Apr 30, 2020
Mike DeWine Ohio Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 30
Governor Mike DeWine held a COVID-19 press conference on April 30, 2020. DeWine will extend stay-at-home order Friday with business exceptions.
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Governor Mike DeWine: (00:00)
We enjoy Copper a lot. Today I’m wearing a Wittenberg tie. Lance Himes, Chief of Staff for the Department of Health is a proud graduate of Wittenberg. And football star, Joe Deters, Hamilton County prosecuting attorney, he also is a graduate. So, go Wittenberg Tigers.
Governor Mike DeWine: (00:26)
Today also wraps up Ohio’s first official celebration of Native Plant Month. Last July I signed House Bill 59 into law, designating April as Ohio Native Plant Month and Ohio became one of the first states in the nation to designate an entire month to our native plants. There are nearly 2,000 different species of native plants here in Ohio. These plants provide a necessary food source for native bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. In fact, Fran has a little butterfly garden. They support our pollinators that are critical and fruit and vegetable production. So, as you begin your Spring gardening, I encourage you to fill your gardens with Ohio’s native plants. They’re truly special and we’re celebrating in April and all throughout the year.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:21)
You’ll see pictures in the video that’s going to come up here in a moment, of some great things. Also included towards the end is the Lakeside Daisy. Our son John many years ago worked for a Summer, for Guy Denny at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in the Natural Areas Division. And John was a part of the conservation effort for the Lakeside Daisies. So, let’s take a look at these. Oh, they’re up there.
Governor Mike DeWine: (02:05)
Yesterday I reported on the 4.1 million pieces of personal protection equipment, PPE, that had been sent out to local EMAs across Ohio just last week. Today I want to talk about another place we’re directing these much needed supplies. When it comes to the distribution of PPE, you’ve heard us talk about sending it where we know it’s most needed, nursing homes and other places.
Governor Mike DeWine: (03:17)
One of those places is of course our correction facilities. Our correction officers and our other staffing in our state prisons are really on the front line every single day, and we appreciate very, very much their work. We want to do everything that we can to keep them safe.
Governor Mike DeWine: (03:37)
Over the last few weeks, we’ve delivered to the prisons more than 1.1 million pieces of PPE. 108,000 N95 masks, 256,000 gloves, 684 procedure masks, 10,000 provider gowns, and 10,000 cloth masks for the inmates. That totals 1. 1 million pieces of equipment that are vital to the safety of our rehab and corrections staff, and the prisoners that they guard.
Governor Mike DeWine: (04:09)
Our goal is to keep a 90 day supply of the most critical equipment, and these allocations coupled with what DRC has on hand are helping to achieve that. Again, as we work the personal protection equipment, our team is working very, very hard to make sure our first responders, people who work in hospitals, people who work in nursing homes are provided with what they need. And it’s been a challenge, because of the distribution of some of the supply chains because of the pandemic. A lot of this does in fact come out of China, but our team will continue to do that, because it’s very, very important to make sure every Ohioan who needs this equipment does in fact have it.
Governor Mike DeWine: (05:03)
As we talked about yesterday, we have our Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director, Annette Chambers-Smith with us today on Skype to give an update on prisons. Director, thank you for joining us. And joining her is, looks like six feet apart there, is Dr. Michael Para, who is Professor Emeritus in Infectious Diseases at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, with over 40 years of experience in medicine. So, I’m glad to see both of you there. And Director, why don’t you start by kind of giving the people of Ohio a report on what you’re doing to keep staff safe and prisoners safe as well, during this very, very different time. Director?
Annette Chambers-Smith: (05:57)
Well, I certainly want to start by thanking people for getting us PPE and for making sure that we have the things that we need to battle this disease. Those of you may not know that we had a pandemic plan for H1N1 long before we ever had this flu. COVID is not when we started planning. We started planning in 2009 with H1N1, and ironically I was the Health Authority for the Department during H1N1, and it was during my time, my years as the Health Authority that we created the pandemic plan to begin with.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (06:42)
Little did I know, flash forward to 2020, we would be dusting it off and implementing it, as well as changing it with the shifting science of COVID-19. So I guess my point behind that was, we didn’t just start in February or January. We started quite some time ago. We have practiced our pandemic plan in the past, and we knew how we were going to start with this. Every institution has its own plan that’s tailored to its physical plant, and when COVID-19 started, we did ask every facility to update that old pandemic plan to make sure that it accounted for what we knew about COVID-19 at the time, because we know a lot of different information now than we did then. And that we were making it fit the current physical plant, etc.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (07:32)
So, we did tabletop exercises in February. We did begin to try to procure PPE. We put a commodities strike force in place, just to make sure that what PPE we had was appropriately shared until we could get some in. We realized quickly we weren’t going to be able to buy it in any kind of quick fashion, so we decided that we would start making it. And the penal industries started making hand sanitizer, face shields, and also a surgical mask, as well as the tailor shops in all the prisons did begin to make PPE for the people who live in the prisons.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (08:13)
But there were several different means, not just the statewide PPE taskforce, which has been fabulous, but also out own internal commodities team. We also did things like changing our policies. We normally down allow hand sanitizer with alcohol, for example. We normally don’t allow certain types of wipes with chemicals in them. It’s just different in a prison environment. So, little things like that were waived or changed so that we could make sure we had the policies necessary that were going to support this pandemic as well.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (08:48)
We think of it as layering. We’re like the second prison in the nation to stop accepting visitors. When we did that, everyone thought we were excessive and moving too fast, but we knew we needed to try to keep COVID out of the prisons, because once it came in, we would have very little success with stopping it. So a lot of our plans were around preparing and trying to keep it out as long as possible. We were able to keep COVID out of the prisons until the main surge in the free world happened, so that our surge and Ohio’s surge happened slightly different timing, which is good, so that we were able to all have the services that we needed of the hospitals in the various zones.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (09:35)
There’s a lot of different things that have gone on from masking to gloving. We were already in flu season, so we had a cleaning team that was already operating and had already offered the flu vaccine to our population and to our staff. However, with COVID we knew that it was going to be important to make sure the types of chemicals we were using actually killed COVID, so we did check with the CDC and EPA on that. And we knew exactly what chemicals of all those chemicals we normally use would kill COVID. So, we narrowed down to just using those chemicals.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (10:06)
We stopped people from moving from prison to prison. We stopped doing… I would never call it an elective procedure, but a procedure that could be delayed medically. We changed how we provided programming, how many people were allowed to be together. We began to cohort the people who lived in the prison into their housing units, like a little family. And then we eventually started cohorting staff. And every time we have done a contact tracing, we go back to what we’ve done and say, “Okay, is there anything we can do better?”
