Jun 29, 2020
Mike DeWine Ohio Press Conference Transcript June 29
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a COVID-19 press conference on June 29. DeWine said outdoor Ohio nursing-home visits can resume on July 20. Read the full coronavirus news briefing speech transcript here.
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Governor Mike DeWine: (00:03)
I’m wearing a Reds mask that my wife Fran made. I’m wearing that today in celebration that there will in fact be a baseball season even though it will be short, so good news. Good good news. Today I’m earing an Otterbein University tie. Otterbein of course is located in Westerville, Andy Chow, Karen Kasler of Ohio Public Radio are graduates, so congratulations. Megan [Wyckoff 00:00:40] who works for the Ohio channel and helps with all of our press conference is also a grad of Otterbein.
Governor Mike DeWine: (00:50)
Let’s start with some of the updated information from today’s numbers. You start with the cases. Cases, 737. You can compare that to the 21-day average. Of course the 21-day average is going up because the case numbers are going up so we are seeing a continued increase in number of cases. The deaths recording 11. Hospitalization, 65, so those are up a little bit. A little bit of hospitalization today from the 21- day average and ICU admissions are up slightly as well. Those are the key data.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:43)
Let me talk a little bit more about the longterm trends in regard to hospitalizations and hospitalization is a lagging indicator obviously. Someone is infected, it takes a while to get sick, go to the hospital, but last week is a significant week. From June 21 to June 27. It was the first week of increasing COVID-19 hospital utilization in the state for over two months. We have to go back since late April was the last time we had this much, so we’re starting to go up slightly. The number of standard hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients peaked in late April and early May at about 1,000. They reached a low of 513 on June 20, so June 20 was our low. Just last week though, we had about 500 to 550 COVID patients in Ohio’s hospitals.
Governor Mike DeWine: (02:52)
Now these numbers of course are not hospital admissions each day. These are just who is occupying these beds which from a point of view of being concerned longterm about having the requisite space. So we keep track of how many go in each day, but we also keep track of what the hospital capacity is and how many are in the hospital. So again, last week, we had about 500 to 550 total COVID patients in Ohio’s hospitals. This week we’re now at around 650. The ICU and ventilator utilization is still holding pretty steady, but we are seeing increases in those in some parts of the state.
Governor Mike DeWine: (03:36)
The increase in COVID hospital occupancy is most apparent in regions 2, 3 and 6, and that is Cleveland, that is Dayton and Cincinnati, those regions. In other regions of the state, the COVID hospital occupancy had been declining but now appears to have leveled off. In the Dayton and Cincinnati areas the recent increase in hospital utilization does include standard beds as well as ICU beds and ventilators. Although COVID-19 utilization hospitals is increasing, I want to make it very clear, there is still adequate overall capacity available across Ohio. No region, no region has reached a concern threshold of 80% which is when the hospitals start getting concerned of overall utilization for ICU beds, so we’re not there, but we do know from lessons of recent history in New York City, Houston, Arizona, that this can fairly quickly change.
Governor Mike DeWine: (04:39)
I won’t talk about the positivity number which we have talked about before and this is a slide that shows number of tests as you can see for each day, number of tests, and it also shows the positivity rate which was at … The last one was at 4.7. Now I know we have increased testing as you can see and we are very happy that we’ve done that. We’re not where we want to be yet. We got a ways to go but we’ve significantly increased testing and people have done a very good job across the state getting those numbers up. The testing is so very important so we can determine who has it because many people have it and don’t know they have it, do not really have the symptoms but finding out who has it so that they can be taken care of and also we can slow the spread of COVID-19 is so very, very important.
Governor Mike DeWine: (05:50)
I know because I’ve gotten calls about it that people think, some people think, and are wondering at least if the increased cases that we are seeing is simply because Ohio is testing more. Certainly, certainly some of that is due to that, but the experts that we have consulted do not think it is entirely that. So what you have to really look at to make that determination or to get some idea of whether it’s caused completely by the increase in testing is you have to look at what we call the positivity. Positivity simply is of all the tests done in the day, what percentage come back positive. As we have talked about before, we have been running between 4 and 6%, not horrible. We would like obviously for it to go down, but not horrible but 4 to 6% is what has been average.
Governor Mike DeWine: (06:44)
What we have seen though that we would expect to see, we were testing initially very restricted. People who had to have symptoms. People who think they might have had it, and as we’ve expanded it, particularly in the last several weeks, we’ve expanded it to anybody, and so as you expand that to beyond the group of people who have symptoms to a much broader group, one would assume that your positivity rate, would expect the positivity rate to drop. That would be the normal thing that you would expect because you’re testing not just people who have the symptoms but also people who have no symptoms at all. That has not happened. It’s not gone up dramatically but it certainly has not … It’s gone up a little bit but it certainly has not dropped and that would indicate that we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 certainly in Ohio. The cases do reflect certainly some of that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (07:53)
We talked last week about the two … About two counties in Ohio that we’re particularly concerned and we remain concerned kind of on alert and that is Hamilton County and Montgomery County, Cincinnati and Dayton. In fact I was on a call with the vice president today and with officials at the White House and they specifically called out those two counties. They talked about a few other areas of the country, but they had a concern about those two. They told us that they would give us some additional help in these two communities. We’ll talk to General Harris of the Ohio National Guard in a little bit, but his guard has been out and they’re out today doing additional testing and I know the two mayors, Mayor Cranley, Mayor Whaley have both been involved and the County Commissioner has been involved in getting additional testing in those two communities but I want to talk a little bit about the data that we’re seeing in these two …
Governor Mike DeWine: (10:00)
[inaudible 00:10:00] In one week’s time in Hamilton County between June 15 and June 22 those numbers nearly doubled from 40 to 78 visits per day. Additionally we are seeing an increase in additional utilization of other healthcare services. In Hamilton County and the surrounding Southwestern Ohio region hospital utilization by COVID-19 positive patients reached their lowest level of this epidemic during the first and second weeks of June. However, as I mentioned earlier, the number of COVID positive patients being treated in standard hospital beds, ICU beds, and on ventilators has steadily increased. In fact, in Hamilton County, the number of COVID positive patients has doubled, has doubled, from a low of 65 on June 11 to more than 130 this weekend. Very, very concerning.
Governor Mike DeWine: (10:57)
Let me turn now, go up north, a little further north to Dayton, Montgomery County. We’re seeing some of these same flags when we look at Montgomery County. There’s a noticeable increase in cases over the last from an average of about 10 cases a day at the end of May to about 40 cases a day in the most recent week. The community is also experiencing early signs that more people are seeking medical care for COVID symptoms. For example outpatient visits grew from an average of nearly seven visits per day to 27 visits per day. For the hospitals in our west central region, the region that Dayton is in, the number of COVID positive patients in standard hospital beds, ICUs and ventilators has also doubled since the first week of June. Doubled. COVID specific hospital utilization is approaching levels not seen since the earlier peak of the pandemic in April.
Governor Mike DeWine: (11:55)
To make sure we have enough hospital and ICU beds to treat everyone who needs care such as those who need emergency surgery or in a car crash or suffering from a stroke, we certainly need the help of all Ohioans especially those in Hamilton County, Montgomery County and surrounding counties to redouble their efforts to social distance, wear a mask in public and follow good hand-washing protocols. Again, that is not the only reason that we are concerned. We are obviously concerned about what goes on with our hospitals but we’re concerned ultimately, the most important thing is human life and protecting people, so what we are seeing in Montgomery County, what we’re seeing in Hamilton County is not good. We got an alert on basically, and we’ll talk some more about those counties in a little bit.
