Jul 15, 2020
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Speech Transcript July 15 on COVID-19
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine made a COVID-19 address on July 15. DeWine said “Ohio is sliding down a very dangerous path” and pleaded for action in the coronavirus fight, but made no new mask or shutdown orders. Read his full coronavirus speech transcript here.
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Mike DeWine: (00:05)
Good evening. I speak to you tonight from the governor’s office in the Ohio State Capitol. We have now reached the most critical point in our battle against the coronavirus. If all of us do not take immediate action to slow this virus down, the tragedy that we see playing out on our television screens everyday in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California may well be our reality in just a matter of weeks. The good news is that this nightmare does not have to be our future. Now some have wondered what new health orders might be issued tonight. That’s a discussion for another time. As your governor, I will take whatever action is necessary to protect the people of this state, but the truth is, what your local health department or the Ohio Department of Health or what I order is not nearly as important as what we all do, what we all do, in these crucial days ahead. Our future truly lies in our own hands.
Mike DeWine: (01:26)
Ohioans have faced many challenges throughout time. Wars, floods, tornadoes, but really nothing quite like this since Governor James Cox was our governor during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Governor Cox and I both are from the Miami Valley, but the reason I keep his figure here is to remind me of the resilience and the strength of all Ohioans who went through that horrible tragedy, and I know that Governor Cox must have felt as I do every day, the pain and anguish of each family who lost someone to that virus.
Mike DeWine: (02:16)
Early this year, we watched as the coronavirus erupted in China, Europe, then in the United States and then in Ohio. In Ohio, you did what Ohioans always do. You rallied. You rallied together. You did what needed to be done early in this fight and you took a collective leap of faith in a battle against an invisible enemy, the likes of which hadn’t been seen in Ohio and this country in more than 100 years. You made extraordinary sacrifices. You left school, you left work, you stayed home, you missed loved ones, you missed milestones, yes you missed paychecks. Because you are Ohioans, strong, steadfast, selfless, you also saved many lives. You flattened that curve and with your individual and your collective actions, you bought Ohio time, precious finite time for our healthcare providers, to create a statewide hospital system and for doctors and nurses to learn more about this novel illness and how best to respond. Time for Ohio to procure life-saving medical equipment, such as ventilators as well as personal protection equipment and with no vaccine in sight, you gave us time. Time to learn how to better manage this disease so we could carefully and responsibly reopen the state to protect both our lives and our livelihoods.
Mike DeWine: (04:10)
We saw an input from business leaders throughout the state and we listened to the scientists and other health experts to develop guiding protocols to open in an incremental, measured way that could protect the safety of employees and customers alike. By controlling the spread of the virus early on, we were able to responsibly reopen. The Ohio economy has started coming back. Ohio’s unemployment rate is coming down. While in April the revised rate was 17.6%, by May, it had dropped to 13.7% and further for 10 straight weeks, applications for continued unemployment benefits have declined. We must keep the virus in check so that we can rebuild consumer confidence and keep the positive economic momentum going.
Mike DeWine: (05:12)
So where are we now? Clearly, clearly, the virus is spreading with a vengeance across many parts of Ohio and lurks, waiting to attack victims, in all of our 88 counties. Tragically, in just four months, we have already lost 3,075 of our fellow Ohioans to this dreaded disease. Nearly the same number of Ohioans who died in the Vietnam War. Our hospitals are seeing more and more COVID patients. There are tonight 1,027 of our fellow citizens in our hospitals in Ohio, suffering from COVID. 316 are in intensive care. 146 are on a ventilator. Many of those who have recovered, those who have recovered now suffer from longterm and in some cases permanent health consequences, such as lung damage, kidney damage, and other very significant medical problems.
