Apr 13, 2020
Mike DeWine Ohio Coronavirus Briefing April 13
Governor Mike DeWine held a COVID-19 press conference on April 13, 2020. Read the full transcript with all his updates.
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Dr. Acton: (00:00)
Program to bring you a special report from Channel 3 News.
Mike DeWine: (00:26)
Afternoon, everybody. Hope everybody had a good weekend. We’re continuing our tradition, or my tradition of wearing a tie from one of our colleges or universities here in Ohio. Ohio has some amazing, wonderful, small colleges. This tie happens to be from Rio Grande. We’re just very happy to be able to wear that today. A very small but great school in the southern part of the state of Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (01:00)
I want to thank all our churches that did remote services yesterday and through Holy Week. Our synagogues who did the same thing. We thank them all very much. We want to thank all the families who normally would get together. It was certainly an unusual Easter. In our family we did use Zoom on Holy Saturday night. And had many of our kids and grandkids joining in. So, that was quite a good experience.
Mike DeWine: (01:44)
Also, on Easter, Fran and I and some members of our family were able to be on Father Tom Hagan, our friend from Haiti, who has a school at Haiti, he did Zoom as well and did mass. I know many of you, from the emails I’ve been getting and texts I’ve been getting, many of you had other experiences where that’s how you did church, or you pulled the family together.
Mike DeWine: (02:13)
It was an unusual weekend. It’s an unusual time. But I think families really tried to really get together. I want to share with you a few pictures of Easter eggs. Hamilton, Ohio, the city, school’s third grade math and science teacher Stacy Sandlin, as well as her 15 year old daughter Addison, did these.
Mike DeWine: (02:58)
Hello, Dr. Acton, you might have recognized one of those persons in there, at any rate?
Dr. Acton: (03:06)
I recognize COVID.
Mike DeWine: (03:06)
Yes. The virus is there. Sanitizer is there, masks are there. I think even Dr. Acton was there as well. I might have been there as well. I want to thank our partners in the general assembly for the actions they took a couple of hours ago. They responded very quickly. These are federal dollars that are coming in. And the funding that they approved today was 8.8 million for the build out of our hospital capacity. That is down from what we thought it was going to be.
Mike DeWine: (03:43)
That’s down from what we originally had talked about. So, we’re very happy, frankly, about that. It’s about a third of what we thought it was going to be. Seventy-six million for the Department of Administrative Services. That is down as well. That’s for the purchase of 2,000 ventilators and five million N95 masks.
Mike DeWine: (04:05)
Thirty-nine million for the Ohio Department of Health for ramped up testing and supplies. And 50 million for the Department of Public Safety for personal protection equipment. Again, we thank the members of the general assembly for approving that. We’re glad to start using those dollars to do the things that we need to do in Ohio to protect our first responders, our medical personnel and the people of the state.
Mike DeWine: (04:35)
I want to talk a little bit about testing in regard to the private sector. We’ve heard that a number of companies in Ohio are purchasing rapid antibody tests to begin testing their staff. In some cases potentially their customers. Antibody testing is certainly one piece to the puzzle. And one piece to the puzzle of us starting back. So, we applaud that effort.
Mike DeWine: (05:06)
But I do want to caution all companies that are looking at this as an option to make sure what they’re purchasing is FDA emergency use authorization approved antibody tests. That is very important. Without the FDA emergency use authorization approval, there’s really no way to know if this testing is going to be valid.
Mike DeWine: (05:33)
Many of the testing companies are legitimately in the queue at the FDA for approval. They’re waiting for approval from the FDA. But I still wold recommend that you use only companies that are listed on the FDA website as having been approved. Additionally, companies that are looking to do this should ask for a letter of authorization from the FDA on their antibody test kit.
Mike DeWine: (05:58)
Which is proof that they have been approved. These letters are posted on the FDA website. That website and list of new vendors, it’s my understanding is actually updated daily. You can see how that is going. I want to talk a little bit about … Or give a report in regard to our prisons.
Mike DeWine: (06:20)
Our National Guard, as I announced the other day, we have some members of the Guard who are still at the federal facility in Elkton, in the eastern part of the state of Ohio. Also, as I indicated, testing was to begin on Saturday at the Marian Institution in Pickaway. That testing started Saturday, it is continuing today.
Mike DeWine: (06:48)
Let me announce something new, that I have authorized members of the Ohio National Guard to begin providing assistance to medical staff at the Pickaway Correctional Institution. Right now that institution has more than a dozen members of its medical staff who are out sick due to COVID-19. The National Guard is coming in with help.
Mike DeWine: (07:14)
Several National Guard medics were dispatched there today. The Guard is prepared to send up to 30 soldiers and airmen to assist the remaining medical staff at the prison’s health center. Among other tasks they will be providing triage support, they’ll be taking temperatures, helping with non-COVID cases.
Mike DeWine: (07:33)
They will also help to provide care at the onsite long term care center, which houses older inmates and those with chronic illnesses. Additionally the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections notified me this afternoon that sadly an inmate housed at the Pickaway Correctional Institutions Health Center has died.
Mike DeWine: (07:55)
This inmate was suffering from a long term chronic illness and passed away this weekend. He had been tested for COVID-19 prior to his death. Those test results came in today confirming that he did test positive. This is the first death of a state inmate who had tested positive for the virus.
Mike DeWine: (08:18)
Let me turn now to our nursing homes. Earlier on in this pandemic, we took action to protect our nursing home residents. We limited and then prohibited visitors except for end of life situations. We know long term care facility residents can be extremely vulnerable to infectious disease, including COVID-19. Families of long care residents have a right to know if the individual associated with the loved one is sick.
Mike DeWine: (08:58)
Let me say that again. To know if individuals associated with the places where their loved one is are in fact sick. I’ve asked Dr. Acton to issue an order today that will rewire long term care facilities to notify residents and families within 24 hours if a resident or if a staff member becomes infected. The Ohio Department of Health, they’ve been strongly encouraging facilities to do this. I think most facilities were doing this. But this now is a requirement for all nursing homes in the state of Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (09:35)
Further, we will be providing a list of long term care facilities where an individual there, either a member of the staff or one of the patients, one of the residents has tested positive. That will be posted on the Ohio Department of Health’s website. So, if that occurs in the future, that information will be made available to the news media so that that information can be shared with the public. If you’re thinking about taking a loved one, or if you’re thinking about going to a nursing home, you have every right know what the situation is there.