Governor Mike DeWine: (12:50)
We continue to work on our plans to help schools reopen as well as plans to keep Ohioans healthy and safe at work and in their daily lives while the coronavirus remains with us. We are in the phase of sort of learning to live with the coronavirus and so we are working on the next phase, the next plans, which we will announce. We hope to announce in the latter part of this week. These new plans will take us into the next phase, a distinct and different phase of continuing to keep Ohio open as we head into the second half of 2020. As I said I expect to have an update on these plans on Thursday, so we hope to be able to tell you on Thursday what the new plans are as we move forward.
Governor Mike DeWine: (13:44)
Therefore our administration will be extending existing health orders through the week, through the week as we finalize these vital plans, so no one should read or speculate anything into that. We’re just extending what we have right now for a few more days until we’ve totally developed the plan as we move forward.
Governor Mike DeWine: (14:05)
Barring any breaking news, we will not be having a regular press conference tomorrow because Fran and I are participating in a virtual roundtable with the First Lady of our country and members of the Trump administration to discuss challenges faced by our nation’s children’s service system, something that I have been interested in since the time I was a young assistant county prosecutor in Greene County. Fran and I will be sharing the work of Ohio’s Children’s Service Transformation Advisory Council, which I convened last fall to conduct a top-down review of Ohio’s foster care system and to work on solutions, but I also look forward to hearing from other states and we look forward, I believe, that there will be young men and women on that call, on that Zoom call who have in fact been involved in foster care and have been part of the foster care system, so we look forward to that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (15:05)
The pandemic has shined a spotlight on a lot of disparities in Ohio and across our country. It shined a spotlight on disparities faced by individuals of color and by those living in poverty. Tragically those same disparities are seen in Ohio’s foster care system, so as we work to right our system in Ohio, we’re greatly appreciative of the Trump Administration’s focus and the First Lady’s focus on these same issues and Fran and I look forward to telling Ohio’s story to our federal partners as well tomorrow.
Governor Mike DeWine: (15:44)
I think one of the most troubling … There are a lot of things troubling about this coronavirus epidemic, but I think some of the most gut-wrenching things are wen I hear from families who have someone in a nursing home who are not able to visit with them. We put the order in when we started this to try to save lives in our nursing homes, cutting down on visits, cutting down on people going into the nursing homes. My job as governor is to do everything I can to protect the most vulnerable among us. Part of that job means putting measures in place to keep people safe from the virus. It also though means protecting those things that add value to life and visits by family members to nursing homes, to their loved ones, is certainly something that adds value to life and I know that this has been gut-wrenching for families, not to be able to see in-person their loved one. In March, as you know, we put in place an order to restrict visitation to essential personnel in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and with an exception for end of life circumstances and by the way, just let me mention that that exception for end of life circumstances has been [inaudible 00:17:19] and people should take a look at that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (17:24)
We realized that the lack of in-person engagement with family and friends who live outside of these congregate settings may significantly diminish a person’s quality of live who is in one of these facilities, making visits necessary to address the person’s emotional wellness while safely managing potential physical health risk. On June 8, assisted living in intermediate care facilities were permitted to facilitate outdoor visitation and I know I’ve talked to people who are visiting their family members and I look forward to going to see shortly … Fran and I [inaudible 00:18:02] our friend Fred who is in an assisted living facility in Greene County.
Governor Mike DeWine: (18:08)
Today, we are announcing that beginning July 20, nursing homes are permitted to begin outdoor visitation so long as all safety standards are met. When assessing their readiness to permit outdoor visitation, nursing homes should consider the number of COVID cases in the community, the case status in the nursing home itself, staffing levels, access to adequate testing for residents and staff, personal protection equipment supplies and local hospital capacity.
Governor Mike DeWine: (18:38)
Now having said that, it is our goal to have people be able to visit their family in nursing homes across the state of Ohio and we know that these nursing homes have to have a little time to get ready for that but we would hope that they will start doing that. I know some of them have already done it. The assisted living has worked out we think pretty well as far as we can tell and now we want to extend this to the nursing homes. We are in the process, and we will discuss this with General Harris, but we are in the process of testing every nursing home and the general and the National Guard are making progress. I know some nursing homes are providing their own testing. Our longterm goal is to test every facility and then have the staff continue to be tested and we’re working with the nursing homes to make sure that that happens.
Governor Mike DeWine: (19:41)
So far as the visitation, once the nursing home has been cleared, once the testing has taken place, then that nursing home can in fact start opening up for visitation again subject to the basic standards that we outline. Let me just talk for a moment about this decision and again some of the things that we did. We looked at the impact on the quality of life a prolonged loss of connection can have on an individual. We looked at the requests and listened to requests from families and residents. We looked at and consulted with advocates and providers in the aging and developmental disabilities communities. We looked at guidelines for visitation jointly developed by the Academy for Senior Health Sciences, Leading Age Ohio, the Ohio Assisted Living Association, the Ohio Healthcare Association and the Ohio Medical Directors Association. We’re confident that our approach provides each facility the flexibility needed to access their readiness to safely facilitate outdoor visitation and to do so in a transparent way that keeps residents and families informed. The order and related guidance will be made available at coronavirus. oh.gov and should you have any questions after visiting your loved ones, you can always contact the state longterm care ombudsman and office within the Ohio Department of Aging at 1-800-282-1206.
Governor Mike DeWine: (21:18)
We have planned pop-up testing locations to continue those pop-up testing. Those had been scheduled to increase access to testing in minority communities, underserved areas, although we always emphasize this testing is open to everyone. In addition to help meet the demand for testing in areas where cases are increasing, we’ve added more pop-up locations and this is one of the recommendations that was made by the White House as well I might add today. The Guard will be testing every day this week in Cincinnati. Every day this week in Cincinnati and on some days this week there will be multiple locations in Cincinnati. There will be testing, there will be testing today until –
Governor Mike DeWine: (22:03)
… Cincinnati. There will be testing. They will be testing today until 4:00 PM in Canton, until 4:00 PM in Lisbon, until 7:00 PM on Waycross Road in Cincinnati today. On Tuesday, there are two locations in Cincinnati, one location in Bowling Green. On Wednesday, there are two more locations in Cincinnati, one at Mount Airy and one at Forest Chapel United Methodist Church. On Thursday, we have a popup location the afternoon at the Walmart on Smiley Road in Cincinnati and in Circleville at the Pickaway County Health Department.
Governor Mike DeWine: (22:34)
Pop up locations are being added all the time. So visit coronavirus.ohio.gov for the most accurate information. At these pop-up locations, anyone can come and get a test. Please remember though, if the guard estimates how many tests they think they’re going to have, and they bring those, there is a possibility that they might run out. So we would suggest getting there early.
Governor Mike DeWine: (22:59)
Again, visit our website at coronavirus.ohio.gov and click on testing and community health centers to find a testing location near you. Speaking of the National Guard, we’re going to bring General Harris in. General, thank you for being here. Good to see you again. And I want to start by congratulating you and your bride, Angela, becoming grandparents. Fantastic. I know that’s a… Friend, I can say that that’s a great experience. So general, thank you. Thanks for joining us and tell us what’s going on with the guard in regard to the testing around the state.
