Aug 18, 2020
Mike DeWine Ohio Press Conference Transcript August 18
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a press conference on August 18 to give coronavirus updates. He said all fall sports will be able to take place with some restrictions. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
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Governor DeWine: (07:08)
Good afternoon everyone. Fran will be joining me in a moment. Talk a little bit about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and the progress that has been made in the last year. Wearing a tie from Hiram College. James Garfield was a graduate of Hiram. This is the hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage. 100 years ago, August 18th, 1920, Tennessee became the 36 and the final state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States constitution. Ohio, I might say had already ratified the 19th Amendment more than a year earlier on June 16th, 1919. I think back, think about where my grandmothers were. My grandmother Little had just turned 20, and my grandmother, Alice DeWine was 24. So my grandmother Ruth Little was 20. And I just wondered what they thought about that. I remember my grandmother Little talking a little bit about that, but I wish I had the opportunity now to really ask them how that was.
Governor DeWine: (08:38)
This is also an interesting year for women 100 years ago, to get the opportunity to vote. Particularly for Ohioans, because choice for president, they had two Ohioans, Warren G Harding, newspaper publisher from Marion, Ohio, and James Cox, a newspaper publisher from Dayton, Ohio. So quite a year. In April of last year, I signed Senate Bill 30, which created the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to commemorate this milestone. Now with the onset of the pandemic, our ability to really celebrate in person at least has been curtailed.
Governor DeWine: (09:23)
But I encourage everyone to learn more about the history of the women’s suffrage movement. The Ohio History Connection, a good place to learn a lot of things, has many resources, including for teachers on its webpage at ohiohistory.org and Tourism Ohio has created a women’s history road trip that features eight different sites and that is at ohio.org. You also might want to ask anyone in your family who was alive then and ask them what they remember from that time. Let me now introduce my wife, Fran. Who’s going to talk a little bit about the Imagination Library and the results that we have had so far, and she is wearing a vote-
Votes for women.
Governor DeWine: (10:13)
Votes for women.
Good afternoon. I also have on a special math today that you can see through. I read an article this past week, about two young women at Miami University taking a disability class and these masks were made … one of the girls was making these actually for kids who have disabilities so that they could read their lips. And so I think this would be a great thing if you have a child that needs something special, I think this would be a great thing. I actually found three different patterns. One of them is shaped kind of like a smile that you can wear. And this one actually kind of has a chin in it. So there are a lot of different patterns online. And the trick is it’s a vinyl insert. And if you put just a drop of dishwasher, soap on it and then wipe it off and it won’t steam up when you’re talking.
But during this pandemic, a lot has changed in our work routine, our kids, but a lot of things are the same and still these kids are growing up and we as parents are their main teachers or their best teachers. And so I hope that you’re tapping the resources of the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, if you have little ones under five years old. Now, if you remember these are books free in the mail for children.
They get a book every month from the time they’re born until they turn five old. So we’ll hope you’ll make sure your kids are signed up. I just put a couple of these books out here. My very favorite book is the very first one they get, it’s the Little Engine That Could. Every child gets this, no matter what age that they are when they sign up. And another favorite over the years and I love reading this to kids because kids love reading it themselves, it’s the Very Hungry Caterpillar. So it’s just a great book. But we really started about a year ago here in Ohio.
And it’s been quite a year since we started, we’ve expanded this program. It was here and it was in many areas, pockets of Ohio, but we expanded it to almost every county now. So we’re hoping to make sure that every child gets it. Last summer when we started our push, it was available and about 93,000 kids had signed up. Today with the help of, first of all, our friends from the state legislature who put some money in and our county affiliates, who’ve signed up and we’ve got lots of new funds.
And so now we have over 180,000 kids signed up. So we more than doubled. I visited myself just this year, between January and March, I visited 16 counties. And just recently we added two more counties. We added Clermont County and Morgan County. So we’re really happy to welcome them. So now it’s available countywide in 78 of Ohio’s 88 counties. And after one year, we’ve doubled it. So, that means 191,000 kids are getting a free book in the mail every single month. So in the remaining 10 counties, we really hope to get those up and running soon. We’re looking for partners to make sure every child in the County can receive those books. These 10 counties, Ashland, Colombiana, Crawford, Lake Mercer, Ottawa, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, and Van Wort. If you can help, please contact us through our website, which is the Ohioimaginationlibrary.org. In September, we’ll be celebrating our one year anniversary.
Governor DeWine: (14:23)
Those counties are not? Those counties don’t have them?
The counties do not have it yet. We’ll be celebrating our kids and families, our community partners, and our legislators who are investing in our children. But I know we have more work to do this year and I look forward to the day, hopefully very soon, when every child in Ohio is receiving the benefits of the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (14:46)
Thanks Fran. Fran and I want to send our best wishes to state Senator Tina Maharath of Columbus, who announced on Twitter last night that she and some of her family members have been diagnosed with COVID-19. So our prayers go out to her and to her family. We learned last night that we now have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 at our Ohio veterans home in Georgetown, Brown County. Employee has been tested positive.
Governor DeWine: (15:35)
The department of veteran services had been able to keep the coronavirus out of this nursing home all this time, since the start of the pandemic. But sadly, we are seeing a more community spread in our rural counties and certainly Brown County has significant community spread. And it’s one of the 12 counties, red level three public emergency this week. The employee has not been at work since Thursday morning, but it appears that at least two other employees may have been exposed to this individual. This has triggered Veteran Services to put additional safety measures in place at the home, and they’re tracking all potential exposures. Because we’ve been testing staff in Georgetown regularly, all staff had already been scheduled to be tested yesterday and today, and that is taking place. Additionally, all residents in a unit where this employee works are being tested as are the residents in the two other units where the potentially exposed employees are assigned. As we do each day, we will continue updating any change in case numbers at Ohio’s to veterans home on our website, coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Governor DeWine: (16:47)
So today we’re going to talk about sports. I know I much anticipated a subject by many people throughout the state. I thought we would first talk with Dr. Jim Borchers. Dr. Borchers has had extensive experience in working in this particular area at Ohio State University and doctor are you on here yet? Eric? Is he here?
Dr. Borchers: (17:24)
I am here.
