared and equipped to respond, as well as, of course, the natural anxieties of our sheltered guests that are in congregate spaces that make it challenging to have the pockets of social and physical distancing," Jenkins said.

The federal coronavirus package included $4 billion for homeless programs, and advocates in Ohio are asking state lawmakers to appropriate $20 million for emergency homeless services.

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Monday, March 30, 2020

As a Record Number of Ohio Unemployment Applicants Express Frustration, State Officials Say They're Working on Solutions

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 5:35 PM

The crisis caused by pandemic coronavirus COVID-19 has triggered a record number of layoffs in Ohio as some businesses struggle to stay open and other non-essential establishments were ordered to close by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Now, as many of those workers file for unemployment benefits with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, they're finding website malfunctions, phone lines with hours-long hold times or no access to answers from a live ODJFS employee and other roadblocks.

ODJFS says that their office has increased capacity and call center employees as it tries to respond to a historic wave of unemployment applications. The department points out that since the crisis began, it has paid out almost $32 million to 105,000 claimants.

A number of applicants CityBeat spoke to said they experienced an array of difficulties in applying for or receiving benefits. Some couldn't log on to various parts of the website. Others were sent notifications that they had urgent communications on the ODJFS website but could not access them. Still others got notification that they received payments, but that those payments did not come in the mail or were not deposited in the accounts they designated for direct deposit.

A number of other applicants have taken to social media saying they have experienced similar issues.

More than 187,000 people applied for unemployment benefits in Ohio last week — likely a record number. And the claims just keep coming, ODJFS says.

"One day this past week we had our highest one-day total of initial jobless claims ever filed," ODJFS spokesman Bret Crow said. "The number of claims doesn't seem to be slowing down. Ohioans are experiencing a slow system trying to keep up with demand, just like every other online claims system across the country, so we are asking filers and callers to be patient."

To respond to the crush of new applicants, the state has beefed up its servers for the ODJFS website. That site was designed to accommodate 1,200 users at the same time. It can now handle 24,000 at a time, Crow says.

The department has also reassigned 300 employees to answer phones. This month, ODJFS has received more than 1.7 million phone calls. Last month, it saw just 112,000.

The process is also streamlined, ODJFS says. Those laid off due to economic issues related to COVID-19 can use a mass layoff number — 877-644-6562 — to file an expedited claim. And applicants filing unemployment claims won't have to show proof that they're looking for work during the crisis.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said today during a public briefing that the state is working as hard as it can to keep up with the demand.

"On the end that we're control of, while it's been slow, it hasn't gone down and has been functional," he said of website upgrades. "That is part of the challenge that we have. We're adding capacity."

Husted encouraged Ohioans to be patient and persistent in seeking benefits.

"Even if you get delayed in this, your eligibility will be backdated to the time you were eligible and you will receive all of the benefits you are eligible to receive when you filed," Husted said.

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First Positive COVID-19 Test at an Ohio Prison is Worse Than it Seems

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 3:39 PM

Marion Correctional Institution - ODRC
  • ODRC
  • Marion Correctional Institution
Sunday evening, mere hours after Gov. Mike DeWine postulated that inmates in Ohio’s correctional facilities might be safer in prison than at home with their families, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction confirmed that an officer at the Marion Correctional Institution (MCI) had tested positive for COVID-19.

This is the first known positive case among inmates or staff within Ohio’s expansive prison system, where nearly 50,000 people are incarcerated.

MCI is located about an hour north of Columbus. A Sunday evening ODRC press release noted that the officer in question last worked on March 24 and began feeling symptoms on March 25. A "contact tracing investigation" is now underway at the facility and there will be no staff or inmate transfers in or out for the time being.

"We have worked for several weeks implementing changes within our operations to address the challenges presented by COVID-19,” said ODRC's Director Annette Chambers-Smith, in a statement provided to the media. “Each facility has unique plans in place that address this specific situation. [The infected] staff member is at home recovering and we will continue to work tirelessly to keep our staff and incarcerated individuals safe and healthy.”

ODRC's spokeswoman, JoEllen Smith, did not respond to Scene’s specific questions about testing at Marion in light of the infection. As of Sunday, only 20 inmates across Ohio's 27 adult facilities had been tested. Eighteen of those tests have come back negative. Two are pending.

