Falcon 4 News: Week of September 6

Aspen Strauss and Aspen Strauss

Hurricane Ida

The Category 4 hurricane hit Louisiana on Aug. 29. Ida was deemed the second-most damaging hurricane on record after a tropical wave in the Caribbean Sea on Aug. 23. The wave quickly turned into a tropical depression that pummeled the Gulf Coast and Northeastern states. More than 60 have died and over 550,000 people in Louisiana remain without power.

On Sunday, the death toll in Louisiana rose to 13, and New York confirmed 17 deaths and over $50 million in damage to the state affecting over 1,200 homes. New Jersey has lost over 27 people, and four are still missing. Louisiana has confirmed several deaths, Pennsylvania has reported at least four deaths and Connecticut and Maryland each have reported a death from the deluge.

Louisiana may see more severe weather. Flash flooding watches are in effect and the region is also under a heat advisory as high temperatures will be in the high 80s and low 90s.

Around 14,000 people in one Louisiana parish are without homes after Ida destroyed about 75% of the structures there. New York is still recovering as Ida turned roads into rivers.

President Joe Biden visited New York and New Jersey to view the destruction and has issued a major disaster declaration for five counties in New York and six counties in New Jersey, along with Louisiana.

Texas passes ‘Heartbeat Act’

On May 19, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, along with the Texas Supreme Court, passed a law to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The law, SB 8, went into effect on Sept. 1. It received major support from Republican lawmakers as nearly all of them signed on as an author or sponsor of the measure.

The bill will be put in place whenever an ultrasound can detect a fetal heartbeat. This could be as early as five-and-a-half to six weeks after gestation.

Other states have passed similar bills, but Texas’ version has a key difference. Instead of the government enforcing the law, the bill turns responsibility over to private citizens, who now have the power to sue abortion providers, or anyone who helps someone get an abortion, after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The law also applies when women are impregnated as a result of rape or incest; aside from exceptions for medical emergencies.

According to the Texas Tribune, in 2019, more than 56,600 abortions were performed, most of which were in their first trimester.

Many feel as if this has been an attack on women’s rights. According to an interview by The Washington Post, President Joe Biden has denounced the Texas law as “almost un-American” and said it creates a “vigilante system” under which private citizens are empowered to police the ban.

COVID-19 updates

In the state of Ohio, COVID-19 cases rose by 90% over the past two weeks. Currently, there are 6,022 news cases with 21 deaths. There has also been a 31% increase in tests being taken. Over the last four days, cases are up to a total of 1.26 million with 21,020 deaths in Ohio alone.

Vaccination rates have slowly been on the rise through September with 52.8% of the Ohio population having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and 48.7% of the population being fully vaccinated.

Bigger cities like Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati are between 4,627 cases – 6,404 reported from Aug. 24 through Sept. 6. But cases have seemed to climb throughout the state.

The New York Times provides interactive and educational resources to see how COVID-19 is changing throughout Ohio. In Wood County, 1 in 9 people have COVID-19 and 53% of the total population is vaccinated.

Census update in Ohio

On May 18, a federal appeals court sided with Ohio’s attorney general in a lawsuit, making the US Census data available earlier than expected to draw maps for Ohio’s Congressional and State House and Senate districts.

Every 10 years, the U.S census counts the country’s residents. The data determines the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives, and is also used to adjust or redraw electoral districts based on increases and decreases in population.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the federal government to force the data to be released sooner. The court ruled in his favor, and the data was released on Aug. 12.

Two Congressional and State House and Senate Districts were approved to be remapped by Sept. 1. After missing that deadline, Ohio’s Redistricting Commission has until Sept. 15 to pass a plan. The amendment also mandates at least two hearings for the public to listen in regarding the congressional map, and at least three for the House and Senate maps.

Senate President Matt Huffman believes the maps for the statehouse and Senate will most likely not get agreement from the minority Democrats, and the maps will most likely be short-term. Their other option is a 10-year map, contingent on support from Senate Democrats.