May 21, 2020

Mike DeWine Ohio Coronavirus Briefing Transcript May 21

Mike DeWine May 21 Press Conference
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsMike DeWine Ohio Coronavirus Briefing Transcript May 21

Governor Mike DeWine held a COVID-19 press conference on May 21. DeWine says wedding receptions capped at 300 people can resume June 1

 

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Mike DeWine: (00:00)
Well, good afternoon everyone. Today, I’m wearing a tie from Ohio Wesleyan [inaudible 00:00:36], and it’s her birthday today. Barbara, happy birthday. Also, Dayton Daily News reporter, who we’ll hear from I’m sure in a moment, Laura Bischoff. Happy birthday, Laura. Now, let me turn it over to the Lieutenant Governor.

Jon Husted: (00:54)
Thank you, Governor, and good afternoon to all. In advance of Memorial Day weekend, we want to give thanks for those who gave their lives in defense of our nation and its values. To honor them today, we would like to start with the playing of our National Anthem by the University of Dayton Marching Band. I’m a proud graduate of the University of Dayton. I’m a UD Flyer, and this performance was recorded as part of UD’s virtual graduation. So let’s take a listen.

Jon Husted: (02:54)
Great. Thanks to the UD Flyer Marching Band, and God bless America.

Jon Husted: (02:57)
Now, today I’ve cover two things. I’ll start out today covering two things, one of them around athletics and the other regarding weddings and banquet receptions. Both of those came up in our last conversation that we had, and we announced last week that on May 26, leagues and competitions could resume for golf, basketball, tennis, racket sports, softball, and the like. These are essentially non-contact activities. With the proper observance of safety protocols, as we promised, the general guidelines for those non-contact activity sports are now up on the coronavirus website. Take a look at them. There are a couple of updates that you’ll want to see.

Jon Husted: (03:48)
Accompanying that announcement, was the fact that gyms and rec centers, fitness centers could also open on May 26 with the observance of those safety protocols. What we are adding to that, that we want to make note of today, are bowling alleys and the miniature golf batting cage facilities that are also connected to those kinds of activities, and those will also follow the proper health and safety protocols. Those can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov under Responsible Restart Ohio, although the bowling alley guidance probably will not be up until tomorrow.

Jon Husted: (04:29)
Another thing that we discussed was our conversations with the Ohio High School Athletic Association regarding sports and skills training. The past few days, we have had those conversations with the OHSAA, and I know that many of them are concerned, many of the student athletes are concerned about preparation for summer training for next school year and the sports. While the plans for the school year in the fall are still being discussed, we do know that skills training and conditioning for student athletes is important to start now. And why is that? Because proper training and conditioning are not only essential for skill development, but a properly conditioned athlete can also reduce their chance for injury.

Jon Husted: (05:20)
As a result of those discussions, we are announcing that effective May 26th, skills training can resume for all other sports, including contact sports, like football, basketball, and lacrosse so long as safety protocols are followed. This includes, but is not limited to, weight training, agility skills, and other types of conditioning that you would use to prepare for those sports. That guidance on skills training can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov/responsiblerestartohio. This was a joint effort between our working group that was looking at these issues and the Ohio High School Athletic Association for what you will see there.

Jon Husted: (06:08)
Now, I want to be clear though, this does not mean that tournaments, scrimmages, games, and competitions can be conducted in these contact-type sports. For now, those are limited. Scrimmages or games, competitions are limited to the activities that we discussed with golf, racket sports, baseball, and softball. I know we are all enthusiastic about the day that competition for all sports can resume, and the conversations are ongoing. They’re ongoing with the Ohio High School Athletic Association and others about how we can do that and when we can do that. But for now, we’re focused on the next step of preparing for that day through skills training.

Jon Husted: (06:52)
It’s also important to note that a practical component of making this happen will also include a change in the health order that will allow school buildings and facilities to be used for skills training for non-contact sports and the non-contact portion of the skills training for these sports and the sports that we outlined in the May 26 guidance. Use of these facilities is, of course, up to the local school district and subject to their rules of operation as well.

Jon Husted: (07:28)
For all of the student athletes out there, I know you are anxious for more certainty about your future, and we will get back to you on those issues as soon as we can, working in conjunction with the athletic association. But for now, there’s a reason for optimism, and so let the training begin.

Jon Husted: (07:47)
Wedding receptions, banquet facilities. We get a lot of questions about these. We’ve been working on a response to this. Events like weddings and funerals have always been exempt from the public gathering restrictions. However, wedding receptions and other similarly situated events have been limited when it comes to those receptions.

Jon Husted: (08:08)
Today, we are announcing a modification, a change to that policy. Catering and banquet centers will be able to reopen under similar guidelines as restaurants effective June the first. This will mean six-foot distancing between tables, no congregating. For the immediate future, crowd sizes will be limited for those facilities at 300. As with everything we announced, these limitations won’t last forever, but we recognize that there are a lot of weddings and events that are important to people’s lives that can and should go on. We are just asking that it be done safely, as safely as possible to avoid the spread of the virus.

Jon Husted: (08:54)
We recognize that people want to go on with life, and we are trying to provide guidelines and recommendations as to how you can do so as safely as possible. We want to proceed with cautious optimism, that when we follow the proper protocols, we can resume the activities in life that we love without negatively impacting the health of our loved ones. As we have said on numerous occasions during the reopening, we place our trust in the people of Ohio that we can do both.

Jon Husted: (09:28)
That concludes the updates of the reopenings. We continue to work on the handful of things that are remaining. Most everything is operational in Ohio or will be by the end of the month. Couple of items hanging out there, but we’re still working through those. Governor?

Mike DeWine: (09:47)
Lieutenant Governor, thank you very much. Dr. Acton.

Dr. Acton: (09:49)
Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon, everyone. I hope this finds you well at home. We’ll start again with the numbers. As of today in Ohio, we have seen 30,167 cases. This is an increase of 731 since yesterday. Our deaths have gone up in the last 24 hours. We have had reported 55 more Ohioans who have died from COVID-19. That death total is 1,836. Next slide.

Dr. Acton: (10:29)
Everything else remains about the same. We’re inching upward, Governor, of about 300,000 tests having been done in Ohio. Again, our hospitalizations have slightly decreased, but our ICU and intensive care and ventilator usage has remained about flat.

Dr. Acton: (10:50)
All our other trend numbers, Eric. Next slide. Again, going up and down over the 21-day trend period; but by and large, they are staying very much plateaued. Next slide.

Dr. Acton: (11:10)
We also see our testing numbers beginning to increase. Eric, next. Our R0, we’ll continue to bring this number to you, is still staying at that one level, which is what we want to see.