Mike DeWine: (10:18)
So, we want to make sure that you have all that information. Let me turn to a separate effort that is being put forward by Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services director Laurie Acton. She’s launching what we’re calling a Strive for Five challenge. She’s asking for everyone to reach out to five people every day over the next 30 days by phone, video chat, email or on social media.
Mike DeWine: (10:53)
During a time when we have to stay home to be safe, reaching out is more important than ever. By encouraging people to reach out, they’re not only reducing feelings of isolation, but that personal connection reduces stress and anxiety as well. This is a good thing for all of us to try to do. Whether we have anybody in an nursing home or do not. There are friends I know who we have not talked to for a while who may be staying home, as most people are today. So, reach out to them. Use this as an occasion to get back in touch. We encourage everyone to do that.
Mike DeWine: (11:35)
Let me talk a little bit now about our liquor stores. In compliance with the Ohio Department of Health orders, in a design to further spread of COVID-19 we’re issuing the following order. The in person sale of liquor in the following counties will be prohibited to anyone who does not have an Ohio license. These counties are Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont Counties.
Mike DeWine: (12:11)
Those sales of liquor in those counties will be restricted during the course of this epidemic to those who are from the state of Ohio. This is necessary because I’ve received repeated complaints from chiefs of police, from others from that part of the state about the situation with folks coming in from Pennsylvania, coming into those counties.
Mike DeWine: (12:45)
Any other time we would love to have visitors from Pennsylvania. But during this time, those who are coming in to buy liquor are creating a health hazard. That is something that we have to take action in regard to that.
Mike DeWine: (13:04)
A little more of the background. On March 16th the state of Pennsylvania closed its state owned liquor stores in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In addition, multiple border counties in West Virginia have relatively recently prohibited sales of liquor to persons who do not have a West Virginia license. This has pushed people into Ohio’s border counties.
Mike DeWine: (13:25)
So, from this point forward, for an individual to purchase liquor in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont Counties, that person will need to present a valid Ohio photo identification. Or a valid military ID for a person in active duty status. Sale of liquor to a person with a valid, non-Ohio photo ID may only occur with additional information showing that that person does in fact reside in Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (13:53)
That might include mail with the person’s name and an Ohio address on it. Or it might be a bill with the person’s name and Ohio address on it. Or a letter from an employer placing the person in Ohio as an essential employee. This is something that we are going to continue to monitor. If there are additional counties that appear to have a significant influx of people coming from out of state, we will take whatever appropriate action is needed. So, this is a work in progress. We’re going to continue to monitor this. Let me now turn to the lieutenant governor.
Dr. Acton: (14:36)
Thank you very much governor. Governor DeWine challenged the team in the past weeks to identify funding to support our food banks. Those dollars have been identified and Governor DeWine has signed an executive order providing nearly five million dollars in emergency funding from the temporary assistance to needy families block grant, TANF Block Grant to Ohio’s twelve Feeding America food banks and statewide hunger relief efforts.
Dr. Acton: (15:07)
The funding will be used to purchase canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats, cereals pastas a rice. Boxed dinners, locally grown produce, locally produced milk, butter, cheese and dairy products through the partnerships with the Ohio Dairy Producers Association and Dairy Farmers of America mid east area and National Farmer’s Organization.
Dr. Acton: (15:32)
Fresh meat, eggs and essential personal hygiene items will also be included. This funding will help food banks from running out of food and supplies for those families that are in need during this coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Acton: (15:49)
Additionally, one million dollars is earmarked in this fund for the Agricultural Clearance Program, where the Ohio Association of Food Banks will purchase Ohio made commodities such as milk to distribute to food banks across Ohio. We know that the dynamics of the current circumstance has been difficult on dairy farmers. This should help connect the resources they’re developing to the people who need it.
Dr. Acton: (16:21)
Additionally within this there will be funding for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing to help make sure that they have the cleaning supplies to purchase for providing a safe and hygienic environment in those facilities. Because as we’re bringing people together to help them, we need to make sure that they’re not too close together and that they are doing this in a safe manner, as to not provide the spread. The coalition, COOHIO will stand up hotels and motels on an individual need basis to help with some of that.
Dr. Acton: (17:02)
It’s also worth noting that just because we’ve been able to identify these dollars and we know it will be a big help, that does not mean that all of these problems are solved for the long run. I know that many people very generously are donating to our food banks. Please continue those generous donations. That is going to mean a lot as we continue to work through the current pandemic with coronavirus.
Dr. Acton: (17:29)
Also, on Friday I had several questions about unemployment compensation and the 1099 and independently employed individuals and how they would qualify for those benefits. One of the things that seemed insufficient to me was our response at providing all of the information background and looking forward. So, I challenged the team over this weekend and this morning to come back with some new ideas to figure out how we can get better at this.
Dr. Acton: (18:02)
The team has done an amazing job. We know that there are still people out there who are not served at the level, the customer service level that we would hope to serve them. So, in the coming days we will be providing a list of actions that we’re taking and updates on that. I don’t have much for you today on this other than that we have issued the challenge. We are identifying ways to continue to enhance that customer service and to give people more certainty and better customer service as we work through this.
Dr. Acton: (18:35)
Additionally, it is worth noting that as of today, there are still a number of employers with a growing need for people to hire. It’s really quite amazing that there are over 40,000 jobs now posted on the coronavirus.ohio.gov/jobsearch site. There are over 40,000 jobs there from 640-
John Husted: (19:02)
There are over 40,000 jobs there from 642 employers, who are having difficulty serving people in this crisis without sufficient a number of employees. So please, if you know somebody who may be in a position to take one of these jobs, encourage them to do so. This is all part of… We’re in this together, truthfully, cause these businesses need employees to be able to work during this difficult time that we’re all trying to navigate.
John Husted: (19:36)
Two final items, one on voting. Two weeks from today is the day that you have to postmark your absentee ballot. There will be no in-person voting this year for the primary, for the primary election. On April the 28th is count day, when we’ll start counting those votes. And two weeks from today, the absentee ballots will need to be postmarked, which is the day before election day. voteohio.gov is the place you can go to request that absentee ballot, or you can call your local board of elections, all great options for you.
