COLUMNS

What you missed in Columbus for Nov. 29

A new COVID variant, the Ohio Senate prepares to vote on a bill that would restrict vaccine mandates, OSU falls to Michigan and more from the weekend

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
COVID-19 'omicron' variant discovered in South Africa

Scientists are currently trying to learn as much as possible about the most recent COVID-19 variant to raise concerns. Dubbed "omicron," the new variant has now been detected in a growing number of countries, including Scotland, South Africa and Portugal, among others (which, based on the travel pattern of past variants, means it’s likely far more widespread than has been reported). For now, scientists caution that not much is known about the new variant, including just how transmissible it might be, whether or not it causes more severe disease in those infected and just how effective current vaccines are in terms of limiting its spread.

Sharon Peacock, who has led the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 in Britain at the University of Cambridge, told the Associated Press that early data suggested omicron had mutations “consistent with enhanced transmissibility,” though the significance of the mutations was not known.

On a related note: Vaccinated adults in Ohio are now eligible for a booster shot.

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With the unknowns around a new coronavirus variant causing concern in scientific communities, Ohio Republicans continue to move ahead with a bill that would ban COVID vaccine mandates and prevent public and private business from requiring proof of vaccination. The bill, which passed the Ohio House on Nov. 18, is set to be taken up by the Senate this week. If approved, it would move on to Gov. Mike DeWine for final signature.

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The Center for Christian Virtue (CCV), an Ohio-based organization that for decades has helped drive culture war debates within the state, purchased a building in Downtown Columbus across from the Statehouse for $1.25 million. In recent months, CCV put its growing political muscle behind the wrongheaded public uproar over critical race theory, a graduate level concept that is not being taught in Ohio’s public schools.

While CCV now has a new address, it pushes the "same old oppressive rhetoric," Alana Jochum, director of Equality Ohio, told the Columbus Dispatch.

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Officials in Dayton have given developers permission to raze the building that was the site of the Wright Brothers’ first bike shop. The historic, 129-year-old building has deteriorated to a point where it cannot be salvaged, the city said. Preservation groups have advocated maintaining the building’s facade and incorporating it into any redevelopment project.

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The trial of longtime Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell begins today (Monday, Nov. 29). Maxwell was first charged in July 2020 with enticement and conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity for allegedly grooming and recruiting underage girls for Epstein from 1994 through 1997. Prosecutors later added a pair of sex trafficking charges.

The trial is expected to offer a glimpse into the life of the late Epstein, who has strong ties to Columbus owing to his long, still mysterious association with Les Wexner.

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You might have heard that Ohio State lost to the rival Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, getting bullied by the running game en route to a 42-27 defeat. The loss is expected to drop the Buckeyes out of contention for the College Football Playoffs.

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Still, things could be worse: You could be snowbound in a pub with an Oasis cover band. “Here’s a little song called ‘Wonderwall,’ for the 487th consecutive time.”