Governor DeWine: (17:26)
He is up. Doctor, thank you so very, very much for joining us. And I know you’ve worked with athletes that at Ohio state, and I wonder maybe if you could just kind of start off by telling us what you have learned. I know that we continue, the medical community continues to learn more as we move forward with COVID and have more experiences, and it’s an evolving situation. And maybe just kind of share with us some of the things that you have seen at your work at Ohio state in general on your work with the athletes.
Dr. Borchers: (18:02)
Well, governor, thanks for having me today and a very happy to be here. Our experiences allowed us really to study the effect of COVID and its effects not only on athletics, but on sport and participation. And I think probably the first thing that we’ve learned is that the health of the community around our athletes is of utmost importance to our athletes being able to compete.
Dr. Borchers: (18:29)
When we are able to provide our athletes with a healthy environment and are able to have them follow the basic behaviors that we’ve all been asked to follow around this virus, which is appropriate social distancing and good hygiene, face mask, and following proper procedures in and around sport facilities and around conducting athletics, that makes a large difference for us. When the community does not have a healthy environment. When we see a large infectivity rate, we have found that it’s more difficult and we struggle sometimes to have athletics and organized sports. So I think that is probably first and foremost, the most important thing. And I think the second thing we’ve known, and I think everyone knows is just how important athletics and sport is to our mental health and wellbeing and how important it is that we all join in together to allow sports to occur.
Governor DeWine: (19:32)
Well, that’s great. And doctor, I apologize. I kind of rushed into this, I was anxious to hear from you. I didn’t really give you the proper introduction, but let me just do it for everyone. Dr. Borchers specializes in sports medicine at the Wexner Medical Center. He’s some firsthand experience as a former Ohio State football player from 1989 to 1993. We’ll give your age away, I guess their doctor.
Dr. Borchers: (19:54)
I’m getting old.
Governor DeWine: (19:55)
There you go. He was inspired to be a doctor in part by his physicians who cared for him when he was a student athlete. So doctor, thank you very, very much. We have heard doctor, one of the things that is in the order that we’re putting out today talks about a myocarditis, but also sudden cardiac arrest, which I know has been something that I think people have been concerned about for a long time. I remember years ago, having seeing that tragedy reported one night for a UT basketball player. I have a good friend of mine from Congress whose son died at a very, very young age playing college basketball from that. So maybe you could start with that and then talk how there’s two or maybe are related or not related. But just some things that coaches and athletic directors and everyone else connected with sport maybe should think about.
Dr. Borchers: (21:04)
Sure. Well, I think as you mentioned, sudden cardiac death in athletes is a tragic event and it fortunately is a very rare event. It’s not something that’s common, but something that we almost always hear some reports of and really requires vigilance on preparation. So all our great athletic trainers around the state of Ohio that are providing excellent emergency care, our CPR training and the use of automated external defibrillator are really the ways that we can save lives. And so even more important than screening is our preparation. And so obviously I know our coaches, athletic trainers, medical staffs, administrators around the state really take a lot of great pride and have done a great job at instituting that. That being said, we know one of the risks factors for sudden cardiac death is infection of the heart or what you’ve mentioned, myocarditis and although not the most common cause can be a cause of sudden cardiac death and arrhythmia, certainly an athletes.
Dr. Borchers: (22:06)
And one of the things that we continue to study and look at with COVID-19 is its predilection for potentially affecting the heart with infection. And so it’s one of the issues that has been discussed quite a bit. It’s one of the issues that we’re learning quite a bit about, and certainly that we want to remain vigilant for, but I think it highlights the need for again, prevention for healthy communities and trying to allow, rather than worrying about what we do when that occurs, which is a rare event, how can we prevent it from occurring? And I think those are those things that you and others have talked about in trying to allow our athletes to compete in a healthy environment.
Governor DeWine: (22:48)
So let’s talk for a moment. Let’s say an athlete who has the symptoms of COVID. Let’s just assume that they’re tested, comes back positive. Athlete does not exhibit any kind of major problem, never has to go to the hospital for example. That person now hopes to come back and play. You’re the doctor, what do you advise the coach? What do you advise the parents? What do you advise the athlete?
Dr. Borchers: (23:19)
Yeah, I think what I would advise everyone, governor, is that that athlete, if they’ve been COVID positive meets with their healthcare provider and make certain that they have discussed the health risk and that they’ve had a complete assessment before they returned to sport. And that may then be different for each individual. And so certainly that could involve not only an exam, but other cardiac testing, EKG, echocardiograms, lab work, other specialized cardiac tests and the use of a cardiac specialist if needed. But I think anyone who’s had been COBIT positive needs to meet with their healthcare provider or seek out that advice before they return to activity to make certain that they understand also the signs-
Dr. Borchers: (24:03)
They returned to activity to make certain that they understand also the signs and symptoms to watch out for. Shortness of breath, any chest discomfort, exercise, fatigue, a middle-aged runner who maybe used to be able to run a eight minute mile that’s now only able to run 12 or 13 minute miles. These are the things that might alert our healthcare providers to looking at something more specific. So not that we need to be, I think, overly scared of this complication, but we need to be aware of it.
Governor DeWine: (24:28)
Okay. Very, very good. I asked you this morning, a question. I said, if you had a child who was wanting to play contact sports this fall, would you let them do it?
Dr. Borchers: (24:42)
Yeah, you did ask me that question. And I’ve been asked that question quite a bit. And I have two high school aged boys who play sports, a daughter who is a very competitive athlete. And my response to you is the response I’m going to give now. And that I think that every individual needs to look at what’s going on in their environment and kind of what their community looks like. If the infectivity rate of this virus is extremely high and we don’t have the ability to test, I’d have some real concerns about letting my son play a contact sport. That being said, if I lived in a community where the infectivity rate is well controlled, where it’s low, where I felt like our community had embraced the guidelines to allow the athletes to compete in a healthy manner, then I would feel better about letting my son go forward. So I think you have to take into account what’s going on in your local community, what’s going on in your more extended community. And I think that’s why it’s so incumbent on all of us to do the best we can to prevent as much spread as possible.
Governor DeWine: (25:42)
Okay. Good. Doctor, thank you very, very much. Maybe one last, last question. In regard to a situation where one of the athletes on a team comes down with COVID, confirmed that student has COVID, what does that mean for the other athletes on that team? Or what might it mean? I assume it’s fact driven pretty much here, but what might that mean or what should happen?