John Husted: (20:13)
One of the things that I will remind you that you can do, if you’ve never done this before, know that once you request an absentee ballot, you can go to that website or to your local board of elections in most cases, and track that ballot from the time you send it back to make sure that it was received, and to ensure that it’s counted. So we have that, the technology is available for you to be able to do that, to provide a great deal of reassurance to you that your ballot is received, and it’s going to be counted.
John Husted: (20:42)
And then finally, thank you to all of the businesses who have been giving us feedback on how the essential business work order and the safe workplace standards are working for you. Continue to try to make sure that we’re creating those safe work environments. And as we’re thinking about how to go forward, this feedback is invaluable. We truly appreciate all the businesses who’ve been incredibly collaborative with us, to figure out how we make sure that the workplace is safe. As we say, we want you to feel safe at work, and these businesses who are complying with the order are doing a great job at helping us understand how we can continue to develop this, and make it something that’s viable for every business, once we find ourselves in a position that more folks can resume their normal activities.
John Husted: (21:36)
But again, always reiterating, this will be slow. As we ease out of this process, as businesses go back to work, they’re going to need to be able to provide a safe workplace for their employees. That is good, because you will want your people to come back, and you’ll want them to feel safe, and you’ll want your customers to also know that they’re entering a safe environment. So we’re building, thanks to your advice, some really, really great protocols and strategies. We appreciate the feedback. Keep it coming. Governor.
Mike DeWine: (22:09)
Dr Acton: (22:12)
Thank you governor. Good afternoon, everyone. I hope you had a good weekend. Let’s get started on our data for today. As of 11 o’clock this morning, we know that we have 6,975 cases here in Ohio now in 86 of our 88 counties. Our deaths are now at 274 in the state of Ohio. 46 of our counties have reported at least one death. Next slide.
Dr Acton: (22:52)
Again, we’re updating our statistics for you on our website. More and more data there each day. Still pretty much skewed slightly more females who are cases, we know more males who end up hospitalized. And then we are breaking our cases down by the old definition. As well as the new CDC definition of a case. And what we’re doing, again, is really following the trend. The good news is we’re staying flat just like our curve is shown. We seem to be having a very, very flat steady peak. We’re still at that peak and it’s very stable at this point. 65,000 tests have been done to date in the state of Ohio. Next slide.
Dr Acton: (23:41)
These are useful too. You can get better look at it then you probably can on screen here, but this shows our five day trends on most measures staying very steady. Again, it’s still tough out there, especially in our congregate setting. So these are the settings like nursing homes, like prisons, in places where people live in certain communities in more close proximity. We know this virus is very contagious, very deadly, spreads quickly when people are in those settings. So that is something we’re going to talk a little more about today. Next slide.
Dr Acton: (24:18)
Okay, so as governor DeWine said, we are doing an order today. I think it’s very, very important. We’ve known all along that nursing homes were going to be a very high risk place for us in Ohio, as it is everywhere around this country. Once again, similar to our prisons, we have some great leadership who’ve been working all along. We don’t talk about it every newscast or every press briefing here that we have, but we’ve had teams working tirelessly on all of these topics all along. I want to tell you more about it. First of all, you know our prisons have been under Director Annette Chambers-Smith, who’s really a renowned expert in healthcare and prisons. And we don’t just work alone in this. We work with all our sister states, with the federal government, with the White House, on trying to make sure we’re always doing the best practices. It is an evolving disease. People have had to work hard against shortages, like shortages of testing and shortages of PPE.
Dr Acton: (25:23)
[inaudible 00:25:23] That we are doing the very, very best we can in these hard areas. We also have directors McElroy, Ursel McElroy who you’ve met before, on aging, and director Maureen Corcoran, who’s our head of Medicaid. They’ve been leading strike forces among our medical directors. You know Dr. Mary Applegate, Dr. Mark Hurst, and alongside our Bureau of infectious diseases. So whenever there’s an outbreak in a high risk area like this, the local health departments work alongside those facilities to do that very basic disease investigation that we did in the beginning. You test right away, you see who is in contact. And we’ve been working with guidance for weeks now really, on how to best make use of scarce PPE, how to keep that from spreading in your facility. But we know these will be our hot spots, and as we move forward in the months to come, these are areas that we have to keep close tabs on.
Dr Acton: (26:27)
And again, this is work that we are doing day and night. We’re working alongside the industries and all the leaders in it. I want to again do a shout out to the people who work. The staff in these settings are truly the heroes. They work tirelessly day and night on behalf of the people we love. And we want to do everything we can to protect them. So similarly, we’ve been collecting data, it’s been in our charts all along, about the percentage of cases that we see in longterm care facilities. And we are going deeper than that. We will be sharing with you the names of these facilities.
Dr Acton: (27:08)
But I want to tell folks, proceed with caution. It’s really, really hard. It’s not the fault of a nursing home. Most nursing homes are doing an outstanding job, but it is the fact that this disease is so contagious. And as even workers or caregivers come, even as doctors were visiting these nursing homes, any one of us could asymptomatically be carrying this virus from the community into a place like this. That’s why we have so many of the rules in place. But it’s so important to know that once we recognize it, that we do everything possible to control the spread of infection. And these facilities are working very tightly with all our hospitals as well. So these are new partnerships that have been formed. People are not competing. These are not competing businesses like they might’ve been in an era before this. Everyone is all hands on deck, working as best they can.
Dr Acton: (28:02)
But I want you to know, it’s very important, especially to the media, when a nursing home has an outbreak, when we report this, there’s a lot of stigma. There’s a lot of fear. If you remember back to one of the initial nursing homes that had an outbreak in the Dayton area, we had food delivery trucks who wouldn’t even drop off the pallets of food to the nursing home. This isn’t what we want to create. We want to create, once again, do five each day, just like director Chris said. We want to reach out to these facilities. We want to give them our love and our support. They need us now more than ever. So I just think it’s really important, as we look at this data, it’s not a blame game. We’ve really got to get away from that. This is about how do we help game, how do we do more? How do we do better with what we have? And that’s what we’re deeply committed to, and that’s what the governor is deeply committed to. Finally, I want to say that my team, alongside the entire government, this whole weekend with people from the private and public sector, have been working as they have been for weeks on what our next stage of this looks like. We know it’s a long haul. It’s very hard to say the truth that we are not going back. We are not flipping a switch and able to go back the way we came in. We have to be very, very careful as we move forward. But I want you to know, teams worked entirely all weekend. I know the Governor will be sharing, and Lieutenant Governor, more and more details about that. We’ve been working even today on calls with my peers. The governor was on calls with all the other governors, President Trump and the White House are working on this. How do we begin that step backwards to something that we can, in this period before we have a vaccine, really keep us all safe, but try to find our way back in some ways to normalcy?
