Ohio public health

HPIO releases fact sheet on policy options to address overdose deaths

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released a new fact sheet, Refocusing Ohio’s Approach to Overdose Deaths.

“Drug overdose deaths are preventable and there are many ways to deter and reverse overdoses,” the fact sheet states. “Recent upward trends in overdose deaths are troubling. Without a comprehensive policy response that takes into consideration the many factors that contribute to overdose, Ohioans will continue to die, leaving behind grieving families and untapped potential.”

This fact sheet explores:

  • What drives overdose deaths
  • Why overdose deaths continue to increase
  • What Ohio can do to improve overdose prevention

This fact sheet was released in conjunction with the HPIO policy brief, Taking Action to Strengthen Ohio’s Addiction Response.


Advocates push state to use more federal dollars for school-based health clinics

Ohio child advocacy groups and doctors are pushing for more state funding to add additional school-based health clinics in the state (Source: “Child advocacy groups, doctors want to see more state funding for school-based health clinics,” News 5 Cleveland, Oct. 20).

The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio and other child advocacy groups are asking the state to allocate $25 million from the American Rescue Plan Act for the next two years to help set up clinics for additional districts in the state.

Ohio received about $5 billion from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. So far, about $3 billion has yet to be allocated. According to the Treasury Department, funds must be incurred by Dec. 31, 2024.


COVID transmission rate continues to decline in Ohio

Coronavirus cases are continuing to decline, with Ohio’s two-week cases per 100,000 people dropping from 560.5 cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 7 to 507.4 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday, according to the state health department (Source: “Ohio continues to see decrease in COVID-19 transmission rate,” Dayton Daily News, Oct. 14).

The transmission rate has been declining for at least three weeks and has decreased by nearly 200. On Sept. 23, Ohio reported 698.7 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks.

As of Thursday, only five counties had more than 1,000 cases per 100,000: Guernsey, Coshocton, Muskingum, Gallia and Jackson counties. On Sept. 23, Ohio had 30 counties with more than 1,000 cases per 100,000.

More than 54.5% of Ohioans have started the COVID-19 vaccine, including 65.97% of adults and 63.88% of those 12 and older. Nearly 51% of residents have finished the vaccine, including 61.66% of adults and 59.56% of Ohioans 12 and older.


New HPIO fact sheets explore racial, geographic differences in impact of Ohio addiction crisis

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released two new fact sheets that detail the impact of the addiction crisis on different groups of Ohioans.  

The fact sheets are being released in conjunction with the recently published HPIO policy brief Taking Action to Strengthen Ohio’s Addiction Response.

The first fact sheet, HPIO Addiction Evidence Project: Insights on addiction and race, provides data and information on differences in addiction outcomes by race, and the factors that drive those differences, with a focus on Black Ohioans.

“Ohio has taken many steps to prevent addiction and improve treatment access for people with substance use disorder,” the fact sheet states. “However, addiction remains a concern across the state, affecting people from every community and inequitably impacting Ohioans of color.”

The second fact sheet, HPIO Addiction Evidence Project: Insights on addiction and geography, presents information about differences in downstream addiction-related harms, and the factors driving those differences, across Ohio communities based on region and county type.

According to the fact sheet, “Addiction-related harms remain a concern across the state and there are clear regional disparities in economic conditions and access to life-saving services that exacerbate those harms. Going forward, Ohio can do more to ensure that where someone lives does not increase the likelihood they will die of a drug overdose.”


COVID-19 surge begins to show signs of easing

A two-month surge in COVID-19 infections in Ohio appears to be easing, state data shows (Source: “COVID-19 surge begins to ease in Ohio,” Ohio Capital Journal, Oct. 8).

On Oct. 1, the average rate of new infections by day fell to about 5,000, down from a recent high of about 7,400 per day in mid-September.

While less pronounced, the number of patients in the hospital on a given day with COVID-19 has declined as well. Fewer than 3,400 Ohioans are hospitalized with the disease as of Thursday, compared to about 3,700 in late September.

Of all COVID-19 tests taken statewide, an average of 12% are coming back positive as of Thursday, compared to about 14% in September.

The disease continues to spread at high rates, even compared to the peaks seen in late 2020. There’s also no telling how significantly the pandemic will continue to ebb. Regardless, the declines are a ray of optimistic news amid a summer and fall unexpectedly dominated by the Delta variant of the coronavirus that causes the disease.