Annette Chambers-Smith: (10:40)
The CDC has visited one of our prisons to provide advice to us, and also we get the help of an environmental health physician, who he works for OSU. His name’s Dr. Weir. I think you had him on already. He looks at our plans around social distancing and movement and how we handle our HVAC systems. There’s literally no part of the prison system that hasn’t been touched by what we’re doing to try to deal with this pandemic.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (11:10)
So, that’s been going on since February. I think all of those things, like changing how much fresh air comes in with the HVAC system or the filtering, or ordering different supplies to try to clean the air, it’s a lot of different things going on. And I think a lot of staff pouring a lot of time into it, our staff are working double shifts as we have people that are ill. We’ve gotten help from the National Guard, because we need to replace the people that are unable to work. And the National Guard does bring people into us, to help us do our checks on people.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (11:51)
In a prison it only takes one person being positive, either a staff member or an incarcerated adult, if we get even one person, we put them on a different status that we call red and at that point we take signs and symptoms and temperatures of every single inmate everyday. And those prison where we have short staff, the National Guard helps us do that.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (12:13)
We also use the Highway Patrol to do perimeter patrol at several of our prisons, and that allows us to bring our staff inside and make sure that we can work safely. Literally from the Ohio Department of Health, the OSP, OSU, the National Guard are all working together for the betterment of the people that are living in the prison and to make sure that we can take care of our environment.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (12:37)
Definitely it’s a team. It’s a team and it’s been refreshing, because I don’t think all of my peers enjoy such support. We are trying to leverage the best science as soon as we find out about it. So for example, we started staff screening on March 11th, which consists of asking them the questions that the CDC recommended at that time, signs, symptoms, travel, etc, and taking temperatures.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (13:02)
So, we started doing that then and I think we’re on version eight of that intake form for our staff, because the CDC has literally changed that recommendation based upon science coming out and further information. So, we keep up with that. This is really a collaboration and our positions do collaborate with doctors across different disciplines, to come up with our overarching plan. I asked Dr. Para to be here today, actually to kind of talk about our testing strategy.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (13:31)
As you know, we were the first state to do mass testing anywhere. We did mass testing at three facilities. We tested every single person that lives there, and by Friday we’ll have tested every single person that works there that wanted to be tested. And we learned some valuable information that is helping us build our plan moving forward, of how we would do testing. Dr. Para, did you want to speak to that?
Dr. Michael Para: (13:58)
Thank you for asking me to look at the plan. I have to say, Governor, that I have been overwhelmingly impressed with the Director. The fact that she knows so much about this, I guess is because she was the Health Authority for the system, and her assistant was the Health Authority as well. And so, they’re very familiar with this and they really know what they’re doing, and honestly understand how to approach it in this environment.
Dr. Michael Para: (14:31)
And as you’ve heard, she did this with the Swine Flu, where she helped develop this plan. And we’ve learned more. It is a new virus, but still infection control is infection control of respiratory agent. And so, she’s very familiar with it. And I think you’re lucky. I think the system is very lucky to have her, because I have been impressed with this. I’ve talked to the medical director about some of these situations, and he seems to be very familiar as well with it.
Dr. Michael Para: (15:07)
And so, I’ve been studying infectious disease and viruses for 40 years, and have recently come on with the COVID effort at the university. And so, start looking through things. And you mentioned the testing at the Marion facility, and I think that was a critical step, because we learned so much from that. Approximately 80% of people were positive, some went to the hospital, but what was most amazing, and I think this is kind of national news literally, is how many people were positive and had no symptoms at all and were feeling fine.
Dr. Michael Para: (15:54)
What does that mean? That means that if they let a lawyer in or send an inmate to the court, they could run into somebody who had absolutely no symptoms at all and have it. And so, one of the issues that I was asked to look at was, should we test everybody in the system? Well, testing everybody in the system helps today, but if somebody goes to court or a lawyer comes in tomorrow, they can bring it in all over again.
Dr. Michael Para: (16:28)
And so, the scheme that she has to monitor people, anybody that’s sick gets tested. Anybody that’s sick and is tested goes the the infirmary. They’re tested for the virus there. If they’re sicker, they go to the hospital. If they’re not sicker, they stay in that infirmary and everybody, as you just heard, everybody in the prison gets tested everyday for fevers or symptoms. And again, anybody that gets sick gets moved out.
Dr. Michael Para: (17:03)
So, I think it’s a very good system, as you’ve just heard. Dr. Weir made some suggestions on changing the physical plant. They’ve educated the inmates about this. They’ve offered them masks if they want to wear them. They’re making the masks. They participated with the Governor in the early release program. They do contact tracing. There’s really very little else I could suggest. I mean, honestly she’s thought of a lot of the things and talked to a lot of individuals, and really has done a lot.
Dr. Michael Para: (17:44)
One can’t deny it’s a closed environment, but she has cohorted these units. I was impressed with this. She cohorts units and the guards are assigned to a unit, the warden’s assigned to a unit. They don’t really communicate with a lot of other people. And so, that is cohorting in one aspect.
Dr. Michael Para: (18:08)
So, I don’t know what else I can address, Director. You really… I’m impressed. Thank you.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (18:16)
I appreciate that. I did not pay him [crosstalk 00:18:18].
Dr. Michael Para: (18:18)
No, you really are. I am overwhelmed actually at the thoroughness of what you’ve done.
Governor Mike DeWine: (18:28)
Director, I wonder if you can address a little bit, and also Doctor, we’ve had this discussion, had a discussion this morning. You tested virtually everybody in Marion, but the idea… Doctor, you raised the idea, does it make sense to test everybody in the whole prison system, 48,000 people? And you all gave me an answer to that question that I asked this morning, but I wonder if you want to discuss that a little bit and explain to the public what the procedure really should be in regard to testing, and the protocol should be. That’s either one of you, Director or… Either one of you want to start.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (19:11)
Do you want me to start. Doctor?
Dr. Michael Para: (19:16)
Annette Chambers-Smith: (19:18)
So, the reason we tested everyone in those facilities is because Marion Correctional Institution has a significant number of people that are older with comorbidities. Franklin Medical Center is actually sort of a prison hospital. It’s a step down from a hospital, but not quite like as if you were at home. And then, Pickaway Correctional Institution has a 68 person dialysis unit, as well as a longterm care facility with the prison wrapped around it.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (19:49)
So, those were three populations that were very vulnerable, where we had some amount of COVID and wanted to test to see if we could find the people who were asymptomatic and positive and then separate them physically from everyone else. When we got the results back from Marion, there were so many people who were asymptomatic and positive, we knew that everyone who lived in that prison had had exposure, and this separation wasn’t going to work.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (20:16)
So, had we got what we thought we would get when we had our original hypothesis to test everyone, which was a discreet number of people in the prison who were positive and asymptomatic that we could move out… We were getting ready to open another prison and move those people in there so that they couldn’t infect anyone else. That was our idea. But the science told us something different. There’s way more people that are asymptomatic and positive than any of us really ever dreamed, actually.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (20:43)
And so then the clinicians looked at, “Okay, here’s what we found. We’re going to retest the negative people and see if those people in those mass tested facilities turn positive,” which we have started doing already, and some of them have. With this type of information, the decision was made to do spot and sample testing as-
Annette Chambers-Smith: (21:03)
… to do spot and sample testing as ordered by the clinicians, testing of people who have signs and symptoms, testing of the people who are being released, and sampling and surveillance as ordered by the medical director. And what our hope is here is that we take care of the people who are sick, because we found so many people who are symptomatic, who have literally nothing wrong with them. We check their temperatures, and do signs and symptoms every day. The reason we do that is so that if anything starts to go wrong for them, the healthcare staff can intercede immediately.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (21:35)
So this is what we’ve been doing now. And the release testing will begin next, so that we know when we release someone out from the facility at the end of their stated term, we can tell the people in the local health department, this person is actually positive, instead of this person has had exposure. So that’s sort of what plan looks like now. Did you have anything to add to that, Dr. Para?