Mike DeWine: (06:25)
Ohio is now nearing our April and May peak of just over 1,100 hospital patients, with the Cincinnati and Dayton regions currently seeing more COVID positive patients in their hospitals than during any previous time during the pandemic, and the Cleveland region is also nearing a similar point. Now at the beginning of the pandemic, it took Ohio 20 days to reach our first 1,500 total cases. Last week, we saw over 1,500 cases in a single day, and to think just a month ago we were only at 400 new cases per day. Now I know that some say that our case numbers are increasing because we’re simply doing more testing. Yes, we certainly are doing more testing and we want to do more testing. In fact, our testing has gone up by 87%, but our number of positive cases has skyrocketed to almost 200%. Clearly, our number of new cases is not just the result of increased testing.
Mike DeWine: (07:40)
Let’s look again at Ohio and Florida. On June 9, Florida had 1,200 cases per day. About the same number of cases that we had in Ohio yesterday. This past Sunday, just one month later, Florida’s case numbers were at 15,300 new cases in one day. A month ago, Florida averaged 8.3 new cases per 100,000 residents per day. A little bit under what we have in Ohio currently. As of yesterday, Florida’s new cases have increased sixfold per day, 51 cases per 100,000 per day. A month ago, Arizona, Arizona was also at 1,200 new cases per day. As of Sunday, Arizona was at 3,400 new cases per day and further Arizona averaged almost 18 new cases per 100,000 residents per day last month, but that has increased two and a half times as of yesterday. Two and a half times. If we do not change course, Florida and Arizona will be our future.
Mike DeWine: (09:01)
I have always found history to be a teacher, and so early in the pandemic, I read a book by a man by the named of John Barry called The Great Influenza. It’s about the catastrophic flu of 1918. He wrote an article yesterday that puts our current reality into sobering perspective. This is what he said. “This is our second chance. We won’t get a third. If we don’t get the growth of this pandemic under control now, in a few months, when the weather turns cold and forces people to spend more time indoors, we could face a disaster that dwarfs the situation.”
Mike DeWine: (09:54)
Ohio is sliding. We’re sliding down a very dangerous path, with our once flattened curve starting to sharpen and to spike. This worrisome, disturbing reversal of our progress should be a jarring reminder of just how quickly our fate can change. A matter of weeks can change our trajectory. Weeks can alter our future. Weeks can change our lives. Weeks can be the difference between who lives and who dies in Ohio. We must act and we must act now. My friends, this is not a drill. It certainly is not any hoax. This is not a dress rehearsal. It’s the real thing. The enemy is here and Ohioans have simply come too far in this fight to cede ground now. My fellow Ohioans, you have changed history with this virus before. You did it. You can do it again, but I am afraid that our window of opportunity may be soon closing. As we have seen in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas, once things start moving downhill, they move very quickly and it’s so very, very hard then to turn things back around.
Mike DeWine: (11:27)
My fellow Ohioans, you, all of us together, we have the power to change that future. This is a defining time. The defining time for each one of us and there has been no greater call in recent times for Ohioans and for us to call upon our better angels as President Abraham Lincoln said. To do what is right to protect each other. Ohioans have always been a people who have been willing to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. Tonight, I am asking each of you to take action now, to sacrifice now, so that our kids can be in school this fall. So they can at least have a chance to play sports. So our businesses can remain open. So that Ohioans continue earning a living and a paycheck and support their families.
Mike DeWine: (12:37)
Now what specifically am I asking you to do? Let’s start with masks. Let’s start with masks. I’m asking each one of you, wherever you live in Ohio, whatever county, whatever the alert color of your county, to wear a mask every time you go out in public. I know some may still question the wisdom of wearing masks, but as we used to say when I was a prosecuting attorney, the jury is back, the verdict is in. There is a broad consensus today in the medical, health and business communities that masks are critical. Yesterday, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the following. “If all of us, if all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four weeks, six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground.” Wearing a mask is also our best way to protect Ohio jobs.
Mike DeWine: (13:58)
A recent Goldman Sachs report shows that wearing face masks can be viewed as an alternative to lockdowns and they should be looked at that way. They found that in most cases within a couple of weeks of people consistently wearing face masks, there was a slowdown, a real slowdown in the spread of the virus. Further, the study suggests that to curb the spread of the virus as successfully as wearing face masks, successfully as that does, we would have to consider a lockdown that essentially would subtract 5% of the country’s gross domestic product. Certainly not something we want to do.