Dr. Acton: (11:24)
We have lots more data on our website for you to take a look at in more detail, but we have some really important data that we’re sharing today. I just want to give a shout-out. The governor’s going to share a lot more with you. But this is work on issues of opportunity and social determinants of health that we’ve had a data team work on for years, but really the cumulation of some data. Very proud and just want to give a shout-out to the team and turn it over to the Governor.

Mike DeWine: (11:56)
Dr. Acton, thank you very much. The coronavirus has really sort of pulled back the curtain on some things that we already knew, that is that there are very clear and longstanding racial disparities in the health of our citizens. This is not just true in Ohio, it is true across our country. Disparities in health and healthcare are intertwined with social and economic conditions, as well as race, ethnic background, age, and even geography.

Mike DeWine: (12:37)
While COVID-19 is bringing more attention to the gaps and the disparities that exist among our communities, the understanding that these racial inequalities exist is not new. 1967, the Kerner Commission, presidential group formed to find the root causes of civil unrest, pointed to inequities in housing, in education, social services, all based on race.

Mike DeWine: (13:08)
Here are some statistics from today. Though we’ve seen a steady decline over the past two years in infant mortality, today in Ohio we still lose 900 babies each year before they reach their first birthday. This tragedy disproportionally impacts the minority community. African-American babies die at a rate of 2.5 to 3.0 times the deaths of white babies. For every 1,000 white babies born, 5.4 die; while for every 1,000 African-American babies born, 13.9 die.

Mike DeWine: (13:58)
The African-American community is also losing more mothers. African-American women are more than 2.5 times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related condition than white women. The overall life expectancy of African-American Ohioans is four years shorter than that of white Ohioans. 72.8 years of age, compared to 77 years of age for white Ohioans. African-American Ohioans also have a higher rate of heart disease, higher rate of hypertension, higher rate of diabetes. Further, African-American Ohioans are two and a half times more likely to live in poverty than whites, and African American children in Ohio are 3.1 times more likely to live in poverty.

Mike DeWine: (14:55)
Therefore, it really should not be a surprise to any of us that the African- American community has been disproportionately hit by this COVID-19 virus. African-Americans make up between 13% and 14% of the Ohio population, yet 26% of those testing positive for the coronavirus are African-American. African-Americans also account for 31% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ohio, and African-Americans account for 17% of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio.

Mike DeWine: (15:35)
Latinos make up 3.9% of the Ohio population, yet they make up at least 6% of the people who have tested positive for the virus in Ohio. Let me just say that we believe these statistics are even low, that it’s even higher than what these are. Because for a while, we had a pretty big gap of people, just the data that was coming in without any race listed at all. So we know these are the minimum numbers, and we think they’re probably higher.

Mike DeWine: (16:10)
As Governor of the State of Ohio, I’m deeply concerned about this. This is something that should concern every single Ohioan. When we see something disproportionately affecting some of our citizens, we have an obligation to act. We have an obligation to do something. When we’re dealing with health, these truly are life and death issues. I believe my job as Governor is to help protect the safety of all our communities and all our citizens. Knowing that some of our citizens are disproportionately at risk as far as health is concerned based simply upon their zip code is something that should shock all of us. We have an obligation to be even more mindful in our response to helping those at higher risk because of these facts.

Mike DeWine: (17:12)
It should not matter where you live or what race you are, if there are Ohioans who are especially hard hit, we have an obligation, whether they live in Appalachia, whether they live in the city, wherever they live, we have an obligation to help them. To truly change things, we must address the social conditions that drive 70% of our health outcomes, things such as healthcare access. Healthcare access, so very, very important. Education, so very important. As well as housing, transportation, employment, availability of nutritious food. Gathering and using data is key to understanding the problem, and it’s also key to finding the solutions.

Mike DeWine: (18:05)
Throughout the last two months, we’ve tried to get as much information out to all of you as we could about this coronavirus, information about how it’s impacting our citizens. Today, we are unveiling two new interactive tools on the data dashboard at coronavirus.ohio. gov. They look at key factors associated with health and wellbeing so we can better determine vulnerable populations that truly need our help.

Mike DeWine: (18:42)
The first is a map allowing users to access county-level COVID-19 data by race and ethnic background. This is what it looks like, and these are the pullouts. This is not interactives up here. But when you look at it, when you pull it up, we hope you’ll find that it is in fact interactive, because you’re going to be able to go down right to a county, and you’re going to be able to pull up data from that county, everything that we know, everything that has been collected. You’ll be able to pull that up, case numbers, hospitalizations, death, data by race, data by ethnic background.

Mike DeWine: (19:25)
The second map is not a COVID-19 tool, but it is a valuable tool, one that helps us understand where we need to target resources aimed at improving conditions for Ohioans who are the most vulnerable. This map shows a census track level measures of what is called an Ohio Opportunity Index. Opportunity level, from very high to very low, is measured using seven factors that impact health and wellbeing. These factors include transportation, education, employment, housing, health, access to resources, and crime. The higher the level in the index, the better the opportunities to thrive. You’ll find a state map and maps for each county that allow you to look at overall opportunity levels, as well as levels in each of these seven categories. These maps can be used by nonprofit organizations. They can be used by average citizens, researchers, community, philanthropic groups, nonprofits, others to help guide the delivery of social services and to help solve problems and just to better understand what’s going on in Ohio. Dr. Root from the Ohio State University developed the index in partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis. I want to thank them for providing that tool.

Mike DeWine: (20:45)
Each of us has a responsibility to be mindful of and work to counteract health disparities wherever they are found. Over the last 16 months, it has been my pleasure to work with the leadership of the Ohio General Assembly, Speaker Householder, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, Senate President Larry Obhof, and Democrat Leader Kenny Yuko. I want to thank each and every one of them and all the members of the General Assembly. We have worked together this last 16 months to help prevent disease, promote better access to quality care, and improve the health and wellbeing of all Ohioans no matter where they live.

Mike DeWine: (21:39)
The day I took office, at night actually, early morning, I signed an executive order to create the Recovery Ohio Initiative and announced the formation of the Recovery Ohio Advisory Council to advise my office on critical matters concerning mental illness and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery support services in Ohio.

Mike DeWine: (22:02)
In early 2019 when the Ohio Department of Health released its most recent statistics on Ohio drug overdoses and that report show that African American males have the highest overdose death rate in the state. Our Recovery Ohio responded with the creation of the minority health working group to make recommendations on reducing overdose deaths among minority populations and help ensure our state has the tools needed to provide culturally appropriate services to meet the needs of all Ohioans struggling with mental health and substance use disorders.

