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What you missed in Columbus for Jan. 3

Spacebar temporarily closes; staff absences lead to remote learning at some local schools; a Rose Bowl recap; Betty White is gone, and more recent news

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
The sign outside of Spacebar at

Late last week, Old North music venue Spacebar announced on social media that it would temporarily close on Dec. 31 "due to the latest rise in COVID-19."

Spacebar's decision comes as the highly transmissible omicron variant continues its rapid spread. On the final day of 2021, Ohio recorded the highest daily number of probable and confirmed COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic:

The Ohio Hospital Association reported a record number of COVID-related hospitalizations (5,601), as well. The group also wrote a letter to school superintendents, administrators and school board members, pleading with them to require masks for staff and students returning to school this week.

In related news, today 10 Columbus City Schools locations moved to remote learning "due to a high number of staff absences." COTA is also cutting routes beginning this week, partially due to driver shortages. "If there's a call-off, we don't have enough people to fill those gaps," COTA spokesman Jeff Pullin told the Dispatch.

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As of Jan. 1, Ohio's minimum wage for non-tipped employees has increased from $8.80 per hour to $9.30 per hour. 

More:Pandemic leads to a wage reckoning in the restaurant industry

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After a dismal start in Pasadena, the Ohio State Buckeyes completed a second-half comeback to defeat Utah 48-45 in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. Quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for 573 passing yards, the second-most thrown in any bowl game, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba set a bowl game record with 347 receiving yards.

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On Friday, actress Betty White died at the age of 99. White was also a longtime wildlife advocate and friend to the Columbus Zoo and its former director, Jack Hanna. White visited the zoo in 2014 for the official opening of the Heart of Africa exhibit, which features an entrance named Betty White Way.

Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Betty White, actress and longtime animal advocate, and Tom Stalf, President and CEO Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, walk past a crowd gathered to see the grand opening of the Heart of Africa exhibit at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium on Thursday, May 22, 2014. (The Columbus Dispatch /Jonathan Quilter)