Aug 13, 2020
Mike DeWine Ohio Press Conference Transcript August 13
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a press conference on August 13 to give coronavirus updates. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
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Mike DeWine: (04:04)
Well good afternoon. Afternoon everyone. Today I’m wearing a tie from Terra State Community College in Fremont. Terra State offers more than 60 degrees and certificates and has been educating students now for more than 50 years. We just learned that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections has experienced a tragedy. Today at around 10:00 a.m., the Corrections Reception Center received notification Dr. Craig Cullen of Lakewood was killed. The incident is unrelated to COVID and is under investigation by the Lakewood, Ohio Police Department. Dr. Cullen graduated from Harvard and UCLA and retired lieutenant colonel for the U.S. Army. A ten-year employee for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. I am told that his work ethic and dedication to his job and to people was unparalleled. 80 years old, 80 years old he drove from Lakewood to the Correction Receptions Center in Orient, a long, long ways, every day, a four hour roundtrip. Our deepest condolences go out to his loved ones and to those who work with him.
Mike DeWine: (05:28)
Well we’ve talked for many months about what happens when someone gets COVID-19 and our doctors and our medical authorities are continuing to learn more every single day. American Journal of Cardiology published an analysis last month that addresses the impact of coronavirus on the heart and so we thought we would look at this a little bit today through the eyes of an expert. This issue also came up this week and some news accounts involving the Big 10’s decision not to have fall sports. So there’s been stories in the media in regard to that.
Mike DeWine: (06:14)
Ohio State has been routinely testing their athletes as part of their protocol, so today I’d like to introduce Dr. Curt Daniels who is a cardiologist, is going to share what they’ve been seeing at Ohio State about COVID’s effects on individuals and also specifically on athletes. Dr. Daniels is director of the adolescent and adult congenital heart disease program and professor of clinical internal medicine in pediatrics at the Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Daniels specializes in congenital heart disease in sports cardiology. Dr. Daniels, thank you very much for joining us.
Dr. Curt Daniels: (06:58)
Thank you for having me.
Mike DeWine: (07:00)
Well Doctor, I wonder if you can just kind of tell us a little bit about what we know now in regard to the coronavirus and what impact it does have or might have on someone who has the coronavirus?
Dr. Curt Daniels: (07:16)
Sure, absolutely. The concern of late has been the diagnosis of myocarditis with coronavirus, and myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, typically caused by viruses. This is not new to coronavirus, we’ve known about myocarditis and viruses causing myocarditis for many years and decades, but it’s become heightened recently because of coronavirus and there appears to be a somewhat higher rate of cardiac involvement causing myocarditis with coronavirus and other viruses so far from the data we have, and this is mostly in hospitalized patients. It’s also important to know about myocarditis because there’s a wide range over the clinical spectrum with the disease process. You can have very mild myocarditis affecting a small part of your heart and having virtually no symptoms to having a large degree of your heart affected by inflammation, affecting the strength of your heart, your heart even failing.
Dr. Curt Daniels: (08:17)
One of the concerns around this process is arrhythmias. We know that if the heart is inflamed, that there is a chance of having increased electrical activity of the heart and this could cause dangerous heart rhythm problems and even sudden cardiac death.
Mike DeWine: (08:34)
Doctor, thanks for that explanation and so do we know how often someone who has coronavirus, it impacts their heart? Do we have any data on that yet or not?
Dr. Curt Daniels: (08:50)
Most of the data we have is from hospitalized patients and that’s pretty clear. When you look at samples of hospitalized patients, there is data that would suggest as high as 20% of the hospitalized patients, our sickest patients with coronavirus may have cardiac involvement. [inaudible 00:09:06] patients in the community or people in the community with coronavirus, we know less about that. There is emerging data and we’re trying to analyze that data and trying to better understand it, but we certainly don’t know the impact out in the community where people have less symptoms and are less affected by coronavirus.
Mike DeWine: (09:23)
Now Doctor, I know you and I talked last night and I know you were involved in monitoring some of the athletes. You have described what I would call kind of a vigorous protocol in regard to testing and so I wonder with the athletes, and so I wonder if you maybe can describe for us without obviously using any names or giving big numbers or anything or small numbers but just kind of describe what you all have learned during that period of time.
Dr. Curt Daniels: (09:58)
Sure. Well we’ve looked at a number of athletes from various levels of competition that have come our way because of coronavirus and concern for the heart and we decided to do a very extensive protocol as you mentioned, and we have found myocarditis in athletes who are testing. The percent continues to change as we see more, but it’s somewhere around 10% to 13% of those we’ve tested, of various levels again of competition throughout. So we do know that this does happen and it happens in the community with athletes and we’re still not sure again of the overall impact and what that means. Again we continue to get more data but that is certainly something we are finding.
Mike DeWine: (10:42)
So just so I understand and our viewers understand Doctor, you talk about 10 to 13%. Is that 10 to 13% of those athletes, young men and women, who actually tested positive? So is 10 to 13% of those who test positive for the coronavirus had this myocarditis?
Dr. Curt Daniels: (11:09)
That’s 10 to 13% of those that tested positive that were sent our way, so there’s certainly ones that may not have come our way so we don’t know the denominator in that group but certainly from the ones we evaluated with very sensitive testing, we’ve found evidence of inflammation.
Mike DeWine: (11:26)
In those cases, what was the range on that? Were those mostly mild or how were they?
Dr. Curt Daniels: (11:31)
They were all mild cases [inaudible 00:11:33].
Mike DeWine: (11:35)
I wonder if you could describe … Let’s take this obviously beyond the setting of Ohio State and Ohio State athletes that were being tested and you all were monitoring but let’s take it out into the world of high school athletes but also for anybody who might want to run, 25 years old, 30 years old, and they came down with the coronavirus. What should they watch for if they know that they’ve had the virus and are coming out of the virus in regard to the heart?
Dr. Curt Daniels: (12:12)
Sure. Yeah, the reason why athletic competition and athletes is being mentioned because we know there’s a risk with athletic competition with myocarditis. There are what we call sudden cardiac death registries in athletes that have been well-established and have shown that one of the causes is myocarditis and this is old information that continues to again evolve outside of coronavirus. So we know that being an athlete and having high, intense competition and training probably induces a higher level of arrhythmia burden, the exciting of the heart, the stressing of the heart, and if the heart is vulnerable with inflammation, then there’s a risk of a dangerous heart rhythm problem. So it’s not just athletes and those that are in athletic competition but anybody who is at a high level of intense exercise could be at risk, whether you’re a triathlete or working out at the gym or whatever your competition or what you’re doing on your own, you could potentially be at risk because of the level of activity related to the inflammation and the arrhythmia.
Mike DeWine: (13:16)
So let’s say … Let’s just make up a case. Let’s say there’s a 30-year-old or a 15-year-old, either one, who has been diagnosed, who has been tested and found to have coronavirus. They come out of that, they feel better. Is there a protocol that should be followed in regard to specifically their heart? Maybe stay focused on this.
Dr. Curt Daniels: (13:46)
Yeah. Well I say first of all when you have viral symptoms, that early phase, you should rest. There’s data suggested in that early phase, in the most significant phase of inflammation it’s important to rest and not try to physically exert yourself until your viral symptoms are gone. I think for at least that quarantine time and even after that for weeks, you should be aware of symptoms and what I mean by that is cardiac symptoms. So if you ever develop chest pain, shortness of breath, trouble breathing with any activity, palpitations, funny heartbeats, lightheadedness, dizziness or passing out, obviously you should have some evaluations so be aware of symptoms. You should gradually increase your exercise activity and if you as you do that again be aware of symptoms.
