Jun 25, 2020
Mike DeWine Ohio Press Conference Transcript June 25
Governor Mike DeWine held a COVID-19 press conference on June 25. Ohio saw the fourth-highest single day spike in coronavirus cases, and DeWine said the spike isn’t due to increased testing.
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Mike DeWine: (00:02)
Governor Houston, I and Fran had a great time in Lordstown yesterday. We’re very, very excited about what we’re seeing coming out of the Mahoning Valley, as far as a new pickup truck, all electric pickup truck and it’s an exciting time.
Mike DeWine: (00:22)
Today I’m wearing a tie from Franklin University. Since 1902 Franklin University in Columbus has been an innovator in providing education for adult learners. University offers applied in demand undergraduate masters and doctorate programs enabling adult learners to achieve their education and their professional goals.
Mike DeWine: (00:43)
My good friend, former state rep Ross McGregor is a graduate as is my good friend Nino Vitaly. So we’re happy to say hi to all the alumni. On a very sad note, like to pause and remember the life of 28 year old Marine Sergeant Wolfgang Kyle Wininger. The Sergeant died in a military training accident last week. Growing up in Georgia County, he was a student athlete. He was a leader. As a Marine, his commanding officer described him as smart, dedicated, dependable. I have ordered the flags lowered at the state house and in Georgia County in honor of his life and service until the day of his burial and Fran, I’ve also lowered our flag at our home. My deepest condolence go to his mother and stepdad and Michelle and Scott Henry. His father, stepmother, Ernst and Wininger, as well as his siblings, Dru Milo and McKinley
Mike DeWine: (02:13)
Today’s numbers show a big increase in cases in Ohio. We have seen a continuing increase or higher numbers for the last week. Today we’re showing an increase of 892 cases reported since yesterday. This is the fourth highest day of cases we’ve noted by report date. The earlier days were April 18th, the 20th, and those include significant testing in our prisons. So this is in essence, the highest number in a sense that we have had.
Mike DeWine: (02:53)
It is important to note that in today’s case increase, almost 60% of these individuals are in the 20 to 49 year old range. Hospitalizations are up by 55 and we’ll look at the total chart starting at the bottom. If we look at last 24 hours, ICU admissions 11, the 21 day average is 13. So that’s holding steady. Hospitalizations. Last reported 24 hours, 55. 21 day report is 57. That’s fairly steady. The deaths, 17. There is a 21 day average, so again, fairly steady.
Mike DeWine: (03:43)
But the early indicator of course is the number of cases. Now we’ll talk in a moment about we have increased testing, but no analyst that I have talked to believes that the total increases due to that at all. And we’ll get into that in a little bit.
Mike DeWine: (04:11)
Let me turn to the total testing slide, positivity slide. As I said on Tuesday, we’re going to continue to make more data available on our coronavirus website. This information is up there.
Mike DeWine: (04:28)
Earlier this week, we started posting the number of tests performed and the percent positivity on the dashboard. So we will update this every day. A caution, this is because of the way the numbers come in, let me get the date here. We’ve got a date several days actually behind, but so the last date, this is actually dated for tests on the 23rd of June. And the tests on that day were 17,091. So you can see this is a new high for tests. We’re happy about that. It’s not where we want to be. We need to get much higher, but we’re getting great cooperation from people around the state. A lot of people are engaged in getting this testing up. And as I’ve said, as we look at this problem, there’s two things we can do. One is more testing and more tracing and separating this virus so it doesn’t spread, and the other thing of course that we can do is how each one of us, what we do out there, washing our hands, wearing a mask, keeping our distance, basic things that we have been talking about.
Mike DeWine: (05:55)
So those are the numbers. Again, we’ll show this number here. This is the positivity rate has been between four and six. It’s holding in there at five. So in spite of the significantly increased testing, the positivity is holding there at five.
Mike DeWine: (06:15)
Let’s look, Eric, at the age slide. We are seeing this across the state and frankly, and talking to governors the other day on a call with the vice president, a number of them said they were seeing the same thing in their area. As you can see from this chart, the average age of people who were infected in March was 51. And you can see these are the March numbers. Eric, let’s see the next one if we could.
Mike DeWine: (06:50)
Well, so far in June, that number has decreased to 42. I’m sorry, was looking at a different mode. So you can see what’s happened. The age is gone down month by month by month, or at least the last couple of months. So the average age of the people who are testing.
Mike DeWine: (07:16)
The trends that we just talked about are trends that we’re seeing in Hamilton County. And we want to focus a little bit today on Hamilton County because our guest is Dr. Rick Lofgren from UC Health, and he’s here to talk to us. He’s the president and CEO of UC Health, the university of Cincinnati’s affiliated health system. Doctor is an internal medicine physician with almost 40 years in health care, including working in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan. I’ve asked Dr. Lofgren to spend some time today talking about what he is seeing and what they are seeing in Hamilton County. Quite frankly, what he’s going to describe to you is some trends that are moving in the wrong direction, certainly not what we want to see, but he’ll talk to you about it. And Dr. Lofgren thank you very, very much for joining us. I see you’re there, I guess in your office. So thanks for joining us.
