For the past few years, we know in this community the terrible tragedies that are affiliated with the opioid crisis that has not only affected our community, but every community across the United States. It's no secret how this epidemic has changed family structure, school curriculum, law enforcement tactics, and of course, day-to-day business.
We have teamed up with a group of experts from central Ohio who have come to our community over the last two years to help educate our employers on this topic. Now, this same group, Working Partners, have joined with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce to develop an online tool kit for employers and employees.
According to Working Partners, the 2017 report Taking Measure of Ohio's Opioid Crisis, there were an estimated 92,000 to 170,000 Ohioans in 2015 abusing or depend upon opioids. The ensuring costs associated with treatment, criminal justice and both the immediate and lifetime lost productivity are estimated at $6.6 to $8.8 billion. To add a little perspective to these numbers, Ohio spent $8.2 billion in general revenue funds and lottery profits on K-12 public education in 2015.
As we know, this is indeed a true public health crisis and is an extreme threat to the workforce and economic vitality of our region and state. Add to that the possible upcoming affects that legalized medical marijuana may have to add to this crisis.
Working Partners and the Ohio Chamber, as we announced at our Annual Meeting in March, is now sharing the Opioid Toolkit to all Ohio employers and their employees. The toolkit includes a 5-module course for employers and a one-hour course for employees, along with downloadable tools that will assist in understanding the dangers of misusing prescription drugs.
We're starting to see positive change in our community because of the action being taken by employers, schools, law enforcement, medical professionals, and families. This toolkit is another source that will aid in this effort.
Over the next few weeks, be alert to several bicyclists coming through our area. The world's toughest endurance bicycle race, Race Across America begins this weekend in Oceanside, California and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland. The route passes through 12 states, including Ohio. Cyclists from around the world compete to see who will be the fastest to pedal 3,000 miles coast-to-coast across the USA. Amazingly, the winning solo riders will cross the country in less than 9 days, cycling over 300 miles per day, and teams will do it in 6 days, riding over 500 miles per day.
Riders will have support crews to insure their safety. So, as these cyclists travel across US 50 through Ross County, watch for these support vehicles. There will be a cyclist in front of them.
We can expect to see these athletes and their crews in our area between June 20-23. Some may arrive a few days earlier depending on their speeds. This is a timed event, so timing stations will be located somewhere along East Main Street during this period. Keep your eyes open, and show encouragement as these visitors travel through our region.
Have a great weekend!