Mike DeWine: (14:43)
But masks are not enough. They’re not enough. Now let’s be honest. All of us, all of us have started to let our guard down. I know I have. We’re tired, we want to go back to the way things were and that’s very, very understandable. But when we do, we’re literally playing a Russian roulette game with our own lives and our families and our neighbors. Good decisions will protect the economy and save lives. Reckless ones will hurt and kill. These are tough questions for all of us, but we need to ask ourselves, will that family reunion be worth it if our grandmother later tests positive for COVID and dies? Will that neighborhood cookout be worth it if your neighbor ends up alone on a ventilator in intensive care? Will that play date be worth it if the kids can’t go back to school at all in the fall? We’re all tired of being cooped up. I know your kids want to be with their friends. Fran and I know that our grandchildren certainly do as well, but we have to ask ourselves what’s better, knowing you did all you could to keep your family and your neighbors safe and our economy open, or taking risks that lead to illness, death, another economic shutdown.
Mike DeWine: (16:21)
Don’t we all want to be around to meet our future children? Our future grandchildren? Who’s not yet born? Attend their baptisms, to watch our kids and grandkids graduate from school? To attend their future weddings? This virus will end. It will end, and don’t we all want to be around when it does? So we can enjoy life, enjoy our families, enjoy our friends. As I’ve said to somebody the other day, there will be opening day baseball games we can go to. There will be so many other things that we can do in the future. We just got to get through this.
Mike DeWine: (17:07)
Now none of us can do this alone. In words often attributed to Ronald Reagan, Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” These are once in 100 year sacrifices. These are short-term inconveniences for longterm freedoms. In his January 1941 State of the Union address to Congress, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt began to make his case to end the isolation policies that emerged following World War I. He spoke of America’s need to sacrifice in times of crisis and the unity that comes with the nation’s collective actions. Here is what he said. “No one can tell the exact character of the emergency situations that we may be called upon to meet. The nation’s hands must not be tied when the nation’s life is in danger. All of us must prepare to make the sacrifices that the emergency, almost as serious as war itself, demands. Our strength is our unity of purpose and to that high concept, there can be no end save victory.”
Mike DeWine: (18:40)
Our way of life in Ohio is in danger. Our state’s life is in danger and our own strength lies in that unity of purpose. Early in this pandemic, Ohioans came together. You showed extraordinary kindness, care, compassion for your families, your friends, your neighbors, and for strangers alike. You rose to the occasion. You answered the call. I’m asking you, I’m calling on all of you, to once again unite. This virus is real. It’s killing our family members, our friends, our co-workers. We must take the long view in a response to it and remember that Ohioans have always been a strong, determined, resilient people who time and time again have overcome adversity and beat the odds. From the Native Americans who created intricate and massive earth works. To the pioneers who navigated their way along the Ohio River and constructed the national road. To the abolitionists and African-Americans who worked together to create an Underground Railroad leading those in slavery to freedom. To the immigrants who built our cities. To the African-Americans and those from Appalachia who migrated to Ohio to work, raise a family, start a better life.
Mike DeWine: (20:13)
At the start of this pandemic, Ohioans set the example for the rest of the country. Though this has been a trying time for all Ohioans, you showed the world what was possible when people work together. You showed the world our Ohio grit. I remain an optimist and I truly believe that we will rise out of the great tragedy of this virus and all that it has laid bare. Positive things will come out of our struggle. American and Ohio ingenuity, innovation, creativity, deeper relationships with our family, with our friends, and a stronger, renewed sense of community and our obligations to one another. Out of this struggle we will learn and we will emerge stronger, better, more tougher, more resilient. As the Bible tells us in Galatians, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season, we will reap if we do not give up.”
Mike DeWine: (21:26)
Ohioans never give up and Ohioans will not grow weary of doing good in helping to protect each other. We are Buckeyes, we are strong, and we will not relent as we forge a path forward. United, united, in building Ohio’s great future. Thank you very much. I hope you have a good evening.