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Your Morning Matters: Did ‘War’ really cause panic?

Gov. Mike DeWine called on local governments to start coordinating COVID "defense teams" to respond to surging infections.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It's Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, and on this day in 1938, Orson Welles’ broadcast of his radio play of H. G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds" caused some panic in the U.S., although maybe not as much panic as legend might have you believe.

In the backdrop of the looming election and advertising that often seems suspect (post-election, I’ll share some thoughts about local ads that made me scream at the TV) one thing remains a constant: It’s easy to fool some of the people some of the time.

In case you missed it 82 years ago, Welles took the story about a Martian invasion and weaved it into a radio show of supposedly live big-band music. The show was interrupted with “breaking news” dispatches from Grover’s Mill, N.J., as apparently other-worldly objects crashed onto a farm and creatures were unleashed. Soon, the creatures were headed to New York City to take on the U.S. Army as more Martians began to land across the U.S.

If you missed the start of the show that set up the radio play and tuned in to find the mellow sounds of Ramon Raquello and His Orchestra, chances are you might have been momentarily duped, if not exactly panicked. Conventional wisdom had people fleeing in panic. Not so fast, Slate reported a few years ago: “The supposed panic was so tiny as to be practically immeasurable on the night of the broadcast. Despite repeated assertions to the contrary in the PBS and NPR programs, almost nobody was fooled by Welles’ broadcast.”

Still, it’s a fun listen, and if you’ve never heard it before, consider this my Halloween trick to enjoy with your treats.

Have a great weekend!

Here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

On yet another record-breaking day for new COVID-19 cases statewide, Gov. Mike DeWine called on local governments to start coordinating COVID "defense teams" to respond to surging infections. Mahoning Valley government and health authorities have communicated "frequently" since the beginning, Mahoning County Public Health's Dr. James Kravec said. 

Like DeWine, he said the real battleground is the public's perception of the pandemic: "Some people don't 'buy' what we're telling them. It's hard to get through to people that don't believe the message."

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 8,807,951 confirmed cases; 228,395 deaths, according to at 10 p.m. Oct. 29.
  • In Ohio: 208,937 confirmed and suspected cases; 5,275 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 202,876 confirmed cases; 8,762 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 3,960 confirmed and suspected cases in Mahoning County, 2,451 in Trumbull and 2,227 in Columbiana. 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 26,659.11, up 139.16 points, or 0.52 percent.

Other matters

Trick-or-treating will continue as normal for most of Mahoning Valley this Halloween — despite the surge of coronavirus and CDC guidelines that list the tradition as a high-risk activity. Check out our list of traditional trick-or-treat times and other events for this weekend. Mahoning Matters

Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees said the department is doing what it can to work through a spike in violent crime in Youngstown. But he's been quick to note that the issues are complex, and easy answers are fleeting, especially amid a pandemic. Mahoning Matters

Independent Denny Malloy, 50, of Cortland, is taking on Democratic incumbent Trumbull County Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa in the general election Nov. 3. Mahoning Matters

In a 5-0 vote Wednesday, the Poland School Board appointed Edwin Holland as its new interim superintendent. Holland was the superintendent at Orange City schools in the Cleveland area. WFMJ

Despite the state reaching record-high COVID-19 case numbers, Mahoning and Trumbull election officials say there won’t be a problem with a shortage of poll workers on Election Day. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

A bridge in Poland that connects Riverside Cemetery with Water Street is open now and with a fresh coat of paint. Poland historian Rebecca Rogers refers to it as the Cemetery Bridge, and it was built in 1877. WYTV

Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties combined will have 78 levies on the ballot Tuesday. Seven are for new money, which means 71 are renewals. Some officials say renewals can be used to judge how governments are doing. WKBN

In case you missed it

In response to safety concerns spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and worries about potential mail delays, drop boxes are popping up all over the country — in many places for the first time. Amid the partisan battles over access to the polls, election officials in battleground states are still fighting to limit their usage with only days left until Nov. 3.

Your comments matter

“‘There's no place to hide.’ He's finally figured it out!!”

Jim Mosier, on Gov. Mike DeWine’s response to the state reporting 3,590 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases Thursday, about 700 more cases than the state's previous record total. "The virus is raging throughout the state of Ohio. There's no place to hide," DeWine said.

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