Dr Acton: (30:04)
So I want to say one more thing. These masks that we are wearing and I saw them everywhere this weekend, everywhere I went, Ohio, don the mask, don your cape. These masks are actually now being viewed in the studies that are being done as yet another weapon to get back to normalcy. This is a culture change for us to do this, but it’s actually acting very much like the other social distancing actions we took. This is like another layer, for those of you who’ve been following all along, another layer of Swiss cheese. Not doing mass gathering so we don’t spread the disease. Or closing of schools, a very, very hard policy decision. We are going to be looking at a year of using these in new ways, so keep making them, go on our website to learn how to do them safely, and wear them safely.
Dr Acton: (30:59)
This is something we are all going to get used to, but I know even our businesses, our top businesses around Ohio, know that making workplace the safe place will be different. It will be taking into account all these things we do. And these masks, and every Ohioan no matter who they are having access to them, is going to be important. Similarly, in the week to come, we’re going to talk a lot more about our work on vulnerable populations. It’s essential that we make sure that everyone is a part of the recovery, and we have new leadership in director Alisha Nelson, who’s leading a task force on making sure that our most vulnerable and minority communities are well represented as we move forward. So many, many pieces are in place. They’re really starting to come together, and I look forward to sharing more details with you over the week to come. Thank you,
Mike DeWine: (31:51)
Dr. Acton, thank you. We’re ready for questions.
Molly Martinez: (32:05)
Hi, this is Molly Martinez with Spectrum News. My question is for the Lieutenant Governor. Many of our viewers have been asking about the additional $600 weekly unemployment benefits under the CARES act. Do you have any updates on the availability of that money, and also do you have any updates on the sort of brick walls people are hitting when they try to file for unemployment, and those that have been waiting for weeks, and those that get hung up on, and those that are on the phone for several hours?
John Husted: (32:35)
Well, I’m going to have a full report on where we’re headed, where we’re heading with all of this. The $600, I’ll get an answer for you on that before the end of this news conference, so hang on. I believe that’s in process to go out, but I want to make sure that I’m correct about that before I confirm. And additionally, we continue to see improvements. The wait times are less than number of people we have on task. It’s just that we still have a mismatch between the number of people who are trying to get through, and the number of people who were able, how we’re able to field this. A lot of the difficulties for people that are experiencing difficulties is usually when when they have something that just didn’t quite match, meaning that they didn’t have a social security number that matched with their name and address, or their employers data, and so a lot of those issues are hold ups.
John Husted: (33:33)
Again, remember what the unemployment compensation system typically does. It has checks and balances in it, because you have to make sure that the person who’s applying is actually eligible. This is an insurance program that somebody paid into so you can’t take out unless you’ve paid in, and so we are just are working through all of those issues. In the coming days, we’re going to have this all laid out to better explain exactly what’s happened during these timelines, and what new developments we’re going to put in place for this. But on the $600, I’ll have that answer for you before the end of this news conference.
Molly Martinez: (34:12)
Jim Otte: (34:14)
Hi, Jim Otte from WHIOTV. Thanks for doing this, Governor. A question for you, Governor. Who’s making a decision when we get to that point where you’re ready to open up the state again, get the economy going back again. Is that you? Is that Dr. Acton, is that the President? Somebody else? How do you approach this, and how do you respond to those people that are banging on the windows here at the state house?
Mike DeWine: (34:37)
Well Jim, thank you. Thank you very much for the question. You know, part of what has to happen before we really get back, is people have to have confidence that they can go out. People have to have confidence that they can go out to a restaurant, for example. So whatever rule I put in place, or is put in place for the state of Ohio, people still have to feel confident or they’re not going to do anything. This is an area, you know, throughout this I have tried to get the best advice that I could. Dr. Acton is been absolutely phenomenal. She started informing me of what was going on in January. So her advice is absolutely essential. We put together, as you know, a group of doctors. We’ve now put together a group of businessmen and women, and one of the things that we’ve talked to them about is giving us advice on a number of different things.
Mike DeWine: (35:43)
But certainly part of that is, how do we get back? How do we get all of us back to work? So I just got off a call a moment ago with the Vice President, and with most of the governors, very, very good call. We have those calls once, twice, sometimes even three times a week. So it’s in consultation with the Trump administration, consultation with my fellow governors, I have a call tonight with a number of governors. I had one the other night with two of our neighboring governors. So my point is, we’re getting advice from a lot of different people, listening to a lot of people in Ohio and outside Ohio. And as Dr. Acton and Lieutenant Governor indicated, we spent a good part of this weekend working on what the next steps will be.
Mike DeWine: (36:40)
So we will be talking about that in the days ahead, and as we kind of lay out what our plans are, and what some of the conditions are for the plans, and where we need to go. So it is a work in progress. I think that what we come up with will be an Ohio plan, and I think people are going to think it’s a rational plan. I think the Trump administration will like it as well, and our fellow governors, but it’s all of us kind of coming together and figuring out what is unique about Ohio, and how we can move Ohio forward, and how we can protect Ohioans.
Jim Otte: (37:27)
Thank you, Governor.
John Husted: (37:27)
Governor, can I add something to that?
Mike DeWine: (37:27)
John Husted: (37:27)
It’s very clear, Jim, that the actions that we’ve taken so far have put Ohio in a great spot to be able to exit this, that we otherwise wouldn’t have been.
Speaker 1: (37:37)
Kevin Landers, WBNS-10TV. My question is both for the governor, and for Dr. Acton. The media has been asking the state for some time now to get the names of those nursing homes, and we were told that the state used an Ohio revised code that prevented that. Why the reversal today?