When asked about ODRC’s statewide testing procedures last week, though, Smith told Scene that tests are only ordered for symptomatic patients "when deemed appropriate by the treating clinician in accordance with guidance provided by DRC’s healthcare authority, which is working in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health."

Any testing for staff members, Smith said, would have been conducted through individuals' private medical providers.

Despite ODRC’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which were implemented on March 11, the positive test at Marion could spell disaster. It has intensified pleas by statewide advocacy groups who are begging DeWine to learn from the horrors at Rikers Island and elsewhere, and to drastically reduce prison populations “before COVID-19 takes over.”

Azzurra Crispino is a prison advocate in Texas who met her husband, an inmate at Marion, through the prison pen pal program she co-founded. She lives outside Austin and has been communicating with him by phone about the current situation.

She relayed to Scene that inmates were told nothing of the staffer’s positive test until 10:30 p.m. Sunday, three hours after the first media reports. But they suspected something was amiss when the warden was seen on the premises late Sunday.

According to inmates, the same modifications that have been implemented across ODRC facilities have been implemented at Marion – no visitors or volunteers have been permitted; staff are screened with a questionnaire before entry; meals are now served in smaller groups – but other precautions are not, and cannot, being taken.

“I asked [my husband] what they were doing to stay six feet apart and he burst out laughing,” Crispino said.

As of last night, inmates have been ordered to sleep facing alternate directions on their bunk beds, presumably to enforce social distancing. The mandate is viewed with irony by some, who have been disciplined in the past for falling asleep facing the wrong way.

Crispino said that MCI, which is a Level 2 (minimum security) prison, allows for a considerable degree of inmate autonomy and movement. Prisoners aren’t in cells, for example. They sleep in bunk beds with an estimated 120-200 prisoners per room. As of ODRC’s most recently published numbers, MCI houses roughly 2,500 inmates.

“It’s physically impossible to isolate,” she said. “When they go into the day room, there’s no way. The phones aren’t even six feet apart. You can't socially distance.”

(DeWine’s conception of prison, incidentally, may be one of enforced total solitary confinement. And it’s true that being alone in a cell for weeks on end might indeed be safer than other settings, inhumanity notwithstanding.)

But in general, medical experts agree, prison environments are optimized for an explosive spread of a contagious virus.

In a Sunday Twitter thread, a Texas sheriff rebuked the idea advanced by DeWine, that prisoners may be safer inside their facilities than outside them.

“COVID19 is extremely contagious and spreads through the air and from contaminated surfaces,” he wrote. “When one person tests positive, there will be dozens more within a day or two. If even 20 percent of the jail population is infected, and that is a conservative estimate, it will overwhelm the jail’s limited resources.”

In addition to the minimum security situation at Marion which makes mitigating the spread impossible, the role of the infected staffer could lead (in fact, likely has already led) to significant spread.

Though the staffer was not identified by ODRC in its press release, he was revealed to be a Lieutenant in an internal staff memo, which was viewed by some inmates, including Crispino's husband. 

"For a regular correctional officer," Crispino told Scene, "it'd be easier to isolate people who he'd come into contact with. But a lieutenant does not patrol one specific area or one specific block. It's more like a whole wing, or even the whole unit."

Mike DeWine, at Monday's press conference, said that ODRC had already screened a number of officers with whom the infected lieutenant had come into contact. Five reportedly were experiencing no symptoms but were asked to quarantine for 14 days anyway. Four officers, however, were experiencing symptoms and have been asked to quarantine and to get tested.

Additional officers and inmates are presumably infected without symptoms, which means the virus is spreading rapidly inside Marion. This is occurring despite efforts to clean surfaces, to restrict outside visitors and to provide ample hand sanitizer and soap to inmates. 

The only responsible recourse, say experts and advocates, is to reduce the population by as many people as possible. (Widespread testing should be implemented as well, to determine the extent of the spread.)

Scene asked Crispino if she’d heard DeWine’s comments Sunday about prisoners being safer in prison than out of prison.

“I’d invite the governor to go spend 14 days at Marion Correctional," she said. "If he wants the top bunk atop my husband for 14 days, he's more than welcome to it. Let’s see what he says after.”

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