What you missed in Columbus for Sept. 20
Promising news for coronavirus vaccines in kids; bad news from local school nurses and hospitals; rising rents on the East Side; and more from the weekend.
This morning, Pfizer-BioNTech announced that their coronavirus vaccine has been shown to be safe and highly effective in children ages 5 to 11. According to the New York Times, the companies plan to apply for FDA authorization in young children by the end of the month, which means millions of elementary school-aged kids could get their shot before November.
The welcome news should bring a sigh of relief to parents, teachers and other school employees, particularly school nurses. Late last week, more than 100 Columbus City Schools nurses sent a letter to the district and the school board saying they're overwhelmed and exhausted by COVID protocols, the rising number of cases in their schools, unclear guidelines and more.
"School Nurses are overwhelmed by the scope of our contact tracing responsibilities. The sheer volume of exposures and positive COVID-19 cases has left nurses exhausted and burnt out in the first weeks of school," the letter states. "There are no clear directives from the district concerning which school staff are responsible for helping to carry out the multiple steps it takes to contact trace, resulting in the School Nurse doing it all."
Meanwhile, last Thursday, local hospital leaders said that because of COVID-19 cases, intensive care units in Central Ohio are at "critical capacity," and that urgent care centers and emergency departments are similarly swamped. In all, hospital administrators said only 21 beds remained open.
Amid all of this, Ohio Capital Journal reports that the Ohio Medical Board opted to renew the medical license of anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, an osteopathic doctor who infamously testified before the Ohio House Health Committee making various false and conspiracy-laden statements, including claims that COVID-19 vaccines magnetize their recipients and “interface” with 5G towers.
In one of the more clear-cut examples of gentrification in Columbus, Mark Ferenchik reports in the Dispatch that tenants in a three-story, 10-unit apartment building on North 21st Street, just north of East Broad Street in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville neighborhood, are seeing their rents rise from the $500 and $600 range to $950 a month.
The story goes on to detail some of the reasons why this is happening, despite efforts by various local organizations to preserve affordable housing in the city. Bruce Luecke, president and CEO of nonprofit builder Homeport, said market-rate developers have outbid Homeport on properties. "Organizations like ours in many cases can’t compete," he said. "Some are cash offers. We don’t have the same reserves to do that."
In sports news, Ohio State defeated Tulsa 41-20 Saturday afternoon in front of 76,540 fans at the Horseshoe, which marks the lowest home attendance for a Buckeye football game in 50 years. While the defense still looked shaky, "TreVeyon Henderson ran for 277 yards in 24 carries, breaking Archie Griffin's school record for freshmen of 239 yards set in 1972," the Dispatch reported.
Later that night, the Crew took on the best team in MLS, the New England Revolution, coming away with one point in a 1-1 draw on the road.
Streaming shows took home big wins at the Emmys on Sunday night. Netflix's "The Crown" won for best drama and “The Queen’s Gambit" won for best limited series. Apple TV+ comedy "Ted Lasso" took home the Emmy for best comedy, and Jason Sudeikis, who plays the titular character, won for best actor in a comedy; two of his co-stars also took home Emmys in supporting categories.