Karen Kasler

Bureau Chief

Credit Kristen Kasler Peters

Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.

Karen Kasler is a lifelong Ohioan. She grew up in Lancaster, attended Otterbein College in Westerville, and found her professional break at WCBE-FM, Columbus. Karen was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Master's Degree Program for Mid-Career Journalists at Ohio State University in 1994. She worked at WTVN-AM and WBNS-TV, both in Columbus - then followed eight years as afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor for WTAM-AM, Cleveland. Karen followed the demolition and rebuilding of Cleveland Browns Stadium, produced award-winning series on identity theft and the Y2K panic, covered the Republican National Convention in 2000 and the blackout of 2003, and reported annually from the Cleveland National Air Show each year, often going upside down in an aerobatic plane to do it. In 1999, she was a media witness to the execution of Wilford Berry, the first execution since Ohio re-instated capital punishment. Karen frequently reported for ABC Radio News, and in 2002 co-produced an award-winning nationally-distributed documentary on the one-year anniversary of September 11, featuring her interview with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from the West Wing of the White House.

Since returning to Columbus in 2004, Karen has covered major elections and the controversies surrounding them. She was a moderator for the gubernatorial debate in 2018 and US Senate debates in 2016, 2012, 2010 and 2006. She's also led debates on statewide issues such as drug sentencing, marijuana legalization, redistricting and the collective bargaining law known as Senate Bill 5. Each year she anchors the Bureau's live coverage of the Governor's State of the State, and has led coverage of the inaugurations of the last three governors.

She's produced features for NPR and "Marketplace", and has been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, NBC and stations around the country. She's a regular panelist on ideastream's "The Sound of Ideas", a frequent guest on WOSU-TV’s “Columbus on the Record” and has appeared on WBNS-TV's "Face the State".

Karen has been honored by the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists and holds a National Headliner Award. She's won several awards from the Ohio AP, and is a four-time winner of the AP's Best Broadcast Writing award. She's a three-time Emmy nominee for "The State of Ohio". She's a past president of the Ohio Associated Press and has served on the Board of Directors for the Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Karen is also a former adjunct professor at Capital University in Columbus.

Karen, her husband and their son Jack live on Columbus' northeast side.

A bed at the Pickaway Correctional Institution in Orient, where six inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.
Daniel Konik

There are reports of deaths in a federal prison in Ohio that are suspected to be COVID-19 related. And fourteen inmates and nearly 30 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 in three Ohio state prisons. The state has now identified more prisoners who could be released from those state facilities.

Oral arguments for Tuesday's first case before the Ohio Supreme Court, as seen from a video monitor in the Statehouse News Bureau's office at the Statehouse.
Karen Kasler

The Ohio Supreme Court had a historic session on Tuesday – oral arguments were conducted remotely.

Karen Kasler

Bars and restaurants in Ohio closed on March 15, and the stay at home order took effect March 23. And the state is now starting to feel the financial effects of those and other restrictions imposed to halt the spread of coronavirus.

A chart showing COVID-19 cases and deaths by race and ethnicity, as provided by the Ohio Department of Health.
Ohio Department of Health

Ohio’s coronavirus tracking website is now showing a breakdown of COVID-19 cases and deaths by race and ethnicity. But the state health director is cautioning that this information is incomplete.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Office of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

Some Ohio breweries have switched from producing alcohol to making hand sanitizer. Other companies are making or recycling medical grade masks needed by doctors and nurses on the front lines, and some have donated medical supplies. But state leaders are not just relying on the state’s businesses to meet those demands.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services agency office in downtown Columbus houses one of the largest state agencies.
Karen Kasler

Over 468,000 Ohioans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks – that’s nearly a third more than the total number filed last year.  The coronavirus restrictions have been a huge blow to workers who lost their jobs, and the fallout has created a tremendous strain on the system that’s set up to help them.

Dr. Amy Acton points to a graph on a chart showing Ohio's levels of most needed medical equipment, such as masks, gowns and thermometers at a press conference on March 30, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

Ohio has gotten all that it’s likely to get from the National Strategic Stockpile of medical supplies – a plane dropped off gowns, gloves, coveralls, face shields, surgical masks and N-95 masks in Columbus Tuesday. But the state says it’s not enough for now or through the surge of COVID-19 patients that is expected in the near future.

A voter signs a petition for a signature gatherer working in Columbus last year.
Andy Chow

Backers of a planned fall ballot issue seeking to raise the minimum wage in Ohio to $13 by 2025 have filed a lawsuit, saying Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus restrictions have halted their effort.  The group says it wants more time and lowered requirements.

Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at his daily coronavirus press conference on March 30, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

Gov. Mike DeWine has extended his order to close all Ohio K-12 schools from April 3 through May 1. And he's hinting that another extension is possible.

A colorful sign decorates the hallway at Ohio Job and Family Services.
Dan Konik

Nearly 200,000 Ohioans have filed unemployment claims in the last two weeks, and more are likely to need those benefits soon. But many are reporting still having problems getting through either by the phone lines or online, as the state has been struggling to keep up with a system not built for this kind of volume.