Mike DeWine: (22:36)
Again, I thank the General Assembly for doing that. We believe that all Ohioans should have the opportunity to live up to their God given potential. We’re focused on developing tools and resources to help our most vulnerable citizens. Because of the unconscionable mental, excuse me, because of the unconscionable maternal and infant mortality rates in Ohio, we expanded home visiting programs. Our goal was to reach women in poverty, women who are struggling to help them through the pregnancy to make sure that the baby was born in a good birth weight and to get that child on the way to a healthy start.

Mike DeWine: (23:25)
That budget that was provided by the General Assembly significantly increased funding for Ohio’s home visiting program known as the Help Me Grow Program. And our goal today remains to triple the number of families served by that program. Another health concern particularly in minority communities is the presence of lead paint in older homes. In my state of the state address last year, I talked about how it is wrong and unacceptable there are still children in Ohio today whose opportunities and whose dreams are stifled, stifled because of who they grew up and the fact that they grew up in a home with lead paint.

Mike DeWine: (24:05)
Every year, thousands of Ohio children under the age of six test positive for unsafe lead levels, which can damage the brain and nervous system and cause slowed growth and development. To remedy this, we have put a renewed focus on preventing children from being exposed to toxic lead by increasing screenings, early intervention services and the identification and the removal of lead paint, particularly in our poor communities. Through this work, more children, more children suffering with toxic lead exposure or neonatal abstinence syndrome are getting access to early intervention services.

Mike DeWine: (24:44)
And this is the right thing to do. We know the support we give kids early on makes all the difference in the world. To help with that, we’ve also created the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library for our youngest citizens. This is something that my wife Fran is spearheading and her goal, my goal, our goal collectively as a state is to make sure every child has books in their home at a very, very early age. No matter whether they live in Appalachia, whether they live in our cities, any of our counties, every child should have that opportunity, no matter what their income

Mike DeWine: (25:28)
Working with the General Assembly, we have provided the resources to better meet the physical and emotional needs of Ohio’s young people through our wellness program. Again, this is something where the General Assembly stepped up and made a big, big difference. The Oyler School in Cincinnati, for example, has used their student wellness funds to enhance their school based health care program. And they’ve had a long history of doing great work at that school. Through community partnerships, 94% of their students access physical and behavioral health care services right in their school building.

Mike DeWine: (26:02)
Services include vision, dental, immunizations, and mental health care. Prior to creating their school based healthcare program, 75% of students had dental disease or cavities. Today, 77% are actually cavity free. Other schools across the state in different areas are following the Oyler’s footsteps. Ripley Union local school district in rural Brown County is using their student wellness dollars to open a school based health care clinic for their students right in that school. We are grateful for the important work in alleviating health disparities that is ongoing by the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, the commission on Hispanic, Latino Affairs and others, as well as our Ohio Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity.

Mike DeWine: (26:51)
These groups work to eliminate disparities through service to affected communities. They help expand our understanding of the scope of health disparity issues and build partnerships to address them on all fronts. They also help to increase minority representation in health related fields. Now health disparities did not occur overnight. They are complex and present complex challenges. The current coronavirus pandemic has brought into high contrast these troubling issues. And so to augment the work that we are currently doing on health equity and to address the immediate threats posed by COVID-19 to our minority communities, we formed the minority health strike force in April.

Mike DeWine: (27:44)
We assembled a group of 41 people, some with backgrounds in health and all with ties to minority communities, and I asked Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy as well as our director of Recovery Ohio Initiative, Alicia Nelson to head this group. The subcommittees on the strike force have worked tirelessly to advise us on COVID-19 specific recommendations, including steps to address how communities of color are more likely to have underlying health conditions, less access to healthcare and may experience discrimination when accessing healthcare services.

Mike DeWine: (28:23)
These recommendations were created using feedback from the healthcare resources, data and education subcommittees of the strike force. A few examples from the report that’s going to be released later today, and this will be a preliminary report that will be released. Just a few things to preview. Establishing culturally appropriate assessable COVID-19 exposure notification services for communities of color is recommended, expanding testing capacity and access for minorities in high risk populations, using data to prioritize resources in the communities that have the highest need, and also recommended developing and launching a statewide culturally sensitive outreach campaign that educates African-Americans and other communities of color on COVID-19 health disparities and social determinants of health.

Mike DeWine: (29:18)
We have joining us on Skype, Cincinnati Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman. He’s a member of the strike force. And I want to thank all the members that strike force very, very much for their hard work. And let me now introduce Christopher Smitherman, who has worked on this and someone who I’ve known for many, many years. Christopher, thank you very, very much for joining us. There you are.

Christopher Smitherman: (29:49)
Thank you so much, Governor DeWine, for moving this issue of minority disparities forward at the highest levels in the state of Ohio. We all trust your leadership. I want to thank all 41 members of the strike force. We’ve all been working incredibly hard as you have indicated. What I’d like to share with you is that those recommendations that are being formulated in my mind fall into four areas. And I’m going to call this MTAC, messaging, testing, accessibility, and collaboration.

Christopher Smitherman: (30:40)
And so as the task force is looking at these four categories, messaging, Governor DeWine, under your leadership is reaching the minority community where they are through the media outlets that exist across the state of Ohio and making sure that we are using those leaders in each of those communities to deliver that message. The message about the importance of wearing a mask, which I have here in my hand, the message of washing hands and keeping the six feet of distance, the issues of testing, testing, and testing.

Christopher Smitherman: (31:26)
And so the area here, Governor DeWine, under your leadership and the leadership of the taskforce is talking about making sure that we’re testing in those vulnerable areas that have been disproportionately impacted that you’ve identified in this press conference and making sure that we are concentrating that testing there in a fair and equitable way. The other area is accessibility and making sure that through our federally qualified health centers, through our hospitals, through every avenue that we are making the testing and the access to the information accessible to the minority communities that are being disproportionately impacted.

Christopher Smitherman: (32:18)
And then the last area I would say would be collaboration. And collaborating with groups and organizations like the Urban League, the NAACP, with our faith based groups, organizations, and leaders, our African-American fraternities and sororities, all of our chambers, whether it’s the Latino chambers, the African American chambers across the state of Ohio and interfacing with the institutions, Governor DeWine, that you provided leadership in already since you’ve been serving our great state. The areas of our Ohio Department of Medicaid, our Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, our Ohio Department of Mental Health Addiction Services, the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission, the Ohio Commission on Minority Health.

Christopher Smitherman: (33:12)
And so out of all of these recommendations, former Mayor Michael Coleman has raised the issue, which I know you understand, is making sure that we fund these recommendations and these initiatives. I continually hear the strike force talking about that particular issue. I want to thank directors Nelson and McElroy, and Community Relations Chair Ronald Todd, for their leadership on the commission. I want to emphasize to you that we do have a very long relationship and that I trust and continue to trust your leadership, that I appreciate your appointment of myself to the Minority Health Strike Force.

