Axios Columbus

Picture of the Columbus skyline.

πŸ™‚ Smile, it's Friday!

β˜€οΈ Today's weather: A sizzling high of 89. Thunderstorms, then partly sunny.

Situational awareness: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized COVID-19 booster shots for children ages 5-11 yesterday.

  • Meanwhile, all U.S. households can now order eight more free at-home rapid tests from the federal government. Learn more.

Today's newsletter is 715 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: The baby formula crisis

Data: Datasembly; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Ohio's low-income families could soon feel a bit of relief amid a frightening nationwide shortage of baby formula.

Driving the news: The Ohio Department of Health requested federal waivers this week to grant formula-buying flexibility for participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

Why it matters: Half of all infant formula in the U.S. is purchased using WIC benefits, according to the White House. In Ohio, nearly 62,000 infants rely on it, per the state health department.

  • But the program is limited to certain types of formula, which increases demand while limiting parents' options amid the ongoing formula shortage.

Of note: Ohio was one of the last states to apply for the waivers.

Catch up quick: A cascade of issues related to production and distribution are to blame for the shortage, which started late last year and has gotten precipitously worse in recent weeks.

  • That includes the shutdown of Abbott's baby formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, following an FDA recall. It is set to reopen in two weeks, Axios' Herb Scribner reports.
  • In the meantime, an Abbott plant in Columbus has shifted to manufacturing Similac formula to help meet demands, the company announced Monday.

Zoom in: The situation in Ohio is slightly better than the rest of the country, though not by much, with 42% of formulas currently out of stock, according to retail software company Datasembly.

  • 78% of Ohioans drink some formula in their first six months of life, slightly higher than the national average, per the CDC.

Be smart: While homemade recipes are circulating online, health experts advise against making your own formula at home due to potential health risks. Diluting with water or cow's milk is also not recommended.

  • Some soy-based formulas are easier to find as a temporary substitute, according to Nationwide Children's Hospital.
  • Parents can also call stores and formula providers directly to ask for help.
  • Talk to a health care provider if your baby is on a special formula to discuss alternatives.

What's next: Relief is expected soon due to increased formula production and imports, Axios' Mark Robinson reports.

  • "Within days it will get better, but it will be a few weeks until we’re back to normal," FDA commissioner Robert Califf told a House subcommittee yesterday.

Go deeper: Baby formula shortage puts spotlight on how America feeds its young

2. What to do this weekend

Illustration of an animated neutral emoji changing into a smiling-with-sunglasses emoji.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ”₯ Get new ink at the Hell City Tattoo Festival at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, featuring seminars, live music, an art gallery and more.

  • 12-11pm Friday ($25), Saturday ($30), 12-8pm Sunday ($25). $75 weekend pass.

πŸ“½οΈ Catch a movie while supporting Black filmmakers at the Columbus Black International Film Festival at Wexner Center for the Arts.

πŸŽͺ Travel back in time to a Victorian Carnival at Ohio Village's opening weekend.

  • 10am-5pm Saturday, Sunday. $7-13. Kids under 3 free!

⚽ Cheer on the Crew at On Our Sleeves Day, a celebration of last week's record-breaking chain of scarves supporting children's mental health.

  • 3:30pm Saturday. $43-98.

πŸ›οΈ Peruse Friendship Flea, a popup flea market in Clintonville with more than 30 vendors.

  • 12-5pm Sunday. North High Street and Dunedin Road. Free!

3. Nutshells: Bouncing off the walnuts

Illustration of a buckeye nut bouncing across the screen.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ€‘ A winning $2 million Powerball ticket was sold at a Grove City gas station. (Columbus Dispatch)

β›½ Ohio gas prices hit another record high yesterday β€” $4.47 per gallon. (AAA)

🍽️ Want to spice up your dinner plans? Check out Bethel Road, a flourishing hub for international cuisine. (Columbus Monthly)

πŸ§‘β€πŸ³ Cameron Mitchell Restaurants gave $500,000 to a fund helping Ohio State hospitality students finish their degrees debt-free. (Columbus Business First)

Stop by to see who’s hiring

🚫 A new career is unstoppable with our Local Job Board.

  1. Manager, Marketing Applications (Salesforce Marketing Cloud) at Safelite AutoGlass.
  2. Marketing Analytics Senior Manager at EY.
  3. Senior Associate, Voice of the Client Program at KPMG.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

4. Photo quiz: Where's Gambrinus?

A statue of a portly king raising a beer.
Photos: Tyler Buchanan/Axios

πŸ‘‹ Tyler here. Whether at home or during my travels, I'm always in search of the weird and the wonderful.

A man running up a stone flight of stairs.
A flight of stairs featured in "The Exorcist."

Yes, but: Traveling always makes me a little homesick for Central Ohio and the strange, familiar landmarks in our neck of the woods.

  • Such as: The above statue depicting Gambrinus, the "King of Beer." Where in Columbus is it located?

πŸ“¬ Reply with the correct answer for a chance to win a fancy new Axios Local water bottle or hat!

  • We'll have the answer Monday.

✌️ Tyler is wishing the best to Columbus Alive's Andy Downing on his last day as editor.

😎 Alissa captured a "Pokemon Go" rarity, Bouffalant, while walking the streets of D.C.