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Ohio Department of Health gives COVID-19 update as public health emergency expires

The state of Ohio has reported more than 3.4 million COVID cases since the start of the pandemic in 2020 with more than 42,000 deaths.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the public health emergency declaration regarding COVID-19 expires in the United States today, the Ohio Department of Health gave an update during a press conference.

The update was led by Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, who is the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, as well as David Margolius, MD, Director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health. 

The update came less than a week after the World Health Organization declared last Friday that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency.

“Overall, I do not foresee any immediate or dramatic changes in the Ohio Department of Health's ability to serve as a resource as a result of this shift. We remain dedicated to preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, particularly to populations at higher risk,” said Vanderhoff.

The full press conference can be viewed below: 

Dr. Vanderhoff noted that over time, individuals, especially those uninsured or underinsured, may face additional expenses when it comes to COVID-19 testing and treatment. 

What does it mean for you that the public health emergency has come to an end? Our VERIFY team is fact checking everything you need to know about coverage for COVID tests, vaccines and more HERE.

The most immediate change will be that free COVID-19 tests shipped from the Federal Government will no longer be available. The costs of over-the-counter tests will be determined based on an individual’s insurance. 

The Ohio Department of Health has kept a sizable amount of free COVID tests which they will deploy to partners. Individuals on Medicaid will be able to get tests thru 2024. 

Dr. Margolius encouraged individuals who are looking for a COVID test to contact local healthcare providers, pharmacies and the health department.

At this time, vaccines will remain free for all regardless of an individual’s insurance. 

Dr. Margolius also provided information on how they plan to support the city of Cleveland when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations. 

“There remains a large stockpile of federal vaccines free to everyone. Our focus in Cleveland remains on the first dose of the COVID vaccine. We know there are still folks out there that haven’t gotten any doses of the vaccine. We also know that people are making that decision every week, maybe 100-200 every week are making the decision to get that first dose in our county."

Across the state of Ohio, Dr. Margolius believes the pandemic has shown a bright spot in the healthcare field. 

“I will say that things that didn’t seem possible, we proved were possible. We set up a 24/7 COVID hotline in two days…. We know with the right collaboration, urgency, and leadership, anything is possible." 

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous COVID story on May 5, 2023.

To date, the state of Ohio has reported more than 3.4 million COVID cases since the start of the pandemic in 2020 with more than 42,000 deaths.

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