General Harris: (23:40)
Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. I can say for sure that being a new grandparent and watching my daughter and her husband go through the process and having to deal with the measures that are in place as a result of this coronavirus certainly drives home the point that it’s not only here, but it’s going to be here for a while and that we have to be prudent to protect not only ourselves, but the most vulnerable segments of our population.
General Harris: (24:04)
And while we know it’s here for the long haul, we know that controlling the spread of the virus is job one for us. And we are dedicated to that. And testing is an important part of that. So the National Guard is fully committed to the testing. And I want you to know that our members are so proud to be a part of this process because it is so good for them. And they’re so dedicated to doing something this important and this meaningful. So, so far we started in the nursing homes and we’ve done testing in over 258 nursing homes and tested over 25,000 people. And that number continues to increase and will continue to grow. So we’re building additional capacity. As we look at this community, there’s popup testing, which is an important part, as I said, of not only spreading the disease, but also in helping us protect the economy as things open up. So all so far, we’ve done 19 of those sites and we’ve tested over 5,000 there. When I say test, we did a part of the test, which is a sampling, and then we’d send it off to the lab for the actual testing to be done.
General Harris: (25:06)
It’s important to note that this is a step in the process. As with the nursing homes, where we have starts with a clinical assessment, this also ideally starts with an assessment by the Department of Health. They’re watching a number of measures, a number of leading indicators, which will lead us to those communities that where the risk is highest. And we can start the testing there and help control the spread of the virus before it becomes an outbreak. That’s the ideal situation. So we get the clinical information on the front end. The guard goes in and does the sampling, and we have configured ourselves and our team so that we can put small teams at the small sites and larger teams at the larger sites. So we’re flexible and we’re able to scale that to meet the needs of the local health departments.
General Harris: (25:54)
So we go in and augment the local health departments, do the sampling based in those areas where we think the risk may be highest. And then the follow on actions are probably as important as what we do with the testing, where the results go, those positives, who gets them, the local health departments, what they do with them, obtaining that volunteering information from those people who test positive, to find out who they’ve been in close contact with, and getting those folks to voluntarily isolate so that the disease can be controlled and not result in a hotspot or an outbreak. Now, when we do know that we have a hotspot or an outbreak, of course, as you mentioned, governor, as we have in Southwestern, Ohio, we’ll be there and we’ll help with the testing in order to get that disease back under control.
General Harris: (26:39)
Our teams are comprised of medical folks. They are folks who at least are an EMT or paramedic in their local community. They have the training and the experience and the background. They simply wear the uniform in addition to their civilian jobs. So they come with a wealth of experience. They’re going to treat everyone that they collect a sample from with, with respect and with dignity. That’s our watch word. We ensure that when the community comes in contact with the guard, that it’s a positive experience. So we collect the sample in the most least invasive way possible. Sometimes that’s difficult, but this is complex. There are lots of different samples out there, different labs take the samples different ways, different forms. So our teams are comprised not only those medical professionals, but all the administrative support and all the logistics support to not only get the collection material, but also get the samples where they need to be to that lab that can process them in the most timely way.
General Harris: (27:35)
We’re very respectful of the medical information that we collect. We don’t keep it, we pass it on to the health department. And I want to emphasize that the local health department has a lead here. We’re here to support them. This response is local. We’re here to support the local response, and we do the best job that we can. But the local health department’s responsible for not only making sure that the community is aware of where these sites are, but also in the overall strategy for what happens with the results afterwards. So it is great, great pride for us to be able to support them in that effort, because we know that they’re putting in work and that we’re in this for the long haul.
General Harris: (28:11)
So the National Guard is here. We’re committed to this endeavor for as long as it takes. As I mentioned, we’re building additional capacity so that we don’t degrade our operation in the nursing homes as we move into this new space of community and testing, but we’re committed to it because as I mentioned, it’s very important. It’s very important. And in addition to all the other measures, testing alone doesn’t do anything if the other measures aren’t in place, if we don’t have the tracing that follows up, if we don’t have people properly wearing masks when they go out into public spaces. If we don’t have the social distancing, then testing simply becomes a way of chasing measures and metrics, and we lose our ability to get ahead of this disease.
General Harris: (28:51)
So we’re awfully proud to be involved, to help control the spread of this virus until there is a vaccine. And we’re in this for the long haul. So thank you for the opportunity to participate, thanks for an opportunity to be a part of the team. And as I mentioned, our guard is awfully proud to be a part of this very, very, very important effort. Thank you, sir.
Governor Mike DeWine: (29:12)
Well, General, I can’t thank you enough. And the men and women of the guard, as you know, several of them were in here at our last press conference and we got tested and it was certainly not a traumatic experience. They did a great job and we got our results back. So we know everyone will have a good experience. And we just would, again, urge everyone, particularly if you’re in those areas where we’re seeing a significant uptick in Hamilton County, for example, in Montgomery County, we’re also starting to see some in Cuyahoga County. We would just ask you to get tested.
Governor Mike DeWine: (29:50)
But General, thank you. We’re very grateful to be with you.
General Harris: (29:54)
Thank you, sir.
Governor Mike DeWine: (29:55)
Last week we heard from Dr. Rick Lofgren from UC Health about the situation in Hamilton County. And as we said, we focus a lot today on Hamilton County, on Montgomery County. Today, we’ll hear from Dr. Michael Doane, the medical director for Public Health Dayton, Montgomery County. The doctor’s professional experience includes clinical care research, 15 years living and working in the Spanish speaking Caribbean, doing community health development. He served more than a decade on the full time faculty at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and has also served on the faculty of the Wright State University Masters in Public Health program. He received his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati. And he has a public health degree from London School of Hygiene in Tropical Medicine. Doctor, thank you very, very much for joining with us. We appreciate it. And I wonder if you could just kind of give us a rundown of what you were seeing in the county.
Dr. Michael Doane: (30:57)
Thank you, Governor DeWine. I think that your synopsis was really very good in terms of we were averaging around 10 cases per day, and now we’re up to four times that number. The Montgomery County residents, when the original stay at home orders came through, were very good about being compliant with that and about staying home. We know from the cell phone data and other measures that the community really responded to that. And we had very low case rates.
Dr. Michael Doane: (31:26)
As testing became more available, we expected to see more positive tests, but what we’re seeing now is not what we were hoping for or could be explained by simply the testing alone. We have more cases. We have more people seeking medical care and more people going to the hospital and be admitted to the hospital. The hospitals still have plenty of capacity at this point, but it all indicates that there are more people who are getting sick with this disease than there were previously.
Dr. Michael Doane: (31:55)
We’re also seeing something we hadn’t seen before, which is clusters. Clusters of a couple of dozen cases related either to a workplace and some cases to a single church event where people have been able to spread this virus amongst themselves. So that at this point, we’re concerned that especially with the holiday weekend coming, that we’re going to see a continued mixing of people and some continued increases in the cases, which makes us sad because we think this is something we could prevent in so many ways with just simple measures like wearing masks and maintaining that six foot distance.
Governor Mike DeWine: (32:34)
Well, thank you very much. Are you seeing anything else in the data about who is getting sick? If there’s any change I know we’ve seen in some other states, it appears as some of the more younger individuals, 20 to 40 maybe seem to be showing up more. Are you seeing that in Montgomery County or any change in that at all?