Mike DeWine: (37:54)
That was my decision. It seemed to me that it’s the right thing to do. That if I…
Mike DeWine: (38:02)
… the right thing to do that if I was going to a nursing home or if I had a parent in a nursing home or if I was thinking about having a parent go into a nursing home, I would want to know that piece of information. So, I made the decision.
Speaker 3: (38:18)
Jim Provence: (38:22)
Hello, Governor. Jim Provence with the Toledo Blade. Could you tell us where the inmate from Pickaway who died … Where did he die? Was he still in the prison or was he in a medical facility somewhere else? And could you also give us an idea of how confident you are in the medical system and the prison to handle this?
Mike DeWine: (38:42)
Well, I don’t know the answer to the first question, but we can certainly get that for you. We have known since this started that we wanted to do everything we could to keep this out of our prisons. We wanted to do everything we could to keep it out of our nursing homes. That’s why we restricted visitation. That’s why we’ve done a lot of different things.
Mike DeWine: (39:10)
But quite candidly, we have a large staff. They’re going in and out and we knew also it was virtually impossible to keep COVID-19 out of our prisons. As Dr. Acton has said, our director has experience in health matters in prisons. This is one of the areas that she really has specialized and I’ve gone through on several different occasions the different things that we are doing and have done and that she has done going way, way, way back.
Mike DeWine: (39:44)
So, what I am convinced of is that we’re doing everything we can, but I will also tell you that every day I asked the director, “Is there anything else we can do? Do you need any more resources?” Eight o’clock call this morning, I said to her, “Is there anything else you need? Is there anything else we can do to give you what you need?”
Mike DeWine: (40:05)
We made a decision to have complete testing at Marion, in Pickaway, and that certainly may extend to other prisoners. Other prisons, excuse me. Those are the things that we are doing, but our greatest risk now is any place where you have congregate living, whether it is a nursing home, whether it’s in a prison, assisted care, in our state psychiatric hospitals, these are the things that whenever we’ve got groups of people together in Ohio, that’s a real focus.
Mike DeWine: (40:43)
We’re putting more resources in there, and again, what I’ve told the director, “You tell me what you need and we will do everything we can to get that to you.”
Jim Provence: (40:53)
Who makes the decision as to when somebody should be transferred to another facility?
Mike DeWine: (40:59)
That’s the director’s decision and if it’s for a medical reason, that’s a medical decision.
Jim Provence: (41:03)
Speaker 3: (41:05)
Their medical team.
Mike DeWine: (41:07)
Their medical team there. A medical team makes that decision.
Jim Provence: (41:11)
Adrienne Robbins: (41:16)
Adrienne Robbins, NBC-4 and my question is also about the prisons to the governor. We’re getting reports that inmates in Ohio prisons who are showing signs of COVID-19 are being placed in solitary confinement and not receiving treatment. Yes or no, to your knowledge, is that happening and are you prepared to release significantly more inmates if this becomes a bigger problem?
Mike DeWine: (41:40)
Well, we’re going to continue to look at the number of inmates to be released. As you know, a legislative committee is going to, on tomorrow look at some of the prisoners that we have suggested that they look at under the emergency release provision that is in law. We are going to continue to look for other prisoners that might be appropriate to release.
Mike DeWine: (42:13)
The challenge always is if you’re releasing someone, you’re releasing them back into society. They are there in prison for a reason. There’s been a decision that has been made by a judge to sentence them, a jury that convicted them, a parole board that may have heard their case.
Mike DeWine: (42:36)
And so, when you talk about overriding that, that is a serious thing. But we are looking and we’ll continue to look for people that we could release that would not pose a grave danger to the public. We will continue to do that.
Adrienne Robbins: (42:56)
For my first part of the question, have you heard of these instances of inmates showing signs of the coronavirus and being put in solitary confinement and not receiving treatment?
Mike DeWine: (43:06)
No, but I will certainly talk to the director at our regular five o’clock call. I can tell you what the director I’m sure is doing and what the staff is doing. If someone shows signs, they do need to be separated. This is the only way you can control what’s going on in the prison.
Mike DeWine: (43:25)
Look, the decisions that have been made … In some prisons, they’ve gone to two meals. Why? It’s better able to keep that prisoner from contact with other people, by going to two meals. In some cases they’ve gone basically to serving within the unit of that prisoner instead of taking those prisoners into the regular area.
Mike DeWine: (43:51)
That’s something I’m sure prisoners don’t like and I understand that, but again, the director is making decisions based upon how you protect the prisoners and how you protect the guards, how you protect the staff.
Adrienne Robbins: (44:04)
Lt. Governor Husted: (44:09)
Governor, could I … We were able to get ODJFS Director, Kim Hall on the line to address the question about when the department expects to have the $600 bonus payment to qualified unemployment comp recipients and so Kim, would you like to address that please?
Kim Hall: (44:32)
Thank you, Lieutenant Governor. Our expectation is to begin issuing those payments by the end of next week for the pandemic unemployment compensation system. Those are for those who are currently receiving unemployment insurance benefits to receive an additional $600 per week on top of their original allotment.
Kim Hall: (44:57)
Next week will be a big week in that space. Likely by the end of the week we can begin flowing those dollars in addition to expanding our call center efforts into a virtual call center space.
Mike DeWine: (45:13)
Great. Thanks, Kim.
Kim Hall: (45:16)
Mike DeWine: (45:16)
Shane Stegmiller: (45:18)
Hi, Governor. It’s Shane Stegmiller with Hannah News Service. A bunch of … There are more and more Ohio lawmakers of the General Assembly pushing to open up some of the economy, easing some of the restrictions. Have they gotten in touch with you? What do you tell them when they get in touch with you and are making these pushes?
Mike DeWine: (45:39)
Sure. I think every member of the General Assembly has my cell phone and my email, so they can certainly have no trouble reaching me and they do and I welcome their comments and I welcome their thoughts.
Mike DeWine: (45:53)
What they’re seeing out in their district, what they’re seeing in their area of the state is always welcome news for me or it’s always an important piece of information. I know the lieutenant governor was on at the request of Senator Huffman, was on the phone with some businessmen and women from Western Ohio several days ago to get directly that input.
Mike DeWine: (46:16)
The senator had asked if we could hear that input. The lieutenant governor was on the phone. The lieutenant governor reported to me and gave me a summary of those conversations. So, we’re very, very open.
