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Ohio pharmacists one step closer to performing COVID-19 testing

Posted at 9:19 PM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 23:25:50-04

CLEVELAND — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine continues to take steps to bolster the state's COVID-19 testing capacity, this time calling on the state's 15,000 pharmacists for help.

DeWine is trying to increase Ohio's lack luster testing numbers, which show the state behind the majority of other states in how many tests are conducted per 100,000 residents.

Ohio has so far not met DeWine's projection of more than 22,000 tests per day by May 27, the state still at roughly 10,000 tests per day.

Antonio Ciaccia, Director of Government Affairs for the Ohio Pharmacists Association, told News 5 allowing pharmacists to conduct COVID-19 testing at more than 2,000 pharmacies statewide, would dramatically increase capacity.

“It just makes sense to expand access to pharmacies, they have the training to do it,” Ciaccia said.

“We’re talking about exponentially increasing the capacity and the access in the State of Ohio.”

But Ciaccia said Ohio has been sitting on legislation for the past 18-months that would allow Pharmacists to be paid and reimbursed for clinical work, like COVID-19 testing.

"To this day the Department of Medicaid has not fixed the administrative rule to get pharmacists up and running in that capacity,” Ciaccia said.

"I did speak with Governor DeWine directly and he pledged to work with the Department of Medicaid on this as soon as possible."

Meanwhile Maj. Gen. John C. Harris with the Ohio National Guard told News 5 Congregate Care Unified Response Teams are already helping with COVID-19 testing at state developmental centers, and highly trained guard members will starting testing a Ohio nursing homes over the next three days.

“Experts will tell us where to go, how many samples to take and which labs to take them to,” Harris said.

"We’ll start in the nursing homes Friday May 29 and on Monday June 1, we'll have a large number, somewhere between six or seven teams.”

“We're also looking at the potential for mobile centers, you talked about pharmacies, there are a lot of components to testing, there a lot of private entities that are doing their own testing.”