Dr. Michael Doane: (32:57)
Yes. Well, as has happened in other places, at this point, the group that’s 20 to 39 years old now accounts for well over a third of all of the cases, which was not the situation previously. And one of the things that worries me about this is this a new virus. And we don’t really know what the longterm effects may be. So that even if younger people may come through the acute illness in better shape then older people with less complications, we’re not sure what the longterm implications are going to be. And the reports, for instance, that there’s decreased lung function afterwards. If I’m young, I’ve got a lot of extra reserve lung function, and I may not miss it at this point, but at some point in the future, I may want to draw on that as I get older. And so I think that’s a concern to me as well.
Dr. Michael Doane: (33:45)
Also, just the sort of intermixing of people. The more that we see cases, the more that we see a younger people beginning to get this disease and perhaps being able to spread it unwittingly to others around them, the more concern we have for the vulnerable populations, people that are already sick, even people in those age groups may have quite a bit of trouble with this virus, even if they’re younger, if they have underlying diseases. And so, that’s a concern to us at this point.
Governor Mike DeWine: (34:18)
So you could get… I guess, someone who’s 20, 30 could get it. And then you may see another bump then beyond that, maybe to somebody older, I guess. In other words, person who’s young gets it and may go home. The classic case that I was talking about is if you’re 20 or 30, you need to worry not only about yourself. If you don’t worry about yourself, you need to worry about someone older or someone who has some medical problem that you might end up giving it to. And I don’t know anybody that… Even if they think they’re invincible, no one wants to hurt somebody else and give that to somebody else.
Dr. Michael Doane: (35:03)
Governor Mike DeWine: (35:05)
Doctor, any final advice as we move forward for the people in Montgomery County? You talked about it is a holiday and a holiday, 4th of July, is coming up.
Dr. Michael Doane: (35:23)
Well, I think everyone knows the rules at this point, if you will, that we should maintain six feet distance, that we should wear masks. Certainly if we’re inside, there’s much more chance of transmission than if we’re in the outside. Still, the mask can be helpful inside and outside and maintaining that distance. One of the things that we’ve encouraged people in Montgomery County to do is to just be aware of your surroundings and look at what’s going on. And if you find yourself in a situation where you feel people are packed too tightly, a lot of people aren’t wearing masks. And trying to protect you from themselves, if they should, by chance have the infection and not know it, we’re asking people to make those assessments, watch where you are. And if you’re uncomfortable in a situation, then move out of it. Find to a place that you can go and that you can enjoy the weekend. And they don’t have the same kinds of chances of transmission and of getting the virus.
Dr. Michael Doane: (36:18)
So whether it’s a store, whether it’s a park, whatever the situation, we’re asking people just to be very watchful and to take care of themselves and to be thoughtful, not only of other people by wearing a mask, but just thoughtful about their situation and whether they feel safe in that situation, or it need to change that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (36:35)
Good. Dr. Doane, thank you. We appreciate it very, very much. Thanks for all you do for people in the county.
Dr. Michael Doane: (36:40)
Certainly. Thank you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (36:41)
Thank you, Lieutenant Governor?
Lieutenant Governor : (36:43)
Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. We have often said from these news conferences that COVID-19, the virus is going to be with us for some time, and we have a responsibility to learn to live with the virus in our lives, to protect ourselves and to keep us safe and get Ohioans back to work. Some good news is that the economy is beginning to recover. We’re seeing jobs, about 100,000 jobs added last month and people are going back to work. But as we’ve seen in Florida and Texas and Arizona, this thing can come back. It’s sending those states in reverse with business closures. And as we talked to businesses in this state, that’s their worst fear. They don’t want to go backwards. None of us want to go backwards.
Lieutenant Governor : (37:34)
We do daily calls with business leaders. We were on the phone with the Akron Chamber of Commerce this morning, the governor and I, talking about these issues, a big fear of theirs. And with the cases rising in Southwest Ohio, I know that the business community there is growing concerned. And so we wanted to bring today, we wanted to bring on one of those companies that are just smartly addressing the issue and how they operate in the community with their employees. We have with us today, the RFC Group of Westchester. RFC specializes in commercial design, laying out efficient workspaces for offices, healthcare, education, and government settings. And they have about 70 employees across Ohio and in Northern Kentucky. And joining us right now is a president and owner of our RCF, Carl Satterwhite, and his business partner, Scott Robertson. And I want to thank both of these gentlemen for joining us.
Lieutenant Governor : (38:37)
Well, they will be joining us here quickly, we’re hopeful.
Governor Mike DeWine: (38:45)
I wanted to say also that Andrew Tobias, cleveland.com, just tweeted me and said that he went to Otterbein as well. So congratulations, sorry I missed you.
Lieutenant Governor : (39:01)
Well, while we’re waiting on Carl and Scott to join us, I can just say that we’ve had continued conversations with businesses across the state and talked a lot about what they can do. We know the things right now, the distancing, the disinfecting, and the wearing of masks. And it’s so very important to manage the virus that we continue to do these things. As I’ve talked to a lot of folks, one of the challenges with coronavirus is that so many people, they feel a little powerless or like they feel that the coronavirus is impacting their lives and they don’t know what to do.
Lieutenant Governor : (39:51)
They feel a little powerless. That’s a feeling that none of us like. And as I mentioned with the cases rising in Florida, Arizona, and Texas, businesses ask these questions, what can we do to make sure that we don’t close down? I’ve also had some conversations with some professional high school athletes that want to have a season. And they’re saying maybe they’re young and strong and they want to know what to do. And remember, I was taken over the weekend to see former Vice President Dick Cheney in his cowboy hat and his surgical mask. That looked a lot like this, talking about what this can do. And there was a study that came out from the Lancet. It was a review of 172 studies. And it said the mask could result in a large reduction in the chance of risk of infection. And there are lots of masks. This is the N-95. These are mostly for folks who are in medical settings. And I believe we now have Carl and Scott with us. So gentlemen, can you hear me?
Scott Robertson: (41:05)
Lieutenant Governor : (41:06)
Great. Well, I was saying that you have taken a great deal of effort in your business to create a safe work environment for your employees and those employees who go out into the community. You are aware of the trends in Southwest Ohio. And as a Southwest Ohio business, I know you represent the voices of many businesses that want to make sure we go forward and not backwards. And I want to just give you a little bit of an opportunity to share with the public about what you’re doing to keep your employees safe, to keep a safe environment when you go out into the community, and to help make sure you’re doing your part and encouraging others to do their part to control the spread of the virus. So I’ll start with you, Scott.
Scott Robertson: (41:53)
Thank you, Lieutenant Governor. We serve many essential businesses, five hospital systems, financial institutions, etcetera. So it was important for us to be able to stay open and be healthy and follow the appropriate protocols. So we have a return to work plan, not only for RCF Group, but for all our clients, many customized in their own way because corporations behave differently. Hospital systems behave differently. And this, as the previous speakers have said, and you and the governor have said many times, this is to be respected and we need to learn to live with it. And we’re all hearing it a lot, but it is about wearing a mask. It is about social distancing and about washing your hands and being respectful of others. And so here at RCF group, we’ve done those things. Carl?
