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Friday, April 9, 2021

Huge Spike in Overdose Deaths Puts Cuyahoga County on Pace for Most Deadly Year Since 2017

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 2:04 PM

ERIC SANDY / SCENE
  • Eric Sandy / Scene
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, Thomas Gilson, has issued a special alert after the county recorded 69 overdose deaths in the month of March and 13 additional deaths in the first week of April.

The alert advised that if the county continues at its current pace, it would record 739 overdose deaths in 2021. That'd be the most since 2017, when fentanyl and carfentanil usage was at its height locally — 729 people in Cuyahoga County died from overdoses that year.

“This is a serious development and the community should be aware of this spike in overdose deaths,” said Dr. Gilson, in a Cuyahoga County press release. “Some preliminary data suggests minority communities may be more vulnerable in this outbreak. Risk reduction strategies like naloxone kits and fentanyl test strips are available at no cost and are effective at saving lives.”

Gilson said it was too early too say which drugs were responsible for the majority of the recent spike in deaths, but that free naloxone and fentanyl test strips are available at the following locations.
  • Circle Health Services (12201 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106 | 216.721.4010)
  • Care Alliance Clinic (2916 Central Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.535.9100)
  • Care Alliance Clinic (1530 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114 | 216.781.6724)
  • MetroHealth – Mobile Unit (3370 W.25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44109)
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As Billions of Cicadas Get Ready to Emerge, an Ohio Company Releases a Wearable Bug-Screen Pod

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 1:47 PM

This is one option, we guess - UTWPODS
  • UTWPods
  • This is one option, we guess

With the billions of cicadas in Brood X set to emerge this May across 15 states — including right here in Ohio — one local company is thinking ahead.

Cincinnati's Under the Weather has a solution to keep the insects off of you while you enjoy the great outdoors. The company started out making pop-up protective pods to keep out inclement weather at sporting games but has since gone on to create items like the IntubationPod. And this latest limited-edition invention is geared toward stopping cicadas.

The WalkingPod Mesh is a "warm-climate, wearable mesh-screen bubble that pops open in seconds to slip easily over the upper body as a breathable fully-enclosed cover."

"This Pod design has been in the works for some time, but with cicada season on the horizon, we decided now was the perfect time to roll it out. In addition to protecting from cicadas, it also offers protection from a variety of insects and pests, including mosquitos," said Under the Weather CEO Rick Pescovitz in a release.

The pod is made of fine-gauge mesh panels and comes with an adjustable shoulder and waist strap. It's available with "safety yellow" or gray trim and has fitted armholes so you can go about your business while donning your pod.

According to the release, the pod is "flexible, pops open and folds down in seconds, with zero assembly required." It can also fit in a provided portable backpack.

Suggested uses for the WalkingPod Mesh? Put it on while hiking, gardening, walking the dogs, beekeeping or doing any other outdoor activity where bugs might be a nuisance.

"Our mission at UTW is to create products which help people feel safe, protected, and comfortable in all kinds of conditions and the WalkingPod Mesh does exactly that," said Kelly Mahan, UTW president.

The pods cost $89.99 and are available for pre-order at UTWPods.com. Pods will begin shipping in mid to late April.

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Update: Indie Rockers Nada Surf to Play the Grog Shop in November

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 1:42 PM

Indie rockers Nada Surf. - ANNIE DRESSNER
  • Annie Dressner
  • Indie rockers Nada Surf.
Update: Initially, the terrific indie rock outfit Nada Surf intended to tour last year in support of its latest effort, Never Not Together. The band cancelled the tour, including a show at the Grog Shop, on account of the pandemic.

The group has just announced a new set of dates and will now perform at the Grog Shop on Nov. 15.

Tickets to the rescheduled Nada Surf show
are on sale now.

Original Post 11/19/2019: Founded in 1992, the indie rock act Nada Surf recently marked the 20th anniversary of 1999’s North 6th Street, a long-unavailable collection of early demos recorded upon the band’s initial formation, by making it available on digital services for the first time.

