Axios Columbus

Picture of the Columbus skyline.

Good morning! It's Monday again. We hope you had a nice weekend!

πŸ₯Ά Today's weather: High of 37, low of 24.

πŸ¦ƒ Situational awareness: We're in "Thanksgiving mode" this week, so expect a slightly lighter newsletter in your inboxes. But we'll still have enough news to fill your plate.

Today's newsletter is 695 words β€” a 2.5-minute read.

1 big thing: COVID cases up as holidays approach

Change in COVID-19 <span style="background:#432371;padding:2px 5px;border-radius:5px;color:white;">cases</span> per 100k people in the last two weeks
Data: New York Times;Β Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Ohio's pandemic outlook is once again trending in the wrong direction headed into the upcoming holiday season.

Why it matters: With cases and hospitalizations on the rise, holiday travel and indoor celebrations will put the millions of unvaccinated Americans at risk.

The big picture: Most families are planning Thanksgiving festivities resembling that of pre-pandemic years, according to Monmouth University polling.

The latest: Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the state health director, is urging Ohioans to be cautious with travel plans this week.

  • At a recent press conference, he advised getting tested before and after seeing loved ones and staying home entirely if not feeling well.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 17, Ohio recorded more than 2,800 patients in the hospital with COVID and more than 800 in the ICU, per data from the Ohio Department of Health.

  • That marks a 23% increase in hospitalizations over the previous 21 days, Vanderhoff says.
  • The more than 6,300 new cases reported in the 24 hours leading up to Nov. 17 was the highest one-day count since October.

What they're saying: Vanderhoff and other health officials continue to stress the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent spread and ward off serious illness.

  • "Vaccination remains especially important because the delta variant appears to have gotten a second wave," he said at a news conference last week.
  • "Don't bring tragedy that can be easily avoided to your family this holiday season. Make the safe choice and get vaccinated."

Meanwhile, the Republican majority in the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to weaken vaccine requirements.

  • House Bill 218 (HB218) would prohibit any Ohio entity β€” public or private β€” from requiring a person to show proof of vaccination against COVID to enter a space or receive a service.
  • The bill would also require any employer, school or college that issues a vaccine requirement for employees or students to allow exemptions for medical, religious or other personal reasons.

What's next: HB218 needs support from the Ohio Senate and a signature from Gov. Mike DeWine to become law.

2. 🚧 VP touts infrastructure bill in Columbus

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a Columbus union hall with a large display of the union's logo on the side wall.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 189 Union hall in Columbus on Nov. 19. Photo: Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

When it comes to local infrastructure needs, Vice President Kamala Harris had a high-profile example at the ready.

  • "Here in Ohio, there are nearly 5,000 miles of highway that need to be repaired. Highways like Interstate 70 and 71."
  • "I know what I'm talking about," she added with a laugh after a brief pause.

Driving the news: Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh visited the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 189 headquarters Friday to tout the recent passage of a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Between the lines: The trip comes as the Biden administration is seeking to garner public support and momentum for its Build Back Better agenda.

  • Democratic Party leadership is telling members of Congress to "communicate the benefits" of the infrastructure package to Americans, Axios' Andrew Solender reports.

What they're saying: Harris said the infrastructure bill is about more than roads and bridges, including spending for issues like broadband internet expansion, clean water and lead abatement.

  • "It's about getting our nation moving … infrastructure gives people what they need to get where they need to go."
  • "The impact will be generational."

3. Nutshells: Nut your average news roundup

Illustration of a buckeye nut bouncing across the screen.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏈 The Buckeyes amassed a 49-point halftime lead en route to a 56-7 thrashing of Big Ten foe Michigan State. (The Lantern)

πŸ“ Gov. DeWine signed Ohio's new congressional map bill into law, setting up potential legal challenges. (The Columbus Dispatch)

πŸ’° Several Republican candidates in Ohio's Senate race have close ties to super PACs supporting them, even with campaign rules that prohibit any direct coordination. (Axios)

⚾ The Cleveland Guardians team shop reopened Friday with merchandise featuring the new franchise name and logo. (

🍦 Little Ladies Soft Serve, a popular ice cream truck, opened its first brick-and-mortar storefront in Westerville. (Columbus Underground)

πŸ₯ƒ A vote to allow Sunday liquor sales at a Bexley store came out to an exact tie in this month's general election, meaning it fails, according to certified results released Friday. (Franklin County Board of Elections)

4. πŸ’ 1 puck drop to go

Two hockey sticks held by opposing players reach for a puck.

A recent face off between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena. Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Blue Jackets have exceeded expectations thus far this season, bringing a 9-6-0 record to Buffalo for a 7pm game tonight.

  • The team returns home to face Winnipeg on Wednesday.

πŸ›’ Tyler is on the lookout for creative grocery store displays (like stacking cases of pop into shapes of turkeys and footballs). If you see one, send over a photo.

πŸ’ͺ Alissa got her COVID booster. All adults are eligible now and you can find yours here.