Mike DeWine: (46:28)
Look, legislators just like other Ohioans are anxious to get back to work. They’re anxious to get back to normal. I am as well. The president is. Everyone is. So, we certainly take that into consideration.
Mike DeWine: (46:44)
We need to do this in a way that protects people. We need to do this in a way that lessens the chance of a new spike coming up. We need to do this in a way that is rational, a rational, thought out approach as we move forward and so I welcome their input and their thoughts on that.
Shane Stegmiller: (47:06)
Senator Matt Huffman suggested opening up or easing restrictions in areas of the state that haven’t been hit hard like Western Ohio. Has that been a consideration for you?
Mike DeWine: (47:17)
Well, again … Again, we take everything into consideration and we appreciated his comments. As I said, the lieutenant governor had the opportunity to talk with a number of his constituents the other day on a conference call.
Mike DeWine: (47:33)
The challenge is that the spread of this, the community spread, we believe that there’s no real, no part of the state that has not had community spread. Now, one of the things that we are going to be able to do once we get more robust testing, which will have to be part of how we move forward, how we take the next steps, that that testing may help us identify how we’re doing geographically.
Mike DeWine: (48:08)
We don’t know that until we actually do the tests. We don’t know where that information will become available, but without that the evidence would be strong and the experts would say that we have community spread everywhere in the state of Ohio and so Western Ohio is certainly not exempt from that at all.
Mike DeWine: (48:33)
We saw the tragedy of a nursing home in Miami County, for example, where a number of people very, very sadly died. So, Western Ohio is not spared. No part of the state has really been spared.
Shane Stegmiller: (48:49)
Are you getting closer to being able to do the widespread testing?
Mike DeWine: (48:53)
Well, closer, yes, but we’re not there yet. And every day that goes by we have more ability to do testing, but again, that is an essential component of getting back to work and as I mentioned earlier on, you’re seeing businesses that are looking to do that. So, it’s not going to be just what the government does. It’s going to be what private industry is able to do as well.
Shane Stegmiller: (49:21)
Thank you, Governor.
Ben Garber: (49:24)
Hello, Governor. Ben Garber with ABC-6 and Fox-28. You mentioned a moment ago that you have fairly frequent conversations with the vice president and other folks in the Trump administration. As we look to reopening parts of the state, have you gotten a sense from those conversations will that effort be led by the White House like President Trump has been tweeting about today, or is that something that’s more relegated to the States and governors like yourself?
Mike DeWine: (49:49)
Well, I think it’s been a really good relationship with the White House and it’s really been a sharing of information, a sharing of ideas. I know the public doesn’t see that. You don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, but it’s not uncommon for the vice president to be on the phone with a governor for two hours, two and a half hours.
Mike DeWine: (50:12)
It was a little shorter than that today. It was probably about an hour and a half, I think. But that exchange of information and what takes place on those calls is, “Look, here’s what we’ve got. Here’s what we’re seeing. Here’s what we’ve got available. Here’s problems.”
Mike DeWine: (50:28)
One of the things that the vice president today for example was talking about was Battelle Labs and the fact that Battelle is rolling out this process and these machines that’s available now throughout the country, and that you’re seeing that FEMA has purchased a large number of those and those are going to be … They’re already in New York. They’re already in a number of other states, but this is going to continue on.
Mike DeWine: (50:54)
But it’s that type of information is what occurs on these calls and I think they’re very valuable. Tonight I’ll be on the phone with a number of governors. I was on the phone with the governor of Indiana and Kentucky the other day.
Mike DeWine: (51:11)
So, it’s this whole we’re all in this together and this is something that we have not seen before and the medical knowledge about this virus continues to evolve. And so, as I said, we’re all in this together and so the sharing of ideas is an integral part of doing this.
Mike DeWine: (51:34)
I think each governor is going to come up with their own plan but that is a plan that certainly, is helped by what the federal government is doing, what the federal government knows, what the Trump administration is doing. It’s all a process and I think the plan that we will come up with will be guided by all the information that we can get.
Ben Garber: (51:57)
But ultimately it’s your decision to make?
Mike DeWine: (52:00)
Well, every state’s different. I mean, every state is having a unique situation. I mean, we are at a different stage in Ohio than for example, New York is. We’re at a different place than Louisiana is. We’re at a different place then Nebraska is.
Mike DeWine: (52:18)
I mean, every state is at a different place and so the plan that every state will have to be tailored to what is actually going on in that state and at what point you are in the pandemic in the state. We’re all at different places and we all have different populations and we all have different … We’re just all unique.
Ben Garber: (52:42)
All right. Thank you, Governor.
Laura Bischoff: (52:49)
Good afternoon, Governor. Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News.
Mike DeWine: (52:51)
Laura Bischoff: (52:53)
I guess my question is for Dr. Acton. Can you tell us how many people are currently hospitalized with coronavirus? I know it’s reported on the website as a cumulative number and given how many are currently hospitalized, will we need the Convention Center bed build-out as earlier anticipated?
Dr. Acton: (53:13)
I’ll look into how we can get you that data, Laura. I don’t think that’s in the reports I just put out. But the build-outs have been a tricky thing because we really, the benefit, the plus of us acting early in Ohio is that we really bought some time for the hospitals to mobilize. We were able to free up a lot of equipment. They were able to safely decrease their census.
Dr. Acton: (53:46)
In each of the three zones of Ohio, the biggest three C cities, they’ve been looking at their unique capacity as related to a whole third of the state because we’re working collectively in thirds. And then they made decisions to, some parts of our state are moving forward a little more based on their unique circumstances. Some have made the plan, but they have a bunch of things unready.
Dr. Acton: (54:15)
The big thing is we could within, if we saw a spike … Which, if we do this right, hopefully responsibly, carefully move forward in the months to come we won’t see that spike, but we don’t know because this is still an unpredictable disease that’s going to continue to spread around the world because our population is not immune.
Dr. Acton: (54:38)
But we have the ability now through the work with General Harris and others, which we wouldn’t have had on the front end or New York and others didn’t have, to move quickly. We have everything sort of on standby.