Christopher Smitherman: (34:04)
And that I know that you will continue to allow the data, the data that we have to drive us as we open the state of Ohio prioritizing health, prioritizing safety and the economy as we target and make sure that the minority communities understand their specific risk. And so I’ll close there with that. I thank you. And I thank [inaudible 00:34:33] and Ohio thanks you, Governor DeWine, your leadership and your team.

Mike DeWine: (34:40)
Christopher, thank you very, very much. I appreciate that. Dr. Acton, any questions?

Dr. Acton: (34:46)
No, I would say, sir, first of all, thank you so much. It’s an honor to meet you in person albeit this way. And I want to ask you so many of us have cared about this work for so long, and we know we didn’t get here overnight. And I know people sometimes feel that we can’t move fast enough. Our will is entirely to do this work. Any advice that you want to give us? We know we can’t change 40 and 50 years of things and more overnight. If you were us given a pandemic, what advice would you have to heal and move forward in truly substantial and meaningful way?

Christopher Smitherman: (35:40)
Matching the … First of all, thank you for your question, Dr. Acton. Oftentimes when commissions and strike forces are put together, the financial piece doesn’t come behind it. And I understand and I know that this governor, when we roll out those comprehensive recommendations that financially, whatever those recommendations are, that the financial support will be there to execute those recommendations. So unfunded mandates oftentimes come from task forces. And I know under Governor Mike DeWine that won’t be the case.

Christopher Smitherman: (36:24)
And then I also will say, Dr. Acton, that testing, testing, testing in an equitable and fair way is a consistent message from the task force. And also as the vaccination rolls out that that vaccination messaging. So we talked about the message of messaging, testing, accessibility, and collaboration that when the vaccination comes out, that that number one thing is making sure that the messaging is tight and that African Americans and Latinos are being specifically educated about the importance of getting that vaccination and that the accessibility, meaning at our federally qualified health centers, at our hospitals, at our schools, in all nontraditional ways, in our churches, that the medical staffs are going directly out and working directly with the leaders in those communities to deliver those services of testing and vaccination.

Mike DeWine: (37:32)
Well, we want to thank Vice Mayor Smitherman, member of council. Christopher, thank you. We’re very grateful for you serving very, very much, and you all will be putting out the interim recommendations, I think, today and then later in June, I think, final recommendations. I think that is what’s occurring today. So thank you. Thank you very, very much. We’re very grateful.

Christopher Smitherman: (37:57)
Thank you so much, Governor. Thank you, Dr. Acton.

Dr. Acton: (37:58)
Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (38:02)
Today, we want to announce several additional initiatives that compliment and help implement today’s recommendations that we’re going to hear from the strike task force later today. To help us during this pandemic to focus on the most underserved populations, no matter where they exist in the state of Ohio, we will have a person dedicated to the social determinants of health and opportunity. This person’s work will build on several existing efforts to respond to health inequity by working directly with local communities on their specific longterm health needs, as well as our response to COVID-19.

Mike DeWine: (38:47)
This person will be in the health department. Quite candidly, it’s simply unacceptable and should be unacceptable to every Ohioan that in our great state of Ohio in the year 2020, zip code still determines to a great extent how long you will live, how well you will live. 2/3 of our health outcomes are outside our control. Housing is certainly health policy. Education is health policy. Availability, transportation is also health policy. A primary focus will be on collecting the best data to inform the best practices to lead our strategy moving forward.

Mike DeWine: (39:39)
Further, a key function will be to help ensure the implementation of the Minority Strike Force’s short term and long term recommendation. So this is a position in the Department of Health that, frankly, we have thought about for a long time. It’s time. It’s time. It’s past time, frankly, to get this done and we will be doing that. I want to talk about one of the things that Vice Mayor Smitherman talked about and that’s communications. As a strike force recommendations make clear communicating important health messages to all people in the state of Ohio is very important and is particularly important during this pandemic.

Mike DeWine: (40:21)
We’re working with a group called Us for Us in partnership with the Department of Health and Minority Health Strike Force to unveil a new communications campaign called Stay in the Fight. This campaign will focus on the need to stay informed, stay involved and stay inspired during the pandemic. We will share now a short video that describes this new communications campaign. And this is a work in progress.

Yohannan Terrell: (40:48)
My name is Yohannan Terrell, CEO of Warhol and Wall Street, and we are a part of the Us for Us Coalition.

Alonzo Edmundo: (40:53)
Hey, my name is Alonzo Edmundo. I’m with this awesome organization, Get Creative and we are members of the Us for Us Coalition.

Yohannan Terrell: (41:01)
Well, one of the things that we realized is that there were many messages being developed and put out there to address COVID-19 and a lot of these messages that were intended to reach our audiences, diverse audiences, we knew because we were a part of these communities, we knew that those messages weren’t reaching those audiences. And so this is what we specialize in and so we wanted to throw our hat in the ring to join a team that was really ready to make some impact.

Alonzo Edmundo: (41:22)
It’s for all of Ohio to step up and step in. We need employers and we need investment. We need people to understand that this is a whole community issue, not just a minority community. This is for the whole state of Ohio.

Yohannan Terrell: (41:36)
Our approach is very practical. There’s three pillars of the initiative and that’s stay informed, stay involved and stay inspired. And those are also in line with the Minority Strike Force objectives as well. This campaign is not focused on just messaging or a mask. This campaign is focused on action. And so when we think about fighting, we think about who are we fighting for? We’re not just fighting for our own health. We’re wearing masks because we have to fight for our families. We have to fight for our elderly. We have to fight for our children.

Yohannan Terrell: (42:06)
So we have to think about that when we say stay in a fight, you got to think about who you’re fighting for.

Mike DeWine: (42:14)
Communication is certainly very important, so is testing. So I’d like to take a moment to discuss COVID-19 testing in our minority communities. To expand access to testing, we have partnered with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers. They are uniquely qualified to help in this effort. The nonprofit association represents Ohio’s federally qualified health centers, including 55 community health centers at 378 locations throughout the state of Ohio. It has multiple mobile units also in 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Mike DeWine: (42:55)
If you look at this, you’ll see outreach throughout the state. And they have the ability to really penetrate to our citizens who are not getting the healthcare that they need. So this partnership we think will help a great deal in regard to testing. The health centers are placed really in our most economically depressed communities and they offer high quality comprehensive primary care. Nearly 93% of their patients are below 200% of poverty level. Community health centers have a unique reach. They are trusted in the local communities to provide primary and preventive care, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

Mike DeWine: (43:45)
It makes them critical to any strategy that we might have in regard to COVID-19 testing and to make this available to all Ohioans, make it available to Ohioans in our rural areas, our urban neighborhoods throughout the state.