Dr. Michael Para: (22:01)
No, I think people are quite well aware of the fact that if you’re fine, when you’re not in the system, you don’t get a test either. It’s like you can just walk in and get a test if you’re feeling fine. And so, I think your approach of looking for people who are sick, testing them, get them into the facility that takes care of the people who have it. And once you know that it’s there, keeping a very close look over the rest of the people to see if any of them get sick and get them at the treatment, that meets the needs. As you said, you want to take care of the well people, not the people who are just carrying it feeling fine or not even know they have it.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (22:58)
I think the other thing we’ve done to try to figure out, other than our symptom checks, we no longer charge a copay fee with regard to flu like symptoms. This should remove any barrier to the person who’s incarcerated from wanting to seek healthcare on their own. Which they can do either by talking to the officer or using the health service request process. So they have the ability to do that as well. It’s not just a surveillance. And we also changed our electronic health record before we ever had a case of COVID, so that we could do analytical surveillance on the back end.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (23:31)
And see if we have a spike of certain symptoms that tie into COVID, we will triangulate in on that just based upon what’s recorded in the health records, and in our analytics that we do every day and say, “We have a spike in this prison. What is causing that? What can we do? Where do these people live?” And start going after that in a different way as well. So we’re not just relying on temperature checks and symptoms, although that’s good. We also have the ability for the who are incarcerated to request, at no charge. And we also use our health record to surveil what’s going on.
Dr. Michael Para: (24:09)
And your physicians at the institutions look out for the people who are more susceptible and immunocompromised. They look at them more carefully to be sure that they don’t get this. Or if they may be tested before anybody else, simply because they would be the most susceptible ones. And so again, to use your records, and you know who’s in your facilities.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (24:35)
I’d also tell you 40% of our people are living in cells. And the people that live in cells, some of them are double, some are single, but those folks in cells are very protected, because they’re not permitted to come out of their cells unless they have their mask on. And they’re not really interacting with a lot of other people. And even then they’re living in a unit. And that unit is a cohort and moves around together. So they would eat, and recreate and live together. So it’s a lot easier to control in an environment where there’s cells. That means 60% of our people live in an environment that is open bay housing.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (25:13)
Some of these might be as small as 40. And I know ones as big as 300. So it’s around 100 to 125 people in what we’re calling a cohort. And what we try to do is get those folks in the cohort to not interact with any other cohort. That’s how we try to protect them. And then we take the staff and put them in cohorts. They may have three cohorts that they’re associated with that are inmate cohorts. But our staff are not all mingling with each other. So these are things that we’ve layered on over time. Well, we started having people sleep head to foot. That was another way to get literally their mouths farther apart.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (25:55)
Governor Mike DeWine: (25:56)
Director, let me ask you a question in regard to the staff and protection of staff. You want to talk a little bit about how you’re dealing with the staff?
Annette Chambers-Smith: (26:10)
So we have started testing staff, as I stated. Why I have to cough now, I’ll never tell you. But, they have PPE equipment that matches up with the ODH and CDC guidelines. So what we did was we took the guidelines from CDC and ODH and put it in a graph. We have one graph for people that are healthcare professionals and the things that they’re doing. And also the incarcerated adults that work in the healthcare area with those staff. And then we have another chart for people that are not healthcare professionals and the things that they do. And the incarcerated adults that work with them. And it’ll say, “I’m doing X activity. I might need the gown, an N95, a shield and goggles.” That’s an aerosolizing procedure in medical. Or I might just be a correction officer who is watching a unit. At that point, I wouldn’t need gloves and a surgical mask.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (27:14)
So it all varies according to what you’re doing and where you’re doing it. And it’s in a chart. So that was our attempt to utilize our PPE, because we’re trying to buy it, we’re trying to make it and we’re also trying to conserve it and use it responsibly. So, that’s how that plan went. We also set up for any of our hotspot prisons, the ability to go to a hotel after work so that you could take a shower and just go home after that if you want to, or so that you could check-in and sleep the night and not go home. That’s not something we mandate. That’s something we make available, because we want our staff to have the ability to make sure their family are safe and to make sure that they have what they need to change and do things like that.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (28:02)
I know that Dr. Acton likes to talk about all heroes don’t wear capes. I think heroes might wear gray correction officer uniforms, actually. They are coming into a prison where they know good and well, there’s over 2,000 people that are COVID positive and they’re doing their jobs every day. And they’re amazing. And then we have about 2,000 healthcare staff who’ve chosen to work in the field of corrections. And those folks come in and they care about their patients just like the people who are caring for patients that aren’t incarcerated. In our longterm care facility, when the CDC came and met with our staff, all of our staff, our correction officers and our healthcare staff, one thing they kept saying over and over, it was like the rapport between the patients and the people that work there and the caring. They weren’t expecting that. But, that’s how we operate. And they care about their patients just like the patients are cared for out on the streets.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (29:01)
And they do everything they can to take care of them. And they’re invested. They’re working double shifts back-to-back. That’s why we have to use the National Guard’s medics to help us, so that we can give our people some relief. But, we use the National Guard to assist us, we use the highway patrol to assist us. We do offer testing. We have set up a system through OSU where they can make a phone call to get fast tracked to testing. And various things around PPE. We have teams of incarcerated adults whose job it is to clean surfaces. That’s all they do all day. And the high touch points and surfaces so that we can try to make sure it’s not passed like that. It’s really a layering of one thing on another.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (29:46)
First, we stopped unnecessary people coming in. Then we stopped unnecessary movement from prison-to-prison. Then we stopped unnecessary movement inside the prison. Then we have about 2,000 of our workers telecommuting now so that they aren’t mixing with our prison. They’re still doing their job every day and they’re working hard, but they’re home. And they’re doing it long distance and they’re being creative. We switched from having three meals a day to having brunch. The only reason we did that was so that that’s just that much more time to sanitize between different cohorts eating. As well as it’s … the more meals, the more ability to interact with more people. We have two meals now going on. We basically put breakfast and lunch together, and are serving slightly more calories than we were before. People are allowed to take food back to their unit. They don’t have to consume it all right there. So things like that are about just not having as many people interact with this many people. We did do 40 hours of COVID leave, so that we don’t want our staff to have to come in sick or make a decision between a paycheck and taking off. We do screen our staff every day and we don’t let people in if they don’t pass the screening. So there’s a lot of layers to this and it’s all about either surveillance, or prevention or containing.