Dr. Curt Daniels: (14:37)
At any time during that process you have symptoms, you should be evaluated. So any significant cardiac symptoms, and even those that have significant viral symptoms, meaning prolonged fever, bedrest, and we certainly in our hospitalized patients we’re evaluating their heart but if somebody’s at home and really has significant viral symptoms they may need a heart evaluation before they go back to rigorous activity, but please be aware of those symptoms and have those symptoms evaluated before you go back, gradually go back into activity.
Mike DeWine: (15:06)
Is there any kind of clearance … You and I talked last night maybe about a clearance protocol. Do you have any additional comments about that?
Mike DeWine: (15:13)
Giving people guidance, I know the best advice is to see their own doctor but we do have people watching this and you have an opportunity to kind of talk to them, so is there anything else as far as clearance before they go back and go run their five miles or whatever they’re going to do?
Dr. Curt Daniels: (15:33)
Yeah, I mean I think this again is an evolving issue, as you have pointed out evolving science and we’re learning more and there will be a need for cardiac clearance for many to go back to their activity, whether it’s organized or unorganized sports, and that level of clearance is dependent on the age of the patient probably, the activity they’re doing and their symptoms and there is early protocols now and I call them early because they’ll probably be adapted over time as we get more information, but there’s protocols for kids and adults that says this is how we best today at least clear them back to activity and sport and I think again as time goes on this will continue to be adapted as we have more information. That level of clearance and what is done is going to be determined by the provider, again, based on age, activity and symptoms.
Mike DeWine: (16:22)
Good. Doctor. Thanks for coming. Thanks for sharing this information with us. We appreciate it very much.
Dr. Curt Daniels: (16:28)
Thank you very much.
Mike DeWine: (16:30)
Eric, we’ll go look at the data slides right now. Our first one is kind of our regular slide, our key indicators. Cases have gone down. They’ve been hovering around 1,200. The day before yesterday was higher, yesterday is 1,178 cases. That’s a little bit below the 21 day average but really kind of hovering right there. 21 deaths, 122 hospitalizations, that is up a little bit and ICU admissions is up a little bit as well.
Mike DeWine: (17:09)
Eric, we’ll go to the next one. We continue to rank our counties. This is updated from Tuesday by highest occurrence and remember the way we do this, we’re trying to compare apples to apples and trying to adjust and we do adjust for population by county, so what we’re trying to see is what is the intensity during the last two weeks of the COVID spread and COVID cases in the county and so Eric, why don’t you … Let’s go over to our top 10. A little easier to read. [inaudible 00:17:48] I think what … Mercer County is still number one, Champaign County is number two and Lawrence County three and Darke County number four, so the first four counties are what we would normally consider rural counties. If you go through the rest of the list, you do see Lucas, a bigger county, and Franklin, but you also see Perry County, Meigs County and Seneca County as well as Fairfield, smaller counties. So this is just one more way to look at it. Again, it is not a long historical look back. It is a look back for the last two weeks and of course every day these numbers change a little bit as we go back for the 14 days but again it gives you one other way besides the color to look at what’s going on in the area where you live.
Mike DeWine: (18:43)
Eric, let’s take a look at the next one. Our Ohio National Guard continues to go around the state and do what we call popup testing, testing for one day, going into a community. You’ll see this week, had the opportunity to be in Cincinnati, Gallia County, Athens County, Cincinnati and Dayton. Next week, much more busier schedule. Bucyrus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Avon Lake, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Avon Lake again, Lima, Cincinnati, Warren and Middletown and so again if you have in your community, if you believe that there is additional testing that needs to be done, the National Guard can come in and do that testing.
Mike DeWine: (19:35)
Eric, let’s go to our color map again. This is a new map for today and let me kind of go through this. This week we have 12 red counties. Three new counties have turned red since last week, the new counties, two of them are in Southwest Ohio, Clermont County again. They had at one time been red, they are now red again. Brown County, again Southwest Ohio and then over in the eastern part Muskingum County. Remaining as red counties this week are Cuyahoga, Erie, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Lucas, Marion, Mercer and Montgomery County. Seven of our red counties met fewer than four indicators but are still designated as red. This is because they are above 100,000, more than 100 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 in the past two weeks. That is the measure. Under additional cases, coronavirus per 100,000 in the past two weeks.
Mike DeWine: (20:48)
Have some good news. Allen and Medina Counties are no longer red and so we congratulate them and just ask everyone to continue to wear the mask and do what they need to do to keep that down. Allen County dropped two indicators, they fell off the list from high incidence counties based on the CDC’s definition. Medina County also moved from the red alert to orange, they are no longer meeting the emergency department indicator which is an early indicator. Nine counties have dropped from orange to yellow, they are Adams, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Knox, Lake, Paulding, Pike and Williams. Let’s talk a little bit about the red counties. We’ll start in Southern Ohio, Southeast Ohio with Brown County. It’s red for the first time. 21% of their cases throughout this pandemic have occurred in the last two weeks, one-fifth. While they’ve had a couple of outbreaks the number of cases linked to those outbreaks has been low which indicates significant community spread throughout the county. Clermont County. We saw cases increases throughout June with about 120 cases a week in early July. This was followed by good news, the community was just starting to see those cases come down as we move through July down to under 80 new cases in the third week of July. However, the last two weeks, we’re seeing cases creep back up. The last seven days of July had 101 cases. In addition to cases going up, we’re also seeing increases in healthcare use for patients with COVID-19. Cuyahoga County. They continue their steady decrease in daily number of cases reported. They are at 102, so if they get below 100, they will move out of the red area, so very good news there. The county reports some outbreaks in longterm care facilities and group homes. Erie County. Erie is red because they meet the CDC’s threshold for high incidence. Again, high incidence is above 100. They are at 105 cases per 100,000
Mike DeWine: (23:02)
… they’re at 105 cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks. They have gone down and that is good news.
Mike DeWine: (23:09)
Fairfield County. They are above 100, they’re at 114. While the County had slightly fewer new cases during the past week, their numbers remain elevated.
Mike DeWine: (23:20)
Franklin County also continues as red this week because they meet the CDC definition for high incidents. Their cases are in fact dropping, but they’re still at 126. Now they dropped from 142 to 126 per capita.
Mike DeWine: (23:39)
Licking County. Still meets the CDC’s has definition for high incidents, which get them red this week. The only met two other indicators; cases per capita and percentage of cases in non congregate settings.
Mike DeWine: (23:52)
Lucas County. 159 cases per 100,000 residents. Of course, they meet the definition of being over 100/.
Mike DeWine: (24:02)
Marion County meets the CDC’s definition for high incidents. They are at 101, so they’re right on the line there, but they’re close to dropping off that. So we hope by next week, Marion County cases will have eased down and Marion County will no longer be red.
Mike DeWine: (24:20)
Mercer County, again, as we said at 298 cases. Way above anybody else. And that’s the news there, unfortunately. So significant community spread is taking place.
Mike DeWine: (24:38)
Montgomery County. Cases per 100,000 down to 94. That’s been an improvement, but they still remain red this week. While they no longer meet the CDC threshold for high incidents, they meet four other indicators. They’re one of two counties that had increases in both their emergency department and outpatient visits during this reporting period. Not good news, because what that means is those are the early, early warning signs that cases are going to start to creep up. So that’s not good.