Dr Lofgren: (08:14)
Thank you, governor. And I want to thank you for your leadership and your remarkable, steady hand through this pandemic. It’s really been phenomenal.
Dr Lofgren: (08:24)
After the initial introduction of this virus in our community, Hamilton County and the surrounding area has really have done an incredible job as slowing down and containing the spread of the virus until unfortunately the last 10 plus days where we’ve definitely seen an uptake or a spike in the number of new cases. I wonder if I could have the first slide.
Mike DeWine: (08:50)
Dr Lofgren: (08:51)
Great, thank you. So what you see here is the R over time in Hamilton County. This is the effective reproductive ratio. I know you’ve touched upon it on your previous updates, but just to remind people that this is a number that tells you the number of people that an infected person will in turn infect. If the R factor is below one, it indicates that the virus is being contained. But if it’s greater than one, it really indicates that the virus is spreading in your community.
Dr Lofgren: (09:25)
At the peak of the pandemic, we could see in the early part of April, in our region, our R factor was 2.4. But with the social distancing and the interventions, we saw the R factor declined and over the last several weeks, our R factor had been below one, which means that the virus was in our community, but it was no longer spreading.
Dr Lofgren: (09:48)
However, more recently our R factor has increased to nearly 1.5 and actually has doubled over the last 10 days.
Dr Lofgren: (09:57)
If I could have the next slide.
Mike DeWine: (09:59)
All right. All right, doctor, the slide is up and you, and I talked a little bit about this slide and for those of us who live in Ohio, we might be a little confused by this slide, but I’m going to point to the Ohio river and you can kind of describe the outline here. I think my arm is long enough.
Mike DeWine: (10:20)
So basically you have three counties in Kentucky. I see you have them labeled, thank you. That’s good. So we can see part of the three bottom counties are Kentucky, and then I believe we also have Indiana in there as well. So why don’t you go ahead and describe it doctor.
Dr Lofgren: (10:38)
Okay. So what we show here and what I wanted to depict is that this increase in our R factor is really in the region itself, so in the middle of the slide, you see Hamilton County. And each one of the counties that’s in red tells us that their R factor is significantly above one. To the North of us in Ohio, is Butler County and to the East of Clermont County. Just as the governor explained, to the West at Dearborn County which is in South Eastern Indiana, and then the three counties in the bottom are the counties in Northern Kentucky. And obviously we’re our community, and so you can see this uptick in the R factor is in fact in the region, but it has most notably been increased in Hamilton County as well.
Dr Lofgren: (11:25)
If I could have the next slide.
Mike DeWine: (11:27)
And you’ve got also, doctor, as I’m looking at this, it looks like Clermont County is close to two now. So Clermont is up there pretty well too.
Dr Lofgren: (11:36)
Yeah. The only thing I’d mention about that one governor is that-
Mike DeWine: (11:38)
the smaller numbers.
Dr Lofgren: (11:41)
Lower numbers, exactly. So it fluctuates a little bit more, but it is significantly above one. So again, recognizing it’s in the region. The counties that are in the tan color are actually below one. And so it really does show the concentration in the greater Cincinnati, the region here.
Mike DeWine: (12:05)
All right, next slide, Eric.
Dr Lofgren: (12:07)
Yep. Next slide.
Mike DeWine: (12:09)
All right, it’s up doctor, it’s up now.
Dr Lofgren: (12:12)
Okay, thanks. And, and I’m going to walk you through this. It may look a little complicated, but what we’re seeing is we’re also seeing a more modest, but a definite increase in the number of patients or individuals that had to be hospitalized because of COVID. Each one of the blue dots represents a day, and it really goes from the beginning part, a lot of part of March, and you can see that the number of patients that were hospitalized in our region, this the Ohio region, let me be clear about that, this is just Southwest Ohio, increased into the peak and sort of middle of April. And since that time, we’ve seen a steady decline as you see, by the blue dots coming stepwise down.
Dr Lofgren: (12:54)
Then you can look at the last 10 dots. You can see that the line is straight up in terms of number of patients or number of individuals who have become infected with COVID that’s required hospitalization. And the gray bars just tell you whether or not it’s beyond random variation for the statisticians in the room, which means this is a real uptick that’s beyond just random variation.
Mike DeWine: (13:17)
Dr Lofgren: (13:18)
If I have the next slide then.
Mike DeWine: (13:23)
It’s up now, doctor.