Mike DeWine: (44:03)
And as you look at the map, you can see the reach. For testing, individuals should contact the federally qualified health center or community health center closest to you for information and direction about how to be tested. They have capacity. We are going to do everything we can to work with them, to increase that capacity as we move forward.

Mike DeWine: (44:27)
We’re also partnering with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and Nationwide Foundation to distribute thousands of community wellness kits. We’re grateful for this partnership as these important kits will help protect families and communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. They contain COVID-19 protection related items, face coverings, hand sanitizers, and soap. This is what they’re going to look like. And these are going to be distributed. Again, I want thank Nationwide Foundation for helping us make this distribution, the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers. And they will find in here, facial coverings, hand sanitizer, and equally important information. So we’re looking forward to getting these distributed.

Mike DeWine: (45:29)
To support both state and our local health departments in their effort to fight COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact in Ohio, on people of color. We are significantly increasing the number of public health workers who can help notify Ohioans of possible exposure to the virus. We’ve talked about this. Our goal is to stand up about 1800 of these workers around the state of Ohio. We are in the process of hiring these public health workers at both the state level and the local level. Our goal is to hire individuals who represent and reflect the makeup of their own communities. We are grateful for the general assembly support of these efforts in helping us move forward. This work is vital and it’s one of the best ways for us to go on the offense against our shared enemy. Their work will be key in helping to identify those who have been potentially exposed to the virus, to better allow us to disrupt the chain of additional infections. Let me talk for a moment about mental health grants. As we face challenges during COVID-19, Ohioans are confronted with great stress, anxiety, isolation, and distress. Mental health and addiction services are vital. We’re pleased to announce today, a $1 million grant that’s been obtained from the federal government. These are federal dollars, for our response to specifically provide mental health and addiction services for hard to reach individuals throughout the state of Ohio. This is a partnership with our Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and our Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to focus on strategies for mental health and support during this pandemic.

Mike DeWine: (47:19)
This grant will allow faith based and community based organizations to develop culturally appropriate messages, targeting those who may not be as easily reached by mass media messaging efforts, such as racial and ethnic minorities. Appellation and rural communities will be covered. Older adults will be covered as well. For information about applying for this opportunity, please visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Mike DeWine: (47:47)
We’ll get to questions in just a moment. In June, the Minority Task Force will be issuing its recommendations aimed at alleviating the longterm racial disparities in health. The Strike force’s findings and recommendations will be of great significance. We will take them seriously. What they are announcing today is just the beginning of those recommendations. Again, the final recommendations in June.

Mike DeWine: (48:13)
We must not shy away from working to correct these long entrenched inequities among our fellow Ohio citizens. We have been and will remain committed to setting a course for change. We’re eager to work with grassroots organizations across Ohio, the Urban League, NAACP, for example, our ministerial community and others, to make these things happen. We know that this can’t come just from government. We know that this has to come from community based organizations.

Mike DeWine: (48:47)
We have an obligation and I would say it is a moral obligation to leave no Ohioans behind and to create the conditions and the environment in which all Ohioans can thrive because with or without the Coronavirus, we truly are all in this together. And this is a commitment that we make. And the Task Force recommendations, our commitment is that we will work hard, they become the blueprint. We will work hard to implement all of them.

Mike DeWine: (49:23)
I would like to now open up for questions. I’m pleased to have our director of aging Ursel McElroy, as well as Alicia Nelson, who is our director of recovery, Ohio. They will be joining us on the phone. I want to take a moment to thank them for their hard work and dedication to these efforts. They have led this task force work. They both worked with me in the Attorney General’s office. They were kind enough to move over from the Attorney General’s office when I left and became governor. And they do a phenomenal job in their respective jobs in our office, but they’ve also done a great job leading this task force. So we’ll now open up for questions.

Speaker 2: (50:09)
NBC4 and my question is for the governor. Local governments are calling for more federal funding to help them balance their budget. Senator Portman said this week that the money is sitting in Columbus and is calling on the General Assembly to act quickly. Have you spoken with the Senate president or the house speaker on this funding? And what are you telling these local governments as they struggle to balance the budget, a lot like this state has to struggle as well?

Mike DeWine: (50:37)
Well my understanding is the General Assembly has a bill. They’re moving the bill. I think that’s going to get through very, very shortly. And I know that the mayors that I talked to and local government members really need to get this money out, but the General Assembly is moving on it. And I would expect this to be happening very quickly.

Jake Zuckerman: (51:04)
Hi Governor, this is Jake Zuckerman from the Ohio Capital Journal. You’ve said that Ohio has the capacity to test about 18,800 people per day. But over the last week, an average of about 9,000, 9,100 Ohioans per day have been tested. Why are we testing at less than half of the capacity that you say Ohio is capable of?

Mike DeWine: (51:26)
We were very fortunate and we had people who worked very hard and we got a break. We were able to sign the contract that got us the reagent. We ramped that up very, very quickly. We were, at the same time, still building an infrastructure. There was not really an infrastructure out there to get the swabs out and everything out. So this continues to be a work in progress. We’re going to continue to see those numbers go up. That’s my commitment to the people of Ohio. Every day we’re working on this. I have a team that is working on this to close that gap. That is not enough though. We are also working on taking that capacity even higher than the 18,000 per day.

Mike DeWine: (52:16)
Dr. Acton, I don’t know if you want to add anything to that or not. Okay.

Mike DeWine: (52:21)
So it is very, very important. We have several priorities. We have priorities of getting places where congregate care, people live together at nursing homes for example, would be an example of that. And if there is someone who has a problem there or looks like they might test positive, making sure we are able to get in there and get that testing done quickly. And then do that detective work that finds out who else they’ve been in contact with and kind of draw that circle around that person. The other thing that we are doing, the other thing you use that testing for frankly, is out into the community to slow the spread. So it is moving. Our numbers are up, but they’re not up as much as I would like them.

Jake Zuckerman: (53:07)
Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (53:08)
Priority. I have every day.

Ben Schwartz: (53:15)
Good afternoon Governor. Ben Schwartz for WCPO in Cincinnati. Governor DeWine, I want to ask you a question sent in from a WCPO viewer. This viewer works as a caterer and is now getting requests for parties ranging from 30 to 80 people. Are gatherings like this legal, if they’re held at a private residence? And if these gathered gatherings were to take place, would a homeowner or caterer be subject to legal action?

Mike DeWine: (53:46)
John, you want to take that since you were dealing with that issue?

Jon Husted: (53:50)
Yeah. Well, what we announced today is that in banquet centers for caterers, that you have to use the social distancing requirements that you have to use for restaurants. And that’s the standard under which they are opening. As far as at a private home, I will get you an answer before the end of this news conference because I want to make sure that I’m answering the question correctly. Because the last thing I want to do is give bad advice.

