COVID-19 in Portage County: Documenting a year of loss

By: Sara Crawford, Alex Gray, Molly Heideman, Alina Howard and Maria McGinnis Out of Ohio’s 1,083,609 cases of COVID-19, Portage County, with a population of more than 160,000 people, accounts for 12,872 of the total cases.  According to data from the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) COVID-19 dashboard, the first confirmed Covid-19 related hospitalization was on March 5, 2020 and the first death with COVID-19 listed as the cause was on March 29, 2020. Over the course of the 14 months the pandemic ran rampant, Portage County has seen 767 COVID-19 related hospitalizations and 203 deaths.  Though Portage County’s numbers appear small in comparison to nearby counties like Cuyahoga’s 112,117

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Kent businesses brace themselves for challenges ahead amid pandemic

By: Sarah Limas and Chris Ramos The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the City of Kent to confront grim realities surrounding its economic conditions. Revenue for bars, restaurants, and live entertainment has been gutted as businesses face a long road ahead to return to normalcy. There are currently five total vacancies in the downtown Kent area. Gracylane, One Love Yoga, Pizza Fire, Peace Love and Little Donuts, and Twisted Candy Co. have permanently closed their doors.  According to Tom Wilke, Kent city economic development director, a fruit juice bar will be moving into the location where Peace, Love and Little Donuts used to be.  Local popcorn shop, Popped! has relocated to

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Health department can issue fines under new ordinance passed by Kent City Council

By Sarah Limas and Chris Ramos Kent City Council passed an ordinance during their Oct. 7 meeting, which gives the health commissioner the ability to shut down gatherings that exceed 10 non-household members and issue civil fines. In recent weeks, Kent State has had to quarantine dorms in response to the increase of cases occurring on campus. Meanwhile, Portage County has remained at level three for the risk of COVID-19 spread. There has been concern surrounding off-campus housing and large gatherings, which was previously referred to as being the most significant factor in the increase of new cases involving people under the age of 29 by Gov. Mike DeWine.  In

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How Has COVID-19 Affected the Starbucks on Kent State’s Campus?

Limited seating, required mask-wearing, and strict health inspections: these are all things restaurants and dining services around the country have had to deal with due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no different for the student workers at Starbucks on Kent State’s campus, who have been adjusting to a new way of schooling and changes within their part-time jobs. The two Starbucks on Kent State’s campus are franchised out by Aramark, the company that manages all of the food services for the University. This means two different sets of safety requirements. “It gets kind of wishy-washy and messy, because Starbucks will say we’re okay to do one thing while Aramark will

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How CARES Funds Helped Kent Community

According to The United States Treasury, “the CARES Act provides assistance for State, Local, and Tribal Governments. Through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the CARES Act provides for payments to State, Local, and Tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund.”  The City of Kent is an entitlement community, which means that the City receives a direct allocation of federal money to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) due to annually low-income numbers.  CARES Act funds were being provided to any entitlement community that was already receiving annual CDBG money; however, these funds are called Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus

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City of Kent’s plan for Halloween during COVID-19 pandemic

KENT, Ohio — The City of Kent Trick-or-Treat event and annual Halloween party are coming up, and with the COVID-19 risk level increasing in Portage County, the Kent Police Department and Health Department plan to ensure everyone taking part in the festivities this year stays safe. Every year, the city of Kent gets a little spooky for the first popular holiday of the fall season. As Halloween creeps closer, friends and families visit orchards, haunted houses and corn mazes, decorate their houses and carve pumpkins that are later set out on their front porch steps.  Although many of these activities are fun and attached to yearly traditions, due to the

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Kent City Council Committee sets ordinance at meeting prohibiting mass gatherings of more than 10 starting Nov. 7

KENT, Ohio — The Kent city council committee voted to implement an ordinance to prohibit mass gatherings of more than 10 people during their monthly city council committee meeting Wednesday evening. The meeting started with a discussion on the Committee of the Whole’s topic about diversity hiring policies and practices, which dominated the discussion for the first half of the meeting. The topic was discussed specifically in relation to the police and education departments, strategizing ways for them to do better. The Health and Public Safety Committee’s topic was up next, regarding the prohibition of mass gatherings. This topic was also a highlight of the evening, dominating the conversation for

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DORA’S Cannot Keep Local Business Alive This Winter

The Dora, which is a designated outdoor refreshment area, was in a 90 day trial period before the city of Kent decided to keep,  modify, or potentially stop the Dora. According to Economic Development Director Tom Wilke, the city has agreed to continue the Dora indefinitely.  “We’ve been talking about this for the last couple of years or so,” Wilke said. “Some people were hesitant about it. That it might create more opportunities for miners to drink, or there might be increased rowdyism.”  The COVID-19 pandemic gave the City of Kent the push they needed to follow through because they felt this would benefit local businesses and give local people the

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Federal Relief Aid a necessity for small restaurants and businesses

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, several businesses were forced to shut their doors or cut hours in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. As a result, many businesses shut down permanently, while others changed to accommodate new restrictions. Restaurants in particular have been hit the hardest. A poll conducted by the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) from July 29 through August 4 found that while more than 75% of Ohio restaurants have reopened, most of them are operating at 50% or less of their normal capacity. Should this persist, more than 50% of restaurants expect forced closure within nine months. “80% of restaurants don’t think

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