Dr. Borchers: (26:12)
Sure. So I think first and foremost, we want to share information to prevent the unnecessary spread of that. So we want to make certain that we make aware those aware that there could be a positive case. And then I think that’s where contact tracing, as we’ve heard a lot about, become so important that we don’t have an unnecessary shutdown, so to speak, of a large group of people, that we have the ability to make certain that those close contacts are appropriately notified and follow CDC guidance and others on self quarantine. The inability to do that, or the inability to provide that information is probably going to lead to health departments recommending that entire groups of people, entire teams, or even entire leagues, potentially not participate for a period of time, and that can be really disruptive to sports. So certainly that sort of communication is going to be really important and something that we need to be very vigilant about.
Governor DeWine: (27:08)
Great. Doctor, thank you very, very much. We appreciate you being with us.
Dr. Borchers: (27:12)
Governor DeWine: (27:13)
Governor DeWine: (27:17)
Eric. Let’s go to quickly to our slides here. Eric is behind the camera trying to do a bunch of different things at one time. This is our regular slide that comes up as we’ll see the cases. We certainly don’t like see any cases, but that number is better than some of the numbers we’ve been seeing. 861 deaths, tragically. 39 people hospitalizations, we see also our up and ICU admissions are up.
Governor DeWine: (27:50)
Eric, if we could go to the latest version of our top 10 Ohio counties ranked by incidence, these are, I believe, new numbers. Let me look at the dates here. Yeah. This goes up to today. And these are, again, counties where we’re trying to compare based on population. So how much has been spread? What are the number of cases in the last 14 days based on population? So it’s last 14 days per 100,000 population. Mercer County is at 245, still number one, although down a little bit, Darke County, Lawrence County, Meigs County, Preble, Shelby, Sandusky, Perry, Champaign, Auglaize. So for the first time, the top 10 counties are basically rural counties and this is what we continue to see. We continue to see this significant spread out into our rural areas. So is obviously very, very concerning. We do have good news. The positivity overall statewide is coming down and we’re happy about that. And we’re also seeing in our urban areas, generally, a lowering in the number of cases. And so that is good. So we will be issuing an order in best guidance in regard to sports. This is really the best guidance that can be provided by the health experts and the medical experts. But the caveat always is that, like anything else in life, it depends on how it is executed. So we would just ask people when this comes out in within the next day, just take a look at it, kind of go through it, but let me give you the highlights.
Governor DeWine: (29:56)
So we will be releasing this order and really it’s about how we can provide the best advice to how sports in Ohio are conducted. This includes not only high school athletes, not only situations that are under the Ohio High School Athletic Associations umbrella, but any kind of sports organized by basically anybody in the state. So it applies to all athletes, all teams, whether under this umbrella, the Ohio High School Athletic Association or not. We have certainly heard from parents, we’ve heard from athletes, we’ve talked to young people, coaches, doctors, and health experts.
Governor DeWine: (30:50)
Just a few thoughts about this and kind of our thinking process. We know, first of all, that just as going back to school in person does increase the risk of spread, we know that sports do, particularly contact sports, they do as well. Further we know that as Dr. Borcher said several times, the more spread there is in a community, the more spread there’s going to be in the school and the higher risk there’s going to be to the students and certainly to the athletes as well. On the other hand, we all know the importance of sports. We’ve seen that, I have seen that with our own children. We’ve seen it with our own grandchildren. Sports matters. It makes a difference.
Governor DeWine: (31:54)
Sports provides all the things that we know. Discipline, brings order, structure in the lives of student athletes, and certainly brings joy to those athletes and certainly to their families as well. Any decision about playing sports or not playing sports simply can not be made in a vacuum. That young person, if they’re not playing sports, will obviously be doing something else with their time. And that has to be kept in mind as well. We also know of course that each young person is different. Each young person has different needs. Each young person is at a different point in their life with different needs, different situations.
Governor DeWine: (32:46)
In our order provides what we hope is the best guidance to play sports as safely as that can be played in the era of COVID-19. So our order will provide that all sports may go forward this fall with contact and the non-contact sports. Again, we lay out exactly the roadmap and how this should take place and what has to be done to make it as safe as possible. We also though have heard from superintendents, persons, from families, for a desire to switch some of these contact sports, football, soccer, field hockey to the spring.
Governor DeWine: (33:37)
Lieutenant Governor and I have had conversations with the Ohio High School Athletic Association and they have given the go ahead for schools that want to do that to move to the spring. As we go through this, frankly, we know some schools are still deciding, some schools have already made up their mind. They’ve already announced. Our goal is to provide, is to focus on the student and to focus on the school and to provide them the best opportunity they can so that young person can participate. No one can guess what the future is going to be. We don’t know frankly, what the situation is going to be or how far into the season we’ll be able to get, or if we can get all the way into the season, we certainly hope, right now, nor can we predict if things will be better when it would become time to play these sports in the spring.
Governor DeWine: (34:35)
But this order simply allows sports to move forward. And we have heard it expressed by some superintendents and others that they would like to be able to have a season, but they don’t want to have a season now. We’ve certainly heard from other schools and other parents who say, we want that season now, we think this is the best thing to happen for many, many, many reasons.
Governor DeWine: (35:05)
We have noticed that a good number of our urban schools, our city schools, have decided not to go back in person. And they’ve also decided not to have fall sports. So if there was no opportunity in the spring to play, and again, we can’t predict the future. We don’t know what that’s going to look like, but there is hope and they will at least have hope. And we hope of actually a season. They’ve already made the decision not to play in the fall, so we don’t want to exclude those children either. We want to give them the hope and the opportunity to also have a season
Governor DeWine: (35:52)
Under our orders, let me talk for a moment about spectators. Everyone I’ve talked to, virtually everyone I’ve talked to, has put the focus exactly where it should be, and that focus should be on young people, letting them play. It’s also important, I believe, that that young person have someone there, if possible, to support them, or people there. Many times it’s family members. Sometimes it may be someone else who’s very, very close to the family, or very, very close to that particular young person.
Governor DeWine: (36:31)
So when our order comes out, what you will see is that we will not have spectators other than family members or people very close to that particular child. And we’ll leave that course up to the school how to do that. We also know if you talk for example, football and other sports too, but I associate this with football more, and that is marching band. That might be a drill team. That might be other things that happen during halftime. And so we would want to provide an opportunity for those parents as well, to be able to come and observe what is going on. So we’ll have more details on that when the order is actually issued, but that’s the basic underpinning in regard to spectators.