Dr. Michael Para: (31:16)
I want to see if Dr. Acton has any questions. Dr. Acton, do you have any questions at all?
Dr. Amy Acton: (31:21)
No, I just really want to thank you, Director Annette Chambers-Smith. I’ve said this before. My colleagues and I around the country talk quite a bit. And the Director has been someone that all my peers have looked to. They talk amongst states. I really think the plan was an amazing plan. We know it’s a difficult situation in any congregate setting. And so again, it’s an honor to work with you. And we’re not trying to over brag you here, but I think Ohioans should know that we’ve been very fortunate to have someone who is very compassionate about everyone from the staff to the prisoners. And I’ve seen that in her before there was ever COVID. In these hard days, I’ve just seen it in her every day. And Dr. Para, thank you so much as well.
Dr. Michael Para: (32:20)
It was a pleasure for me, honestly, seeing all the processes that the Director put together. As well as how it’s evolved and gotten better and better. As soon as she sees something that would help, she implements it. It was very impressive. I mean, you want a job in infection control with the hospital?
Annette Chambers-Smith: (32:43)
I just might one day.
Dr. Michael Para: (32:45)
We would love to have you. Oh, wow. I’m impressed.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (32:49)
Well, I really do appreciate you guys saying that. It’s not an easy time. We did have two of our own staff pass away. And that is horrible. The incarcerated adults that have passed away, horrible. We don’t want to see any of that, but I don’t think we can expect to not see any deaths when we see the same thing happen outside of corrections. But, we will dearly miss Officer Dawson and Nurse Reeves.
Governor Mike DeWine: (33:21)
Well Director, thank you. Thank you very much. And you mentioned nurse Reeves. 58-years-old of Blacklick. A licensed practical nurse at Pickaway Correctional. Tragically died last Sunday night. She began working there in 2006. First as a health information tech, before going back to school for her LPN. She was working to become an RN. She was most recently working in the pill call area and the dialysis division. She leaves three daughters and grandchildren. So our heart goes out to her family. And we’re just very, very sorry that great loss. Director, thank you. Doctor, thank you very, very much.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (34:13)
Governor, they did ask me to speak about early releases.
Governor Mike DeWine: (34:15)
Annette Chambers-Smith: (34:16)
I think several people were wanting to hear about that. So did you want me to go on right now?
Governor Mike DeWine: (34:20)
Sure. No, no, absolutely. Any questions you got.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (34:24)
Well, we really started talking about this in early March. How we might do it. How we could keep safety as well as try to reduce the population. And as under your leadership, we decided to go with a full continuum approach. Which involved the courts, all the way through to the parole board and your own clemency powers. So there’s a lot of different irons in the fire. And people being released in different ways from judicial release at the court level or even from diversions for that matter at the court level. And then for us, we’re reviewing people who are PRC violators. We are reviewing people who have been continued by the parole board. And we have also gone to the legislature, the CIIC to enact the early release clause that’s in Ohio law. And then you, yourself, have done some commutations clemencies.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (35:22)
All of this tied together, our population has decreased by 1,379 people since March 24th. So I think sometimes people get wrapped up into looking at one process or another and fail to realize the totality of the entire continuum has had that effect on our prisons. And what that’s allowed us to do is go into the prisons and make people the ability to live farther apart and have more physical plant space. Which, it’s a nicer way to live, period. But it’s also a part of our trying to fight the spread of COVID. We can’t change our physical plant and that make cells, but we can try to have people live farther apart. So we’ve used this space that’s been created by the people who are no longer incarcerated. And we’ve used non-traditional housing, like tents, and gyms, and classrooms and chapels just simply to have more space between people. And to have different sized cohorts.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (36:22)
We continue to do rolling early releases. So those are, today I have 91 days left. Tomorrow, I only have 90. Therefore, I become eligible tomorrow. So we are continually doing that. As well as we’ve reviewed the list of people over a certain age, applied the criteria, which you’ll be getting presented with another list of people that we think would be good to leave. Now, naturally we’re trying to do all this in a way that doesn’t result in what we’ve seen in some other places, which people leave and either re-offend immediately or kill someone. I mean that’s the worst case scenario. We don’t want that. So we do want to have a reduction. We want to do it safely. This is the method Ohio has chosen. And this is how many people we’ve been able to impact.
Governor Mike DeWine: (37:12)
Director, thank you very much. Doctor, we appreciate your time, both of you.
Annette Chambers-Smith: (37:17)
Okay. It’s National Employees Week for corrections people next week and it’s also nurses month. So I gave you a little video of our staff and I just liked to say, you guys are doing great work and I appreciate you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (37:30)
We look forward to the video. Thank all those who work every day in our Ohio prisons. Dr Acton.
Dr. Amy Acton: (38:17)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon, everyone. Again, I just want to say it’s very humbling to hear the Director and the doctor speak. I think in something as overwhelming as coronavirus, it’s very easy to think that there’s something to blame in this. And then when I see that video, and I see the people again, it’s us. It’s what I said yesterday. We are the workers, we are working in the prison, we are the people staying at home, we are the nurses. It’s us. And the people who are going out of their way, like Mr. Dawson and nurse Reeves. Again, people are truly being heroes. And this is a hard thing. It’s the virus. It’s not any person. It’s the virus that we’re all fighting together. So, thank you. Our data, Eric.
Dr. Amy Acton: (39:15)
So we do have today in Ohio, 18,027 cases. This is an increase of 724 cases from yesterday. And we are unfortunately approaching 1,000 deaths. We’re now at 975 deaths in Ohio. I do want to say, Ohio, for our population size, when we look at our rates of deaths compared to many other countries and to many other states, the things that you have done to help protect each other have really helped us. But, it still hurts to see each and every one of these. Next slide, Eric. At this point we have tested 133,000, sir, over that in Ohio. We are still seeing a slightly higher increase in sick patients. Again, it’s our sicker patients who are being tested or in high risk situations. It’s skewing slightly more male at this point. Our hospitalizations, 20% of our cases require hospitalization. And 6% are in ICU. And other than that our numbers look about the same.
Dr. Amy Acton: (40:34)
Trends-wise, Eric. We are now looking again at cases ticking up. Our deaths today are a little bit on the down side of that. We did see a spike yesterday, but again a spike was due again to a clump of data that was also processed, so we have to take that in context. Hospitalizations, right now I’ve seen a couple of days of ticking up on hospitalizations. Slightly high on ICUs. I think even five days trend-wise it’s really hard to see any one day’s data. We really need to start looking, I think, sir, maybe over even longer trends to get a sense of where this is. It still feels very plateau-y to me. And that would be a summary of our data. And I think I’ll turn it back to you, governor, for questions.
Governor Mike DeWine: (41:31)
Well, we’ll have questions. Today will be the last day that we have Ben Garbarek from ABC Six with us. And so, Ben and his wife are moving back to Chicago and we wish them all the best.