Mike DeWine: (25:10)
Muskingum County, as we said, first week as red. They are at 62 cases per 100,000, but they have other indicators that put them in this category. Again, for them, outpatient visits grew from an average of four visits on August 3rd and nine on August 10th. So that percentage of cases increase is certainly not good.
Mike DeWine: (25:36)
We’ve tried to share some stories about how the virus has spreads. Let me just share a few. In Clark County a group of friends got together to play cards at a friends home. Now, sadly, seven individuals are in fact, testing positive. We’re also continuing to see small workplace outbreaks where one member of the staff spreads it to a group of coworkers. In some of these cases, the businesses have had to close for cleaning or for staffing. We’ve seen this in New Philadelphia and we’ve seen it in Dayton and we’ve seen it in other parts of Montgomery County as well.
Mike DeWine: (26:25)
We’re going to continue to share these stories. Again, not to be critical of anyone, but rather just to explain that these cases are spreading in just kind of common everyday occurrences when people let their guard down, don’t wear a mask, don’t do the social distancing. And they can occur among friends, they can occur among family members.
Mike DeWine: (26:48)
Eric, let’s go back to another map. And I’ve asked our data team to kind of combine something from the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Health. And so if you will look at the map that is up now, and particularly the one that’s on your left, this is kind of an overlay map. And what we have done where you see counties in red, with the red outline, those are counties that this week are red. Some have been red for awhile, some just became red. But these are our red counties this week. Overlaid inside of that, or laid inside of that, is the Department of Education’s map in regard to which schools are coming back in-person. So let’s start with the darkest color on there, see how good my eyesight is, but I would call it dark blue maybe. Dark blue is fully remote. So these are the school districts that we know of right now that have decided to be fully remote.
Mike DeWine: (28:08)
The blue, what I would call the light blue, is hybrid, which means they’re coming back partially in school and partially remote. And the ones that are coming back full time, their plan is to come back full time, that’s sort of a green, if I can read that correctly. And the only point is for everybody from those areas to look … I had some conversations with some superintendents last week, I’m going to have some more conversations this week. And every school is making its own decision about whether to come back and which way to come back. We’ve had a long tradition in this state of local schools making their own decisions, families making their own decisions, school boards making their own decisions.
Mike DeWine: (29:06)
But if you look back at the map for a moment, Eric, those that are red and are coming back in-person, that is a challenge. And it’s really, it’s a challenge, not so much to the educators, because I, after talking to a lot of superintendents and principals and teachers, I think they’re going to do a bang up job to do everything they can to keep your children safe or your grandchildren safe when they go back in school. But I’m pointing this map out kind of for us, for people in the community. We have a job to do. And our job to do is to slow down the spread in the community so the school can either open or the school can stay open. And I just put these counties up because these are the red counties, these the ones that we’re seeing right now with the most spread. But it’s important, it’s an important principle, I think, for all of us, whether we’re a yellow county, whether a red county, whether an orange county. And that is we have an obligation to do everything we can to slow down the spread in our community so our kids can go to school, our grandkids could go to school, they can play sports and they can do all the other things that we want them to do, and the things that we want them to get out of the school. On August 4th we announced that we’re going to make an order in regard to kids in grades K through 12 to wear face coverings. I know I’ve talked to some superintendents who’ve asked me when are we going to put that up. It’s coming up today. So the mask order for all our educators and parents, coronavirus.ohio.gov, that is coming up.
Mike DeWine: (30:56)
Let me now turn to a very important topic of minority health and issues of disparity. In April, we formed a minority health strike force to focus on the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on our minority communities in Ohio. The group’s mission is evolved over the past few months to examine broader health disparities and racial injustices. Today the group has released its final report. And I want to thank the members of the strike force for their hard work, their passion, their commitment to shedding light on the health disparities disproportionately affecting people of color in Ohio. It is wrong that in Ohio today, the overall life expectancy of African Americans Ohioans is four years shorter than of white Ohioans. It’s wrong that African American Ohioans have a higher rate of heart disease, higher rates of hypertension and diabetes. It’s wrong that our African American citizens are two and a half times more likely to live in poverty, and African American children in Ohio are three times more likely to live in poverty than their white brothers and sisters.
Mike DeWine: (32:17)
The coronavirus has further laid bare the disparities. African Americans, who today make up about 14% of Ohio’s population, represent 25%, 25%, of positive COVID-19 cases, 32% of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 19% of COVID 19 deaths. At least 6% of the people who have tested positive for the virus in Ohio are Latino, although they make up less than 4% of the state’s population. We have to do better. We can do better. My inaugural address as governor, I laid out the ideals that would guide our administration. The values, the principles that serve as a foundation for what we try to do every single day. At that time, in my inaugural address, I said everyone, no matter where they were born or who their parents are, deserves a chance to succeed, a chance to get a good paying job, a chance to raise a family, a chance to live their version, whatever that is, of the American dream. Now to truly make change we need an equitable healthcare system. We need thriving communities. We need improvements in quality of life. These are things that our health experts call the social determinants of health. Things that make up a big proportion of determining how well we’re going to do and whether we’re going to be well throughout our lifetime. The Minority Health Strike Force’s final report offers 34 recommendations on the topics of dismantling racism, removing obstacles to public health, improving the social and economic environment, improving the physical environment and strengthening data collection to better track disparities.
Mike DeWine: (34:14)
I asked my senior leadership team, I asked my members of the cabinet, to read this report, and they have done so. I’ve asked them not just to read it, but to lay out a plan where they, in the world they occupy, in the position they occupy, can do better with their own employees, but also do better in whatever mission they have as a member of our cabinet. In response today, we are issuing Ohio’s Executive Response, a plan of action to advance equity. Let me pull this up. This is what it looks like. You’ll have chance to pull this down on online. This is our administration’s action plan. It’s the beginning, it’s not an end. But it’s trying to put, in writing, some of the things that we believe we can do, that we can do to change things for the better.
Mike DeWine: (35:14)
It doesn’t mean it’s the end product. It’s the beginning. We started when I was sworn in, but this puts some things in writing and says, “These are some additional things that we’re going to do,” and it will be a work in progress and we will continue on that throughout the duration of our administration. Because it really is true. All of us, all of us can do more. I’ll just give you a few examples. Today I’m challenging our colleges and universities, and we’ve got some great ones in Ohio, to come up with ways to recruit more African Americans to become teachers, to become mentors, to be in our school system. Very, very important.
Mike DeWine: (35:54)
I’m challenging the Department of Jobs and Family Services to do more with foster care. Look, our foster kids are, particularly our African American ones, spend much too long a time in foster care. They languish in foster care longer than their white brothers and sisters do. And that is not good. If you look at the numbers, it is very sad. While 16% of Ohio’s child population is African American, the population of Ohio’s foster care system is 31% African American. Among children who stay in foster care more than two years, one third of them are African-Americans. Again, even though African Americans children representative 16% of the child population of Ohio. They’re not adopted enough, they languish in foster care, and I’m challenging our team to do more about this. We’ve done some things, we have to do more. We are making a commitment to get kids out of foster care and into homes, black or white, by finding out what the problems are in the system and trying to fix that.
Mike DeWine: (37:03)
Our Department of Jobs and Family Services is reaching out to minorities who have experienced the children’s system themselves, the child service system themselves, to better understand their experiences and to work in partnership, to develop systemic solutions to this racial disparities. We hope to have a final report on that to share with you by the end of the year. This work will enhance the efforts currently underway by our Children’s Services Transformation Advisory Council, which traveled the state last year hearing from children and families impacted by the foster care system. Collectively their recommendations will help to reform Ohio’s foster care system to ensure better futures for all our children in Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (37:46)
Going to turn it over for a moment to John Houston. John is in Columbus. John’s going to talk about an issue that he and I have talked a lot about and our cabinet is focused on, and that has to do with African Americans who are in business, giving them a better opportunity to grow their business and attracting more African Americans to go into business. John.