Governor DeWine: (37:24)
I think what you’ll see when you look at the orders, there’s no big surprises. The health guidance that is in there is pretty much the guidance that you have heard from us but you’ve also heard on TV. You’ve read in the newspaper. No big surprises. I would just express a hope. I have a lot of hopes, but one hope is that the desire to have a season, I hope that the desire to have a season will inspire our young people, our athletes, our student athletes, 24/7 to be as careful as they can.
Governor DeWine: (38:06)
And I hope also that our coaches and John Houston and I will be talking with coaches later today on several different calls. We’re also going to be talking to superintendents, athletic directors, on conference calls. But our hope is that the coaches will use this as an opportunity to focus on helping these young people understand what really is at stake and that if they’re going to be able to play whatever sport it is they’re playing, whether it is soccer, football, whatever it is, that they’re going to have to do everything they can to keep COVID out of their team.
Governor DeWine: (38:55)
So I hope, and I believe it will work. The driving force that will inspire our young men or young women to make decisions in their lives 24/7. And I hope that that will inspire them to make the right decisions, to give them the opportunity, to have the best chance they can to play their sport. To the coaches, you in a normal year inspire. You mentor. You instruct. You instill discipline, self discipline to your student athletes. For all of that, we’re very, very grateful. Parents, grandparents, everybody else connected with that child, we’re very grateful for what you do. You make a lot of sacrifices, you work long hours and you inspire our kids. And so we thank you very, very much for that, but this year, this year, it’s going to take more. It’s going to be inspiring them in regards to the goal of keeping COVID at-
Governor DeWine: (41:42)
Governor DeWine: (48:56)
[inaudible 00:48:56] signed up. Children who’ve been signed up for the imagination library. So if you’ve not done so, go online and do that. So that’s good news. Just to conclude, success this year in sports is going to be measured always by wins and losses and effort and all the things that we measure sports by. But it’s also going to be measured certainly to some extent is how well we can keep the COVID away from the team, away from the athletes. I think by what we’re doing today, we’re empowering our young people, we’re empowering the parents, we’re empowering the schools to take all the evidence, all the information and make the best judgment call for that child, for those children. These are tough calls. Play contact sports now, play them in the spring, don’t play them, these are all tough decisions. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.
Governor DeWine: (50:11)
We just ask everyone to weigh everything, make the individual best decision for that particular child, for that team, for that school. What we want to do is give as many options as possible out there for everyone. As Dr. Borchers pointed out, community itself, whatever that community is, as far as the COVID spread, you’re going to see that in the schools. You can take a small rural county, that county can probably look at the numbers and get a pretty good idea of what that spread is, get a very good idea what that recent spread is in the community. If you’re in a big urban county, much more diverse, many more people, you may have to look at that data more granular, more in regard to the zip code and things like that. But this information is there, and if we can help anybody, superintendent or anyone dig down into that information, we’re more than happy to try to help them.
Governor DeWine: (51:22)
Sports is about a lot of things, but one thing it’s about is hope. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, hope springs eternal when you start. And on that happy thought, but I would just say that hope itself is not a plan, it’s not a strategy. We all should have hope, but we also should have a plan. So we would ask you, those who are making the decision to play, we wish you every success in the world, we wish your kids every success in keeping COVID away. Look at the plan we have and try the best you can to execute that because we believe that gives you the best chance, your kids the best chance of being able to play a season. Let me now turn it over to lieutenant governor. Jon, we’re a little delayed getting to you, but we had a low intermission there. So over to the lieutenant governor.
John Husted: (52:26)
Great. Thank you, governor. I know you’ve made a lot of decisions in your governorship, but I don’t think you’ve made one that’s been more anticipated by teenagers than this one. And I know that hope is a powerful sustaining presence in our lives and for a lot of student athletes, you’ve given them a good dose of hope today, so thank you for your decision. Look, I know that when we started working on this from the very beginning, coaches and student athletes said, give us a chance. Give us a chance to do this and today, they have that chance. They have that opportunity, but much like the sport you play, your success is going to be based on how well you execute the game plan. Athletes, coaches and families are going to have to demonstrate the discipline to follow the rules so that they can protect themselves and their teammates and control, if not stop the spread of the virus.
John Husted: (53:27)
And one of the things I know we’ve talked about is that one of the potential benefits of proceeding with sports is that the athletes, coaches and families have that extra incentive, have that extra incentive to make sure that off the playing field, they’re doing the right things like wearing their masks and staying socially distance and stopping the spread of the virus. And we hope that this announcement will represent hundreds of thousands of people who have an extra incentive to get this right. And as the governor mentioned, the coaches have an expanded role as educators and leaders in this particular year.
John Husted: (54:13)
I also want to mention that everyone involved must be accountable. In addition to the health department, the Ohio High School Athletic Association will hold schools, athletes and the parents accountable. They will have site inspectors at contests to ensure that the rules are being followed and that the failure to comply with these rules can result in forfeits of athletic contests and disqualification from competition for the season. So the accountability and the nature of how we’re taking this seriously is super important. So when it comes to the coronavirus, we know that there is no right decision and that risk tolerance and your own personal circumstances, and your limited alternatives are important in any of that decision-making.
John Husted: (55:04)
And as Dr. Borchers and the governor pointed out, go into this with your eyes wide open. Know what you have to do, know what the circumstances are for you and your family. But for the athletes out there, here’s your chance to play sports, the sports you love and the opportunity to show us that you possess the discipline to make it work. And we all want you to be successful and healthy, and we’re excited for the opportunity that you have to do this the right way. Governor.
Governor DeWine: (55:36)
Thanks, Jon. We’re ready for questions.
Speaker 1: (55:40)
Governor, your first question today is from Ben Schwartz with WCPO in Cincinnati.
Governor DeWine: (55:45)
Ben Schwartz: (55:46)
Hi governor. Thank you for sticking with us through the difficulties. My question though, I’d like to touch on kind of how you ended your last statements about how tough this decision is. I’d like to know how tough the entire decision process has been for you and how hard it was for you to come to this conclusion regarding sports in the state. And to know if we can expect any changes to come in the future if the situation regarding COVID-19 changes specifically regarding spectators at events.
