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Ohio considering shifting distribution of COVID tests back to libraries

A BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test made by Abbott Laboratories.
Ted S. Warren
A BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test made by Abbott Laboratories, in Tacoma, Wash. is shown in this Feb. 3, 2021 file photo.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Department of Health said it would send rapid COVID tests first to K-12 schools instead of libraries and health departments. But now the health department is considering reversing that decision.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the people most at risk of serious effects of COVID are unvaccinated or older Ohioans and people with underlying health conditions. Yet rapid tests that could be used by communities to prevent spread to those populations remain in short supply. So Vanderhoff says the agency is looking at shifting its priority for rapid tests away from K-12 schools.

“We will pivot, as needed, to make sure our limited supply is going to best effect,” he said.

Vanderhoff said the goal was to keep schools open and kids in them. But he says given the shifts by the virus, it may be better if tests are sent to libraries and health departments.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.