Dr Lofgren: (13:25)
Great. And this is really the same information, but this time is just confined to the individuals who are critically ill and require to be in an ICU. So again, each blue dot represents a day. And on the left hand side is the number of people happen to be in an ICU given that day. And what you see, really a nice decline through May into early June. And then again, if you look at the dots in the far right, we have been doing well, and all of a sudden you see this uptick in the last 10 days of patients who require an ICU care as well. So we’ve definitely seen an uptick in the number of cases, but also seeing a modest, but real uptake in both hospitalizations in ICU cases. If I could have the next slide.
Mike DeWine: (14:13)
All right, it’s up doctor.
Dr Lofgren: (14:18)
Great. And I think this really highlights one of the points that governor, that you just mentioned, about the real shift in the people that are testing positive. So what you see on the left hand side is the number of cases and positive test results that we got by age. And so on the left hand side, in the week of May 31st, you can see that the distribution is actually pretty even across all the different age groups. There really wasn’t a particular age group that has stood out. But looking at the distribution of the positive test results on the graph on the right, you can see that we’ve actually seen a dramatic increase in the number of people who are testing positive in the age group of 20 to 30, and again, some degree in terms of the age group…
Dr Lofgren: (15:03)
20 to 30. And again, some degree in terms of the age group of 30 to 40. We’ve clearly seen a shift in terms of younger people who really are driving this increased number of cases. Very consistent with what you were seeing around the state, and also I think around the country. The next slide then…
Mike DeWine: (15:24)
It’s up doctor.
Dr Lofgren: (15:26)
Great. Again, I realized this is a bit complicated, but I think it’s an important point. So what you see on the left hand side is the percentage of patients who are tested in that age group, who had a positive test result. So just look at the line and don’t play… If you just look at the line, you notice that throughout April and May, just about 10% of the people in the age group of 20 to 30 had a positive test. Then we saw an early part of June that the rate of the test positive test went down. This is what we might expect to see if we start to increase the testing that you’ve mentioned, governor, that’s happening. Because we had tested more and more people that would not have symptoms. And therefore we would expect that the percentage of people with a positive test, would go down. And then you can see in the latter part of June, that has actually gone back up. And actually at this point in time, we’re seeing about 14% of the test in this age group come back positive for COVID.
Dr Lofgren: (16:29)
What I’ve shown you by comparison on the right hand side is what we’ve seen in the age group of 60 to 70, which is really what we’ve seen in all the other age groups. Again, in the early part of April, we were seeing a positivity rate of about 12, because we really were only testing people who are quite sick. You saw that drop in May and actually in June, you’ve seen a drop below 5%. So going back to the point about this uptick of the percentage of individuals who test positive in the younger group, this is really indicative that the increased number of cases we’re seeing is not just because we’re doing more tests. It really does in fact, indicate that there is more disease and more disease that’s spreading in our community. So one of the things that we have, and I’ve actually done with the slides, if you would like, but one of the concerns we have is that we are seeing this big uptake in younger patients.
Dr Lofgren: (17:26)
And as you know, younger patients tend not to have as much complications as older patients, but we’re concerned about the younger individuals in our community, particularly those who might be infected and have no symptoms, who in turn might infect older individuals or individuals who are at more risk of developing complications from COVID. And so we’re keeping a close eye on sort of the next 14 days, whether or not we’re seeing some sort of a rebound infection, if you will, as the result of this uptick infection in younger adults. In response to this uptick, Commissioner Moore of the Cincinnati Department of Health and Commissioner Kesterman of the Hamilton Department of Health have been increasing the testing availability, particularly in those neighborhoods where we’ve seen an increased number of cases. They really are busy doing the appropriate amount of contact tracing.
Dr Lofgren: (18:16)
So that in fact, we can understand the disease, identify cases and isolate them and contain them. But I think this uptick also reminds us about the importance of maintaining safety measures, so that we can prevent the spread of this virus in our community. This virus remains in our community, but we certainly can safely live with this virus as we continue to open up our economy and open up our lives. But in order to do that, we need to be vigilant and really understand the importance of social distancing, the use of universal masks. Masks are very effective in preventing the spread of this virus, particularly from asymptomatic individuals. But to really be infective in the community, it really needs to be done by everybody, so there isn’t any chance event that we have an inadvertent or unknowing spread of this virus to more susceptible of individuals and individuals who may have complications from it.
Dr Lofgren: (19:12)
It’s also important that we continue to be very vigilant about washing our hands, sanitizing surfaces that are commonly used amongst many people. And to make sure that if you are infected that you stay home, that you isolate, that you take care of yourself. So sort of summarizes what’s happening in the greater Cincinnati, Hamilton County area. Again, we’ve seen I think a real uptick in the number of cases. It seemed to be way disproportionately in younger adults. We are still so seeing some increase in the hospitalization. It really does tell us that this virus is having a bit of a comeback. The positivity rate in younger adults also suggest that we’re seeing actual more spread in the community, which just means it’s so important that we actually, as a community, really recognize that the simple safety measures that really reduce the spread in our community are both needed and will be highly effective. So that we can give our factors back below one, and really contain the spread of this virus.