Ben Garbarek: (41:46)
I appreciate it. One question, governor, we’ve been getting from some folks who are heading back to work potentially as early as tomorrow. People who work in dental offices-
… Back to work potentially as early as tomorrow. People who are in dental offices, veterinary clinics. You’ve mentioned the lack of PPE, they would also need PPE to go back to work and there’s been some shortages. So at this point, is there enough PPE for some of those people to safely go back to work at this point?
Governor Mike DeWine: (42:22)
Well, of course the PPE is different. Someone going into an office, and I’ll let Dr. Acton have a lifeline over here with her and she can answer it, but somebody goes to an office, they just need something to cover, to go in and cover their face. If they’re actually in the office and by themselves, they can take this off. So they can make it themselves, they can grab something and put it over there. Obviously someone who is working in a dentist’s office will have to wear whatever is appropriate for that individual. Now I know that some of the dentists who were very kind enough to contribute to the stockpile when we were fearing that the huge rush, some of them have asked to get that back. That’s a work in progress. That’s up to the local EMS. Dr. Acton, you want to add anything to that? My knowledge is exhausted at this point, I think so,
Dr. Acton: (43:19)
Yeah. Thank you governor and Ben, we’re really going to miss you. Thank you so much for doing such a good job for Columbus and all your reporting. I’m looking at him on the screen here. I think it’s really important that we are slowly returning in our areas of dentistry, vet and hospitals. If a practice does not have the appropriate gear, they’re not going to move forward. So definitely talk to your provider and make sure.
Dr. Acton: (43:49)
I mean, I think it’s an arbitrary line in the sand a day, May 1st or any day we pick, we know we’re going to be fighting this virus for a long time and each practice is going to have to assess whether they have all the things they need to fully open and if not, of course, professionals will be professionals, and be straightforward with their patients about what they can do. A lot of the providers do have the necessary equipment and I know they’re doing everything they can in their power. Our supply chains are what they are. So definitely work as a patient with your provider, and you would expect them to have the right gear to do their procedures.
Governor Mike DeWine: (44:38)
And Ben, as Dr. Acton said, the supply chains are a mess. And so it certainly is possible that there’s a dentist out there or someone who does not have those supplies. And we’re trying to do what we can and I know that in the private sector everyone is trying to do what they can to get the PPE that they need. But it is certainly, I’m sure, a work in progress.
Thank you for the kind words as well.
Ben Schwartz: (45:11)
Hello, Ben Schwartz with WCPO. Governor DeWine I want to kind of re-ask the same thing I asked you yesterday. I appreciate the answer that all three of you gave about Ohioans, some Ohioans ignoring social distance guidelines. What I really wanted to hear is if you have a message for Ohioans who are taking those guidelines seriously but see others not, and if that’s the reason for them to worry or if there’s anything they should do when they do see that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (45:45)
Ben, it certainly is. And it was a good question yesterday. Good question today. I kind of missed the question, but look, there’s two … The best way to protect each other is to distance. And again, when people don’t practice the distancing, the problem is, it’s not just them, they are endangering other people. And it may not just be the person that they’re … You may have two 20 year olds and they’re very close and one is, is carrying the COVID virus, doesn’t know it, transmits it to the other 20 year old. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe neither one gets very sick, but then the 20 year old goes home and the mom gets sick or the grandmother get sick. So yeah, when people are not continuing to practice social distancing, it is a problem. And so if you’re practicing social distancing and you’re seeing somebody over there who’s not practicing social distancing, yes it is. It is a concern and a problem. I don’t know. Does that answer the question or?
Ben Schwartz: (47:04)
Yeah. Yeah. Much better. Thank you very much.
Good afternoon governor. A question for Dr. Acton, if I may. Good afternoon, director. Nursing homes accounted for three fourths or 2,200 of all cases reported in the past week. Cases among the general public amounted to less than 700 or 23%. While considering the lack of widespread testing, what does that say about the virus trend and risk among the general public?
Dr. Acton: (47:54)
I don’t think we can say a lot about the general trend or prevalence in the public that hasn’t been tested. That’s one of the reasons we are so committed to making sure that we can do a prevalence study. What we do know is about the nursing homes and you see it all over the country. Congregate living situations, whether they be in nursing homes, in residential treatment centers, in homeless shelters, as we just learned, in prisons are higher risk situations. We have been working tirelessly. We have the CDC on site helping us as well and working on the best protocols for nursing homes at the local level. Our local health department and our hospitals have made new partnerships to help nursing homes. We have strike teams we have developed at the state level, and we test in nursing homes now and with increased testing that’s an increased focus for us. We also want to think about the staff. We treat the staff in nursing homes very similarly as we do to the staff and hospitals.
Dr. Acton: (49:03)
So we are not surprised that we see in a higher risk population and in a congregate living situation. The spread. Just last night I was on the phone with my peers in the surrounding states and comparing some of our numbers including, as you ran in The Dispatch, today about the deaths in nursing home using our new data. We were slightly lower than what I was hearing in other states. I think we’re doing everything we can provide the very best guidance to help nursing homes, but we really can’t say a lot about the general population yet until we can get a better idea, better testing, and better prevalence study.
Governor Mike DeWine: (49:47)
Dr. Acton, you and I were talking this morning, we would expect, if a shipment comes in this weekend, we would expect to be able to start next week sometime more general testing in the population.
Dr. Acton: (50:01)
Yeah. Let me just say for a moment if I could. We are going to talk more I believe tomorrow I was going to give, I have some slides and things to show about our testing, how we tier it and one of the things we’ve done is created with scarce resources, Randy, guidance for the whole state and that guidance evolves. As we have more testing we expand out greater and it has evolved as we’ve understood the disease as everything has. And so we’re still doing high risk. So nursing homes, hospitals, symptomatic people, staff and that’s layering out. So we’re going to talk a lot more about our ideas of testing in nursing homes and how we, how we do that to maximize the tests we have. And we’ll be talking about that more tomorrow.
Dr. Acton: (50:47)
In addition to that, as we’ve always said, governor, we do frontline responders as well. Anyone on the front lines. And then we’re doing some asymptomatic in these high risk areas as you heard in prisons. And we’ve learned, in nursing homes, we haven’t done our nursing homes the way we’ve done a whole prison or whole nursing home yet. But even in the nursing homes where we’ve tested quite a bit, that asymptomatic is huge. So the whole point of testing, it’s a point in time. So even in the prison, what the doctor was trying to say is I can test in a prison, we’re seeing up to 80 to 90% asymptomatic. You have to repeat that testing and watch as people go from asymptomatic to symptomatic or not.
Dr. Acton: (51:32)
So even a one point in time testing doesn’t tell you all the information. The reason you’d want to do that, if the prevalence was low, you could cohort people and separate out the at risk people from the not. But our asymptomatic rates are so high that you really almost have to treat everyone as if they’re potentially positive, and do your planning around that because the spread within congregate settings, and this is across the country is so great. So we’re doing more focus testing but not that broad.
