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February 2023

March 2023

Graphic of the week


Analysis from HPIO found that there are differences in air pollution exposure from county to county, as illustrated in the graphic above. Hamilton and Cuyahoga counties have the highest levels of PM2.5 air pollution in the state, with high levels also reported across western and central Ohio.

The finding was included in HPIO’s recently released Health Value Dashboard policy brief titled “A closer look at outdoor air pollution and health.”

Clean air and water, safe places to walk outside and access to healthy food are examples of conditions in the physical environment that affect the health and well-being of Ohioans. Outdoor air quality is included in the 2021 Health Value Dashboard™, where Ohio ranked 46th, meaning that most other states have cleaner outdoor air.

HPIO is planning to release the 2023 Health Value Dashboard in early May.

State launches new online overdose dashboard

Ohio has launched a new website with data on drug overdoses in all 88 counties (Source: “New state dashboard helps communities better understand factors behind opioid overdoses,” Ideastream, March 9).

The state dashboard shows that nearly 1,500 people died in 2021 across the state from overdoses that included cocaine.

Local Ohio organizations working in drug addiction have often found it challenging to respond without reliable data about overdoses in their communities – especially as fentanyl exploded into the drug supply, said Ohio State University College of Social Work Professor Bridget Freisthler.

The National Institutes of Health-funded dashboard is part of an effort to learn what local tools are most effective in combating opioid misuse.

74% of East Palestine residents report headaches following train derailment

Almost three in four East Palestine residents who completed a health assessment after the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment reported experiencing headaches, Gov. Mike DeWine’s office reported last week (Source: “East Palestine update: 74% of residents reported experiencing headaches, according to health surveys,”, March 3).

Late Friday afternoon, the governor’s office released the results of the survey done by federal, state and local officials. Residents completed an “after chemical exposure” community survey – with 168 questionnaires completed – aimed at providing information on how people may be impacted.

The other most common symptoms among East Palestine residents include anxiety (64%), coughing (61%), fatigue/tiredness (58%) and irritation, pain or burning of skin (52%).

Residents answered the surveys when they visited the East Palestine Health Assessment Clinic, which is run by the Ohio Department of Health and the Columbiana County Health District, as well as during door-to-door visits by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services representatives.

Study: Nearly half of child poisoning deaths caused by opioids

A review of poisonings among children five and younger found that opioids contributed to nearly half of deaths from 2005 to 2018, largely from accidental overdoses, according to new research (Source: “Opioids Are Leading Cause of Child Poisoning Deaths, Study Finds,” New York Times, March 8).

The study, published on Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics, analyzed 731 poisoning-related deaths that occurred from 2005 to 2018 across 40 states. The authors found that opioids, a class of synthetic drugs that includes prescribed pain relievers but also illegal narcotics such as heroin and fentanyl, contributed to nearly half, or 47%, of those deaths.

About 41% of the poisoning deaths resulted from accidental overdoses, according to the study, which described 18% as “deliberate” poisonings.

Graphic of the week


New data analysis from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found that while Ohio’s rate of traffic deaths has remained below the U.S. over the past decade, fatalities related to drivers operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs have increased 78% in the state from 2017 to 2021 (as illustrated in the graphic above).

The data also shows a spike in fatalities in both Ohio and the U.S. in 2020, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to preliminary research by the federal Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), people who continued to drive during the pandemic may have engaged in riskier behavior including speeding, failure to wear seat belts and driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Ohio ranked 15th in the nation (out of the 50 states and D.C.) in motor vehicle deaths in HPIO’s 2021 Health Value Dashboard. HPIO plans to release its 2023 Dashboard in May.

States brace for end to COVID-related SNAP benefits

States, community groups and food banks are scrambling to help families cope and gear up for an expected wave of food hardship following the end of pandemic-related benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps (Source: “States Strive to Help SNAP Recipients Cope With Lower Benefits,” Pew Stateline, Feb. 28).

The average SNAP participant in states (including Ohio) that still had emergency allotments as of February will receive $90 less a month in benefits, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In March 2020, as COVID-19 swept the nation and the economy shut down, Congress gave states the authority to ease application and eligibility requirements for SNAP and to hike benefits with temporary emergency allotments.

Study: Black Americans rely on ERs for mental health treatment at much higher rates than national average

New research finds Black adults are more likely to visit emergency departments when experiencing a mental health problem than white adults but face longer delays, and are less likely to be admitted to a hospital for treatment (Source: “Study: Black People Visit ER for Mental Health at Highest Rates,” U.S. News, March 1).

new analysis released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics shows that from 2018 to 2020, non-Hispanic Black adults visited the emergency department for any mental health-related concern at an annual average rate of 97 visits per 1,000 adults, nearly double the rate of the national average. By comparison, the rate of mental health-related emergency department visits among non-Hispanic white adults was 53.4 per 1,000 from 2018 to 2020, while Hispanic adults had the lowest rate at 36 visits per 1,000.

The analysis did not examine contributing factors for the racial disparities found, but previous research has indicated people of color are routinely underdiagnosed and undertreated for mental illness, which has in part led to rising rates of drug overdose death and suicide.

Enrollment set to begin for new Ohio Medicaid managed care plans

Medicaid enrollees in Ohio can begin selecting from among a new slate of managed care plans beginning next week (Source: “Ohio Medicaid managed care plan enrollment begins Tuesday,” Associated Press, Feb. 28).

As part of the Ohio Medicaid Next Generation initiative, millions of enrollees in the program must choose from seven managed care plans or be assigned one.

The approved plans are: Buckeye Community Health Plan, CareSource, Molina Healthcare, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, AmeriHealth Caritas, Humana and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Next Generation is scheduled to go live July 1.