Carl Satterwhite: (43:07)
Thanks Governor for this opportunity to be able to share. Also in our tool box are these 2:00 briefings. And they’re allowing us not only to just talk about the things that are important, but also to be about those things. So we are actually actionable advocates that are exhibiting many of these statewide messages. So as we continue to be able to do that not only for our staff, but also for the customers that we do business with, we’re also able to share corporate best practices. We’re very fortunate to be able to be working with large corporations across the state, and we can also learn and grow from the things that we exhibit and see from them. So we’re able to be that kind of a conduit to be able to share-
Carl Satterwhite: (44:03)
So we’re able to be that kind of a conduit to be able to share those best practices across many spectrums, because obviously in the midst of COVID we have folks working from home, folks working in the office, and we have hybrid solutions. So we’re having to be between all of those messagings to be able to deliver those best practices.
Carl Satterwhite: (44:23)
I would add that a lot of what this is about is leadership, is leading by example. So Scott and I can’t just talk about these things without doing them. We wear a mask. We exhibit that always. We make sure we have six foot distancing, and even just this morning, we really added a step of, as we start returning employees from home, trying to find a way to get some texture around what kind of exposures they may have in their homes in and around their worlds today so we can be better prepared to be able to deal with those situations where they come back into the workplace.
Carl Satterwhite: (45:02)
And I think those are the things that all businesses will need to be looking at as employees come back home to their workplaces, because this pandemic that we’re dealing with is across all sectors. So it’s being seen across the community in many different places in different ways. And particularly as we’re seeing, asymptomatic young people, young adults who can maybe pass these things on without any symptoms, we got to know that we could be carriers nonetheless. So it’s about leading by example and we’re very proud to be amongst the business leadership in this region that is not only exhibiting those behaviors in the workplace, but also working in the community to try to be change agents.
Lieutenant Governor : (45:53)
Yeah. That’s a great point about your employees, because even though you can have them in a setting where they’re going to be protecting themselves in each other during the workday, it’s what they do afterwards at home in their social lives that also can impact that workspace. And it’s great to hear that you’re having those conversations with them.
Lieutenant Governor : (46:16)
I’m sure you do, but do you believe that other businesses are having those conversations with their employees to emphasize that importance?
Carl Satterwhite: (46:22)
Absolutely, and those are the things that we’re trying to share within our leadership meetings as well. So as we learn things and we see things across the community with other corporations, best practices, things that are working, we’re trying to be quick to share those things so that we can also be making a better region for us all.
Lieutenant Governor : (46:43)
And obviously as a business owner, you’re trying to balance the health and the business aspects, but you’re showing that it’s possible. You can create a healthy environment and you can have a successful business at the same time.
Carl Satterwhite: (46:58)
Absolutely. And this is going to be a long road back for the whole state, so all of us doing the right behaviors. I was very proud when I watched the reports and see that Ohio’s in a good place. Like many I’ve been alarmed that we have been spiking as a result, I believe, of not staying diligent as we had been earlier in the process. So we clearly as a business community want to be a part of changing that trajectory and start making sure that we can start bringing our own numbers down as we continue to test, but make sure that we are exhibiting the practices that your leadership is giving us on how to function in the workplace.
Lieutenant Governor : (47:40)
And as a final question, as we see the cases in southwest Ohio begin to rise, you’re a southwest Ohio business, what’s your message to other businesses and the people of southwest Ohio?
Carl Satterwhite: (47:55)
My message would really be to exhibit from the top. This is something that is difficult to just talk about if you’re not going to be walking it out. Staff, employees, customers, and community are really watching our behaviors, so we can’t say, “do something” and not do it. We have to be the evangelists in the moment right now so that we can actively advocate for change and leaders can be seen walking out the change they want the community to be
Lieutenant Governor : (48:25)
Great. Thank you very much for joining us.
Governor Mike DeWine: (48:27)
Thank you both. We really appreciate it very, very much. We’re ready for questions.
Hi, thank you. Jim Otte from WHIO-TV. Thanks for being with us. Governor, we’ve seen some other states, governors in other states that have had more than just an uptake of new cases. They’ve actually had a resurgence in multiple counties. Are we on that same path here or do you think you can ride this out? Is that one possibility for the state of Ohio that within one, two, or three counties that are having problems, we could see bars close, restaurants step back, and some other restrictions come back again?
Governor Mike DeWine: (49:21)
Well, I think what you’re seeing in Texas, what you’re seeing in Florida, what you’re seeing in other states is certainly not what we want the future to be for Ohio, and I think that it should be a cautionary tale when you turn on the news, and that’s what the lead story is. That should frighten us. It frightens me as the governor of Ohio, and that’s why we’re working so very, very hard, frankly, to talk about wearing masks, to talk about keeping the distance. That’s why we’ve had doctors Skype in from Dayton, doctors Skype in from Cincinnati at the last two press conferences. We’re very concerned about what’s going on in southwest Ohio. We’re very concerned about Hamilton County, very, very concerned about Montgomery County. We need more people to wear masks. We need, when people go into a restaurant, when the people go into a jewelry store, when they go in and buy anything inside, they need to have a mask on. So these are the things that we know that we can do. As we used to say when I was a prosecutor, the jury is still deliberating. The jury is still out. We don’t have an answer yet of what our future looks like. We determine our future just as Ohioans determined their future during the early parts of this virus and did a phenomenal job. We have to do that now.
Governor Mike DeWine: (50:43)
The other side of that is testing and we’re gung ho on the testing. We’re pushing it just as much as I can, and our capacity is going up. We need more people to show up, particularly if you’re in Dayton. Go get tested. If you’re in Cincinnati, go get tested. We have these popup testing opportunities out there. Please, please go ahead and do that. That’s why Fran and I did it the other day, and John, just to show people that, hey, this is not tough. This is something that you can do and it’s something you can do for other people just like wear a mask is.
Governor Mike DeWine: (51:16)
So we’re going to have to see, Jim. We’re going to determine our future, but the one thing we’ve learned throughout this virus, and we’ve seen time after time, what we do now is going to impact where we are in two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. And now’s the time to get serious about it. We’re headed into the 4th of July. Look, this is a time when people get together. We’re not saying don’t get together, but just be careful. Be careful. This virus is still very much out there. And as we heard today, even for young people, we’re seeing young people get awfully sick. Sometimes the death rate is not real high, but some of them have gotten very, very sick. And what we don’t know and what the doctor indicated is, many, many times we’re not sure about what the longterm medical ramifications are about that person getting sick. They may survive. They may come out, but maybe they got decreased lung capacity. And what’s that going to, how’s that going to impact them in 10, 20, 30, 40 years. So we’re right in the middle of this game. We’re right in the middle of the game. We’re going to determine the outcome.
Hi, Governor. Andy Chow with Ohio Public Radio and Television, Statehouse News Bureau. Just wondering, do you happen to have any more data, any more information that points to specific circumstances for why the cases are increasing? Are the cases coming out of people going to certain businesses or gathering in certain places?
Governor Mike DeWine: (52:50)
That’s a question I should have asked the doctor, but the answer that is I don’t. What the people in Montgomery County are telling me and in Hamilton County, the health people as well as our own people, is that this is community-spread by and large. In other words, these numbers are not really be driven so much by a nursing home. There may be nursing home numbers in there. I don’t mean that, but that this is community-spread, that is, spread in the community. People are not being as careful as they need to be and the spread continues. But I don’t know that there is any one answer. The impression I get from talking to the people on the ground and people who are looking at the numbers is that there’s no one particular answer to that. It is basically community-spread that is occurring.