Now, the group has just announced that its new album, Never Not Together, will drop on Feb. 7. In the wake of its release, the band will tour, and the jaunt includes a May 30 stop at the Grog Shop.

Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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Metro West Housing Director Kris Harsh Announces City Council Candidacy in Ward 13

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 12:25 PM

COURTESY KRIS HARSH
  • Courtesy Kris Harsh
The day after Ward 13 councilman Kevin Kelley announced that he will run for Mayor, Kris Harsh, the housing director at the Metro West community development corporation, announced that he will run to claim Kelley's seat. 

Harsh, a veteran community organizer, has worked with a number of local activist campaigns and served as the State Director for Stand Up for Ohio, the effort to defeat Senate Bill 5, which would have curtailed the power of the state's public workers to strike and collectively bargain.

In a statement provided to the media, Harsh said he was excited to launch his council campaign. "My experience in bringing people together to create real change is the difference I bring to this race,” he said.

He also cited his relevant experience at Metro West, the CDC in the neighborhoods of Clark-Fulton, Stockyards and Brooklyn Center.

Harsh's work, he said, "has enabled him to learn the mechanics of City Hall and how best to help residents at the city level. He has been involved in dozens of new construction projects, over 100 home renovation projects and fielded hundreds of resident calls ranging from code violations to crime and safety issues."

Harsh lives in Old Brooklyn with his wife and three children. In the race to claim the seat occupied by Kevin Kelley since 2006, he will be going up against Kate Warren, a research fellow at the Center for Community Solutions, who formally launched her campaign earlier this week.

Harsh already has an enthusiastic supporter in former city councilman and CDC alumnus Brian Cummins, who said Harsh worked on his campaign in 2009. Writing from Tbilisi, Georgia, Cummins said he believed Cleveland government needed more candidates like Harsh: "bright, pragmatic professionals who have worked in the trenches."

"The strongest thing about his candidacy is how approachable, empathetic and pragmatic he is," Cummins wrote, "and how he can analyze and judge a situation and work to find lasting solutions or improvements no matter how challenging the situation."

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Judge Blocks Ohio Telemedicine Abortion Ban, Marking Second Win for Clinics

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 11:11 AM

A telemedicine abortion ban in Ohio was temporarily halted by a judge - PHOTO VIA PROGRESS OHIO/FLICKR
  • Photo via Progress Ohio/Flickr
  • A telemedicine abortion ban in Ohio was temporarily halted by a judge

For the second time in a week, a Hamilton County judge ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood and against a recently passed state law on abortion services.

Hamilton County Judge Alison Hatheway gave Planned Parenthood a two-week restraining order, preventing a law banning telemedicine abortion services from taking effect as planned on April 12.

The clinics and the ACLU sued to challenge Senate Bill 260, which prohibits the use of telemedicine in medication abortions, a procedure in which a two-pill regimen is used rather than a surgical procedure. The law also creates a felony offense for physicians who conduct abortion services using telemedicine.

Planned Parenthood said the use of telemedicine is a promotion of health care access, not a lessening of the quality of care provided by clinics.

“Bans on the use of telemedicine abortion have nothing to do with safeguarding patients’ health — they only make it harder for patients to access care that’s safe and effective,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement on the decision.

Emily Pelphrey, an attorney representing the Ohio Department of Health, asked that the court deny the restraining order to give the state more time to gather evidence and reply to the lawsuit.

Judge Hatheway said a hearing on a more long-term decision for the case would be scheduled for April 19, giving both sides time to present their full cases.

Anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life criticized the telemedicine decision, and president Mike Gonidakis said “allowing Planned Parenthood to ignore Ohio’s critical health and safety standards puts women and babies at risk.”

Also this week, Hatheway granted a 30-day pause on a law that would regulate the disposal of fetal tissue and medical waste from surgical abortions.