Study: 1 in 20 Ohio children has elevated lead levels in blood, more than twice national rate

Ohio children have elevated levels of lead in their blood at more than two times the national rate, according to a study released Monday (Source: “Ohio kids’ show elevated lead blood levels at more than twice the national rate, study finds,” Ohio Capital Journal, Sept. 28).

The research, from JAMA Pediatrics, found about 5.2% of Ohio children have elevated levels of lead in their system.

Nationally, the rate is about 1.9%. Ohio ranked second nationally in terms of states with the highest rates of children with elevated blood levels.

Lead is a neurotoxin linked to developmental, mental, and physical impairment, and young children are especially vulnerable. There’s no safe level of exposure for children, though their blood is considered elevated when it contains 5 micrograms per deciliter.

Ohio is one of six states with kids’ proportions of elevated blood levels more than twice the national average, along with Nebraska (6%), Pennsylvania (5%), Missouri (4.5%), Michigan (4.5%) and Wisconsin (4.3%).


Ohio House leaders send vaccine bill back to drawing board

The Ohio House of Representatives on Wednesday delayed a vote on a bill supported by its Republican leaders that would allow businesses to mandate coronavirus vaccines, yet would also allow broad exemptions for employees to avoid getting shots (Source: “Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp announces his coronavirus vaccine bill is back to drawing board,” Cleveland.com, Sept. 30).

After it faced opposition from business and medical organizations, Democrats and some Republicans, House Bill 435 was sent back to the Ohio House Rules and Reference Committee, where more work will be done, said Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp, a Lima Republican.

Under HB 435, as currently written, public and private employees, as well as public and private K-12 and college students could be subject to coronavirus vaccine mandates. However, they could be exempted for medical reasons, for demonstrating natural immunity to the coronavirus and for religious reasons and reasons of conscience. The religious exemption is broad, as it would only require a statement by the believer and not a letter from clergy.


New HPIO policy brief outlines ways for Ohio policymakers to take action to address addiction

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released a new policy brief, “Taking Action to Strengthen Ohio’s Addiction Response.”

The publication is the final brief in the HPIO Addiction Evidence Project and includes:

  • An update on where Ohio stands on addiction-related trends
  • A summary of Ohio’s addiction policy strengths, gaps, challenges and opportunities
  • A prioritized set of nine policy recommendations

Over the past 20 years, Ohioans have pulled together to address the complex challenges of addiction in unprecedented ways. Now, with pending opioid settlements on the horizon, there is an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of Ohio’s efforts to date and plan for what should happen next.

The brief identifies the following as the most important addiction policy priorities to address:

  • Immediate: Save lives by ending fentanyl overdoses
  • Next 2 years: Reform the criminal justice system to support recovery and employment
  • Long term: Continue to strengthen Ohio’s prevention-treatment-recovery continuum

DeWine announces new vaccine incentive for ages 12 to 25

Ohioans age 12 to 25 will be eligible to win a $100,000 college scholarship for getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot, Gov. DeWine announced Thursday (Source: “'Vax-2-School': Ohioans age 12 to 25 can win $100,000 college scholarships for getting a COVID-19 vaccine,” Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 24).

Five $100,000 scholarships and 50 $10,000 scholarships will be given away over five days from Oct. 11 to 15, according to DeWine. The money can be used for college or vocational education.

People who have already been vaccinated will be eligible and will have to sign up for the drawing in advance, but that process has not yet been set up. The scholarships will be paid for with federal coronavirus relief money.

About 46% of Ohioans age 12 to 25 have been vaccinated compared to 84% of Ohioans age 65 and over. More than 32,000 K-12 students have tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19 this school year.


Ohio COVID hospitalizations triple this time last year, ODH director says

The Delta variant is continuing to drive an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations with the number of hospitalizations reported Wednesday in Ohio nearly triple the amount reported a year ago, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Thursday (Source: “Ohio’s daily COVID hospitalizations nearly triple vs. year ago, Vanderhoff says,” Dayton Daily News, Sept. 16).

On Wednesday, ODH reported 7,747 new daily cases of COVID and 292 daily hospitalizations. A year ago, on Sept. 15, 2020, the state reported just over 1,000 daily cases and 103 hospitalizations, he said.

“Even though about half of us today are well protected by vaccination, our daily hospitalizations are about triple what they were last year,” Vanderhoff said. “And the reason is simple. The Delta variant is aggressively seeking out anyone who lacks immunity and is making many of them very sick.”