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Local COVID-19 legal issues have CLE legal aid responding with virtual phone bank

News 5, Legal Aid Society host COVID-19 phone bank
Local COVID-19 legal issues have CLE legal aid responding with virtual phone bank
Local COVID-19 legal issues have CLE legal aid responding with virtual phone bank
Local COVID-19 legal issues have CLE legal aid responding with virtual phone bank
Local COVID-19 legal issues have CLE legal aid responding with virtual phone bank
Local COVID-19 legal issues have CLE legal aid responding with virtual phone bank
Posted at 2:27 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 07:01:04-04

CLEVELAND — The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland reports the on-going COVID-19 pandemic is creating a host of legal issues now being faced by hundreds of residents here in northeast Ohio.

News 5 and the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland are responding, teaming-up for a virtual phone bank to answer COVID-19 legal questions on Friday, April 24, from 4 to 6:30 PM. The number to call our phone bank is 1-800-658-5370.

Editor's note: We are aware that some callers are having trouble getting through on our phone lines. We are working on a solution.

Residents will also be able to get their legal questions answered during a Facebook live on the News 5 Facebook page from 4:30 to 5 PM.

The phone bank is part of News 5's The Rebound: Northeast Ohio initiative designed to provide crucial information to our viewers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dinola Phillips, staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland told News 5 with so many on people laid off and waiting for unemployment, a growing number of tenants are finding it difficult to pay the rent and may be facing eviction.

Phillips said it's crucial tenants, who don't have funds for rent, communicate immediately with their landlord and the courts if they get a summons, and to try to work out a payment plan.

“Get that agreement in writing, whether it’s an actual handwritten note that the landlord signs, or a text message, get some type of documentation," Phillips said.

"Communicate with the court, courts are amending and changing their guidelines and their policies daily, so what may have been the information and guidance last week may have been changed.”

Julie Cortez, attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, told News 5 many are fighting for benefits and are dealing with legal issues and delays during the pandemic.

“I would say right now probably the biggest issue is unemployment and the number of unemployed workers,” Cortez said.

“There’s a lot people in a position where they’ve never had to access unemployment before, so it can be a confusing process.”

“I think there is a lot of frustration, people need money for food, and to pay their bills.”

Legal aid has responded with a coronavirus FAQ, and separate worker and tenant information lines.

The worker information line is 216-861-5899 in Cuyahoga County, call 440-210-4532, if you live in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake or Lorain County.

The tenant information line is 216-861-5955 in Cuyahoga County. Call 440-210-4533, if you live in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake or Lorain County.

Click here for your one-stop resource guide

Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.