The preliminary injunction granted earlier this week by Hatheway ruled Senate Bill 27 could not take effect for at least 30 days. This gives the Ohio Department of Health time to create the rules, regulations and forms needed for health clinics to follow the law.

Hatheway said because the rules and regulations were not yet in place, clinics could still be unknowingly at risk of violating the law, and without the rules in place, abortion providers may be afraid of civil action or loss of licensure. This, she ruled, could deny patients’ access to their right to an abortion, protected under the state and U.S. Constitution.

Abortion is legal in Ohio up to 22 weeks gestation, though the state legislature is once again trying to change that with anticipation of a challenge to the federal Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal across the country.

Originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal. Republished here with permission.

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Local Indie Act Kultures Releases Debut Single

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 10:43 AM

Kultures' Justin Miller. - PLANETARY GROUP
  • Planetary Group
  • Kultures' Justin Miller.
With his local indie rock outfit Polars on a long-term hiatus, Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Justin Miller decided to pursue a solo project dubbed Kultures.

“I've had time to write/record/produce a new collection of songs, and I'm releasing this record as a new artist because it's the first time I'm taking center stage as the lead vocalist,” says Miller in an email about the synth-driven Brit-pop sounding single “Favorite Number,” which just came out today. “I'm doing my best to make the most of the difficult times the pandemic has created for musicians (and everyone else)."

Miller says he discovered a passion for music at a young age and has been fighting against what he calls “suburban notions of success” ever since.

Scheduled for a June release, the full-length leans on “vocal-forward” melodies and intricate soundscapes.

The first song Miller wrote under the moniker Kultures, "Favorite Number" emerged from a beat that Miller had constructed for a hip-hop song for a collaboration with a local artist. The rhythm became more and more ambiguous/free-form, and Miller realized it could make the foundation for a unique indie track. From there, he added piano and started improvising vocal melodies over an ambient drum loop.

“[The song lyric] ‘you’re my favorite number’ refers both to a significant person in your life and a date on the calendar,” says Miller. “It can be a metaphor for your favorite person (your No. 1) or it can be a conversation with the future, with something you’re looking forward to.”

A second single is due out next month.

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Nonprofit Funded by FirstEnergy to Criticize Cleveland Public Power Refuses to Provide Documents Subpoenaed by City Council

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2021 at 10:26 AM

Cleveland Municipal Light plant sign, 1962 - CLEVELAND MEMORY PROJECT
  • Cleveland Memory Project
  • Cleveland Municipal Light plant sign, 1962

Making good on its recent promise to refuse to comply with subpoenas issued by Cleveland City Council seeking documents related to its funding from dark money sources tied to FirstEnergy, Consumers Against Deceptive Fees has let the deadline pass to provide the requested material.

A lawyer for the nonprofit, which collected $200,000 of FirstEnergy contributions made through a pass-through nonprofit that came to light in the midst of the HB6 scandal, told Cleveland.com the group wouldn't comply because the subpoenas were an infringement on free speech.

After having gone to great lengths to protect the sources of its funding, the nonprofit dissolved itself in late 2020 after indictments came down against Larry Householder and others in the nuclear bailout bill case. Cleveland City Council had sought clarity on what other funding sources the group used as it sought for years to discredit the city-owned utility.

Board members have not responded to requests for comment from Scene or Cleveland.com.

“While we have determined where $200,000 came from, we intend to find all the sources of dark money that went to this organization and how it was spent to undermine Cleveland Public Power,” Council President Kevin Kelley said in a statement when the subpoenas were issued. “There’s at least another $351,000 this organization received to damage CPP, and we want to know who the sources are.”

Now?

Kelley told Cleveland.com Thursday council might engage the courts in an effort to get Consumers Against Deceptive Fees to comply. And, as Frank Jackson said in February, the city is also considering a lawsuit against FirstEnergy itself in the matter.

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