John Houston: (38:11)
Yes. Thanks, governor DeWine. Appreciate it. The economic team, we’ve been engaged with them through this process, and they are accepting your challenge to do better as it relates to supporting African American businesses and careers in the state. The Jobs Ohio Team, the Development Services Agency, have been hard at work because we know that health outcomes are tied to economic outcomes. And while Ohio’s been a popular place and a great place for innovators and entrepreneurs, we know that in the minority community, potential business men and women have struggled to get a foothold. The three keys to success in the modern economy, and I think people widely embrace this, is that it’s capital, it’s innovation and it’s talent. These are so important for success in business. This is true in every community, but it’s particularly acute in the African American community.
John Houston: (39:06)
We need to do more to improve access to capital, working to get more African Americans involved in financial institutions, and to create frankly more minority owned and operated banks and financial institutions in our state. To promote the development of technology based businesses in the minority communities, and to focus on technology, skill development and STEM skills, because those are critical to having economic success in the modern economy.
John Houston: (39:37)
To deal with the added challenges that are presented by COVID, you will remember that the governor and I announced the creation of the Office of Small Business Relief within the Development Services Agency. And this coordinates resources for small and medium sized companies during this time. This is a critical time. Some of these businesses are struggling, particularly small businesses, minority owned businesses, women owned businesses, and we have to have this proper support there. And they’ve been working with the Small Business Development Administration, the Small Business Development Centers and the Minority Business Development Centers to access expertise during this difficult time to get the market research and the tools that can benefit these businesses.
John Houston: (40:20)
And also, while the Minority Health Strike Force was meeting during this time, we were active in creating the Ohio Minority Micro Enterprise Grant to help create a bridge during the pandemic. This is specifically to provide 500 minority and women owned businesses with up to $10,000 in grants. We have already received 700 applications. So we know it’s popular, we know it’s helpful, and that is moving forward. But Governor, this is just the beginning. I know, as we’ve talked about this, that people across the administration have embraced the idea, on the talent front especially, to help build more tech skills, to help build more STEM skills, which will serve to create new healthcare job opportunities, which are important when we’re talking about minority health, and also new business opportunities. So your team, your economic team, is ready to go to work on this, have been at work, and we accept the challenge Governor, and I’ll turn it back over to you.
Mike DeWine: (41:23)
Good. Thanks, John, very much. Very, very important. In regard to more equality in policing, we’ve already talked. We took a whole program, press conference, and talked about that. We have laid out to the general assembly, a comprehensive plan that will work, that will make things better, bring about more justice. And I’m asking them today to pass it. It’s there. It’s good. We’ve worked with some of the members of the general assembly on this. It needs to pass.
Mike DeWine: (41:53)
I’m also challenging our Department of Health and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to do more to address the lead paint problem in Ohio. Talked a lot about this in the past. I won’t spend time today, but it’s wrong. It’s wrong. We have to change this. It’s crazy that in the year 2020, we still have children who are being poisoned by lead paint.
Mike DeWine: (42:14)
Infant mortality, huge disparity in infant mortality, between African American babies and white babies. Huge disparity in the mortality of the mother. And that both of those simply have to change. We’re doing work, but we need to do more, and that is our commitment.
Mike DeWine: (42:33)
One of our commitments today also is the creation of the Governor’s Equity Advisory Board. The idea behind this is to have a permanent group working with us. People brought in from the outside, people not necessarily in government, not in government, but people who bring a wide array of experiences who can advise our cabinet members and who can advise me in things that we need to do to make this a more just society. This is a permanent, ongoing group to help guide us as we address the underlying conditions and root causes contributing to disparities in life and health and Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (43:07)
With me today is Alisha Nelson. Alisha is the Director of Recovery, Ohio. She was in the attorney general’s office with me, where she headed up what we called our heroin unit. So her work has been … a great deal of work has been in regard to recovery, great deal of work in regard to fighting the opioid epidemic. She has been working directly with the Minority Health Strike Force, and she’s here today to talk about our new Equity Advisory Board. So Alisha, thank you. Thank you very much for being with us.
Alisha Nelson: (43:44)
Thank you, Governor. It has been my pleasure serve the residents of Ohio through my work on the Minority Health Strike Force. The Strike Force members have brought great energy and passion to this work, and we’re grateful to their contributions and service. Governor, we often hear you talk about action and how important it is to create real and meaningful change for the people in our state. And so I’d like to spend a little time this afternoon sharing one piece of how this work will be implemented. The next step and recommendation one, or commitment number one, in the executive response is to create the Governor’s Equity Impact Board. The board will work to improve state efforts to dismantle racism and promote health equity. The board’s members will draw on the expertise that currently exists within Ohio’s communities of color. African American and Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans who speak a multitude of languages and live within our state, will represent diverse viewpoints from sectors like education, healthcare, public and private business, community organizations and members of the criminal justice community.
Alisha Nelson: (45:02)
It will be important for the board to provide continuity to the work we do. It’ll also be important for this group to advise the state on how we move forward and utilize all that can be made available to communities across the state to promote wellness in all of our residents and all of us. Finally and most importantly, the members of this group will hold us accountable to our commitments to address equity. Thank you for the opportunity to share this important work and I know it’ll have a lasting and positive impact on communities of color. So thank you, Governor.
Mike DeWine: (45:41)
Director, thank you very much. We appreciate your good work. I know you’ve worked very, very hard on this. Let me also introduce someone who has also worked very hard on this, a member of my cabinet. Ursel, there you are Ursel. You’re there. Ursel McElroy. She’s our Director of Aging. She’s got a-
Mike DeWine: (46:03)
She’s our Director of Aging. She’s got, as Alicia does, she has a big job. She’s also with me in the Attorney General’s office. She headed up our Elder Justice Initiative then. She’d been working directly with Minority Strikeforce. She’s with us today to really represent our Cabinet, and to talk about some of the specific commitments that our directors have made. So Urcel.
Urcel McElroy: (46:29)
Thank you Governor.
Mike DeWine: (46:30)
Good to have you here, and I’ll let you take off and talk a little bit about what you and the members of the Cabinet are doing.
Urcel McElroy: (46:36)
So thank you Governor, and thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this really critical work. I’m so appreciative to work with such a wonderful Cabinet every day of their hard work, and the transformative ways and ideas that they bring to the table. It doesn’t matter if it’s midnight, if it’s early morning, each of them will certainly answer the call, and they don’t only answer the call, they listen, and then they act. And I think about some of the work that they’ve done. Looking at our healthcare system, working to make it more accessible, making it more meaningful to consider tele-health, the steps that have been taken quickly to enable Ohioans to stay safe, and to still receive critical needs met with minimal reduction during COVID.
Urcel McElroy: (47:24)
With EPA or water system and led abatement efforts, realizing those things need attention. They weren’t afraid to take action. Our highways, we knew our infrastructure needed attention, and things were overdue. And so we took on that work. And again, I get excited when I think about mental health and the attention we’re bringing to those issues. Attention that’s necessary for people that have been left in the shadows far too long because of stigma. And Director Hall working on a benefits bridge to address a problem that has existed for so long. People have been pennies away from having their livelihood cut because of rules. With Director Hall and the Governor, we know that we can do better.