Jack Windsor, WMFD-TV in Mansfield. My question’s going to be lengthy, Governor. I appreciate your patience in advance. In the beginning when we were testing the sickest and the infection rate was naturally higher, you said today percentage Positives should be decreasing as testing increases. That would seem to be the case only if the virus were losing contagiousness. Is that what you’re saying, governor, that you expected the virus had dipped in contagiousness? And then secondly, we’ve also heard from hospitals like OSU Medical Center and a facility in Cleveland that hospitalizations are going up because of deferred care. People are there for reasons other than COVID and getting mandatory tests, and if they come back positive even though they’re not there for COVID, they’re being counted as a COVID hospitalization. So is that the case? And then finally, we’ve also heard that tests can be false up to 40% of the time and may be detecting antibodies and returning a positive result. Governor, do you think increased testing might be picking up positives that aren’t actually active virus cases as well? Thank you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (55:05)
Taking them in reverse order, Jack, we have no indication that 40% of these tests are wrong. I mean, all the medical experts that we’re talking to, all the lab people we’re talking to, it certainly gives us no indication that there’s a huge of false positive numbers coming up. Again, the medical experts would be the ones to ask that and not me, but no one is telling me that. No one’s giving me that indication.
Governor Mike DeWine: (55:34)
Number two, in regard to deferred care, I’m sure that you’re right in the sense that there are people going into the hospitals for deferred care, and we want them frankly to do more of that and to catch up, but the numbers I cited, the numbers we referenced are COVID-related. So those are separate from the numbers of the people who were in the hospital. So we look at how COVID is starting to increase, so that’s how the numbers we look at. And I’ll go back to the kind of the bigger question that you raised, and again, I don’t pretend to be the medical expert, but every medical expert I’ve talked to said you look at the positivity rate because it’s important. And everyone who I’ve talked to says that as you increase testing, you should have, if everything being equal, you should have a decrease in positivity.
Governor Mike DeWine: (56:27)
So let me just kind of take everybody through that and maybe put it in words that I understand. And that is that when we started this, we were very restrictive in regard to who got tested for many, many reasons, unavailability of the testing or the scarcity of the tests. And so the people who were tested were people who had symptoms. You had symptoms, you got tested. Today as you know, we’ve thrown the doors open and we’ve said, please come. And you’ve seen numbers in Dayton. We’ve seen numbers in Hamilton County, popup testing. Anybody can walk in.
Governor Mike DeWine: (57:06)
So when you go from a group of people who all have symptoms to a group of people who maybe some have symptoms, one would assume if everything is staying equal, as you expand your universe, the number is going to go down. That’s what every expert says. Our number is not gone down. In fact, it’s gone up a little bit. It goes down a little bit today, but it’s been fairly flat, maybe edging up a little bit. That is not what you would expect to see if things were staying flat. So that’s the answer that they gave me. That’s my understanding of what the facts are. Thank you.
This is Jackie Borchardt from the Cincinnati Inquirer. Governor, what metrics will you be using going forward to determine whether some next steps need to be taken, whether in Hamilton County or Montgomery County or another part of the state, and what will that next step be? Will it be mask mandates or county-specific closures. What are you looking at right now?
Governor Mike DeWine: (58:10)
There are seven metrics that the health experts are looking at. I will go through those next time because I don’t have them written down in front of me and I’m afraid I will say them wrong, but we’ll do that on Thursday. We’ll go through the seven metrics that are there that they’re using. And so when I come i as I’ve done last several times and say, we’re worried about Hamilton County and we’re worried about Montgomery County, that is not me looking at numbers. I mean, I can look at numbers, but it is taking seven different metrics and seeing how those line up and if they’re going the wrong way. For example, out of that seven, and I apologize, I don’t have them in front of me, but out of that seven, Montgomery County was going the wrong way on four and Hamilton was five. That’s why the alert goes up. That’s why the warning goes up. And we start talking about those two counties. We’re not liking what we’re seeing in Cuyahoga County, either, but they haven’t reached that stage according to the people who are health people who are looking at this data every single day.
Governor Mike DeWine: (59:28)
So the answer to your question is we’re going to watch these numbers. And when we get an alert, we’re going to tell you that we have an alert, and when we become very, very concerned, we’ll see where we go. But again, the alert is out there today and last week, and the reason we’re talking about it is we want people in Montgomery County and surrounding counties and Hamilton County and surrounding counties to know the data is not looking good.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:00:03)
And so we can control our future. I can work on more testing every day, which is what we’re doing, and we’re getting a lot more testing, and that’s one way to run this devil down. But the most important thing we can do is what individual Ohioans do. And as the lieutenant governor was saying a moment ago, if we want to be able to go out and live our lives, this mask is a symbol of freedom. It’s a symbol of freedom because if we wear these, if we get 75 to 80% of the people who are out in public who are wearing this mask, we are going to see these numbers get better. And any kind of thing that we might do that you’re talking about, we will not have to do. This is what we need to do. We need to focus.
Will you, will you make those metrics publicly available to show how the different counties are doing? I know some other states have devised similar, like red flag, for example, like a different color scheme to kind of show people where they’re at and how concerned they should be.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:01:17)
Talk a little bit about that on Thursday. We will, and I’ll go through the seven metrics and talk about what those are. And so that what we want people to do is to have confidence in what we’re looking at and what we’re relaying to people. And it should be, I hope, give people some confidence. There’s not just our team here in Columbus that’s looking at numbers. This is why we’ve had people in from health departments and we talked to health departments in Montgomery County, we talked to people in the health department in Hamilton County. We compare notes. We see where they are. And so we’re in agreement with them. They’re in agreement with us. We have a problem in those two counties.
Good afternoon, Governor DeWine. Ben Schwartz with WCPO. Governor, today my question is one that was sent in from a high school English teacher in Ohio. She says that while she hopes accommodations can be made to allow students to return to school in the fall, she’s worried about some of the rhetoric surrounding the reopening of schools that’s more been focused a lot on the safety of kids, but that she hasn’t heard a lot of concern about the safety of teachers, many of whom are older and more at risk. So my question really is, are you looking at that as well as the safety of the students while reopening?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:02:50)
Absolutely. In discussions with superintendents, I’ve said, what should you worry about? And if I was a superintendent, I certainly would worry about anybody, a student or an adult who had a medical problem, a compromised medical situation. I would worry about an adult. The older adult gets, the more dangerous this virus is. So every school has people that we should worry about. I mean, we’re going to worry about the kids. We’re going to worry about everybody, but absolutely. No, this has been one of the major things that we’ve looked at. And I will add to that, and it’s not mentioned very often, but when we talk about childcare, we worry a lot and try to be careful to protect those who are working there because you have those, some people who were working there just like in a school or any place else who might have vulnerabilities, medical vulnerabilities, might be of an age that their risk factor is significantly up. So we worry about the kids, but we also worry about the adults.