Battelle employees process N-95 masks in the Critical Care Decontamination System.
Battelle

The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to Columbus-based Battelle for its full request to sterilize 80,000 N-95 surgical masks per machine per day, after issuing a letter earlier in the day permitting far less. And it comes after pressure from Ohio officials.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted speaks at the daily coronavirus news conference on Friday, March 28.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

More than 187,000 Ohioans filed for unemployment this week, and many more are worried about their jobs and their businesses. The state has said that businesses that consider themselves essential as described by Ohio’s stay at home order can stay open, but they must be following safety guidelines. And if they’re not, they could face penalties.

With a 30 percent increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in 24 hours and a new total of 19 deaths, new projections on the spread of coronavirus in Ohio suggest the state could be seeing 10,000 cases a day by the time it peaks.

Barbed wire surrounds the outside of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio's primary maximum security prison.
Daniel Konik

Seventeen people have been tested for coronavirus in five Ohio prisons – 13 results were negative and the rest are pending, and those inmates are in isolation. Those numbers come from a new daily update that the state is now providing on testing in prisons and youth facilities. 

Dr. Amy Acton gestures at the daily news conference alongside Gov. Mike DeWine on March 25, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

The state is unveiling a new dashboard for those tracking coronavirus in Ohio, with breakdowns of the data that's coming in on where those cases are and who's being tested. 15 deaths were announced today, five more than yesterday.

Karen Kasler

The legislation making changes across a variety of state policies because of coronavirus also settled an issue that lawmakers had been struggling with for months. That’s the question of how many students would qualify next school year for the state’s largest private school voucher program.

A box to drop off absentee ballots sits in the parking lot of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland.
Karen Kasler

The bill that made some changes across state law related to coronavirus also set a new ending for the Ohio primary, after polling places were shut down just hours before election day.

Gov. Mike DeWine gestures at his daily news conference on March 25, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

The number of coronavirus cases has grown 25% in the last day, with two more deaths added to the eight announced yesterday. And the state is starting to release more information about the data they're getting on COVID-19 in Ohio.

Senators are spaced apart for session.  They're dressed casually at the suggestion of leadership, which noted that business attire may not be laundered as often as casual clothing.
Karen Kasler

In a strong showing of unity, state lawmakers have unanimously passed a bill making a lot of changes in state law related to the response to coronavirus – but they stress that they’re only temporary. The package now goes on to Gov. Mike DeWine.

Daniel Konik

Lawmakers have a lot to do in the two days they’ve planned to be at the Statehouse this week – picking a new date for the delayed Ohio primary, setting a later state tax filing day and scrapping mandatory school testing for this academic year. Both chambers have come up with special procedures for this unprecedented session.

Dan Konik

The numbers of Ohioans filing for unemployment benefits are rising daily – so many that the state’s unemployment website was having trouble handling them. And the state is now clarifying why it will no longer do daily releases about how many people are filing jobless claims.

Members of the Ohio National Guard's 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of Columbus package food at the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.
Dan Konik

Nearly 400 Ohio National Guard personnel have started a mission in a dozen sites around the state in the fight against coronavirus. They’re working at 12 food bank locations.

Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at his daily press conference on coronavirus on March 22, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

The number of deaths from COVID-19 doubled from yesterday - going from three deaths announced Sunday to six today. And Gov. Mike DeWine has issued several orders to state government as it fights coronavirus, saying that he expects state revenues to go to go down dramatically.

Emilie Zhang/shutterstock.com

Gov. Mike DeWine says the state is limiting prescriptions of two drugs used for malaria and rheumatoid arthritis, after interest in those drugs spiked when President Trump tweeted out that they could be used to treat COVID-19.

Gov. Mike DeWine at his daily coronavirus update on March 20, flanked by Ohio Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

While saying it's an "absolutely crucial time", Gov. Mike DeWine said he's issuing an order for all Ohioans to stay at home starting at 11:59pm Monday - what's being called a "shelter in place" order in other states.

Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at his daily coronavirus press conference on March 20. Behind him are Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

There are now three deaths related to coronavirus in Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine is opening the state's emergency operating center, shutting down centers serving people with disabilities and allowing bigger loads to be trucked to grocery stores and medical facilities.

The Ohio National Guard helped out with recovery efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in October 2017.
@OHNationalGuard/twitter

The Ohio National Guard is being deployed on Monday to help with the state’s coronavirus response. But the Guard’s leader wants to make it clear what they will not be doing.

Attorney General Dave Yost gestures at a news conference last month.
Karen Kasler

The attorney general is advising Ohio’s courts that they can suspend jury trials to stop the spread of coronavirus.

A sign was set out to greet would-be voters at a polling place in Powell in Delaware County, telling them there would be no in-person voting today.
Jo Ingles

A court ruling to go ahead with today’s primary and then an order to shut down all 3,600 polling places caused confusion for many Ohioans – but maybe no group was more affected than the tens of thousands of people set to work the polls.

A stack of Ohio's newest "I Voted" stickers sit in a basket at the Franklin County Board of Elections office in Columbus.
Karen Kasler

Though coronavirus concerns have shut down a lot of activity in Ohio, Tuesday's primary is still on. And surburban women are expected to play a key role in what happens.

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