Urcel McElroy: (48:07)
And then General Harris helping in such an incredible way, now, during COVID. Surging into food banks, helping with our nursing facilities and helping with the civil unrest we’ve had throughout our state. I can say so many things about members of our Cabinet, and I just want people to know about how privileged I feel in working with them. But what’s important is I want you to understand and appreciate what this Cabinet is willing to do and lean in to do.
Urcel McElroy: (48:40)
And so with that, I want to first extend grateful appreciation to members of the Minority Health Strike Force for the report. And regarding the report and our Cabinet’s response, we know that Ohio’s public health entities have long advocated for the basic needs of Ohioans. They have spoken about the impacts of social determinants of health. Social determinants are those things that can contribute to our future health and opportunities. Social determinants are our basic rights, and they extend far beyond our basic needs, and they are complicated. And we know that Ohio’s public officials must join together to address the historic decisions that were made. Decisions that continue to have an upstream impact on disadvantaged Ohioans that can begin at birth, and years later can result in adverse health outcomes.
Urcel McElroy: (49:34)
So in terms of the report and the initial thoughts of the Cabinet, and what our agencies can individually pursue, as the Governor mentioned, we first came together, and we looked at this with a critical eye, and with the eye of opportunity. What we understood was that there were areas that we could impact within our respective departments. Our commitments around [inaudible 00:50:00] revolve around our people, the state’s workforce to drive change. Our commitments revolve around our policy and programs to advance equity in our work and our public service to achieve more equitable, accessible, and culturally competent public services. And there is work already occurring, and work to be done.
Urcel McElroy: (50:21)
In addition to the 10 commitments within the response, our actions identified by the Cabinet that can make a difference, that are so important to the changes that need to happen. For example, the Ohio Department of Transportation will be focusing on ways to incentivize the ability for transit authorities to provide on demand transit for healthcare related trips. And on the internet front, which we all know provides us with opportunities and access, the Ohio Department of Transportation is also working with Innovate Ohio to explore options to expand broadband to underserved areas, with particular focus on rural schools and homes, like placing fiber optic cables in inner State roadways.
Urcel McElroy: (51:04)
For public health, the Ohio Department of Health has a State Health Improvement Plan, which we often refer to as the SHIP. And the SHIP provides State and local health departments and hospitals with a menu of strategies to improve the performance on public health priorities, for example, to affect adverse childhood experiences and kindergarten readiness, both which have longterm impacts on health outcomes. The SHIP features strategies, and early childhood home visiting, and early childhood education.
Urcel McElroy: (51:33)
And certainly I would be remiss not to mention within my agency, The Ohio Department of Aging. We’ve been working with experts across all pile to develop a Strategic Action Plan on Aging, a plan that we referred to as the SAPA. And it includes strategies that will be implemented around community conditions, including economic stability, housing, transportation, and elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It focuses on health behaviors, including physical activity and nutrition and access to care, including longterm home and community based supports, and workforce capacity.
Urcel McElroy: (52:09)
We know that in all the work that we do, a coordinated approach has to be taken across all sectors to improve and achieve health equity. And so the SHIP and the SAPA, for example, working together include a cross sector effort to improve house quality and affordability, including reducing housing cost burden for those most at need. And then I also want to mention one other good example, because there are so many, to demonstrate our commitment. Within the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, they have utilized what’s known as a Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information set or the HEDIS Measures. And they use these to help internally evaluate the quality of diabetic care for incarcerated Ohioans. The HEDIS dataset are one of health care’s most widely used performance improvement tools. This is an example of the type of objective measure that can be used to evaluate performance.
Urcel McElroy: (53:09)
So these are just a few of many efforts that are underway or planned. And as the response explains, there will also be a strategic plan and a board, these elements are critical to moving the needle on the systemic issues and complex issues of disparity. Our planning will reveal the most impactful, and those factors that we can’t influence. We know that it will require a major shift, a shift by in between all levels of government and among all Ohio communities. But we are up for the challenge. We are up to moving the needle on this critical issue. And I want to say, thank you Governor for allowing me to represent the Cabinet here today, to be able to express the energy, the passion and the will of the Cabinet to move this forward.
Mike DeWine: (53:58)
Director McElroy, thank you very, very much. I appreciate you, and I appreciate Director Nelson, I appreciate what you both have done. I know you’ve worked very hard on this, but as we’ve talked about, our work is just beginning. We have more work to do. The goals that you all put together, I know you both were directly involved in writing this, is a beginning, but no one should think that it’s the end on deal. We have more things to do. The group that you’re putting together to work directly with you, I think, will give you some good, continue to give you good feedback and good guidance, and we’ll keep focusing. So thank you. Thank you both very, very, very much.
Mike DeWine: (54:45)
There are racial disparities in this country. The racial disparities in Ohio we’ve we talked about them, certainly in health, education, housing, and we could go on and on. There are many causes for this. Certainly racism is one of the causes. Sometimes it’s systemic racism, sometimes it’s very overt, sometimes it’s more subtle, but sadly in 2020, racism does still exist in this country. We have an obligation to look at these racial disparities and say, “That’s not right.” We have to do everything within our power to deal with this. And it’s incumbent upon all of us to do that. And we’ve talked today about some of the ways that we’re trying to do that, but there’ll be more things, and this really is a work in progress.
Mike DeWine: (55:49)
There are racial disparities in so many different areas in health and education. Racism is a public health crisis, and this is something that we have to work on every day. It really goes back to what I said when I was sworn in as Governor, and that simply is, “Our dream should be that every child in Ohio, wherever they live, whatever their background, whatever their race, they should have the chance to live the American dream.” And we need to do everything we can to help them have that chance. That’s really what our job is. Our job is to help create that opportunity, put them on a level playing field, making sure they get the education that they need. Making sure the barriers that are out there, that are a caused by racism or other barriers are knocked down so that every child has that opportunity. Let me open it up for questions.
Governor, our first question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.
Laura Hancock: (57:01)
Mike DeWine: (57:03)
Hello. Hi Laura. I guess we’re switching over. There you go. You’re on.
Speaker 1: (57:15)
Oh, wait. I think the wrong Laura is muted.
Laura Hancock: (57:19)
Hi. Can you hear me?
Speaker 1: (57:23)
There we go.
Laura Hancock: (57:25)
Governor DeWine, given the anxiety that President Trump has created for voters about whether the Post Office can get ballots delivered on time. Do you agree with the decision by Secretary of State LaRose to ban election boards from using more than one Dropbox so that people can deliver their absentee ballots themselves?
Mike DeWine: (57:50)
Well, first of all, I think Secretary LaRose is doing a good job. I don’t have a comment about that particular decision. The former Secretary of State, my Lieutenant Governor may in a moment, but as far as getting ballots in, we have four weeks in Ohio where you can get an absentee ballot and you you have to give no reason, you just want an absentee ballot. We’ve done this for a long time. We know how to do it. I would expect more and more Ohioans this year would be getting their ballots and sending them in absentee. So I think the system will work. People have the opportunity, if they don’t want to do that, they can get 13 hours on election day, so the old fashioned way, and they can show up. They also have opportunities other days to go directly to the board of elections and vote directly there.
Mike DeWine: (58:50)
So there’s many options for every Ohioan. And so I don’t believe that we’re going to have a problem. I don’t feel we’re going to have a problem in Ohio at all. We know how to do this. And I think again, because of the Coronavirus, people are going to be more incentivized maybe to do this earlier. And as Frank LaRose said do it early, get your application in, and you’ll get that early on. You can mail it and you’ll be done with it. And it’ll be good. So John, do you have anything? I don’t know if you’re still online here.