Mike DeWine: (20:17)
Doctor, that’s a great report. Chilling report, but thank you for a very comprehensive report. So do you know why, or can you, based on science, give us some idea why are we seeing this with young people?
Dr Lofgren: (20:37)
We don’t have a lot of good information and data per se. As we start to learn more through the contact tracing, maybe we will have more insights about why we think that people might be acquiring the infection. It really is younger adults tend to be a little bit more risk takers. So maybe part of the generational elements, this, but we really need to understand more and have more information before we really can conclude what it is and why it is. But we do know the importance of identifying individuals, making sure they’re isolated, making sure we’re contacting anybody else that we can mitigate and prevent the further spread of this virus in our community.
Mike DeWine: (21:18)
Well, I know you and the city officials, Mayor Cranley and County commissioners, as well as two health commissioners are really focused on getting more testing. So that is obviously very important. Dor those of our viewers, doctor, who are not from Hamilton County or who are not in any of the county’s that you just showed up there, is there a message for them as well? Can they look at this and say, well, it’s a unique Hamilton County problem or what’s it mean, if you know?
Dr Lofgren: (21:59)
I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear the question, governor.
Mike DeWine: (22:02)
Yeah. Well, the question really is, let me just say it a different way. If I live in Columbus or if I live in Toledo or if I live in some other area of the state, we focused today on Cincinnati. Your data of course is from Cincinnati, but is there any message for everybody else?
Dr Lofgren: (22:21)
I think the message through all of this is that, at this point in time, we don’t have the ability to eradicate the virus. It is in our community. There are still people who are potentially at risk of becoming infected. And so this really highlights the importance in every community to maintain relatively simple safety measures that we know will prevent the spread in the community. We’ve done a great job. We’ve brought down the spread in our community through a whole host of things, but again, maintaining social distancing, making sure that you’re not in contact. I think, reminder is that unfortunately there are people who are infected, who don’t know they are infected.
Dr Lofgren: (23:03)
And actually can inadvertently spread this virus, which is why maintaining the six foot distance and using a mask will really prevent that from spreading. As well as continue hand hygiene alike. So regardless of where you are, and I think a lesson even from Hamilton County is that we’re doing and have done a great job, but you can’t let your guard down. This virus is still in the community. We still need to be sure that we’re practicing all the safe measures. And if we practice those safe measures as a community, we can live safely with this virus in our community. And again, open up our economies and open up our lives.
Mike DeWine: (23:43)
Doctor, as far as young people, this will be my final question. Again, thank you very much. But as far as young people, we’ve seen that by and large, unless they have a medical problem. Most of them are going to get through this okay. What is the fear then of a lot of young people who are coming down with COVID-19.
Dr Lofgren: (24:09)
A number of people with COVID-19, particularly younger, are going to have a milder disease or even asymptomatic disease, but I think it should be still recognized even amongst young adults, that it can be really a serious disease. And that people who have recovered from it, actually you can have some ongoing problems. Some patients who recover from the disease still lose 20, 30% of their lung function. So I don’t think we should underestimate or think that this is a benign disease. In fact, I’ll just share with you that the last patient we had that was admitted to UC Health and required ICU is a 28 year old individual without any preexisting conditions. Now that’s the exception than the rule, but the point being is that it is still a very serious infection. And one in which we can again, control by using all the appropriate safety measures.
Mike DeWine: (25:01)
Doctor, thank you very much for your time. We know you’re very, very busy and thank you for what you do every day for your patients and for the patients that you see. So thank you. Thanks, doctor.
Dr Lofgren: (25:13)
Thank you, governor. I appreciate you having the opportunity.
Mike DeWine: (25:16)
Thank you. Today we’re excited to announce the addition of two new Kroger retail testing locations. One in Dayton, one in Cincinnati. In addition, Walgreens has announced three new retail testing locations in Cleveland, Marietta, and Centerville. And we certainly appreciate what they’re doing, and we hope for more. For exact locations and find other sites near you, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov. Our pop up testing is focused on underserved areas, particularly minority communities. However, testing is open to anyone. Anyone can come in. As far as these sites, it is free. We’re adding locations where we’re seeing an increase in positive cases. And so this testing is important. I know yesterday in Xenia, I think they had over 900 people. So it’s a great thing. Thanks to Greene County for turning out.
Mike DeWine: (26:15)
Tomorrow we have a testing location in Columbus at the Department of Public Safety on West Broad Street, 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Monday. We have popup locations coming Monday in Lisbon, Canton, and two different sites in Cincinnati. On Tuesday of next week, we will have two sites, Cincinnati and Bowling Green. On Wednesday we will continue to have sites in Cincinnati. And finally on Thursday, we will have another testing location in Cincinnati, and one in Circleville. We will be adding more testing locations, so continue to check the Coronavirus website at wwwcoronavirus.ohio.gov, and click on testing and community health centers tab at the top of the page. 2-1-1 is a phone service that connects thousands of Ohioans to local nonprofit and government service, including those for healthcare, food, meals, housing, transportation, mental health, and legal services. 2-1-1.