Jon Husted: (54:31)
But what we’re opening today for June the first, is that banquet catering centers and such can have events up to 300 people with the restaurant guidelines. So we’re trying to be consistent with everybody. If you can do it in a restaurant facility, you should be able to do it in these other facilities, if you are consistent with the guidelines, but I’m going to work through with our team to make sure I get you a correct answer on private residences.

Mike DeWine: (55:04)
And Ben, the whole again, we come back to basics when you try to analyze something like this, you come back to basics. The whole thing is distance. And so caterers made a very good point. They said, “Look, we have a place we can do it. We can provide the exact same distancing that a restaurant can.” So that makes sense. So as you look at, try to answer your question that John is going to check on, it just seems to me that distance is the key. If you can establish that and control that, that is the most important thing. Again, these are decisions though that, no matter what we say, these are decisions that people are going to have to make in the sense that they’re going to have to decide what personal risk are involved. Your grandmother’s at the wedding, being at the wedding is one thing, what exposure does she have?

Mike DeWine: (56:08)
People are going to have to work through this. As John said, weddings have always been… We’ve never controlled size of weddings or anything, same way with funerals. But again, these are personal decisions that people have to make.

Ben Schwartz: (56:22)
Thank you. And thank you, Lieutenant Governor for looking for that answer.

Jim Province: (56:30)
Hello. Jim Province with Toledo Blade. And this question is for the lieutenant governor. You were talking again today about making school facilities available for training for school sanctioned sports, but we’re getting calls from people that have day camps, childcare, et cetera, who are still wondering whether or not schools can be used for their programs.

Jon Husted: (56:53)
Yes, they absolutely can. That that has been allowed. It was part of the original exemption that a school facility can be used for those purposes. So absolutely, the answer to the question is yes.

Jim Province: (57:08)
Are there still restrictions on how large the gatherings can be?

Jon Husted: (57:15)
In a school facility, the guidance for how we want people to do this again, with the day camps, we sent out guidance for that. And that’s what you would be expected to follow in those facilities. There’s guidance that’s going to come out on the skills training, which is the definition that the Ohio High School Athletic Association wants us to use for that. And the definition will come out with that.

Jon Husted: (57:42)
Look, this goes back to what the governor just said, a conversation Dr. Acton and I had this morning… As people begin to resume things that are part of their lives, we want them to use, A, common sense, but these safety guidelines, these health guidelines of the distancing, of the disinfecting of services, when you’re reusing equipment from somebody else using it, and masks where appropriate. All of those strategies have been what we’ve been deploying since the very beginning of this in workplaces and other places that have been effective at slowing the rate of spread.

Jon Husted: (58:23)
And as we open things up, we’re trying to build protocols in that will help give people that guidance on how to do these things and to do them safely. Because again, if you think of the fundamental question, why do we ask people to do this safely? Yeah, it’s protect their health. There’s no doubt about that. We want people to open up. We want them to be able to do things, but we don’t want to see a spike. We don’t want to see, as we resume the activity that the spread increases, and then we have to slow all this down or risk the threat of having to put some of it back in the bottle. That’s not what we want.

Jon Husted: (58:58)
So we all, just as the continuing advice, that we just want people to do what’s right. Respect one another. Keep the circumstances where we’re trying to operate healthily. And if we do that, then we’ll get through this. We’ll slow the spread, we won’t get that spread above one-to-one and then the benefits will accrue to all of us when that happens.

Jim Province: (59:24)
Thank you.

Randy Ludlow: (59:28)
Good afternoon, Randy Ludlow with the Columbus Dispatch. A question for Dr. Acton, if I may. Doctor, there were 731 new and probable cases today. That’s 50% more than yesterday and the highest number of daily cases in two weeks. What’s attributable to this increase. Is it a one time spike? Is it testing? Are we seeing more cases amid the reopening?

Dr. Acton: (01:00:02)
Thank you, Randy. So we do see an increase. I wasn’t here yesterday and we’ve been seeing that 400 to 500, but on any given day, I’ve seen as high as in the seven hundreds as we’ve seen. So, certainly it always catches my attention. Every case right now catches my attention and every death. What we have to look for is looking at that over a few days and see what we’re seeing.

Dr. Acton: (01:00:31)
I’m looking at a lot of other numbers, as well, as you know. I’m looking at hospitalizations. Particularly, I’ve been focusing a lot on ICU and ventilators. I’ve been looking at some distancing measures. We see that, for instance, our traffic patterns are looking very similar to where they were before we began this journey. We’re seeing our sort of cell phone usage can give you, you’ve probably seen the New York Times maps of mobility in the United States, all of this lags, cases lag, people being infected, hospitalizations lag, there being a case again, and the deaths lag. So while I can’t say anything about one given day, I certainly, and all of us certainly, need to pay attention to these numbers.

Randy Ludlow: (01:01:20)
Okay. So bottom line, you can’t read anything into a one daily increase.

Dr. Acton: (01:01:27)
That’s right, sir. Yeah. Every one day we’ve seen up and down throughout, and I’m sure our 21 day would show that, but we’ll definitely pay attention to that number.

Randy Ludlow: (01:01:42)
Thank you.

Laura Hancock: (01:01:45)
This is Laura Hancock from cleveland.com. Yesterday, a Lake County common pleas judge found that you guys had exceeded your authority in regards to gyms, wondering if you’re going to appeal and also this could possibly open up to other sectors suing over exceeding authority. And how are you going to address that?

Mike DeWine: (01:02:09)
Well, the decision whether to appeal we’re talking to the Attorney General, but if you look at the decision, the judge found that the protocols were fine. Protocols that we were requiring for people to open up the gyms, judge disagreed with us, six day period of time, said they should open six days earlier than we thought they should open. What we’ve been trying to do is to layer these in. And as we try to monitor what is going on, as far as the cases, like Randy was asking about cases, we monitor the cases as we monitor everything, we wanted to be able to spread these openings over a period of time. And so that’s one of the things that we have been doing. It’s one decision. It’s a decision again, that was basically said our protocols are fine, dispute about when we open, so frankly we’re not too concerned about that. And we’ll go from there.

Laura Hancock: (01:03:20)
Thanks.

John London: (01:03:25)
John London from WLWT News 5 in Cincinnati. Two part question, Governor for you and Dr. Acton. I know you haven’t made a decision yet regarding schools because you worry about the spread to families, but malls, gyms, and pools are reopening, all places where kids congregate. I’m wondering what’s the difference. And for Dr. Acton, at what point based on the numbers, would you consider closing the state again, if there’s a spike in June? What is your threshold?