John Houston: (59:23)
Yeah, sure Governor. I would just remind folks, we know what the rules are. You can request an absentee ballot now, you’ll get it a month before the election. You fill it out, mail it in, you have a month to vote without ever leaving home. And Ohio as I’ve always said, it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat. The rules that we have successfully run elections throughout the last 10, 15 years, and worked very well, are pretty much intact. There will be more Dropboxes. There’ll be a drop box in every County and every board of election. This things should run smoothly. We should all just focus on making sure that we’re being proactive and doing this stuff in advance and not waiting till the last minute. And if we do that, we won’t have a problem.
Mike DeWine: (01:00:10)
Ben, next question.
The question is from a Christian Hauser at WKRC in Cincinnati.
Christian Hauser: (01:00:17)
Hey sir, a temporary injunction has allowed basketball games to be played in Warren County in our area. What’s the latest on rules concerning high school football, and do you worry that if you don’t come up with the plan soon, you could see a lawsuit against the help orders there, and a temporary injunction placed by a judge that would allow football to take place?
Mike DeWine: (01:00:39)
Well, let’s take the Warren County case, that case was under appeal. Look, this is very different than high school athletes playing. What this is, is bringing a lot of people in, many from out of State, who will stay a weekend, who will play a number of games with different teams. So you’ll have the intermixing of numerous games going on, and one athlete may be competing in a number of different games for that weekend. That is just not a good idea. I don’t know anybody that thinks that’s a very good idea from a public health point of view and the spread of the Coronavirus.
Mike DeWine: (01:01:25)
Now, we’re going to have an announcement on Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor and I are going to make about high school sports. We’ve been working with the Ohio Athletic Association, High School Athletic Association to get it right, to provide guidelines, to make it is safe as possible. I have great deal of confidence in the coaches who are out there. In fact, we’re going to set up a call and talk with some of the coaches in the next few days. I hope to talk to all the coaches because they really have the opportunity, not just in practice and not just in the game, to impress upon their athletes, young men and women, the importance of keeping a distance and being safe.
Mike DeWine: (01:02:16)
But it’s also important what young people do when they’re not playing, when they’re home, when they’re out and about. And so I think that having the coaches focus on that, we always look to our coaches for leadership, and this is in an era of the pandemic leadership, and fighting the Coronavirus is probably their most important job this year. So we’ll have an announcement on Tuesday, a little preview. This is a decision that’s going to be made by parents, it’s going to be decision that’s going to be made by schools. They’re going to make those decisions.
Mike DeWine: (01:02:56)
We’re going to restrict the number of fans. We want the athletes to compete, we want the young people to have their season, but we want to do it as safely as possible. And so this will be a little disruptive for some people, but what we want to make sure is that the parents, people who mean a lot to that particular child, have the opportunity to see them. And then for the rest of us we’ll have to hear about the game or maybe we can pick it up on the internet, YouTube. But it’s about the kids, and so we’ll have all the details. We’re working out the details this weekend for every one of their sports. So that will be coming. We look forward to Tuesday, and we’ll have it done this weekend, to get it done this weekend, we hope, and then we’ll be able to announce everything and more details on Tuesday.
Governor, your next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS 10TV in Columbus.
Mike DeWine: (01:04:11)
We’ll come back to Kevin. Our next question is from Andy Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Andy Chow: (01:04:26)
Andy Chow: (01:04:28)
On the topic of Equity and Disparity, when it comes to what the task force looked into, did the group look into the State’s current regulations and health orders on businesses to find out if there are enough protections in place for industries that tend to have more people of color as employees? Are there enough protections for those employees in those sectors?
Mike DeWine: (01:04:55)
I am not aware that that was done. It could have been done. I’m just not aware of that, but that is something that we should in fact look at. So this is something that Urcel and Alicia and the two directors, I know, will take with the new group that’s starting up, and that can be the first thing to look at. I think it’s a good idea.
We’ll go back to Kevin Landers at WBNS.
Kevin Landers: (01:05:23)
Sorry about that, Governor. After the 4th of July holiday weekend, we saw a spike in cases, I believe it was the highest spike we saw. With Labor Day now, 25 days away, what will the State do to protect Ohioans after holiday like that? Is the Stay At Home order any possibility?
Mike DeWine: (01:05:42)
We’re going to continue to monitor the numbers. As I look at these numbers every day, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is that we’ve got very, very significant spread in some of our rural counties, not in some, other ones not so much. Our urban areas are trending down. But as Mayor Gunther and I were talking this morning, they’re still high, they’re above a hundred in most of our cities, and it’s just at a dangerously high level. All that means is the indicators aren’t going up, but they’re already at a high level. So look, as we go forward with students at State Columbus, with students coming back, 45,000 students coming back. That’s just that Ohio State, and then the other colleges and universities in the area, plus K-12.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:36)
So there’s certainly more opportunity for spread. So the beginning of school creates that opportunity. That’s why I’ve been pretty stringent, strict, in regard to the mass wearing in school, both the teachers, as well as the students. Social distancing, all of these things. And we’re working… I know the schools are working directly with their local health departments to stay very, very close, so that once there is an outbreak in one of the schools, that action can be taken. So Labor Day’s [inaudible 01:07:12] ways away. I’m not ready to make any decision about anything else that we would do. We’re going to continue to watch things.
Mike DeWine: (01:07:25)
And again, a lot of it comes back to simply what we do. And there’s frankly, a limit to what we can regulate. I would remind everyone that there still is a 25 person limit. Now there’s some exceptions, yes. But if you want to stay safe, wear a mask, keep your distance, use good sanitation with your hands, stay outside as much as you can. And those are all things that really certainly make a difference, but stay away from large crowds. Even when those crowds are made up of members of your family or friends. It just it’s not safe. The virus has spread too much in the communities, and we don’t know who has it. That’s the nature of it.
Governor, your next question is from Scott Hollis at the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Scott Hollis: (01:08:19)
Hey Governor, how are you doing?
Mike DeWine: (01:08:20)
Scott Hollis: (01:08:20)
Thanks for taking my question. So you said an announcement is coming Tuesday regarding sports, but you said there’s going to be limited fans, and you’re working with the coaches, and the coaches and the schools are going to decide. So it sounds like there will be football, we just don’t know to what extent.
Mike DeWine: (01:08:40)
Yeah. We’ll get more into that on Tuesday. But our goal is to have this decided by parents, number one, number two, by school officials, local health departments, all of that inner interplay. And so these are decisions that are going to be made. And again, you’ve given me an opportunity to.
Mike DeWine: (01:09:03)
…and again, you’ve given me an opportunity to say something again, Scott, and that is what goes on in the school, and what goes on with the athletes is directly related to what goes on in the community. If you want your son, if you want your daughter to play sports, if you want them to have any other extracurricular activities, whether it is band or whether it’s cheerleading, whether it is debate, whether it is speech, whatever goes along with school, all these experiences that are great experiences, the ability of that school to stay open and the ability of your children to play sports is directly dependent on what’s going on in the community.
Mike DeWine: (01:09:48)
And it just is. And so we all just need to be in this together. We want to our kids to be able to have that experience, but it won’t last. It won’t last unless we slow this coronavirus down, and it’s not just the red counties, red counties are the ones on high, high alert in regard to that. But it’s every county. What goes on in that community just really impacts, and we can control that. We control. We control by what we do,
Speaker 2: (01:10:25)
Governor, your next question is from Max Filby at the Columbus Dispatch.