Governor DeWine: (56:19)
Well, Ben, yes, it’s obviously been a difficult decision and it’s a difficult decision because this is what we value the most. We value all lives, but we take special care of our kids. And I think this could be one of my children out there playing. Fran and I have eight kids, we have 24 grandchildren. They all have played sports at one level or the other. So we know the importance of sports. We know how much that season can mean to that young person. But we also know that we’re in a critical time in Ohio. Our positivity rate has come down below five. That’s good, but we also know that we have some places where that positivity has tripled at in Ohio, in some counties, and that’s of grave, grave concern. So what we wanted to do today is to layout much facts as we could. We’ve been working on these orders that give guidance and we would just ask everyone involved to please read them, because it gives you the guidance to how we think is the best way to carry this out.
Governor DeWine: (57:37)
But these decisions are not made in a vacuum. It’s not just a case of saying, okay, look, we’re going back to school. That’s a risk, we know that. We’re playing sports, we know that’s a risk. Both of those have certainly had the potential to increase the spread in the community. But we also know, as I said, these decisions are not made in a vacuum and that child having the discipline of that sports, having a coach who says, look, we got to get this right, men and women. We got to do this, not just today at practice, not just in the game coming up, but what you do the rest of the day. And that discipline, that desire to have a season I think certainly has the potential to more than compensate for the added danger that is there.
Governor DeWine: (58:31)
I’ve also had parents who have reached out to me. A lot of parents have reached out to me frankly on both sides of this, and talked about mental health issues. And we all know young people who sports is what excites them and that gives them a purpose and it gives them a reason to continue to study and continue to stay focused. So a lot of, lot of good things comes out of sports. To answer your last question, we’re going to see how it goes. We’re going to see how it goes. Going back to school in person is a risk, but we also know we want our kids back in school. We want our kids to play sports, but we also know playing sports is a risk and we’re going to have to see how this goes. And so if it doesn’t work, schools are going to know that pretty quick. The coaches are going to know that pretty quick.
Governor DeWine: (59:36)
We would just ask them to work with their local health department very closely and to make the right decisions. We obviously we’ll be looking at this and we’ll see how this works, and then we hope it works.
Speaker 1: (59:53)
Next question is from Steve Albritton at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Steve Albritton: (01:00:00)
Hey governor, thanks so much for doing this. A two part question for you. One, was a mask mandate ever considered? I know at least for football athletes, when it cools off, most if not all of them would throw something over their face to keep that cool air coming into their lungs. And also on the second part in this order, is there anything with liability for schools? Is there a parental release form, anything like that will be required for athletes to play? Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (01:00:27)
Yeah. Two good questions. As far as the mask, we’ve left that open so far. We’re going to see how it works. We’ve left it open to the schools, the coaches who are monitoring that and know what’s going on. Doesn’t mean that in that area or other areas that we can’t fine tune things, if it looks like we need to fine tune it. We will not hesitate to fine tune, if we think that will help. Second, as far as liability, this is something that I talked yesterday, liability bill, excuse me, to the speaker and the senate president, and I know that they both have bills moving forward. And so I would hope that there would be some liability bill that would pass and that we could get to my desk.
Speaker 1: (01:01:15)
Next question is from Jack Windsor at WMFD in Mansfield.
Jack Windsor: (01:01:21)
Governor DeWine: (01:01:22)
Hey Jack, I missed you.
Jack Windsor: (01:01:23)
We missed you too, sir. Tough question, governor. We know that COVID was in Ohio in January according to data and in one county, they’re claiming it was in November. And since this is highly contagious, it probably did spread massively without our knowing. And at one point in February, before any policies, we saw hospitalization admissions reach, I think 1,200 a day. And the worst we’ve seen since then knowing the COVID is here is about 700. We also know that many schools were closed with the flu-like virus last winter, and many Ohioans believed that this was COVID. Yeah, we had a winter season and we didn’t seem to see serious issues with high school athletes, nor did we see hospitals overcrowded with athletes, their parents, or grandparents. Now that we have more immunity, better diagnostic measures, ways to treat COVID successfully without a vaccine, and even the heart condition that Dr. Borchers mentioned is very rare, according to him.
Jack Windsor: (01:02:19)
Given all this data, it shows like the virus is under control when you look at the positivity rate case projectory and everything. So the tough question is why are we restricting our kids at all when we could give them a season free of restrictions, particularly when the CDC already warned that suicide, drug abuse, depression, those are much greater issues than COVID with our kids, and that they are not transmitting the virus to adults. When you combine this information, why can’t we give them a season without restrictions?
Governor DeWine: (01:02:50)
Well, I guess, Jack, honestly, I don’t agree with everything you’ve said. So when you start with different facts, I guess you end up with different conclusions. First of all, we’re seeing significant spread in the rural areas. We did not see that before in the spring. You could live in a rural area in the spring and not know anybody that had COVID. Pretty hard to do today. We’ve seen it just spread. And if you go up the Western side of the state, you see very rural counties, wonderful people, great counties, and they’ve got horrible spread. That’s one. Two, if you look at, you’ve referenced several times about how many people have really had it. I think one good way of looking at it is looking at the Red Cross numbers. And when somebody goes in to give blood, not a perfectly sample, I suppose, but it does give some idea because these are people who don’t have any symptoms and one of things they determine is whether or not they’ve had COVID or not, that number has never been very, very high.
Governor DeWine: (01:03:52)
It’s always been fairly low, and interestingly, it’s pretty much tracking. The last number I saw is tracking the national average. So it’s one or 2%, can’t remember exactly where it came out. And so look, we can have a season, we can have seasons, we can have a lot of things, but if COVID gets into a team, it’s not going to work. And so we’re just asking everyone to be careful. If you look at how we conduct our lives today in Ohio, we can do most of everything. We just got to be careful. There’s just an added sense of self discipline and trying to be careful. And since we’re talking about sports and talking about hope, there is hope out there because we’re going to get through this. We’re going to get through this. It will be over, it will be in our rear view mirror, and we’ll look back on it and talk about it and young people will tell their kids and their grandkids about it, but it will be over and we will be moving forward.
