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State recommends safety over Labor Day weekend

900 broadband grants approved to create school hot spots

COLUMBUS — In advance of the upcoming Labor Day holiday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently reminded citizens to take safety precautions when celebrating with others outside of their households.

On Wednesday, “Ohio reported its highest number of new cases since the end of July, which is a stark reminder that this virus has not gone away and it continues to spread in our communities,” DeWine said. “As you consider gathering with family and friends this weekend, please remember that COVID-19 still represents a significant risk to the lives and livelihoods of citizens in Ohio.”

He encouraged citizens to continue regular hand-washing, social distancing and disinfecting. The mask mandate in Ohio remains in effect for all 88 counties.

In the weeks following the Fourth of July, Ohio began to see a significant increase in cases caused, in part, by holiday gatherings.

DeWine also encouraged Ohio’s drivers to watch their speeds after Ohio recorded 154 traffic fatalities in July, the highest number of traffic fatalities in one month since 2007. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, one in three of those killed in July was involved in a speed-related crash.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer people are traveling on Ohio’s roads which is leading many of those who are driving to speed. This year, the Patrol has issued more than 2,200 citations for speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. This represents a 60 percent increase in these citations over the same time period last year.

On Wednesday, there are 124,610 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 4,165 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 13,479 people have been hospitalized, including 2,975 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Lt. Gov. John Husted announced that over 900 grant requests have been approved for the K-12 Broadband Connectivity Grant to go towards hotspots and internet-enabled devices. This enables 121,000 students to gain high-speed internet in their homes, thanks to the devices provided by this grant based on information provided by the schools. In areas where there are barriers to take-home devices, the grant will also support the creation of new public wi-fi and mobile wi-fi spaces to help students connect to the internet. There are over 645,000 students in schools that are increasing their public wi-fi or using mobile wi-fi. Those students will have a place to go to access the internet if they do not have access in their homes.

By the end of this week, schools will receive notifications of their final award and can begin the process of purchasing these items through the Ohio Department of Education and BroadbandOhio.

Progress has also been made through Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI) to streamline broadband regulations through their new Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool.

The tool found:
• 303 definitions related to the regulation of broadband, found in Ohio’s rules or statutes across 25 different state agencies
• 16 different definitions of public utility in Ohio law across five different agencies

Husted and CSI will work with agencies to streamline the definitions in an effort to develop a strategy that will create a clear and concise set of terminology for broadband providers to follow.