Mike DeWine: (01:04:00)
Well, I can start off and then Dr. Acton can correct me or take over here. Look, you try to make these determinations. Kids have to do something in the summer. School is out. During May school was school in April, even though kids were not physically in class, they still had work to do. Most kids now are going to be out for the summer, obviously. And the kids have to have something to do. We’ve created the protocols for what they’re going to do, whether it is summer camp or whether it is playing baseball. Try to come up with best practices to minimize potential danger.

Mike DeWine: (01:04:52)
But I think we have to go back to why schools themselves were closed and every expert that we consulted, so that’s one of the first things that you have to do during a pandemic. And that is again, not so much because you’re concerned about the kids, although we’re concerned about everybody, but what we’ve seen through this virus is that while it has some impact on kids, most kids it does not have a whole lot of impact. But the real concern is you have 30 kids in a class, one kid comes in who has the virus, but doesn’t even know, the parents don’t even know it, has no symptoms. Now you spread to 28 other kids or 29 other kids. They go back to their homes and that spreads out.

Mike DeWine: (01:05:38)
So, that’s why that initial decision was made. We felt that it was appropriate to continue that to the end of this school year. Now, kids have to do something in the summer, that’s why we made these decisions about sports. When we look to the fall, we certainly hope kids will be able to go back in school. We don’t know that yet, but what we’ve been asking principals, superintendents-

Mike DeWine: (01:06:03)
… everybody, school boards to do is to come up with what they think are the best practices based on their school, their buildings, their bus routes, if they go back to school in the fall how they can protect the kids. And they’re all working I know very, very hard on that. So we’re going to have to see. I know that people would love for us to be able to say, “Kids are going to go back to school.” Definitely now, I don’t have that wisdom, I don’t have that information. And if you just think about, we’re only about two months into this and two months ago we had virtually no… I didn’t know if we had any people that we knew were testing positive for the virus. Imagine two months from now. And that’s a long, long time and we’re just going to have to see how this thing plays out frankly. We hope we’re ready to go back in school, but the schools will be ready one way or the other.

Jon Husted: (01:06:59)
But wouldn’t it be the same for pools and gyms? 30 kids in the pools and gyms?

Mike DeWine: (01:07:08)
Don, you’re the expert on that? We’ll get everybody involved here.

Jon Husted: (01:07:13)
Look, we have guidelines for how things are going to operate at our pools which you can go look at those on the reopening component. And as far as the gyms, look, we have protocols for all of these things to try to keep the spacing and try to keep people from spreading the virus. We know that the younger you get, harder those things are to resolve, okay? We just ask people to follow the protocols in these different settings. Each one of these, including for kids and adults, was set with the standard of knowing what we can do to try to allow people to do the things that they enjoy.

Jon Husted: (01:07:59)
For example, the skills training that we’re talking about the schools. Look, we want students to be able to do that, we want them to keep their distance from now. We are learning on how to do this the right way, we build confidence in our strategies with every week that goes by, when we reintroduced these things, they’re not going to create a spike where we have to pause or go backwards. And we will continue to build out these protocols and lessons, standards as we’ve done over the course of these two months as we’ve learned as we move forward. I’m not going to get into every situation, but we’ve set the standards for how we want these things to operate in all of those settings.

Mike DeWine: (01:08:43)
And just a reminder, we had none of these standards existed. When we went into this or even during the first month or so. These are standards as we come out of this. As we know that we’re opening up this society, as we know there’s more risk for people to spread the virus. That is by its very nature of opening up the society. But we have standards in place that we did not have before, which I think gives us some protection. We also are asking people not in every particular case, with athletes, but we’re asking people in general, as they go out to retail for example, to wear a mask. That is an added layer of protection. And again, I’ve gotten the question. People say, “Well look, you didn’t require it a month ago, why you require it now?” While we weren’t opening up society and now we are and we need that added layer of protection. The situation, John, it’s just a different situation today. But we’ll continue to monitor the numbers as Dr. Acton says.

Jon Husted: (01:09:45)
Thank you, Governor.

Jordan Miller : (01:09:52)
Good afternoon Governor. Jordan Miller with Buckeye Review in Youngstown. The whole time it’s been flatten the curve, flatten the curve. Now what will we do to flatten the curve in minority communities? We spoke today about how it’s extremely heavy there. What will we do now moving forward to flatten the curve there in rural areas, urban areas and the developmental housing.

Mike DeWine: (01:10:21)
Well, what we talked about today and it is a work in progress, but the partnerships we’ve talked about with community organizations, the health organizations that we’ve talked about, it is really an effort to make sure that we do not leave any community behind and to make sure that as we increase the testing, that we are reaching out to every community. Dr. Acton, you want to add anything to that?

Dr. Acton: (01:10:48)
Thank you. Well, as I said many times from the moment I took office, we have got to think about our health outcomes in Ohio. We live 30 years longer than we did a hundred years ago. We gained 30 years life expectancy in this country. But only five of it was due to everything I learned in medical school. 25 of those years came from some very basic medical things, maybe immunizations and antibiotics. But most of it actually came from addressing some of these things that we call the social determinants of health. Two thirds of what affects our health outcomes comes about this way. And therefore from the second I took this job, I realized that if we really wanted to move the needle on Ohio and not leave anyone behind, we had to begin the long slow work of changing this. Whether it’s infant mortality, whether it’s maternal mortality, but it’s other things in areas of disabilities and ways we leave behind people who are aging.

Dr. Acton: (01:11:53)
So these disparities in health, we now are beginning to get better science about it and different ways of intervening. So what the governor outlined today from better education and messaging, I can’t say enough about stay in the fight campaign, I think that’s marvelous. But we have to have the right data, we have to target our testing to make sure that no one is left behind in this, and this is for many minority groups. But everything we do has to have an health equity lens. And to that extent, it’s one of the reasons why the Governor and I’ve created a position. We are looking for a renowned leader to answer directly to me, the director of health, because it is essential that this work, our state health improvement plan, which has tons of recommendations, it’s on our website.

Dr. Acton: (01:12:43)
As well as the recommendations of this minority task force need the best leadership we can find in Ohio and the best implementation of it. And I can tell you this will happen at the local level, it will happen at the communities, communities and what they do, it will be philanthropies and businesses, and also what public health can do. Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (01:13:03)
I’m looking at a line of questioners, but Ursel or Alicia, do you have anything to add to that? I know you guys are on the line, still I think. Either one of you,

Ursel: (01:13:18)
Thank you Governor and thank you Dr Acton. Echo everything that’s been said and this really comes down to equity. We certainly are committed to doing things that are just fair and equitable. And with the work of the strikes force augmenting some of the great things that are happening now, we have no doubt that we will do this. We’re working really hard with the strike force and June 11th we’re looking forward to eagerly what those recommendations will be to help us with these next steps.

