ODH opts for slower death reporting: The Ohio Department of Health has given up reporting coronavirus deaths as quickly as possible. Beginning Tuesday, it is now opting for a new system that will delay reporting of some deaths by up to months, but should prove to be more accurate, Rich Exner reports. ODH will now depend solely on CDC case confirmations after death certificates are received, rather than earlier reports from hospitals and local health districts. This change follows the department’s discovery last month that more than 4,000 deaths had gone unreported.

Deaths dive down: The number of people who have died of coronavirus was 16,750 on Tuesday, a 596 decrease from Monday. Laura Hancock explains that’s because of the health department’s new death reporting system.

Know your audience: Former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken and former Treasurer Josh Mandel are solely focused on one person so far in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate: former President Donald Trump. As Seth Richardson writes in an analysis, both Timken and Mandel have been engaged in a back and forth over who is more supportive of the former president – and wanting to garner an endorsement – with both willing to throw other Republicans under the bus to do so.

Consolation prize: Timken announced endorsements for her U.S. Senate bid from 19 Republican Ohio state representatives on Tuesday, including Reps. Haraz Ghanbari, Cindy Abrams, Laura Lanese, Bill Seitz, Scott Oelslager, Jon Cross, Brian Baldridge and Brett Hilyer.

Support for Gonzalez: Sen. Rob Portman said Tuesday that he disagrees with Republicans who insist U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez should resign from office over his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump. (Timken and Mandel have said Gonzalez should go.) Although he differs with Gonzalez on impeachment, Portman described him as “a friend and a good public servant” whom he supports. He said Republicans should focus on unity and policy. “That’s what people are looking for, in my view.”

His best shot: Portman also told reporters Tuesday that he found out he got the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine as part of a clinical trial he agreed to participate in last year, Sabrina Eaton reports. “I’d always assumed that I had received the placebo because I had no reaction at all, not even pain in the arm,” he said. “I say that, in part, to encourage people to get vaccinated … Some people do have reactions to the vaccines, as you know, but I had no reaction at all.”

Order up: Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration on Tuesday issued new health orders raising maximum attendance levels at sports and entertainment centers, as well as lifting a 300-person limit at banquet centers. Jeremy Pelzer posted copies of the orders, which keep other health rules – such as mask mandates and social-distancing requirements – in place.

Arms up: Given how tumultuous 2020 was, it’s perhaps not surprising that the number of new concealed-handgun licenses issued in Ohio last year jumped 78% from the year before. As Pelzer reports, while the number of renewed licenses fell last year, 2020 still saw the third-highest renewal total since conceal-carry was legalized in 2004.

It’s a date: A federal judge has set a quick schedule to hear arguments on a lawsuit in which Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is seeking to force the U.S. Census Bureau to speed up its reporting of population data. Judge Thomas M. Rose has ordered the Biden administration reply by March 12 and Yost to respond by March 15, with a hearing tentatively set for March 19. The Census Bureau recently announced that its count won’t be complete until as late as Sept. 30, six months later than the legal deadline. The delay would cause Ohio to miss constitutional deadlines for its redistricting process.

Keeping his options open: U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson told Fox News over the weekend that he’s considering running for governor or U.S. Senate in 2022. ” I was surprised that Senator Portman wasn’t running. And, look, it’s flattering to have my name come up in that race and frankly, in the governor’s race,” Davidson said. “So we’re taking a hard look at our options.” He went on to call DeWine’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic “overbearing.”

Six pack: The Hamilton County Board of Elections has certified six mayoral candidates, per the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Scott Wartman. They are: David Mann, Aftab Pureval, Cecil Thomas, Raffel Prophett, Gavi Begtrup and Herman Najoli. “Two more candidates are still fighting to get on the ballot: Kelli Prather and Adam Koehler,” Wartman writes.

Energy Harbor, the owner of two Ohio nuclear plants that were to have been bailed out by House Bill 6, has disclosed employing the following lobbyists in Ohio:

1. Michelle Fitzgibbon

2. Dave Griffing

3. Jason Paduchik

4. Ryan Stenger

David Sewell, president and chief operating officer of Sherwin-Williams, is resigning from the Cleveland-based company to become the CEO of Westrock, an Atlanta cardboard box manufacturer, IdeaStream reports.

Jackie Borchardt, Ohio bureau chief for the USA Today Network

“We’re happy to help people take one more step toward reclaiming their lives from this pandemic. But at the same time, we’re getting a little angry. Why is this falling on the shoulders of two moms? Why is the state just now developing a system?”

-Stacey Bene, half of the “Vaccine Queen” duo that has helped more than 700 Ohioans navigate the process of signing up for a COVID-19 vaccines. The duo said in an interview with cleveland.com / Plain Dealer columnist Leila Atassi that a staffer for Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine recently asked for their addresses, saying the governor plans to send them a thank-you note.

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