Governor DeWine: (01:04:57)
But my goal for every Ohioan is to be there when that happens, to make it. Make sure your grandmother doesn’t get sick, make sure that she can make it. Make sure everybody else makes it. And finally, kids do spread it. Study has shown that kids do spread it. So particularly those 10 years of age or older, most of these athletes we’re talking about, one of the concerns is they may be fine, but do they take it home to somebody in their family who has a added medical problem? So those are the concerns that we would have. Thanks, Jack.
Speaker 1: (01:05:35)
Governor, next question is from Danny Eldridge at a Hannah News Service.
Danny Eldridge: (01:05:45)
Hello, governor. Sorry about that. I was on mute. I guess we talked about sports. I guess another thing that may need to be addressed are the performing arts for high school students and for the professionals out there who feel like they are kind of been left in the dark during these reopenings. So can you talk about what plans you have for not only the professional performing arts-
Governor DeWine: (01:06:11)
And look, we apologize for that in regard to the performing arts. We’ve had grandchildren who have been in school plays and theater, and it is something that is just very, very, very important. And one of the more amazing things is to see your grandchild up there with a role in a play and just how in the world they memorize the lines and do all the things and the songs and everything else. So we don’t want to leave that behind. So we will have orders out this week that will cover that. What we do know is what the scientists tell us, and obviously people project. And so that’s going to have to be taken care of somehow. If that may mean moving the audience back further so there’s not that projection, we’re working with the scientist on that to come up with some sort of plan for that. But we do don’t mean to leave out the performing arts.
Governor DeWine: (01:07:10)
Very, very, very important. And not only is it important to those who perform, but for those of us who can’t perform, but sit there in the audience and get great joy out of it, we’re always amazed at what these actors, actresses and what these performers can do. So we’ll have something next couple of days.
Speaker 1: (01:07:33)
Next question is from Laura Bishop of the Dayton Daily News.
Laura Bishop: (01:07:37)
Hi governor. Two quick questions. Will teams be following the CDC guidelines for quarantine of their close contacts when they have a positive, or will they be looking at a shorter period? And also, will there be schools where students are online only yet after school hours, they’re out on the football field or on the cross country course competing?
Governor DeWine: (01:07:59)
Yeah. The answer to the second question, Laura, is that’s entirely up to the school and to the families. We’ve left the decision about going back to school in-person or a hybrid, split or totally online, that’s up to the school. Also, up to the school is the sports. So you could have a combination of being online and that school made the decision, but we want to play ball, and they can do that. And so I think you look at today’s announcement, it’s just really kind of following up and consistent with that. After consultation with the Ohio High School Athletic Association, we have additional option, which is that for a contact sport, if the school wants to move it, they can come up with a schedule. We saw a number of Cuyahoga County schools wanting to do that. In fact, I talked with the [inaudible 01:09:03] superintendent this morning about their ideas of putting different things together.
Governor DeWine: (01:09:07)
We’re fine with that. We just wanted to give them more options. As far as the CDC, yes, we’ve been following the CDC guidelines. And this is where it will be very, very important for them to work with their local health departments. So again, in counties or in school districts where the spread is significant, very, very significant or high, that’s going to be more difficult. They swim in the ocean of whatever’s out there and so that’s going to make it more difficult. Doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it’s going to make it certainly more difficult. But again, we’re going to follow the best practices that we follow anywhere else.
Laura Bishop: (01:09:57)
Governor DeWine: (01:09:58)
Speaker 1: (01:09:59)
Next question is from Scott Halasz of the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Scott Halasz: (01:10:03)
Hey governor, how are you doing?
Governor DeWine: (01:10:05)
Scott Halasz: (01:10:06)
Good. Thanks for hanging in there with us all. With full sports, contact sports, there’s a lot of moving parts into putting out an event. How detailed are the orders going to be with respect to the number of people [inaudible 01:10:20] football game, concession stands, number of people allowed in the press box, how they set things up for social distancing. Is that going to be [inaudible 01:10:32].
Governor DeWine: (01:10:38)
Yeah, Scott. I mean, it’s going to be a combination of both us, what we put out in the order and the guidance we have. But look, it’s like anything else in life. It’s execution and the folks who are going to have to execute it. I mean, one of the things that we provide is that everybody who’s hosting an event, let’s say it’s [inaudible 01:10:58] high school, they’re going to have to have what we call a compliance person. They’re going to have to designate someone on staff who is the compliance person, who makes sure that everything is in fact being followed. We give them some guidance in regard to the stands. It’s kind of basic. It goes back to separation of people. Family members will be able to be seated by themselves. If you come out of a household, you obviously will be able to sit together.
Governor DeWine: (01:11:28)
But what we don’t want is people from other households close in. So we want separate people out. We will have a cap, but the focus really will be on parents. And we’ll let the schools work this out. We’re not going to tell them how to do it, but the focus has been really clear of what people have told me. That is, hey, let’s have the kids play. It’s the most important thing. Second most important thing is have their loved ones there to cheer them on, somebody who makes a difference in that child’s life. So that’s-
Governor DeWine: (01:12:03)
Somebody who makes a difference in that child’s life. So that’s what our emphasis is. I think when you look at the order, you’ll see that. And so it’s not going to be a typical Friday Night Football in Ohio. I mean, Friday Night Football is where the community comes together, literally. And you see people you didn’t see all week, but you’re going to see them Friday night. And get your popcorn and you watching the football game, and it’s just not going to be like that. And we hope it’s only… It’s one season, but the young people are going to get to play. And that, we think, is most important.
Speaker 2: (01:12:40)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (01:12:46)
Good afternoon, Governor. I wanted to switch topics a little bit, and I want to talk about voting. Does one drop box per 1 million people make any sense to you, and if so, can you explain why? And also, do you support the President’s decision to begin making reforms to the postal service so close to an election?
Governor DeWine: (01:13:06)
Well, no. The President didn’t consult me on that. Look, I think there’s a real consensus among Republicans and Democrats that there are certainly challenges with the Post Office, but we don’t want to in any way have a situation where the Post Office does not have the resources they need to get the ballots out, get the ballots back. So one thing that Frank LaRose always reminds everybody, and I’m going to let John Husted say something, and I asked John if he wants to say something because he was former Secretary of State, but people can apply early. Send in your letter asking for that application. And then my understanding is when the magical date comes, they can send that right to you, and you’ll get it early, get it back, and I think that is important. John, do you want to add anything to my answer to Kevin’s question?