Mike DeWine: (01:14:03)
Ursel thank you, thank you very much. Thank you.

Spencer Hickey: (01:14:03)
This is Spencer Hickey reporter with Hannah News Service and a 2015 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan. So I appreciate the tie. Regarding County Fairs, yesterday representatives of the Fair Managers and Showmen’s associations told the house agriculture committee that they thought they should be allowed to go on with safety measures. In light of the State Fairs cancellation today, what are your thoughts on that?

Mike DeWine: (01:14:34)
Well, first of all, I think the board at the state fair and the director made the right decision. I was informed yesterday what their opinion was. I think that the idea of having a state fair this year with that many people coming together just probably it didn’t work, but it is certainly a sad day. I know how many people loved to go to the State Fair. I also know how many young people compete at the State Fair. Fran and I spend a lot of time out there this past State Fair and so I think that’s just very difficult for young people and their families particularly. As far as the County Fairs, I talked with Jim Buchy yesterday, former member of the legislature, who I asked. I know he knows County Fairs very well. We asked him to head up a working group. That working group has come back with some recommendations that we are reviewing. So I think I’ve stated at this podium a number of times an objective, and I don’t know whether that objective can be achieved, but that is that certainly at a minimum that we be able to have the Junior Fairs and the young people to be able to compete, show their products, not just the livestock, but everything else. But this is a work in progress. And we’re going to have to see as we move forward.

Spencer Hickey: (01:16:05)
Thank you.

Luis Gil: (01:16:10)
Hello Governor. This is Luis Gil with Ohio Latino TV. Governor, thank you very much for your leadership and thank you for recognizing, advocating with minority communities, all those plans that you allowed today they sounds amazing, sounds great. But how do we know that these plans are going to be more efficient and less bureaucratic?

Mike DeWine: (01:16:30)
That’s a perfect question. Look, that’s a challenge that we always face. I think the main way and I didn’t talk about all the groups. But I think the main way is we have to work and we will work with local communities and non-governmental agencies and nonprofits and people who are familiar with whatever the community is. Whether it’s the Hispanic community or whether it’s African American or Somali. Whatever population we’re talking about, we have to have people in that community. That really I think is the key for us.

Luis Gil: (01:17:14)
So you have a short-term so that we can see results longterm?

Mike DeWine: (01:17:22)
Look, I mean, our goal is to do this as long as I’m Governor. And to do this, we hope for many years. But the short-term goal is obviously focused on the COVID-19 and we want to make sure services are out there, we want to make sure that the message is getting to a Hispanic community, we want to make as well as African American community, and every other community in the state. We want to sure not only is the messaging, but when we continue to try to upgrade and up this amount of testing, as we’re committed to do, we want to make sure it gets to those communities as well. We don’t want them to be underrepresented in that testing.

Luis Gil: (01:18:08)
Thank you Governor. Thank you very much.

Jack Windsor: (01:18:14)
Jack Windsor, WMFD TV, Mansfield. Governor on the last question, and my question is for you. And it’s going to be a very sensitive question, and I’m going to do my best to be intentional so that it’s not misrepresented. Today it sounds as if we’re pivoting from COVID to larger social issues like housing, education and transportation. I know in past pressors, we’ve learned about Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners In Health, working with us on contact tracing. Looking at the Partners In Health website, contact tracing seems to be part of a larger social agenda for Partners In Health. The site states a vision to rectify ‘structural violence of capitalism’, which the organization sees as the root cause of things such as racism, gender inequality, xenophobia, and homophobia. Now I’m not questioning the injustice of those things, Governor, so let me be very clear about that. What my question is, can you tell us why you chose to partner with an organization that demonizes capitalism and seems to be rooted in liberation theology based on Marxist ideals?

Mike DeWine: (01:19:21)
Well, I’ve never always agreed with Paul Farmer who started and many of his ideas. But he and the organization have had an ability to deliver health services. My wife, Fran, and I are very familiar with this in Haiti. We’ve seen what he has done in Haiti, we visited Haiti over 20 times. And so that’s just something that we do in our private lives. And so the Partners with Health, you don’t have to accept the ideology of Paul or anybody else. But what I’m interested in is getting things done. And they’re not the ones who are doing it on the ground. The people who are going to be doing it on the ground are Ohioans. But they serve as a consultant, they have done this type of work not only in the United States, but around the world, they’re pretty darn good at.

Mike DeWine: (01:20:16)
And so I’m going to take help from where I can get help and where I find expertise. I don’t have to agree with everyone’s ideology or what they think about everything in the world and to accept that, to be able to use their help. We’re in a war, we’re in a battle, we’re going to put the best people we can on the field. The best people are the Ohioans, but we’re going to get some help from this group because they’ve done some of these things before.

Jack Windsor: (01:20:41)
And is the tracing mandatory?

Mike DeWine: (01:20:47)
Absolutely not. Look, none of this has historically been mandatory. This is all voluntary. And look, all we’re trying to do, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, I don’t think there’s any Ohioan I know that would not want to try to inform people who they have come in contact with and to try to help them. That’s all really it is. But it’s entirely voluntary. And in quite candidly, it’s hundreds of years old is how this process. There’s nothing new about it and we’re not using anything really, other than people. People, is a people to people. Before we close, I want to take a minute to put a picture up of Maddie Bell. If you can put that picture up. I want everybody take a look. She is from Highland County and she has been missing since last Sunday.

Mike DeWine: (01:21:45)
Anyone with information or who may have seen her, please call the Highland County Sheriff’s office at (937) 393- 1421. This coming Monday of course, is Memorial day when we as Americans and Ohioans pause to reflect on the service of the men and women who have served in our armed services. And we think particularly about those who have died in service to our country. I’d like to share a quote from president Ronald Reagan from 1983. “We are freedom to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interest in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.”

Mike DeWine: (01:22:43)
I want to thank the men and women of the Ohio National Guard who have been serving their fellow Ohioans in this time of need to help with the response of COVID-19. They have taken on every task that has been asked of them in this crisis. From helping with distribution at food pantries to providing medical services. We are very grateful for your work. We are grateful for Ohio’s frontline healthcare workers as well. I want to end today with a video showing our air national guard, saluting Ohio’s hospitals and healthcare workers and other shots showing other shots of the National Guard in action. Well, thank everyone. And we’ll see you all Tuesday at two o’clock.

Speaker 4: (01:23:33)
Pilots with Ohio’s National Guard put on quite a show in the sky saluting workers of the frontline of the pandemic. They flew over many of the areas hospitals, while many of us on the ground watched in awe.

Mike DeWine: (01:23:45)
We thank them very much. Have a good Memorial Day. Thanks everybody.