Hi, Governor. This is Molly Martinez with Spectrum News. We’re seeing a surge of hundreds of cases, yet from what I’m understanding today, we are staying the course. In these seven metrics that you’re talking about that are coming on Thursday, is there a number of cases or is there a threshold in which we begin to reevaluate? Also a few months ago, you sent out a blitz of contact tracers. Have they been successful and have we gotten any information from their efforts?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:04:43)
Yeah. I mean, the health departments tell me that the contact tracers are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and that the results are what we would expect. I mean, I was on the phone the other day with some health departments. I asked them the specific question, are they getting turned down a lot and is that a problem? At least on the call I had and the people I was talking to, they did not say that they were having a problem of anything above a normal rate of people not wanting to cooperate.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:05:17)
The other part of the question, Molly, was … first part had to do, I think, with … [missing audio 00:21:23] Yeah, Molly, this is … look, this is a process where we continue to learn. We continue to see what happens other places. We continue to learn about this virus. So it’s not like we can draw … the knowledge continues to evolve and the ability to evaluate it continues to evolve. Having said that, we have seven metrics which we’ll go into next time, and when you start to see higher numbers of these being reached, the concern needs to needs to go up.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:06:02)
The concern needs to go up and we’ll go through those numbers, not the numbers, but we’ll go through how that is calculated. So look, the big picture is this, what we hope is that people will do what they need to do just as Ohioans have done this throughout this. We’ve had a little summer now and people are out and sometimes people are not keeping the distance. They’re not keeping the mask on. And the cumulative effect is what you’re seeing in these numbers. So now’s the time to get serious about it. Now’s the time, if we want to be able to do things later, we’ve got to keep control of this. We just don’t want this to spike up and get out of control. And we know that what we do today, movement today is worth a lot more than movement in a week. And this is something, we have an obligation to tell the people in the counties impacted and throughout this state. This virus is still here. It is not over. And we got to get serious about it.
Luis Gil: (01:07:15)
Hello, governor this Louis Gil with Ohio Latino TV. Governor [inaudible 01:07:20] we see this spread and the preoccupation in the Hamilton County and Montgomery County and throughout Florida and Texas. The large gatherings seems to be the problem. Through the protestors that were here in Columbus, in several cities in Ohio, perhaps that helped the spread because we didn’t see them with social distancing, mask and so on.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:07:49)
I haven’t any data, but I think any time, with as much community spread as we now have, any time you see groups of people together who are not keeping a distance and who are not worry masks, you can pretty much bet that there’s some spread going on. So yeah, I think that… I don’t have any way to quantify it, but anytime people are coming together and not keeping a distance and not wearing masks, you’re going to certainly see spread. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. I can’t measure it, but there’s no doubt about it. And that’s why we’ve asked protesters. Look, we don’t infringe upon the first amendment, so we don’t infringe on people’s right to go to church. We don’t infringe on people’s right to go to a funeral, a wedding. We don’t infringe on people’s rights and put nothing up, no barriers. The same way with protesting and freedom of speech. But we ask them, think about your neighbors, think about your friends and please, please take care of yourself and take care of them.
Luis Gil: (01:08:55)
Thank you, governor.
Laura Hancock: (01:09:00)
This is Laura Hancock from cleveland.com. Hi governor, what are your thoughts about the mass gathering order? Do you want to continue it through the summer and how do you think people are doing in terms of following it? Just your thoughts there.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:09:21)
Well, we’re taking a full look at everything and we’re going to have a whole, basically new plan to lay out for you we hope on Thursday. So we’re going to have to hold because I think looking at it holistically it’s probably the right thing to do. Look what people are doing, you’re seeing the same thing that I’m seeing. You’re watching TV. You’re seeing what’s going on. You’re reporting, of course. So look, some people are and some people aren’t and we just have to get more people to do it. And fewer people not do it. This is literally a matter of numbers and we don’t need a hundred percent. We don’t need a hundred percent social distance. We’d like it. We don’t need a hundred percent people wearing a mask. We’d like it. But if we get 75%, 80% of people, when you walk in a store and they’ve got a mask on, we’re going to be doing okay, and we’re going to get through this. If we don’t and we see it, Fran and I see it, we go in a store and don’t see that. So it’s a problem. And part of what we’re trying to do is tell people here are the numbers. Here’s what we’re seeing. Here’s where the spots are, where we’re concerned about it. We’ve got numbers moving up statewide. It’s time to get serious about this.
Jake Zuckerman: (01:10:50)
Governor, this is Jake Zuckerman from the Ohio Capital Journal. You spent a lot of time here encouraging the use of masks, hiring contact tracers, and issuing public health orders. The legislature, and most notably House Republicans have voted against the use of masks, discourage the use of masks in campaign messaging, put out misinformation about contact tracing and stripped the ODH director, or attempted to strip the ODH director of certain abilities. Do you think the legislature is undercutting your efforts here?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:11:23)
My persuasion isn’t good enough, or I’m not doing a good job persuading. I continue to work on it and I’m going to continue to work on trying to persuade all Ohioans that this really is the way to exercise our freedom. It’s the way to be able to live our lives. And that the consequences of not doing these things is a lot worse than the small inconvenience of wearing a mask and a small inconvenience of staying back. Now, look, I don’t underestimate it when you’re dealing with families, for example, and people cannot get together. That’s big, that’s big. Fran and I see that with our family. So, that’s the toughest part I think for people, but what we all want to do is be around for our grandkids’ future birthday parties and future Christmases and whatever holiday that we want to celebrate. And this thing will end.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:12:28)
And the other thing I would remind people that, I’ve had some people who kind of fatalist who say, “Well, everybody’s going to get it, or most people are going to get it eventually anyway.” Well, I don’t believe that, but even if you believe that you’re better off getting it next January than you are today. And you’re better off today getting it than you were three months ago. So the medical care is getting better. Understanding of it is getting better. There may be more drugs come out, who knows. So all the incentives should be in not getting it. There shouldn’t be any incentive to get it. And so again, life is full of balance and we all take chances, but they’re calculated chances. We all take some chances, but they’re calculated and we just tell people lessen the odds that you’re going to get it. No one can guarantee you won’t get it, but you can dramatically lessen those odds by doing what medical scientists are telling us each and every day. And I guess what I don’t quite understand sometimes and I get a lot of emails and a lot of texts, but why there’s just this disbelief in what scientists are telling us about the spread of this virus. And it’s not complex, there are things that we can do. They’re within our hands. They’re within our control.
Lieutenant Governor : (01:13:56)
Governor, can I add something to that? Look, I think that all of us, at some point in time are going to be asked as public officials, because this is going to be with us for a long time. We’re all going to be held to account on what we tried to do to contribute, to be part of the solution. And I would just ask everybody in a leadership role, what are you doing to do your part, to help make this better? What are you doing to help control the spread so that we never have to look and contemplate the idea of closures again because the virus gets out of control? That’s I think the goal we all have is to keep people safe and to keep the economy open and preserve the freedoms that we have. And these masks, my daughter made this, my daughter Katie took an old t-shirt sewed it together, two two-sided. We all can just do these small things to make a difference. We’re not asking for big sacrifices. We’re just asking everybody to do their part.