Dr. Acton: (54:50)
It’s important to say that there are going to be needs for facilities for a variety of reasons moving forward. These facilities, like the Convention Center, are always meant to be lower acuity, mildly ill, not the intensive care. The hospitals with the time they bought we’re able to build up their capacity within their bricks and mortar.
Dr. Acton: (55:11)
I can see in parts of our state in times to come, depending on how we have flare ups and spreads and outbreaks at more local levels, there may be the need in the future for places for people to convalesce, to be when they can’t go back to their home or a congregate setting.
Dr. Acton: (55:36)
In other countries, particularly in China, they had the Fang Kang centers, which were really for the mildly ill to not be at home and infect their whole family. I’ve talked to my colleagues in New York City and Chicago. They’re looking at things with hotels. Also, New York has a contract with Airbnb and some businesses.
Dr. Acton: (55:58)
So, we’re really looking at spaces where people can be when they really can’t be at home, and you see this playing out in all the efforts, the really heroic efforts being done around homelessness right now and in other settings.
Dr. Acton: (56:13)
I think this being on ready with that ability to build out and flex is what we wanted, and what we’re blessed with in Ohio is we can be very, very flexible, because this is a long road. It is over a year and we will have to be on ready for quite some time to come. Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (56:32)
Let me just add, Laura, and kind of state the obvious, but we rely to a great extent on the hospitals and the professionals in each area. Each area has approached this based on the best data they can come up with. But for example, if you look at the map, Ohio state, Columbus … Columbus covers a big swath of the state geographically down to the Ohio River …
Mike DeWine: (57:03)
… date geographically down to the Ohio River. You tailor these per area. Again, it’s a relationship input from locals. Each situation is just different. Each area is different.
Amy Acton: (57:19)
Laura, I did get the numbers. I just got a text that the Ohio Hospital Association is currently reporting that there are 898 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized.
Speaker 4: (57:34)
Amy Acton: (57:34)
Andy Chow: (57:40)
Hi, Governor. Andy Chow with Ohio Public Radio and Television, Statehouse News Bureau. Hi, how are you? Just piggybacking off of what Jim and Ben already asked about the relationship between the state and the White House, just one follow-up to that. Does the president have the authority to overrule an order that you give out? In other words, can the president reopen the state if you still want stay-at-home orders?
Mike DeWine: (58:05)
Well, I’ll leave that to the lawyers. Look, I don’t think that… This is not a confrontational issue between us and the White House. We work together. We will continue to work together. Every state is different. We’re going to have to lay out a plan, and I’m confident that the Ohio plan we lay out, the White House will think it’s fine. It’s really this collaborative effort as we move forward.
Andy Chow: (58:38)
Andrew Welsh-Huggins: (58:43)
Hi, Governor. Andrew Welsh-Huggins with the Associated Press. As always, thanks so much for having these briefings. On the rainy day fund, there’s talk about the need to tap it. So I guess the question is, is it raining yet in Ohio?
Mike DeWine: (59:00)
Well, it certainly is raining in Ohio. I think the question about… It’s not a question of whether; it’s a question of when and what the timing is as far as the tapping of it. We’ve got 15 months or so left in this budget. We’ve got to balance the budget this year, and we’ve got to balance it next year. We’ve got to balance it, obviously, over the whole. This is something we’ll be talking with the members of the general assembly about. But yes, it certainly is raining, and I want to congratulate the previous General Assemblies and Governor Kasich for making sure that we had a rainy day fund. We’re certainly going to need it, and we will certainly use it.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins: (59:46)
Any guesstimates on the hole that we will be in this fiscal year that we might need that money for?
Mike DeWine: (59:51)
No, it’s a moving target. I’ll have more to say about that probably the latter part of this week.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins: (59:59)
Jessie Balmert: (01:00:03)
Hi, this is Jessie Balmert with the Enquirer. My question is probably for Dr. Acton, I suppose. Hi there. What level of contact tracing and testing would Ohio need to have to start returning to normal, and I guess, how close are we to those levels?
Amy Acton: (01:00:23)
As you know, this is an unprecedented situation, and there is nowhere truly in the world where people had enough hospital capacity or enough, really, public health capacity. To have a virus that spreads like this on the scale it is, you really need a whole army of workforce to be able to do once you… Let’s just say we have the testing. You want to know someone is infectious the second they are, so the quicker you can identify them is the very first step. And as you know, throughout the country there is a shortage of these tests still. It’s not something our state is doing; it’s the marketplace.
Amy Acton: (01:01:05)
Something we’ve been working on in part of our recovery, and I would say response and recovery plan, because we have a whole, built in the middle of this crisis, response plan of unprecedented proportions. It’s something I think I will be most proud of when I look back on this, when I’m old thinking back, because it’s going to take me a long time to process everything we are going through. But a part of that response is this ability to get out of these more blunt instruments and policies and be able to notice right away when we have a flare-up and contain it.
Amy Acton: (01:01:44)
What we’ve been doing, we’ve been working on it for weeks, in partnerships with all our medical schools, our professional schools, we’re looking at a variety of alternative workforce. We actually have trainings we’ve been developing to create what is basically an amateur EPI workforce. Alongside our experienced public health officials, we’re going to bring new troops to the table. It’s kind of bootstraps, but they’ll actually be doing a lot of this work virtually. We’ll also be employing mobile units of testers who can go around to hot spots and quickly investigate, so people who can actually do the finger prick.
Amy Acton: (01:02:22)
And we’ll be using software, new Google software. We were already hard at work on this. There’s a system called REDCap that the states have used. Like many of our things we’re discovering in this crisis, kind of old, kind of clunky. We had already been transitioning to a new Google product which really allows great contact tracing, so we can have this whole army.
Amy Acton: (01:02:46)
What you’re probably seeing is, in some of the best plans, from McKinsey’s plan to the American Enterprise to the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Security that was just released on Friday, they’re talking about this new workforce, so we knew this is where we’d have to land to be able to do something of this epic proportion. Again, we’re hard at work on that, and they will be key. This will all be key to us being able to control this virus from really getting out of hand into a huge spike, so much more on that to come.