Mike DeWine: (27:16)
At the beginning of the year, the service was available in 51 of Ohio’s, 88 counties. When the pandemic began, Ohio EMA asked Ohio AIRS, the nonprofit that governs Ohio 2-1-1 to provide service to the additional 37 counties in Ohio. Ohio AIRS expanded these services in March. And today I’m happy to announce that the Ohio department of health will continue funding for this valuable service as we enter into the next phase of the pandemic. Often people require help getting connected to all kinds of different services. We know if the need has grown remarkably during this unprecedented time. 2-1-1 service is particularly important for those most vulnerable in our state who have been hit by COVID the hardest. Any Ohioian, wherever you are in the state can dial 2-1-1 or (877) 721-8476. If 2-1-1 dialing isn’t available from your phone. And that is all good. We’re happy to open it up for questions. You all can’t see at home, but I’m watching a member of the press Corps start moving towards the microphone.
Marty Schladen: (28:33)
Good afternoon, governor. Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal. For months you’ve been urging Ohioans to where masks saying that it’s their responsibility to their fellow citizens to do so. But on Tuesday, when you were asked whether vice president Pence, whether you would urge him to wear a mask when he was in Ohio today, you said, it’s not your job to tell the vice president what to do. Why not? Doesn’t he have the same responsibility to his fellow citizens, and doesn’t he have a bigger one to model good behavior?
Mike DeWine: (29:10)
He’s the vice president of the United States. I have respect for the office. I’m not going to get on a phone call and tell him what to do. He’s certainly well aware of everything connected with this. And as I said, he’s done a phenomenal job. In calls with governors, you don’t hear the calls, but they’re an hour, an hour and a half, two hours. He does an absolutely phenomenal job. Fran and I went to Lordstown yesterday, one of the reasons we went yesterday, we went along with… John Houston went, we wanted to avoid a crowd. Fran and I have not gone out into big crowds, and we’re not going to do that. We wore a mask. Wore masks through the tour. It was a great tour. And then did the press conference with the press back aways. So look.
Mike DeWine: (30:03)
Conference with the press back a ways. So look, we continue to urge Ohioans to do this. It is the right thing to do, and it’s the courteous thing to do.
Speaker 1: (30:12)
Thank you, Governor.
Adrienne Robbins: (30:20)
Adrienne Robbins, NBC4. Governor, my question is also about the Trump administration. President Trump made headlines when he said over the weekend at a rally that he told his administration to slow down testing, and then yesterday they admitted that they planned to end federal funding to support coronavirus testing sites. I understand that that doesn’t necessarily impact us, but testing is one of the cornerstones that you talk about, about fighting this virus. What do you think that sends as a message to Ohioans when you’re trying to get everyone to go get a test, and again, use this as one of our main focal points in fighting the virus?
Mike DeWine: (31:02)
Well, as far as the federal money coming in, I’ve asked the administration, asked the Vice President yesterday, I talked to him about the money coming in as far as testing. I told him how important it was not just to Ohio, but to other states. So we’re going to stay a strong advocate for that. It’s made a difference. We need certainly for that to continue.
Mike DeWine: (31:24)
As far as commenting on everything the President of the United States says, I’m not going to do that. We could do that every day, and I’m not going to do that. So my job is to do my job every single day, and to talk to the people of the state of Ohio about the issues that are important, what I see.
Mike DeWine: (31:48)
The scientific data is absolutely irrefutable. If 80% of the people wore a mask, we’re going to have a decrease in the spread. If people stay six feet, at least, apart, and then wear a mask, that’s another layer that’s added. I don’t think anyone, certainly in Ohio, has talked more about this than I have, and I suspect that there are a lot of people out there right now, turning their TV off saying, “If DeWine does this one more time, I’m going to just shut my TV down,” but it is what the facts are.
Mike DeWine: (32:26)
So there is no doubt in my position. There is no doubt in what medical science says. And as Dr. Laufman just said, if we’re going to get through this, and this is the message, the ads that are starting to run out, I hope Ohioans are starting to see. We can get through this, Ohioans. We can see the other side. We can be here to have another 4th of July, and another Christmas, and whatever we celebrate. But we’ve got to keep this virus down and what you’re seeing in Cincinnati, what you’re seeing in Hamilton County, what you’re seeing in some of the counties in Southwest Ohio is worrisome, and we can control that. And the way we control that is wear a mask out in public.
Mike DeWine: (33:15)
Now, I know from my email there’s some people that said, “Look, I can’t do that. There’s a medical reason.” That’s fine if there’s a medical reason. Look, we’re not saying everybody has to do this, but if the vast, vast majority of Ohioans do it, we are going to start cutting this spread down.
