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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

State Looking Into What To Do With Millions Of Hydroxychloroquine Pills

The FDA has revoked permission for hydroxychloroquine to be used as a treatment for COVID-19, after the drug had been publicly touted by President Donald Trump. That leaves the state of Ohio with a stockpile of the drug amounting to millions of pills.

The state bought more than two million pills, spending $602,629 on the unproven drug. Two million additional pills were donated to Ohio.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) says hospitals and health experts are weighing-in on what to do with the stockpile.

"Hindsight's always perfect, if you knew what the FDA was going to do this week obviously we would have not have stockpiled that. On the other hand, if it turned out that we couldn't get it, people would have looked back and said 'why didn't you stockpile it,'" says DeWine.

The FDA says the drug didn't show signs of decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery of the virus, noting serious side effects such as heart problems.

DeWine says this is part of the challenge when it comes to addressing a novel virus like COVID-19.

"You're going to make errors as you move forward. As you fight a pandemic things are not going to be perfect. In hindsight, we wouldn’t have done it. But we went on the best available information that we had at the time. And we erred on the side of being cautious to protect Ohioans lives," DeWine says.

Hydroxychloroquine is a drug typically used to prevent or treat malaria and has a shelf life of up to 24 months.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.