John Husted: (01:14:16)
Look, the Post Office needs to have adequate personnel staffing and machinery to do its job. The system that we are operating in in Ohio has worked very well for more than a decade. In many cases, there were never drop boxes. Everybody, get your absentee ballot applications in. The ballots will be sent to you a month in advance before the election. Get them back out. Mail them in. You can track that ballot online all the way back to your board of elections to make sure that it was received and will be counted.
John Husted: (01:14:51)
So we have the tracking mechanisms. We have the infrastructure in place. The Post Office needs to do its job. Ohio’s system has worked. That system is not changing. We need the Post Office to execute, and it’ll work out fine. Voters should not be worried about their ballots being counted or being sent through the mail as long as they turn them in on time. If it’s postmarked in advance of the day before… Of election day, it will be counted. So I want to have a reassuring message in here. It’s worked in Ohio in the past. We’re not doing anything differently for the most part, and so it will work again.
Governor DeWine: (01:15:37)
Thanks, John. Who’s next?
Speaker 2: (01:15:40)
Next question is from Andy Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Andy Chow: (01:15:44)
Hi, Governor. I’m wondering if I could try to squeeze two questions in one. As far as high school sports go, will athletes be required to be tested before games? And then as far as this decision goes, how important to have the past couple of weeks of declining numbers… did those play a role in your decision today?
Governor DeWine: (01:16:03)
Yes to the second question. Look, we still are seeing mixed numbers, but positivity has now reached, as I recall, 4.5. That is down two full points from where it was probably two months ago. Now, that is statewide. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have places where there’s high, and those are the places, as I’ve made very clear, that I worry most about. And just a little pitch for sports and for our athletes. Most important thing you can do if you live in an area that’s red, or if you live in an area that is orange, or really any place in Ohio, if you want your kids to play football, if you want them to participate in soccer and whatever the sport is, most important thing you can do is wear a mask. Be careful because the community spread is going to be directly reflected into that school.
Governor DeWine: (01:17:00)
So, yeah. That played a big part. As far as testing, I know there was confusion. We had a previous two orders ago, and then in the last order it was just repeated. It was never our intent that the testing requirement would be for students. Now, if the school has the ability to test, that would be good, but we don’t assume that. In fact, we’re assuming that testing is not going to be that widespread unless someone has a symptom. But we’re certainly willing to work with the schools on this. The other thing that’s going on, as you well know, is this testing situation is changing. It’s changing very quickly. We have started, for example, testing of all our… you heard earlier about our testing that we have going on in the veteran’s home, but we’re going through now, and actually it’s been done in assisted living homes in residences. We’re going on a two week cycle of testing, and that testing is taking place. So the testing is more and more opportunities. We have some opportunities to bring in more testing, and we’re going to continue to do that. So where we are in a month from now, or where we are two months from now, I can’t tell you. But today, it’s pretty clear that it would be a very unusual high school that would have the ability to do any kind of testing regularly… To do testing. So that’s not part of this order. It’s not part of our working assumption. It’s not what we based this decision on.
Andy Chow: (01:18:42)
Speaker 2: (01:18:43)
Next question is from Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.
Geoff Redick: (01:18:53)
Hello, Governor. Are you able to hear me?
Governor DeWine: (01:18:55)
Geoff Redick: (01:18:58)
I know you said that this applies to high school sports and youth sports. Does your order also apply college sports of all kinds? If so, I know there’s a lot of consternation about what’s going on at Ohio State with the cancellation of the Big 10 season. Did you know anything about their testing program? And would you set your foot in the waters that people who are trying to get those sports started again this fall?
Governor DeWine: (01:19:20)
What I’ve learned about Ohio State’s testing program, frankly, has come after the fact as we were looking at high school. This order is focused primarily on high school, but it would certainly apply, and will apply, to college as well. This is a moving target, as you know. Some leagues have decided not to play. Big 10, of course, the MAC. So that knocked off a number of certainly Division 1 schools in Ohio. There’s other leagues have decided not to play. So it’s a moving target, but this would apply to those teams, as well, and those schools as well.
Speaker 2: (01:20:10)
Next question is from Jim Provance at The Toledo Blade.
Jim Provance: (01:20:16)
Hello, Governor. This is a bit of a followup to Geoff’s question. And we’ve seen some of the major college football conferences, including the Big 10, postpone their football seasons because they don’t think it’s safe right now for college athletes. We’ve seen some professional teams that have been unable to keep the virus out of the locker rooms, et cetera. Why do we think it’s going to be any different in a high school gymnasium or on the field?
Governor DeWine: (01:20:46)
And that certainly gives us all pause. These decisions… You’d have to talk to the sports, the leagues, about why they made those decisions. I’ve never said this is going to be easy. We have provided opportunities. First, it starts with the family. Family can say, “We’re not playing.” School can say, “We’re not playing.” School can then say, if it wants to… If it doesn’t want to do that, it can say, “We’re going to try to play in the spring.” But I think you have to look at this from a holistic point of view. And the holistic point of view is what’s best for that individual person, that individual child, that individual athlete, and all the things that go with sports. So if you only worried about the hours in a day that that student athlete would be in practice or in a game, pretty one-sided decision, I think. But we’re dealing with a person, and we’re dealing with what they do the other times of the day.
Governor DeWine: (01:22:14)
And we’re going to see, but I am hopeful whether that desire, that discipline to succeed, instilled by the coach and self instilled by the athlete, will make them safer or as safe as they would have been if they were not playing the sport. So none of this we know. It’s all a, we hope, educated guess. We don’t know where the virus will be in the spring. We don’t know really where the virus will be in three weeks from now. And we stand ready, quite candidly, if this goes the wrong way to shut it all down.
Governor DeWine: (01:23:03)
But I looked at this as a very close call, and I listened to what many parents have told me about the problems connected with their child being out of school, their child who had major focus on sports that kept him or her focused, kept them in school, kept them focused on getting good grades, kept them focused on a lot of things. And you pull that away, and I’ve had a lot of people describe for us, and it’s not just the studies that have been done, about what impact that has on that particular child. So it’s not just a question of, “Hey, the hours they’re play sports, is that worth it?” The question is it’s a bigger picture. And frankly, we’re allowing parents to make that decision. We’re allowing schools to make that decision. If it goes off the rails, don’t doubt that we’ll step in. John?