Mike DeWine: (33:32)
The other thing that is on me every day, and that is to increase testing in Ohio. The numbers we showed there a moment ago, we’re good. They’re not as good as they should be. They’re not where we want to be. And aspirationally, we’re going to get a lot higher, I hope, and we’re going to do everything within our power to do that because the testing and the tracing that goes with it is what we can do to keep this down.
Mike DeWine: (33:58)
So people of the state can do one thing, we can do another, and we just ask them to help and come get a test. Get a test. It is something that will help us, particularly in those areas where we’ve talked about that we are seeing significant spread. If more and more people in these pop-up sites go and they get tests, this is… Look, it’s the right thing to do. It’s the patriotic thing to do. It’s the thing that is going to keep the spread down.
Mike DeWine: (34:26)
And for my friends who are in their 20s, we love you. I have number of grandkids in that category. But if you don’t worry about yourself, worry about your grandparents, worry about someone else, because what we really are concerned about is if you’re out there and you get it, and then you come back and then you go see your grandmother, or you see somebody, or someone even in a store that you’re close to and they happen to be older, or they happen to have a medical problem, that’s a huge, huge problem. And none of us, none of us want to be responsible for what we bring to the table, inadvertently causing someone’s death or causing someone to have to be in the IC Unit.
Mike DeWine: (35:07)
So we know what we have to do. My job is to focus on those things, and there’s a lot of things I could comment about with the President, I could comment about other governors, I could talk about … That’s not where my focus is. We have to get through this, and we have to stay focused. And I try to stay focused every day.
Danny Eldredge: (35:32)
Hi, this is Danny Eldredge with Hannah News Service. So, as there’s been surges of cases in other states, I think North Carolina most recently mandated masks. California has moved to do that. Washington has. I think we’re up to 18 states now doing that. Is that something that Ohio is planning to do to avoid the surge before it gets here?
Mike DeWine: (35:55)
Look, good question. It’s a very logical question. Throughout this, as the reopenings began, or businesses, people have been worried masking in the businesses. That makes a difference. That is very, very, very good. We’re urging people, of course, voluntarily to wear masks.
Mike DeWine: (36:14)
Now I talked about this a little bit on Tuesday, but as we move forward into this stage that we’re in now, we’re looking more and more at county by county, and you can kind of see this in what I’ve talked about. We just focused on one county today, just focused on Hamilton County, but we’re going to try to get every county the data that they have, and we’re going to try to let everybody in those counties know where they are. And as we see alarming numbers in Dayton, as we see alarming numbers in Cincinnati, and Hamilton County and Dayton and Montgomery County, these are conversations that we’re going to be having with local officials about what are the different things that we can do.
Mike DeWine: (37:02)
So I’ve worked … Just take those two examples. Dayton, Cincinnati. I talked to mayor Nan Whaley today. I talked to John Cranley, and talked to both these mayors about how do we increase testing in their communities. And they’re both doing a good job. Their health departments are doing a good job. The county commissioners are doing a good job in those counties to push out testing. So we’re going to continue to stay in touch with where we’re seeing potential problem areas or problem areas.
Mike DeWine: (37:32)
We’re going to work with the local officials and in conjunction with them, make decisions about what else needs to be done. What needs to be done right now is we need to urge people to wear a mask. We need to have more tasks that’s on us. We got to do that, and we are doing it. We’re putting the national guard out into these zip codes. General Harris has been instructed, go into those zip codes, work with the local health officials, find the right spots, go into those zip codes, and put testing. So that’s where we are now. Are there other steps that we may have to take? Sure. I’m just going to let go with that.
Danny Eldredge: (38:08)
So could masks be required in just different localities like Hamilton County? Is that something you’re urging them to do, is require masks and in that area?
Mike DeWine: (38:16)
Look, we’re not there yet. We hope we don’t get there. This is a discussion that we will have, that our health department will have with their health department. But it’s also a discussion I will have directly with the mayors, and directly with county commissioners, and whoever in whatever area it is, is the right authorities. So these are not going to be unilateral decisions. These are going to be decisions that we’re going to make informed by the data, and informed by discussions with local officials. But yes, we are looking at this state now in segments, we’re looking at it in regions, we’re looking at it in counties, and that’s what people should expect. I’ve had a lot of people, particularly those in rural areas, who’ve said, “Mike, why don’t you start looking at it county by county?” We’re doing that. And that’s what you’re going to see as we move forward more and more, we’re going to focus on where we are seeing issues.
Mike DeWine: (39:04)
Now the message generally does not change. We know whatever county you’re in, where you can slow the spread down. There’s spread everywhere, it’s just more in some place than in others. But no matter where you are, if you wear a mask, you’re helping. Even if it’s not, the spread is halfway to somewhere else, there’s still spread. So if you can knock that down even further, you may save a life. You may save someone from being in the hospital. So the message statewide is going to be the same of what we’re asking people to do, but the extra things that we need to do, that’s going to come about by what we see in the data, and the conversations that we have with elected officials.