Governor Mike DeWine: (52:06)
Yeah. We’ll have more tomorrow or Monday on that. I wonder also though, if you could talk about, because Randy was talking about the general population, we are going to start fairly soon to go out and sample the general population.
Dr. Acton: (52:22)
Yes, and that’s our … That’s what I spoke of yesterday, Randy, and we’ll talk more about it, but those are our prevalence studies. They’re studies based on with working with the World Health Organization. It’s the type of study you saw New York City do recently where they got some of their first prevalence numbers and we have a team of researchers led by a group at OSU, but using faculty across the state and it will actually go out into our communities. We’ll begin … It’s called a 30 by 30 prevalence study. You start with a basis of 1,000 tests and we’re going to be doing hopefully both the antibody testing serologically, we’re also going to be taking blood and doing a type of antibody testing to test the accuracy of the quick assays. As you know, the antibody testing has had various levels of accuracy so far in the data, so we’re actually going to use a blood test which is unique about Ohio.
Dr. Acton: (53:21)
We’re going to actually test the accuracy of the antibody tests and also that type of antibody we’re doing, that’s looking at neutralizing antibodies. It’s a lot of geeky science, which I love getting into, but for viewers at home, it’s the same thing we’re testing and hospitals on people who have recovered and are donating their antibodies for convalescent plasma. So we’re going to be doing that study starting Monday. It takes about two weeks to do, another week to analyze data. In addition to some surveys of symptoms, we’re also, Randy, measuring other things now. We’re looking through emergency room data and our existing surveillance on influenza like illnesses. We’re looking at deaths that are excess deaths, that at this time last year, what was our death rates, what are excess deaths. So there are a number of things we’re looking in the future at positivity rates of tests. So there’s a lot of data that my peers and I are starting to look at as ways to get deeper and deeper into our understanding of this disease. Thank you.
Kevin Landers: (54:30)
Kevin Landers, WBNS 10 TV. My question is for the governor. Governor, there are some retail stores including here in Columbus that planned to open tomorrow in defiance of your order. What do you say to those businesses that are planning on doing that?
Governor Mike DeWine: (54:49)
The date was picked for retail stores was May 12th, and what went into that consideration it’s, I guess to some extent, it could have been the 11th it could have been another date, but we’re trying to phase these things in and we’re trying to continue to buy some time so that the spread does not … We don’t have the curve going straight up again. So we would say that was a mistake and they should not do that. We have, in May, we’ve set parameters. We’ve set the dates to move forward in May, in regard to retail. So we would hope certainly that people will follow the law. I think what retail stores, I’ve talked to several today and they’re getting ready, they’re planning, they’re looking at what they have to do to be able to accommodate customers, to be able to keep their employees safe, to be able to keep the public safe when they come in.
Governor Mike DeWine: (56:02)
We would hope that in the next 12 days that that’s what they’re focusing on and when the date comes that they can open up. Look, I fully understand. Everyone’s anxious to get moving again, but this is a balance. This is we are trying to open up as fast as we can, but at the same time protect the public. That’s why we have specific protocols that have to be put into place. And it’s also why we are layering this out. We’re not just opening everything up at one time. So that would be a mistake and I certainly would hope they would follow the rule of law.
Kevin Landers: (56:46)
Jim Province: (56:49)
Jim Province with The Blade with a question for Dr. Acton. Hello director. With the recent studies showing that the promising results for, and I’m going to try to pronounce this, remdesivir, the flu vaccine, or the flu medication. Is this available in Ohio now? Do we have a stockpile of this drug if it is approved? And in your opinion, under what circumstances should it be used?
Dr. Acton: (57:25)
So I’ve been very hopeful. I think I’ve mentioned in past talks that having an antiviral that is already in existence and on the market, like remdesivir, and I have trouble saying it too, so don’t feel bad. Too many consonants in that. But that would be a wonderful boon for us. If you think about Tamiflu, which is what a lot of folks, if they get a bad flu and interestingly flu often … We don’t always do the flu test. The flu test is just like the coronavirus test, that very annoying swab in your nose. And sometimes clinicians will just know from your symptoms and give you an antiviral. What that does is help lessen your symptoms yourself, but it also decreases the time you’re infectious and spread it to others. I think this is promising. Dr. Fauci, similar to me, is going to always speak in cautious terms because we don’t want to over speak the science, and so I’m hopeful and I do think, especially for those we’ve seen with this disease, people can tank.
Dr. Acton: (58:34)
I mean, they can just be going along that first week and then something happens and the overwhelming inflammation that is associated with the disease we’re seeing now beyond lung disease, we’re seeing strokes, we’re seeing effects all over the body. I think having something like this in our arsenal would be wonderful, especially for the sickest. Now, of course, like everything else we’ve seen, you worry about a run on these drugs, you worry about the supply chain of all drugs. We’ve seen supply chain issues with albuterol and penicillin and so we do not have a stockpile, at least not one that I am aware of. It’s not a drug that’s been stockpiled, and so I think we would really look to guidance from the federal government on really helping modulate this because it’s really, really important we do this well any time something like this might become scarce.
Adrian Robbins: (59:36)
Adrian Robbins, NBC four, and my question’s for Dr. Acton. You’ve said, obviously, our numbers do lag behind a little bit and with testing not being fully ramped up until May, are there indicators that you’ll be looking at over the next few weeks to make sure that we’re not going down the wrong path and we’re not going to see a large spike that we can’t do anything about ultimately at the end of May when we do have the testing to spot it?
Dr. Acton: (01:00:05)
Adrian, absolutely. Our ability to do this and sort of watch and learn from it is so important and it’s not, again just us, this is the CDC, this is every state in this country and every country in this world is learning together and trying to find what I talked about yesterday, that sweet spot of being able to maximize what we can do while also minimize the spread of the virus. And so numbers we will be looking at are some that we always have, the cases and the case numbers. And of course with increased testing you’re going to see more cases. So you have to look for trends. And another number that’s very helpful that we’re looking at now is called a positivity rate and that lets you look at the amount of positive tests versus all the tests you did and the tests that were negative. Sometimes that will help you correct for the fact that you’re just testing more. So positivity rates will be a very important number, but we have all sorts of things we’re watching. We’re watching hospitalizations, ICU for COVID specific, we’re looking for influenza like illnesses through another mechanism, through ED visits and maybe even people who weren’t hospitalized, ICU visits. We’re looking at all sorts of aspects of this disease. We’re looking at deaths, we’re analyzing deaths a little differently. We’re asking for different reporting from coroners, because we know that people might die. It might be put on their death certificate, stroke, but we don’t know if they’ve been tested for, and so there’s a series of about 20 different measures that we’ve been building the ability to track and those will all be things we watch and I’ll be reporting those you know with you as we know them again to the public and putting them on our website. Thank you.
