Updated at 3:45 p.m. EST with new case numbers

Ohio’s actions towards the spread of COVID-19 have been a shining example of crisis response. However, as more tests are administered, numbers of cases continue to rise.

As of April 3, Ohio has 3,312 confirmed cases of COVID-19 spanning in 70 counties. More than ever, it’s important to remember we’re #InThisTogetherOhio.

Gripping Ourselves for the Surge

As the state of Ohio begins to enter the early onset stage of what state officials are calling “the surge,” citizens are starting to bear witness to the real-life reflections of the increasingly steady incline of Coronavirus cases.

Reports from the Cleveland Clinic project that Ohio’s surge will begin in mere weeks, peaking in mid-May. However, a great deal of hope is on the way as the FDA approves an Ohio-based technology allowing for the mass reproduction and deployment of repurposed personal protective equipment (PPE.)

Essential healthcare workers and personnel on the front lines are dealing with a rapid influx of patients and a diminishing amount of PPE (personal protective equipment.) Ohioans are doing their part to help the issue.

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Gov. Mike DeWine, when speaking of lessons learned from the impact of this pandemic, said this:

“One of the lessons we are learning as a country, as a people, is that we have to invest more in public health. This is not a Democrat problem. This is not a Republican problem. This is not to blame one President or another, this has been going on for a long time in this country — that we do not focus enough on public health.”

Ohio Board of Pharmacy Issues Further Expansion on MMJ Caregiver Guidelines 

As cases continue to rise, last week the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy issued new guidance for expedited caregiver registration that authorizes patients to now have as many as three caregivers at one time. This continued conscious effort from the Ohio State Medical Marijuana Control Program is to reduce potential exposure to patients considered to be “high risk” for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, in hopes to help flatten the curve.

Furthermore, this allows MMJ patients to apply for potential caregivers by filling out and submitting an online application. The completed submission is then electronically sent directly to the Board of Pharmacy. (Guidance can be accessed here.)  

As of March 22, 2020, Ohio Director of Public Health, Dr. Amy Acton, initiated the Stay-at-Home order for recreational activities deemed as non-essential. The order further stated that licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are considered a healthcare and public health operation and will not be closed as a result of the order.

This means MMJ dispensaries are included and deemed as essential businesses per the state of Ohio. For many, this determination reiterated the sentiment that cannabis is crucial medicine for many with chronic underlying health conditions.

New Testing Kits to be Available 

In addition, Battelle combined efforts with Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to develop new diagnostic tests for COVID-19. This will allow for faster turnaround time on results and while improving test processing in Ohio — which in turn will help to improve efforts to “flatten the curve”.

Test results may be available in as few as five hours. According to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, “…the system can process approximately 200 tests per day, but when the infrastructure is fully built over the coming weeks, the goal is to process more than 1,000 test swabs per day.”

Ohio Board of Pharmacy Issues Further Expansion on MMJ Caregiver Guidelines 

As cases continue to rise, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy continues to review policies and practicies. Last week, the State Board issued new guidance for expedited caregiver registration that authorizes patients to have as many as three caregivers at one time.

This continued conscious effort from the Ohio State Medical Marijuana  Control Program is to reduce potential exposure to patients considered to be “high risk” for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, in hopes to help flatten the curve.

Furthermore, this allows MMJ patients to apply for potential caregivers by filling out and submitting an online application. The completed submission is then electronically sent directly to the Board of Pharmacy. (Guidance can be accessed here.)  

On March 22, 2020, Ohio Director of Public Health, Dr. Amy Acton, initiated the Stay-at-Home order for recreational activities deemed as non-essential. 

“The order further states that licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are considered a healthcare and public health operation and will not be closed as a result of the order.” — Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program 

Translating, this that means MMJ dispensaries are included and deemed as essential businesses per the state of Ohio. A landmark victory in not only medical, but in cannabis history, overall. Reiterating the sentiment that cannabis is a crucial treatment for many with chronic underlying health conditions. (Check out our latest article related to COVID-19)

(The MMCP program has developed a resources page for COVID-19 related updates via the MMCP COVID-19 Resources Page)

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