Danny Eldredge: (39:48)
Mike DeWine: (39:51)
We’re seeing what’s going on in Florida. We’re seeing what’s going on in Texas. We do not want that to be our future. Should be a warning to us. We’ve got to get on it now.
Jim Provance: (40:04)
Hello, governor. This is Jim Provance with the Toledo Blade. Staying on the subject of face masks, Senator Teresa Fetter has closed her Senate office in there after a staffer tested positive for coronavirus. And she says she’s not returning to the chamber as long as the Republican colleagues are not wearing face masks. Is your message on face masks being undermined by fellow Republicans in the legislature?
Mike DeWine: (40:29)
Look, I’m not going to… Again, I don’t see a great deal of point to have public disagreements with anybody if I can avoid it. It’s just not helpful. But I would say, look, this. Everybody needs to wear a mask if they’re out in the public. We just need to get this done. But this is a separate arm of government. I do not intend to tell them what to do, but it is important that Ohioans stay the distance, and they wear a mask anytime that they’re out in public. If they’re in their car, that’s great. If they’re out walking in a state park and they don’t think they’re going to come in contact with people very close, that’s fine. If they’re out fishing, that’s fine. There are a lot of places you don’t have to wear a mask. But if you’re walking into a store, and you know you’re going to come in contact with people, we would just ask them to wear a mask.
Mike DeWine: (41:24)
Their thing is if you’re going to be in a place for a period of time, that’s the other thing that I know the scientists have told me that they worry about. You’re sitting there close to somebody for a long period of time, and you’re inside. I mean, there’s a lot of variables, but those are important variables, but summary. I’m not going to tell an independent branch of state government what to do. I’m not going to tell a speaker what to do. I’m not going to tell a Senate President what to do. I would simply say that these are basic, scientific principles that don’t don’t change.
Jennifer Smola: (41:59)
Jennifer Smola with the Columbus Dispatch. Governor, you’ve said anyone who wants to get a test can get one, and you’ve encouraged Ohioans to get tested. But we’re hearing that some testing locations will still only test someone who is symptomatic, and we’ve heard from readers who were turned away from a state pop-up test site, because they were told they needed an appointment. Are all testing locations in the state expected to administer tests to anyone?
Mike DeWine: (42:24)
I apologize. And I know we got a delay. I got it to the point where you said that I’ve said that all high on should be able to get a test. I’m missing it beyond that. I’m sorry. I apologize.
Jennifer Smola: (42:35)
Sure. We’re hearing that some testing locations are still only testing people who are symptomatic. And we’ve heard from one reader who was turned away from a state pop-up testing location because they were told they needed an appointment. So are all testing locations in the state expected to administer tests to anyone, and what is the best way for an Ohio and to seek out and get a test?
Mike DeWine: (43:02)
Very good question, because I know there’s some confusion about that. Tests that we control, tests where we have pop-up testing, tests where our national guard is out are open to everyone. And I was not aware that we were requiring appointments. I will check on that, and I will get back. My understanding was that we were having anyone who showed up, we would test them. So I apologize to our citizen who showed up and didn’t have an appointment, or was told that she had to have an appointment, or he had to have an appointment.
Mike DeWine: (43:33)
If there’s testing, for example, that’s being done by a hospital, testing being done by someone else, they set, they write their rules. We do not set those rules. What we’re trying to do, though, is to make sure that testing is available for everyone, and is in convenient places as we can. But we are focusing on areas that have more spread. So we’re not treating every county equally. We have counties where it has not spread very much. And so you’re probably not going to see a popup test from our Ohio National Guard in those counties. You’re going to see the Ohio National Guard in the areas where we have identified that we were really worried about the spread, and we really need to be testing and tracing.
Jennifer Smola: (44:24)
Geoff Redick: (44:34)
Hi, Governor. Geoff Redick from ABC Six here in Columbus. This is sort of a two part question, if you follow with me. First, we had expected potentially by the end of this week, to hear some information on school reopenings. Is that still coming? Along with that, not only schools, but things like adult day programs, funeral homes, larger gatherings, would it be fair to say that guidance on all of these things might be delayed in the light of data that’s coming out now about the rising case numbers?
Geoff Redick: (45:03)
In the light of data that’s coming out now about the rising case numbers?