John Husted: (01:24:08)
Yeah. Thanks Governor. A couple of things just really to emphasize. If you’re talking about 16-year-old, 17-year-olds, high school athletes, they’re in a position that they’re going to go out and compete. When you look at this, and I know from my life experiences and talking to coaches, are they better with the incentive to play, and to keep themselves protected 24 hours a day under a coach’s supervision and these rules, than they would be to be left to their own devices and go out and play pickup games and do unorganized things that they do? And I just think that there’s more of an incentive for them to do this right and to get the education and coaching that they need to sustain this under a more structured situation. And Governor, one thing I don’t know if we pointed out is the effective date of when this can occur, and that would be August the 21st. August the 21st would be the effective date for resumption of these activities.
Governor DeWine: (01:25:17)
Candidly, we’re putting a lot on the coaches. We’re putting a lot on the athletic directors and everybody in the school, but they’re the ones who can most directly impact this. They’re the ones who are there to inspire the student athlete every other day. And a lot of it is execution. A friend I’ve had… I guess all our kids have run cross country. Most of our grandkids have run cross country. They’ve done other sports, played soccer, done those things as well. But a lot of it’s going to be in the execution. If you’ve got a cross country team, and they’re practicing, I know what kids like to do. They’re out running a road, or they’re out running in a park or wherever they’re running, they like to be bunched together. That’s what they want to do.
Governor DeWine: (01:26:07)
Can’t do that now. I mean, you can’t be in a situation where the one athlete is breathing on the other one for 60 minutes or longer. So it’s just things like that that we can’t write in orders, we can’t micromanage, but that every coach is going to have to figure out, “Okay, it’s not just during the event. It’s not just during the meet. Not just during the game. It’s all the time I’m working with this young person and they’re in training. How are we going to do the training?” Everything has to pass to be rethought, just like we rethink everything else during this time of COVID. Again, next year, we hope everybody’s back. And we’re back doing the things in the way we wanted to do them. But this is no ordinary time. This is a different time. It will end. But during this time, all of us have to be different, frankly. Who has the next question?
Speaker 2: (01:27:00)
Jake Zuckerman from Ohio Capital Journalism has the next question.
Jake Zuckerman: (01:27:05)
Hello, Governor. This is Jake Zuckerman, here.
Governor DeWine: (01:27:08)
Jake Zuckerman: (01:27:08)
If the FDA does authorize a COVID vaccine and brings it to the market, there are going to be some questions to answer like how does the vaccine get out? Who gets it first? And who, if anyone, must get it? Can you detail any planning on this front? And do you expect to request any kind of legislation this [inaudible 01:27:26] from the GA?
Governor DeWine: (01:27:27)
That’s an excellent question. I don’t think, frankly, we know one. Would assume that there’ll be protocols, that there will be national protocols, but we’re talking to doctors now in case there’s not national protocols that are set, how would we set that in Ohio?
Governor DeWine: (01:27:49)
These are decisions that politicians shouldn’t make, bluntly. These are decisions that we should leave to infectious disease experts and people who really understand what is vitally important to save the most lives. And how do we quick as we can get control of this? So it’s something that we’re already started talk with doctors about. If there’s not national guidance, we will be ready,
Jake Zuckerman: (01:28:16)
Do you expect to need help from the legislature to roll anything out?
Governor DeWine: (01:28:21)
Well, I don’t know yet, frankly. I really don’t know yet. Again, we going to have to see where this discussion goes, and we’ll try to do this decision like we’ve done everything else. And that has to rely on doctors, to rely on medical community, and try to make the most informed decision. But these are not typically politician decisions, elected officials. We’ve got to bring the people in who can tell us, health experts, how can we save the most lives? How can we slow the spread the quickest?
Jake Zuckerman: (01:28:59)
Governor, next question is the last question, and it belongs to Jackie Borchardt or the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Governor DeWine: (01:29:03)
Jackie Borchardt: (01:29:04)
Hey, how are you? This plan today leaves a lot of decisions to local schools. Does the order give them any guidance, such as specific metrics or benchmarks about how to reach that decision? And what would you consider going off the rails to look like?
Governor DeWine: (01:29:23)
Well, that’s a good question. I think when you see the order, you’ll see there’s a lot of guidance in there.
Jackie Borchardt: (01:29:30)
It’d be great to see the order.
Governor DeWine: (01:29:32)
Yeah. You’ll get to see that tomorrow, I think. I don’t think it’s quite done. But as far as the decision, look, Jackie, we haven’t been too subtle about this. I mean, if you’re in a community where you’ve got widespread COVID spread, you’ve got to think long and hard about having contact sports in the fall. I mean, we’re not going to tell them not to do it, but that is part of the process. Wherever it is in the community, it will be in your school, and whatever it is in your school will be, at least going in, with those athletes. No reason to think it’s going to be any different. So that’s why we continue to talk about the importance of schools… Communities, rather, if they want their kids back in school, then wear the mask, cut this spread down, keep the distance.
Governor DeWine: (01:30:26)
So this as Borchardt said, schools and athletes and teams have got to look at what the environment is that they exist in. I think I would also, frankly, look at who are the teams I’m going to play? How’s the spread in with those teams and from that community that we’re going to be intermixing with for several hours? I would look at that. I think that is certainly very important as well. So there’s no secret about what the metrics are, or how you go about making this decision. But every school is different. Every child is different, and you got to try to tailor the answer for that child. I would just also say, and ask our schools, our coaches, we’ll get a chance, John. I’m going to have the chance to talk with them and the superintendents here shortly, as well as the athletic directors, but look. Be flexible. Be flexible. Make this work. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Pull back.
Governor DeWine: (01:31:34)
If you’re not too far in the season, maybe you’ll want to make a decision to flip over and try to do it in the spring. We’ve just got to be flexible because we’re dealing with so many things that are unknown. I mean, our positivity rate is down, but it’s not down every county. It’s up in a lot of counties. Overall statewide it’s down, but a lot of in particular rural counties, we’re seeing it go up. I see that my time is up. Thank you all very, very much. We’ll see you back here, I believe, at two o’clock on Thursday, and hope everybody has a good day. Thank you.