Max Filby: (01:10:31)
Hi governor, I’ve got a two parter for you today on masks. One, how will the state enforce mask wearing at polling places during the election this fall? And secondly, when it comes to masks in schools, do children still need to wear them even if they’re socially distanced?
Mike DeWine: (01:10:48)
The answer to the second one is yes, but obviously there’s some exceptions. If the child was outside and they’re socially distancing would not have to wear a mask. And the order, you’ll see the order, it’ll be out, it’ll be online the next several hours. And you will see, see that. And ultimately, look, this is going to come down to the teachers and the teachers are going to be the ones who are going to deal with the young child, just as they deal with the child for everything else. Look, as far as polling places I agree with what the secretary said. We have an order that people wear masks that applies everywhere when it fits within the order.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:33)
So, yeah, people need to wear masks, but we do not expect, and we would not want, or anybody who works at the polls to be put in a position where they have to tell somebody, “Oh, you can’t vote unless you have a mask on”, we’re not going to do that. That is a basic right. Maybe that person who walked in has a reason for not wearing a mask that’s a health reason, but we can’t put our poll workers in that position. This is a very, very important, right. We would hope that people who go in and vote would be respectful of the poll workers, particularly who were there for 13 hours and longer than that, they’re seeing people for 13 hours. But no, I think look, the secretary of state I think is right on point.
Speaker 2: (01:12:23)
Next question is from Jeff Radich at WSYX in Columbus.
Jeff Radich: (01:12:28)
Afternoon, governor. A lot of talk today, of course, about a health crisis. And we’ve been talking about COVID for months, this summer in the capital city, in Columbus, we have a crisis of violence, which of course is contributing to health as well. And I know you say many times that you speak with Mayor Ginther here regularly. At the same time, his administration has quite a high profile split with the police union here. Does the state have a role in smoothing that relationship? Does your administration have a role in trying to cut down on the violence, and the assaults in Columbus?
Mike DeWine: (01:13:05)
Yes, here’s what we can do. I presented to the legislature as part of our strong Ohio bill, a very significant part of that bill. It doesn’t get written about a lot, but it is something that I believe every chief of police at least of a major city in Ohio agrees with. And that is a violent offender, a repeat violent offender who has long ago, lost his, it’s usually his, right to have a gun when they are found with a gun in possession of a gun in absolute violation of the law. The judge should have the ability to put them away for a long time. If we can do that, if we can pass this and give this to our prosecutors and give this to our sheriffs and give this to our police departments, particularly in our cities where we’re seeing just horrible carnage, if we can get that passed, that will be a very, very significant tool.
Mike DeWine: (01:14:06)
It won’t solve every problem, but I’ll tell you, when you talk to chiefs of police in cities, what they tell you is we know basically who the repeat violent offenders are. If we get them off the street, just get them out. And it’s usually not a huge number of people someplace like Lima, Springfield, that size might be 20 people. Might be more than that in Columbus, but it’s a relatively small number of people, you get rid of them, and frankly, the violence goes down and then you don’t have five-year-old children who are killed because they were in the wrong place. Plus they had the right to be in their home, but somebody shot and aimed at somebody else and ended up killing the child. So, yeah, it’s a big problem. We’ve seen this violence escalate and we need to solve it. And I’ve sent to the General Assembly a very, very well thought out provision and I didn’t write it all up. We had prosecutors look at it. We had police look at it, it needs to pass. So yes, there is things that we can do.
Speaker 2: (01:15:15)
Next question is from Jesse Bomber to the Cincinnati Inquirer.
Urcel McElroy: (01:15:18)
Hi governor. My question is why has Ohio not released the number of deaths at nursing homes by facility? It’s something that states like Kentucky and even the CDC have provided. I guess, why is this not information that relatives or people looking at nursing homes should have access to?
Mike DeWine: (01:15:40)
Well, I thought we were releasing them and if we’re not, let me, let me check in and see if there’s any legal reason we can’t do that. I know we went through this discussion a couple months ago. I thought we we’re getting information out. Let me, let me see, and I’ll report back on Tuesday.
Urcel McElroy: (01:15:58)
Speaker 2: (01:15:59)
Next question is from Marty Schladen at Ohio Capital Journal.
Marty Schladen: (01:16:05)
Good afternoon, governor.
Mike DeWine: (01:16:06)
[inaudible 01:16:06] Marty.
Marty Schladen: (01:16:07)
I want to give you another crack at this notion that a Coronavirus bill should have money for state and local governments holed up between the white house and congressional Democrats as the Democrats are asking for $900 billion. Do you agree with that ask, or do you think any money should be provided, and if so, at what level?
Mike DeWine: (01:16:31)
Marty, I spent 20 years in the United States Congress. I had my chance to be there and to vote and to have an opinion. Let me just talk as a representative of the state and a representative of my friends who run cities and villages and townships and counties. This Coronavirus is been devastating to many, many, many people. One of the huge fears I think we all have is [inaudible 01:17:01] that, [inaudible 01:17:02] excuse me, is that the cities are going to run low on money for police. City’s going to run low on money for fire. These are big concerns. There should be a concern about where we’re going to be in the state in regard of education. Look, we made some cuts. We didn’t like making them I’ll guarantee you, but we made them because we had no assurance that we would be able to, if we didn’t make the cuts to be able to sustain the level that we were spending, we knew we couldn’t.
Mike DeWine: (01:17:35)
So these are important things. Having flexibility is important. As I look towards the future in regard to what we’re going to have to do in Ohio, as I’ve said, we need to double and then we need to double again, our testing. We’ve come up 22,000, I think, something like that today. But look, we need to double that and then we need to double it again. That’s not going to be cheap. I mean, we’re trying to do it as cheaply as we can. We’re trying to build our own infrastructure, but that’s going to cost money. So look, all those things are important. There’s a bill to be had out there. I’m confident that there can be a bill. I think what the president did, it was the right thing. The president tried to move the debate, and he came out with a proposal and said, “Hey, you guys, aren’t going to move? I’ll move.”
Mike DeWine: (01:18:19)
But we all know that executive orders, particularly in this area of spending are blunt instruments. And it’s much better if Congress can do what only Congress can do and that’s pass a bill and get it done. So I hope that there’ll be able to do that. We have basic public services that are at stake. What else is at stake is our ability to test. And these are essential. I mean, it goes back to… We have to stay on top of the coronavirus, we have to try to keep it down. If it wears up too much, you’re going to see what’s happened in some of the Southern states where the economy starts going back and pull back because people are afraid. So it all is important and we need the help, and we need a bill.
Speaker 2: (01:19:09)
Next question is from Molly Koweek at WHIO in Dayton.
Molly Koweek: (01:19:15)
Hi governor, we’ve had some local outbreaks in the Miami Valley most recently, 64 cases at a nursing home in Dark County. Are you concerned some of the relaxed visitation rules have led to any of these outbreaks? [inaudible 01:19:29]
Mike DeWine: (01:19:30)
Yeah. Let me just first say that a nursing home can, in all fairness, they can have an outbreak and still be doing everything right without commenting about any particular case. I have charged our department to, again, review sanitation to go back and look at this in the nursing homes, we are now started on a new program of testing. If you remember had the National Guard testing in our nursing homes, we now have a new protocol. We’re requiring every nursing home, basically to do their own testing. That testing has to occur every two weeks, frankly, I would like to get down to every seven days, we’re going to start at two weeks and then get the capacity up. We’re going to do that. What’s happening is we’ve arranged the nursing homes basically to do their own swabbing.