Amy Acton: (01:03:21)
But I can tell you you’ll hear a lot about funding needs. We have it. If we have to do it volunteer, there are people lining off. We’ve had people signing up online, and we can’t keep up with people volunteering to do this work and be trained. But I do think if we want to do it well as a country, ASTA, which is my professional organization, alongside Johns Hopkins, is really talking about how we fund the state and local epidemiology that’s needed. Compared to a lot of these other things, like the cost of ventilators, it’s very cheap, but we really need to do this part professionally and well so that we don’t see a rebound. Thank you.
Jessie Balmert: (01:04:00)
Jeremy Pelzer: (01:04:05)
Hi, this is Jeremy Pelzer with Cleveland.com, and my question is for Governor DeWine, please. Thanks.
Jeremy Pelzer: (01:04:13)
Hi, Governor. I want to circle back to something you mentioned earlier and then about the tweet that President Trump had earlier today saying that the decision to reopen the government is up to him. Do you agree with that, that you came up with a sophisticated plan to address coronavirus, but at the end of the day, it’s really up to the president, not you, to decide when to reopen Ohio?
Mike DeWine: (01:04:39)
Well, I think it is… Look, we have had a lot of conversation with the White House, with governors, Democrat and Republican governors, a lot of conversation. If you could be on those calls, they are very open, very candid discussions, not partisan, just “Hey, we got a problem. How do we fix the problem?” Again, as we put together our plan, it’s going to be an Ohio plan, in the sense that we are different than any other state. Every state is unique.
Mike DeWine: (01:05:21)
I think what you’re starting to see is some things emerge, some of the things that Dr. Acton just talked about. You can read those online, that other states are talking about doing that. You’ve got federal officials who are talking about doing these things. It’s not like we’re talking about different ways out of this.
Mike DeWine: (01:05:43)
What we will present to the people of the state of Ohio is a plan that’s based on all the information we can get, and it’s a plan that is based upon the best science that we can see. I’ve said this before, but we’re not going to flip on a switch someday and the world goes back to where it was. It’s not going to really get back to totally back where it was until you have a vaccine, and we’re talking about, I’m told, 12 to 18 months. Things are going to be different for that period of time.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:24)
Our goal has to be, how do we make them as normal as we can within the confines of the fact that we still have a monster out there that is lurking and that can kill us? We are still going to have people, particularly who are the most vulnerable members of society, that are going to have to understand, will understand, that that monster is literally out there.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:51)
We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to figure this out. We’ve never had to do anything quite like this before. The technology that was here in 1918, obviously, was fundamentally different than the technology you just heard Dr. Acton talk about.
Mike DeWine: (01:07:08)
We’re going to all work our way through this. I think that no one should look at this as “Is the president going to do this?” or “The governors are going to do this.” This is a work in progress. We are all trying to work our way through it and figure out… We all have the same objectives. We all want to get back to work. We all want to get back to normal. We all want to do all the things that we want to do. But we also have this monster out there that is lurking and will continue to try to pick members of our society off. That’s the challenge that we all face, so we’re all of the same dilemma in how do we do this.
Jeremy Pelzer: (01:07:53)
Ben Schwartz: (01:07:58)
Good afternoon, Governor DeWine. Ben Schwartz with WCPO in Cincinnati. Governor, I’m curious if you have given much thought to the long-term impact that could be on prisons as a result of the coronavirus, really if it could result in long-term sentences being reduced in the future or anything else that could happen as a result of the virus, because I know there are some issues with workers and inmates getting infected.
Mike DeWine: (01:08:29)
Well, I think, just like a lot of things, a crisis like this causes us to look at things harder. The question that we are faced with is the same question we always are faced with, but it sort of concentrates the mind, so to speak. And that question is, who needs to be in prison? And are there other ways of dealing with people who are in prison? That is a continuous discussion, but I think your question is very perceptive. Like a lot of other things, it will cause more of a reexamination of this issue, so I think you’re absolutely correct.
Ben Schwartz: (01:09:20)
Thank you, Governor.
Randy Ludlow: (01:09:27)
Good afternoon, Governor. Randy Ludlow with the Columbus Dispatch. How are you? You earlier talked of the state is now going to identify the senior living and nursing home facilities that have experienced a COVID-19 case. How is it not a public record the number of cases among residents and staff at those facilities?
Mike DeWine: (01:09:53)
I have no idea. I’m going to let the lawyers deal with that. What I made was a policy decision. It wasn’t a legal decision. It was a policy decision that came from my heart, and that is that people have a right to know what’s going on in a nursing home. If it’s something that is dangerous or that people should worry about, the people who have relatives there have a right to know it. If they have family members, they have a right to know it. The people there have a right to know it, and people who are thinking about going into that nursing home have a right to know it. My decision, Randy, was a policy decision. I didn’t get into the legalities of it at all, frankly.
Randy Ludlow: (01:10:35)
Okay, but the right to know does not extend to the number of cases at each facility?
Mike DeWine: (01:10:43)
We’re going to make that available.
Randy Ludlow: (01:10:45)
The number of cases?
Mike DeWine: (01:10:46)
Randy Ludlow: (01:10:46)
Mike DeWine: (01:10:46)
Randy Ludlow: (01:10:51)
Okay. Concerns have also been raised about hospitals not releasing their number of infected staff. The nursing association, for example, supports the release of that information, but the state won’t release it. Will you order the release of that information?
Mike DeWine: (01:11:06)
Okay, I’ve got to look at that. I haven’t really thought about that. That issue has not been brought up to me. I’ll look at it.
Randy Ludlow: (01:11:11)
Thank you. I am the last question.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:15)
Amy Acton: (01:11:15)
Good to see you back.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:19)
Well, let me close with a song written and performed by one of our Ohio Department of Natural Resources wildlife officers. His name is Brian Postlethwait. He is a wildlife officer supervisor in the Athens District Wildlife Office. He supervises officers in the following counties, Belmont, Monroe, Coshocton, Guernsey, Muskingum, and Noble counties. We want to thank him for his creativity, and let’s take a look and listen.
Brian Postlethwait: (01:11:50)
Hi, I’m Brian Postlethwait. I’m a state wildlife officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. In my off time, I like to play and write music. Here’s a song I wrote a while ago, and I’ve revamped the ending for our current situation. It’s called Rise Up.
Brian Postlethwait: (01:12:10)
Brian Postlethwait: (01:12:10)
Rise up, Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (01:12:35)
All right, that was great. We’ll see you all tomorrow. Thank you.