Benito Lucio: (01:02:05)
Good afternoon, governor. My name is Benito Lucio. I am from Ohio Latino TV and I’m also retired from as the migrant agricultural ombudsman monitor advocate for the Ohio department of Job and Family Services. My question are for you governor, in regards to the immigrant in migrant worker workforce, both legal and undocumented, many are very limited in what government resources they could utilize during this pandemic and most recently were even excluded from this stimulus. The mixed family group, meaning one spouse being an American citizen and the other not having a social security number, in most cases, having a federal tax ID number. Have you considered a task force to look at this workforce population and what can be done to help them through this difficult time? And also for the migrant worker population that comes from Texas and Florida to support Ohio’s agriculture, what preparations is being done to make sure Ohio’s ag employers will have the necessary workforce for the season?
Speaker 1: (01:03:03)
Ag employers will have the necessary workforce for the season. In my time at ODJFS, I advocated for an incentive for workers to come to Ohio, as an example, gas assistance. And finally, a good percentage of our workforce from the immigrant and migrant worker force were undocumented and are a vital workforce in filling many voids in employment such as in agriculture, service sector, construction, food processing, hotels, et cetera. Would you advocate for immigration reform now to help bring this workforce out of the shadows and recognize the contribution of this workforce to our state as well as our country?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:03:42)
Well, I spent 20 years in Congress dealing with immigration among other things, so I’m going to leave that part of the question to Senator Portman, Senator Brown and our Ohio congressional delegation. But something that I think is within our jurisdiction is the health of people who are in the state of Ohio including this population. The idea of a task force certainly makes sense, but I want to ask Dr. Acton if she can tell us if there’s anything in particular, focus of the health department in regard to this population. Certainly would include migrant workers who come here seasonally who are involved in agriculture.
Dr. Acton: (01:04:33)
I just want to say governor, that I’m very proud of many of our local health departments because of course most public health is in communities and on the ground really working hard to address all populations, especially those who might fall between the cracks and certainly migrant workers. Their health needs have been well-documented and are really something that our communities absolutely need to take extra measures to do. I am not aware of something that is happening at the state level on this issue, but I’m going to look into it now and find out for you because I couldn’t agree more. We do have people here to help us in Ohio and we want to make sure that they’re not suffering disproportionately, so I’ll look into that for you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:05:29)
And I think that is an excellent question and I will do the same. I’ve written that down, that the health of every person who is in Ohio is significant. And certainly when we have a virus, one person’s health obviously impacts other people’s health. So both Dr. Acton and I will take a look at that. Thank you for the question.
Karen Johnson: (01:06:00)
Good afternoon. This is Karen Johnson with WLWT in Cincinnati, and my question is really from the business community. Why would office workers who are already socially distanced in a secure environment now be required to wear masks when people in the stores, random people in the stores, it’s just a recommendation?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:06:26)
We’ve said that an office worker who is coming to work, who’s going to go into their office, should wear it as they’re going in with other people. When they get in the office and they’re sitting there, they certainly can take that off. We’ve made that very clear. I want to go back a little bit on the process. And one of the things that I have done all the time I was attorney general, all the time I’ve been governor is put together working groups to look at different things. We try to bring in people who really understand whatever the issue is. I’ve done it in foster care, I’ve done it in a number of different things. We put a working group together led by Frank Sullivan, but it was not only bigger companies, it was mid sized companies, smaller companies, and we put them with experts in health and they came back with this recommendation.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:07:26)
This is the recommendation they came back, that office workers would wear a mask in. And if they’re working close together, they would continue to wear a mask. We think it is a good recommendation. We adopted it. And again, as I said, it came from the business community. It came from people who run offices. And they came up with this best practices. As far as the people in retail, the recommendation was the same, that if you work in retail, you should wear the mask. As far as people who are customers, it’s highly recommended that they were a mask.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:08:14)
But as we’ve talked about the last two days, it was clear there were some Ohioans who were frankly very offended by that. But we continue to encourage them and encourage everyone else who goes into retail to wear a facial covering. So if we do all this, we’re going to go a long way to protect each other. And the goal here is to do two things at once, and we’re going to see if we can do it. But I think we can. And that is to get Ohio back to work. At the same time, continue to provide good protection for Ohioans who were in the workplace and who live in every community.
Karen Johnson: (01:08:56)
A recommendation, not a requirement for the workplace.
Dr. Acton: (01:09:01)
Hi, I just wanted to answer the gentleman’s earlier question. My phone has gone off from my team. And we do have our minority task force that is chaired by directors Ursel McElroy and also director Alisha Nelson, and they both texted me to let me know that migrant workers are a part of the group and the work that they’re doing. And I believe they’re presenting to you very soon. So that’s good to know.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:09:30)
And we will report back to everyone exactly what they’re doing and what we’re doing. So thank you.
Jake Zuckerman: (01:09:42)
This is Jake Zuckerman from the Ohio Capital Journal. We know that Marion and Pickaway correctional institutions are in very bad shape. Over 75% of the inmates are infected. But about five or so other prisons are starting to show increasing case counts. Is there any reason to believe that those prisons won’t end up in as bad a shape as Marion and Pickaway?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:10:06)
That’s more a medical question, but what it’s been explained to me is that once the virus gets into a prison that has the congregate living, it is very, very difficult. We’ve seen this despite all the best practices and the good measures in several of our prisons that you’ve mentioned, Pickaway, Marion. It’s very difficult to stop it from spreading. In the prisons that are the higher security where the prisoners are in cells, that obviously is much easier to control that. I don’t know Dr. Actin if you want to add anything to that. So it’s very difficult. It’s very difficult.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:10:54)
And we’ve seen how difficult it is in the prisons where it is entered. And when we have people who go in and out of the prison, even though we’ve restricted visitors, even though we’ve restricted a lot of things, but obviously people who work there go in and out and they go back into the community. Now, as the director said, one of the things that we have offered in particularly the prisons that have so much of the virus, we’ve offered people the opportunity to stay in a motel which will be paid for by the state. And some have taken that up.
Jake Zuckerman: (01:11:44)
It sounds like there’s some suffering to come in those institutions.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:11:47)
I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.
Jake Zuckerman: (01:11:55)
To be clear, it sounds like there’s some suffering to come in those institutions.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:11:59)
Yeah, I still didn’t hear it. Did you hear it?
Jake Zuckerman: (01:11:59)
I said, to be clear, it sounds like there’s some suffering to come in those institutions.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:12:04)
We’ll have to see. I mean, we can’t predict.
Speaker 2: (01:12:10)
Ohio Public Radio And Television, Statehouse News Bureau. A question for Dr. Acton. When it comes to opening daycares and the closures of schools, I know a lot’s been made about how children can pass on the virus. Are we learning anything more about how, and I don’t know what the word would be, but how infectious children can be and the rate of transmission from kids to adults?