Mike DeWine: (01:20:22)
The Ohio National Guard, now, instead of doing testing, the Ohio National Guard is doing the logistics, which simply means taking those swabs from the samples, from the nursing home directly to the lab. And it’s a very complicated, complex, because we have nursing homes all over. We have labs all over and trying to match them up, and the guard is doing that. And let me just say to the guard, you’re doing a great job. And we have kicked into that phase of it. So more testing in our nursing home, more testing, more tracing in our nursing homes. More emphasis on sanitation.
Speaker 2: (01:20:59)
Next question is from Laura Caso at WKYC in Cleveland.
Laura Caso: (01:21:03)
Good afternoon, governor. I’d like to talk about the state mask mandate that went into effect sometime ago. Yesterday daily numbers well above a thousand today, 1,178 cases. You mentioned three more counties in red today. When you look at those numbers, do you stand by your mask mandate? Do you truly feel it’s been effective to this point?
Mike DeWine: (01:21:29)
Well, masks are effective. And we’ve seen a decline in the parts of the state where they’ve been used the most. And that is our urban areas. We put those mask orders in earlier. We went to the red counties. Most of them at that time were urban areas. And so now we’re continuing to see a decline. In fact we’ve seen a decline where some of these counties are going off red. We saw the improvement that was made in Hamilton County, for example. We’ve seen Franklin County come down, we’ve seen Cuyahoga County come down. So these counties or these urban counties are coming down. That’s where the mask worrying is most prevalent. We’ve seen where the mask wearing is not as prevalent. We’ve seen these numbers go up. Now, it’s not as simple as that. There’s a lot more issues, I’m sure, involved, but that certainly is one.
Mike DeWine: (01:22:20)
So, yeah, as doctor said yesterday, she listed the most important things in order. And you noticed the first thing she said was masks. Second thing was distance, and on from there. So yeah. Look, we’re seeing where these incidents are occurring. We’re seeing where people are getting the COVID and many times it’s where people are letting their guard down. They’re not wearing a mask. They’re not distancing. They’re among friends, they’re among family and they kind of let their guard down. So yeah, masks work. We know they work. And when you marry that mask with distance, when you put those two things together, it’s a tough a one, two punch combination to beat.
Speaker 2: (01:23:13)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:23:19)
Hi, governor, I’ve heard from several teachers and parents in red counties who are concerned their schools are reopening fully. Do you believe if a county is in the red they shouldn’t be reopening five days a week. And will you be willing to step in if we do see a spike and it seems schools are open and unsafe environments?
Mike DeWine: (01:23:37)
Yeah, look, I was asked that question by some superintendents who asked me will you guarantee that you won’t ever go in and step in? I said, “Look, no, I can’t do that. That would be irresponsible.” But what we want to do is allow the local community to have their say on this, see how it works, what we’ve tried to do, and I’ve done today and I’m going to do tomorrow and do every day. I’m talking to the superintendents, but I’m also talking to people out in the communities is if you’re a red county you got to get those numbers down. The spread that occurs in your county is going to occur in your school. And so that decision, that threshold decision about whether or not they go remote, they go hybrid, they go in person. We’re still leaving that with the local school, but we’re going to monitor it or see what’s happening. And look, we can see some things in Indiana. Indiana is a little bit ahead of us. A few weeks ahead of us in opening schools, at least in some of their districts, we’ve got to watch what’s going on in Indiana. We got to watch what’s going on in other states. And then when our schools start to open, we got to watch them very carefully. So, look, I mean, the local communities have historically governed this in Ohio. We’re going to let them start. We’re going to see how this works, but we were saying to the people in the community, you’ve got to understand your school is not an island. It’s not separate.
Mike DeWine: (01:25:10)
It is a part of the community, and it will reflect what you’re doing in the community. And if you’re not wearing a mask in your community, if you’re not slowing the virus down, it will not slow down in your school. And look, we got teachers, young people, maybe don’t show the COVID don’t have the symptoms many times, but the 50 year old teacher may. The custodian may. Person in the kitchen may. So look, we have a lot at stake. The schools have a lot at stake. And I know everybody in the school knows that. I mean, every superintendent I’ve talked to has talked about their personnel, and they’re concerned about the personnel and they’re going to do everything they can to protect them.
Speaker 2: (01:25:59)
Next question is from Jim Provance at the Toledo Blade.
Jim Provance: (01:26:03)
Hello, governor, thanks for this again. You’ve made it clear previously that your face mask order for the general public allows generally for coverings that cover both the nose and the mouth, including bandanas and scarves. But we’re hearing from at least one school district that is prohibiting the use of bandanas and net gaiters. Why is there a difference between what is required for the general public and what is being required in at least some schools?
Mike DeWine: (01:26:30)
I would think that that’s a decision to be being made by the school. I’m not aware that we’ve changed any kind of guidance for that. I’ll check, but I don’t think anybody in the health department’s changed guidance. I mean, look what evolves the science evolves. And I haven’t read every single study that’s been done in regard to there are some masks that clearly provide more protection than others, but the experts will tell you, look, instead of getting hung up on which kind of mask, and then people not wear any mask, let people wear a masks and they can be homemade, they can be all kinds of things, but it’s getting that blockage. What we’re seeing in some medical facilities is we’re seeing a mask and shields that medical personnel are wearing a mask, then they’re wearing a shield on top of that. So, again we, we let the local communities work that out. We don’t micromanage it down to that level, but everyone that wearing a mask will make a difference. Everyone trying to keep the social distance will make a big difference.
Speaker 2: (01:27:46)
Governor, the next question is the last question is from Farnoush Amiri at the Associated Press.
Farnoush Amiri: (01:27:53)
Hi governor, thank you so much for taking the time today. You stated today that you believe racism is a public health crisis and you outlined the data that supports that in the last hour. But as we speak to concurrent resolution bills and the general assembly are being stalled. And do you have planned to make any recommendations to the House and Senate to prioritize that declaration like Michigan has done similarly to how you mentioned that you’re going to prioritize equity and policing to the general assembly?
Mike DeWine: (01:28:27)
Those resolutions, and sometimes as I look at the resolution of resolutions, I think I only looked at one. You don’t have a lot of different things in them. What I said today is what I’ve said in the past. We have disparities in our communities. They’re not acceptable. We have to work on that. I believe that history will judge me and I will judge myself by what we do. And so I made my statement today, very, very, very clear about what I think about this. And there are these disparities in health. There are the disparities in education. There are disparities in housing and many, many other things, and we have to change that. But what I think I’ll get judged by is what I do, what I do. And so it’s up to the general assembly, listen, these are not in resolutions that the governor signs, the resolutions.
Mike DeWine: (01:29:33)
But what we’re only judged by is what we do. And do we do something about racism? I do speak out against racism and whether this resolution is the best way to do it or not, I’m going to leave that up to the general assembly. But I made it very, very clear what I think about this and there are disparities out there that are caused by racism. There are other disparities that are caused by other things we have to fix them all. Sometimes the racism is overt. A person is racist. Sometimes someone is doing something and they don’t even realize it, which is why, again, education and training. And some of these things are so very, very important when we’re talking about our own employees.
Mike DeWine: (01:30:23)
So I’m going to leave that up to the general assembly. I’m the governor. I made my statement about what I think is important and I think we need to be judged and the legislature needs to be judged. What do we do in this area? At the end of the year, what have we done? And there’s some very, very tangible things that I know I can do in the executive branch and we will do, and we’ll continue to do more. And there’s things that the general assembly can do as well. We look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday. We will talk in more detail about sports, and talk about other things, and I hope everybody has a good weekend. Thank you very much.