Max Filby: (01:15:00)
Hi governor, Max Filby with the Columbus Dispatch. I’m curious as you’re making more reopening decisions and whatnot, first of all, how much will the R naught factor into your decisions going forward? And secondly, is it possible we could see your reopening approach shift to a County by County basis, more moving forward?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:15:24)
We’re going to move towards more County by County. And I think you can tell that. That’s the way I’ve been talking in the last week or so. The data is good data. It can be broken down, not just by County. You can break it down by zip code and it gives us the ability to warn people, give them a warning, give them an idea of where we are, do an alert, whatever you want to call it. So, yeah, we’re certainly moving in that direction. We know more today than we did when we started this, but we’ll have more. We’ll talk more about that on Thursday.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:16:18)
Adrienne Robbins with NBC4, governor, thank you for doing this today. Over the weekend, the governor of Texas expressed some regret to opening bars too soon. As our cases begin to rise, do you look back and regret any of your decisions, whether it be reopening bars or the reversal in the mask mandate, especially now even the vice president says it’s important to wear a mask?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:16:46)
Well, I’ve always said it’s important to wear a mask. I made the decision, right or wrong, that mandating at that stage when we were earlier, mandating that every Ohio an out in public wear a mask, was something that a significant number of Ohioans would not accept. So that was the decision. When we all look back at the virus in our rear view mirror, which is a day we are looking forward to, we could go through and look at the different mistakes that I have made as we’ve gone through this. And I’m sure that there’s going to be plenty of them, but I felt we needed to get back to work. I also felt that as we got back to work, we needed to put in place some good practices. We have good practices. I think we’ve done as well as any state in giving people guidance in how to open their business, how to open their profession.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:17:52)
But as many people told me, there’s a lot of huge consequences of not being back open. And there are some very, very bad consequences that impact people’s lives. So we are trying to balance this and we’re trying to do these two things at once. I think we can do them, but it truly, truly is in the hands of everyone who is watching TV and maybe a lot to those who are not watching in what we do. And we control our future. We do not want our future to be what we’re seeing in Texas. We do not want our future to be what we’re seeing in Florida. We can control it. We determine what this thing is going to look like in two or three weeks, but what we do today. So my plea to my fellow Ohioans, 4th of July wear a mask, by the way, I’m going to have an Indians one on Thursday. So we’re celebrating baseball, but we can have fun with these masks. Fran’s made this one. Sean’s daughter made his, and look, we can have fun with all of this a little bit, but it’s serious business. And what we can impact is the testing. And we were lagging in the testing. We’re catching up, we’re moving in that, but what people do as individuals is just vitally important every single day.
Shane S.: (01:19:24)
Hello, governor, this is Shane Stagmiller from [inaudible 01:19:27] News Service, as we were opening it back up and the country is back opening back up, there was a lot of talk about doing antibody testing to see who might’ve already had the virus, kind of give us an idea of how far it’s spread. Is that still in the plans? Where are we at on that? Will there be any antibody testing still?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:19:47)
There’s going to be antibody testing. Look, it’s a question of availability, but certainly there’s going to be more. Antibody testing is occurring in Ohio now, but I don’t have any data on it. So I’ll take that as a hint to try to get back with you on some data.
Shane S.: (01:20:11)
Widespread, or you just don’t know at this point?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:20:15)
Numbers. I mean, I actually, it does appear on my report. And so I can’t remember what the numbers are. It’s just much smaller number, of course, but I’ll get that for you or Dan can get that number for you. We can give you some numbers on that because we do have numbers on that.
Shane S.: (01:20:34)
Thank you, governor.
Geoff Redick: (01:20:40)
Good afternoon, governor Geoff Redick with ABC 6 News here in Columbus, long briefing today. Thank you for taking all these questions. Wonder if you could just reconcile for a moment, you began the news conference talking about how much more serious the numbers have become in certain parts of the state. And then announced the order to allow more visitation at nursing homes, where our most vulnerable population lives. Can you reconcile the two?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:21:07)
Yeah. I mean, we’ve looked at this visitation in nursing homes for a number of months. We are now a number of months into this, which simply means that there’s a lot of people who have been locked up and cannot have visits from their family. And so we’ve weighed this. It has weighed heavy on me. I will tell you that. And on Ursel McElroy who heads up our Department of Aging and on anybody who has looked at this because these are tough, tough decisions. On the one hand, you do not want to introduce the virus into the nursing home. But on the other hand, I know, Ursel has has told me the number of people she’s talked to. I’ve talked to some, she’s talked to a lot more who just say that their loved one is going downhill in the nursing home. Some have dementia. It’s difficult to explain to them why that their mom or the son or daughter can’t go, isn’t coming. They’re not showing up. It’s hard to explain that to them. They don’t really fully understand because of the dementia.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:22:18)
So these are very difficult things. And so what we’ve outlined is a very thoughtful process. I think that virtually every group that has looked at it, we’ve gotten input and we’ve taken everything that everybody has said into consideration. So that once testing is done in the nursing home, and if they don’t have the virus in the nursing home, and other things have to take place as well. Then visitation can take place outside. It’s summer, weather is good enough that people can be outside generally for a while. And we know that the spread outside is dramatically different than it is inside, and that people wear a mask.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:23:10)
And we believe that with the proper precautions that this visitation, which family members tell me and I can fully understand is just very, very important to their loved one and their wellbeing, their physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, that that visitation can take place in a safe environment. So tough call, good question. But you got to make these decisions. And again, we’ve had for a number of months, people who’ve not been able to see anybody in their family. So it’s going to be very carefully, very carefully done.
Lieutenant Governor : (01:23:50)
Governor can I add just a point to that, is that like so many of these questions that we contemplate, there are health consequences of action and inaction, but with nursing homes, we’re so much further than we were months ago when this was put in place, because of all the testing that’s going on there. Very aggressive testing from the National Guard and from the nursing homes themselves, which have really helped to contribute to making those environments a much safer place.
Speaker 2: (01:24:21)
WBNS 10 TV, I’m the last question today, governor, thank you again for your time. Franklin County leads the state in the number of cases and the number of deaths, but there was no mention of that County that seemed to be raising concerns for you today outside of Hamilton and Montgomery. I was wondering if you could explain why. And second of all, the Franklin County Health Commissioner told me today he believes that the bars and restaurants did open too early and he says, it’s time to start having that difficult discussion about perhaps moving in a different direction. I wonder if you can address that as well. Thank you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:24:59)
Your first question first, it’s not that we don’t have a concern about Franklin County. It just is not in that top tier today. That may change. What I’ll try to do, or what I will do is to give you a more thorough kind of description on Thursday of what we’re seeing with all the counties and kind of give you an outline of that. A far as the Health Commissioner’s comments, look, this is the type of discussion that needs to take place. The concern about why there is the spread, what’s causing the spread, is multifaceted. But having a discussion like that is very, very proper and very, very good. Our data is good, but sometimes it’s hard to drill down to exactly where that person got it. But that’s, again, something that we’re going to continue to look at.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:26:00)
So, everything is open for assessment, but again, individual behavior is the way that this should, and we hope, will get dealt with. So, when people go to a bar, there’s enough restrictions about they’re supposed to be seated, et cetera, that if people follow the restrictions, then they’ll be okay. But it’s certainly something that we need to look at.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:26:34)
I want to thank you all very, very much. Sorry we changed the date on everyone, but we got the invitation from the White House to talk about foster care, which I thought was very important. Fran and I look forward to that tomorrow. And we see you all back here we hope at two o’clock on Thursday. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (01:26:52)
Next Ellen. Ellen, today at 4:00 on 3.
Speaker 4: (01:26:56)
Many Ohio citizens already live paycheck to paycheck and with minimal or no savings, unfortunately someone will now be at that tipping point. If you’re concerned about keeping your property and income, bankruptcy protection may be the answer.