Dr. Acton: (01:12:35)
Right. The latest data that I’ve seen shows that it is really just as infectious with children as it is with adults. We know that children are less likely to die from this virus unless of course they have a preexisting health condition or something else that makes them vulnerable, perhaps cancer or something like that. But every now and then, I mean my son just sent me a photo of a young woman who was at Rainbow Babies Hospital, and she had been, governor sitting there watching us, went through her treatment and was very, very sick and watched our shows each day to get through it and had sent her picture to say thank you. And I just know that there are kids sick but we’re not seeing them and the numbers that we’re seeing adults that are sick. So they are passing it on and we see that it can be deadly or certainly cause a lot of suffering in any age group, but it is more skewed in terms of the worst outcomes to older adults, but just as infectious.
Jim Giamatti: (01:13:44)
Giamatti from WHIO TV in Dayton. Governor, this is a question for you. Tomorrow, if I remember correctly, the stay at home order expires at 11:59 PM. Do you intend on letting it expire, to extend it, to modify it? What’s in the plan?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:14:04)
The stay at home order will be extended with the exceptions. When retail opens up, that certainly will be a major exception for that. Certainly is an exception just in a few days when manufacturing and other companies are allowed to start back, those that are not already started. So it will be extended. Again, it’s important as we try to go back to work and as we go back to work and get this economy moving and get more people working that we do it carefully. And what all of us can do, whether we’re working or not working, what we do impacts our ability to safely go back to work and get our economy moving.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:14:54)
And so that decision has been made. I’ve made the decision to have the stay at home order still in effect, but the exceptions, Jim, that were written into the original order continue. People certainly can go to the grocery store. They can meet with their own family in the home. They can take walks, they can do a number of different things. The social distancing is really the key to about everything and people just keeping that distance. And that’s what we need to continue to do as we move to get back to work.
Jim Giamatti: (01:15:38)
Thank you, governor.
Hello, this is Laura from cleveland.com. Just a question for the governor really quick. What is your timeline for announcing state cuts to the public?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:15:57)
We’ll be doing that very soon. Had discussions last night, had discussions today. We’re consulting with the general assembly. General assembly obviously plays a significant role in all of this discussion because what cuts we make now are important, but also that will set the tone for where we go from here. And being able to make the cuts now will help us as we go into the future. So coming very shortly. But again, we’re working with the state legislature, both parties. We’re going to continue to do that.
Andrew Welsh Huggins: (01:16:38)
Hi governor. It’s Andrew Welsh Huggins with the Associated Press. Back to the prisons. I’ve heard from many inmates and COs as well who paint a different picture of the situation as it developed early on in terms of the director was talking about the planning. We’ve heard about inmates feeling like it was being treated as a security risk, not a health issue. We’ve heard about shortages of sanitation, soap and hygiene, things from the beginning. And we’ve also heard from COs very consistently that they felt like they were put in an untenable situation and never had enough PPE and still don’t. So I’m wondering what are your concerns that the prison system really was prepared for something like this and what are your concerns that it’s able to handle the outbreak right now?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:17:34)
You heard directly from the director, you heard from the doctor. We put together a working group fairly early on in this with former director, Reggie Wilkinson, assistant director, Tom Stickrath, and others who understand prisons, who have spent decades working in prisons. And so that group has been there to help and to advise the director. We pulled in health people. So I feel that the prisons are being well-run. There’s always been a PPE issue statewide. We’ve said that for weeks. But if you listen to what the director said, and this is where we are today, we’re following the guidelines of the PPE and what everybody should have in every appropriate position. Sometimes there is not just with… There’s a confusion I think a little bit among the general public.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:18:49)
Sometimes I’m confused about the masks, N-95 masks, that are only appropriate in certain cases. But what the director was talking about, she has a list, and this is from the CDC. This is from the health officials. In this type work, you should have this PPE. Prison is following that, and they have the adequate equipment there today. Now, could they have been short early on? That’s something that I will have to check with the director. I can only say that it’s been short everywhere in the state of Ohio on PPE. But with the last deliveries that have been made, we feel that we have not only enough there, but we have a 90 day backup for what we need in the prisons.
Andrew Welsh Huggins: (01:19:43)
Ori Givens: (01:19:48)
Hi there, governor. Ori Givens from Spectrum News One. I’m wondering if you would consider, we have viewers asking about penalty weeks and unemployment. Other states like California are providing workarounds so that people who have penalty weeks can access the POA system. Would you consider an executive order or working with the legislator to create pathways for people that have those penalty weeks to access these unemployment benefits that they’re currently not getting?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:20:15)
Let me check on it. Let me take a look at this and we’ll get back to you.
Jackie Boardshirt: (01:20:23)
This is Jackie Boardshirt from the Cincinnati Enquirer, and I’m your last question today. I’ve heard from several small business owners who have looked at the guidelines you put out this week and say, “Hey, I can follow those, but I’m not retail and I’m not an office or manufacturer.” Why did you decide in this opening to go with categories of businesses instead of say just putting out criteria rules that they need to follow and allowing the businesses who can open to open?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:20:54)
Well, I thought really we did. I thought we put out guidelines and basically said if you come under this category, you can open. We do have exceptions as you know in regard to hair, in regard to salons, and we’re working on that and we hope to come out with industry specific best practices for those as well. But we have broad categories, and we think everybody in those categories is covered. Maybe I didn’t quite understand the question. Who are we missing?
Jackie Boardshirt: (01:21:32)
They’re lumped in with personal services like hair salons. However, they can very easily do a contactless transaction.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:21:42)
This is what the group came back with, but we certainly know that some groups have been missed and we’ll take a look at those. And we will be. Well as April turns to May, high school sports teams would normally be gearing up for the end of their seasons. I don’t have to remind any athlete about that. Particularly hard for seniors, some of whom are wrapping up their sports career. Any other year, there’d be senior nights, play off games, district meets. And I wanted to share today one school that found a unique way to recognize their seniors. Perry High School, home of the Perry Pirates in Blake County, is still having a senior night.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:22:29)
They have hung posters of their track, baseball, softball seniors and are inviting the community to drive by the school and fields tonight. The softball team has taken one step further. They hung their senior jerseys on the field and painted their numbers on the field so that in a sense their seniors could still take the field one last time. Congratulations to the Perry High School athletes. Thank you to the coaches, schools, families across Ohio who are finding ways to honor their student athletes this season. That’s it for today. We will see you all tomorrow at two o’clock. Thank you.
Karen Kasler: (01:23:12)
And that’s it, our coverage of governor Mike DeWine’s daily update on coronavirus in Ohio. A couple of numbers to bring to you. 898 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. That’s 42 new confirmed deaths, down from 99 yesterday. And Dr. Acton said that the last couple of days have been big increases because there’s been a glut of data that’s come out that’s had to be added in. Also 17,285 confirmed coronavirus cases. 684 of those are new. That’s up from 473 yesterday. So Andy Chou, real quickly, we’re back here tomorrow for the last one of this week. What do you expect to hear given that the stay at home order expires tomorrow though we extended in certain areas?
Andy Chou: (01:23:53)
So I think we’re going to hear more details about exactly what that extension is going to look-