Mike DeWine: (45:06)
Well, I think that’s a good question. That is something that, obviously, as we see data come out, it does inform what we’re trying to do. But let me go through those. Look, funerals, I think you said funerals, we have not really regulated funerals themselves. We have not said that people … There’s any regulations on funerals. Now, we know that within the last week or so we had a funeral where there were dozens and dozens of people who came down with COVID-19. So we just caution people to be very, very careful. Just because you want to go hug other people, and that’s a natural instinct, but we would request that you not do that. Fran and I were at a funeral a few weeks ago, widow of our former Chief of Police in Cedarville. And it was at the cemetery and people were outside and they were spread out. So we just have to be careful. But we’ve not ever regulated the funerals, weddings, or religious services. We just ask people to be careful.
Mike DeWine: (46:17)
As far as schools, as I said, I think probably, I think it was yesterday I said, I was in Lordstown yesterday, I think I was asked about that. That when these come out, I don’t think anybody’s going to be surprised. I don’t think any superintendent is going to look at this, or principal or parent, and say, “I had no idea that the state was going to require this.” What we’re going to do in that document that should come out early part of next week, probably by, I suspect, by our Tuesday press conference, but what’s is going to come out is broad guidelines on health, no surprises in there. And you’re going to see a great deal of flexibility for our local schools. Our local schools are in different situations. The spread of COVID in their community is different. We would urge all of them to do as many measures as they can in regard to health, because COVID, the spread of COVID, is a problem and it can spread anywhere. But I think you’ll see schools react differently based on their circumstance. They’re going to do the best that they can in regard to that. But we should have that next week.
Mike DeWine: (47:33)
You talked about adult daycare. We are working. Ursel McElroy, who heads up our Department of Aging, she and I have spent a lot of time talking. She spent a lot of time listening to people and trying to put that together in a way that, again, makes sense. And as we look at all of these openings, we’re trying to be thoughtful, we’re trying to be careful, but we also know the importance of getting those out. So those last two that I talked about will be coming out shortly.
Geoff Redick: (48:09)
Thanks for going through those one by one. Thank you.
Kevin Landers: (48:14)
Hello Governor. Kevin Landers, WBNS 10TV. I’m the last question of the day. Many in the Press Corps here were hoping today that we’d get more context behind some of the numbers. Of the 892 new cases that were reported today, do you have any indication of what percentage of those cases are from congregate settings? And then my second part is the best available data, Ohio has about 630 contact tracers with an average of 588 new cases per day. It’s estimated Ohio would need about 2,940 contact tracing staff to trace all the new cases in 48 hours. Where are we towards that goal? Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (48:56)
I asked my team that yesterday. I will report that on Tuesday, exactly where we are. It is a very good question. It is very important. Testing is one part of this, but testing doesn’t do as much good as it should unless you have the tracing that goes with that. And so that is vitally important. We are getting money and have gotten money back to the local health departments, 113 health departments. They’re the ones who are hiring people. We have urged them, and I’m going to continue, I’ll do it again today, to hire people, get them on. We have 100 that we were hiring at the state level. I’ll get you a report on exactly how far along that is, but I think it’s pretty far. They are there to go in and help local communities. So I’ll get a report to you on that, it is a good question and it’s important.
Mike DeWine: (49:50)
The first question you asked, I asked that question to my team this morning. Understand this data comes in, it comes in pretty quick. So if you’re looking at … I said, “Are you seeing this data driven, in the last few days with the higher testing levels, have you seen that driven by a lot of prison or congregate care setting?” Their quick answer was, “We don’t think so.” But at my instructions, they’re going to dive into that because it is relevant. Now, if you have a congregate care setting in a county and you got a lot of cases there, that is important to know that, but it also isn’t exactly great news. It’s bad news, obviously, in the setting. But also may tell you that you’ve got community spread in that community too.
Mike DeWine: (50:42)
So we shouldn’t discount it. We should know it. We could say, “Okay. This is where we are with outside that nursing home, this is where we are.” So it’s a relevant piece of information. But the quick answer they gave me is they did not think it was a lot of big places. But we’ll try to drill those out. What they do, I’ve asked them to listen to these questions and we try to get you answers back. So thank you very much.
Mike DeWine: (51:13)
We’re going to close. Dedication and compassion of our healthcare providers has really inspired us all through this pandemic. The musicians of the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra have been sharing the gift of music with healthcare providers at community hospitals through concerts performed both indoors and outdoors at University Hospital, UH, Cleveland Clinic, and MetroHealth locations. So let’s listen.
Speaker 2: (51:47)
Hey, Peter. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (51:50)
They’re world renowned so I felt honored that I could sit here and listen to them.
Speaker 4: (52:16)
We hope that the caregivers get today, just a little bit of comfort from the beauty of the music.
Speaker 5: (52:35)
To me, it’s just the greatest present. They made a difference in my life, and now I’m going to take this and bring it to my patients.
Mike DeWine: (52:50)
All right, that’s great. If you want to have your own daily performance or mindful music break, you can follow the Cleveland Orchestra on social media channels. We will see you all Tuesday at 2:00 unless we have some breaking news or other things before Tuesday. So we hope to see you Tuesday. Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (53:06)