Dec 23, 2020

Mike DeWine Press Conference Transcript December 23

Mike DeWine December COVID Press Conference
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsMike DeWine Press Conference Transcript December 23

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a COVID-19 press conference on December 23. Read the full transcript of the press conference here.

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Governor Mike DeWine: (00:00)
As we’re seeing more and more people who are vaccinated. Very, very exciting to see this. We’re first going to go to Lake County. Advanced EMTs and paramedic minister medical shots on a regular basis. But during a public health emergency, they can also be called on to do extra, manpower to give these vaccines, This year, they’ve been helping to administer flu vaccines, and now they’re able to administer the COVID 19-vaccine when working in coordination with their local EMS medical director in a local health department or a medical provider. So we’ll go to Lake County, and that’s where Dr. Carol Cunningham, an emergency room physician and Ohio State’s Medical Director for Emergency Medical Services will be getting her vaccine from Dan [Sampf 00:00:55] , a paramedic with Kirtland Fire Department. How y’all doing?

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (01:00)
Oh, we’re doing great. Thank you for having this opportunity to give a strong message to all Ohio EMS providers, as well as all healthcare workers, to obtain this vaccine. As the numbers have shown, our healthcare system has been stressed and of course, EMS calls have gone up. Many of our EMS agencies have been strained due to loss of manpower, secondary to people becoming ill and unable to work, yet the needs are increasing. Unfortunately, our first fatality due to COVID-19 in Lake County was actually one of our EMS providers.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:38)
Oh wow.

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (01:41)
Yes. But this is an opportunity for change. Wearing face masks and social distancing have really helped quell some of the rise, but now we have a safe and effective way to actually prevent this disease with a vaccine. So I would encourage all of EMS providers and health workers to go ahead and obtain that vaccine for a couple of reasons. Number one, we need to be going out and vaccinating the public. We are a critical part of the manpower that are going to help save lives with this vaccine. And second of all, it saves, in order for us to protect and be able to do this, we need to make sure that we have our manpower up. You can have a thousand ambulances, but they’re nothing without the people and the caregivers in them. So I would say that the other benefit is we all have to go home to families. What better way to protect others and to protect your own family members by taking the vaccine and actually preventing the disease, period. So EMS is one of those medical fields. It’s a team sport so I have my team here with me [crosstalk 00:03:03] it’s all hands on deck.

Governor Mike DeWine: (03:06)
Well, that’s great. Dan, how are you today?

Dan Sampf: (03:08)
I’m doing very well, sir. Thank you very much.

Governor Mike DeWine: (03:10)
Okay. And who else is there and what are you holding? [inaudible 00:03:15]

Tom: (03:15)
Tom [inaudible 00:00:03:15], fire department, and I have Dr. Cunningham’s other favorite person here is Maynard.

Governor Mike DeWine: (03:23)
What’s the name?

Tom: (03:25)
Maynard.

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (03:27)
It’s a [inaudible 00:03:27]. I live by myself, so this has been my companion while I’m social distancing. And he’s one of our favorite, he’s part of the team.

Governor Mike DeWine: (03:36)
Awesome. Well, doctor, are you ready to get the vaccine?

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (03:40)
I am.

Governor Mike DeWine: (03:40)
Dan? You guys ready to go?

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (03:41)
I am.

Dan Sampf: (03:43)
Yes, sir.

Governor Mike DeWine: (03:44)
Let’s do it.

Dan Sampf: (03:45)
Okay.

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (03:45)
This is the only thing I want for Christmas is health as well.

Governor Mike DeWine: (03:53)
Well, you’re dressed appropriately. You got the right colors on today. Yeah. Christmas season.

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (03:58)
Merry Christmas. And red is for 9-1-1, too. [inaudible 00:04:14]. It didn’t hurt much.

Governor Mike DeWine: (04:16)
All right. Look like you’re doing okay, doctor.

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (04:18)
Oh, I’m doing great. I can’t wait to get the second dose. I hope everybody goes out there and gets the vaccine so we can get back to live baseball and live music and having a normal, normal [inaudible 00:04:31].

Governor Mike DeWine: (04:32)
For all those things, doctor. Absolutely. Well, we appreciate it. Thank you. Have a good day, everybody.

Dr. Carol Cunningham: (04:38)
Thank you. [crosstalk 00:04:40]

Governor Mike DeWine: (04:40)
We’re going to go to Clark County next. This week, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine started arriving and it’s arriving all over the State of Ohio at local health departments and also at hospitals. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve really relied on our public health teams and they’ve done so much with the tracing and all the other things they’re doing because of the pandemic, in addition to what they do each and every day to keep us all safe. Once again, turning to these public health departments, 113 around the State of Ohio, they’re really experts at managing mass vaccination clinics, whether that is for the seasonal flu or H1N1 pandemic. I’m just thankful that we can turn to them to begin vaccinating Ohioans. And so we have health departments all over the state now who have started doing this.

Governor Mike DeWine: (05:29)
So today we’re joined by Christina Conover. Christina is somewhere there, I think. Maybe offscreen. We recognize you. We know you. Good to see you. Christina’s the Director of Nursing for the Clark County combined health district. Christina, you all started, I think, yesterday. Tell us about how yesterday went.

Christina Conover: (05:54)
Yes. Yesterday was really a great day. We as Public Health Department are really excited about the opportunity to be part of this phase of the response. And we have a great team and we also have a great team locally. A lot of partners who have made this possible. We have just a great space to do this in. And none of that is because any one agency is working alone. So really excited to keep going. We hope to be able to be a large part of the vaccine response going forward as well. And [crosstalk 00:06:27].

Governor Mike DeWine: (06:27)
Well, that’s great.

Christina Conover: (06:28)
Flexibility.

Governor Mike DeWine: (06:30)
With you is Chris Shelton, a paramedic and firefighter from Springfield Fire and Rescue. How are you doing?

Chris Shelton: (06:36)
Good, how about yourself?

Governor Mike DeWine: (06:38)
Well good, good. How many years you’ve been on the fire department?

Chris Shelton: (06:42)
I was 23 years in November.

Governor Mike DeWine: (06:47)
23. You’ve seen a lot then.

Chris Shelton: (06:49)
Yes, sir. We’ve been seeing a lot all day today.

Governor Mike DeWine: (06:52)
Yeah. Well, tell us a little bit, have anything to say to the people of Clark County and the area? And we just appreciate you for what you do every day and appreciate you being here.

Chris Shelton: (07:04)
I appreciate you having me. If anybody knows me, they know I’m champion for the city of Springfield. But specifically in this instance, I like to be a champion for the Black community. I understand the history of vaccines, in our community specifically.

Governor Mike DeWine: (07:20)
Sure.

Chris Shelton: (07:20)
I believe in this vaccine. I believe this is the time to do something like this. I’ve got my selfish reasons. I’m a 40 year old Black male who’s a little overweight. And so I’m in that disproportionately affected group. My parents are 73 years old. My kids would like to go to school, go back to school full time. My son plays basketball. My wife’s a nurse. I’ve got an aunt who’s currently on a ventilator in the hospital right now.

Governor Mike DeWine: (07:43)
Ooh, ooh.

Chris Shelton: (07:43)
Got all kinds of business people that I associate with that are suffering, people who are unemployed or underemployed right now. And beyond that, there are thousands of people that are dying every day. So I’d like to do my part to get us back to close to normal, if I can. Do my small part.

Governor Mike DeWine: (08:00)
Well, you’ve articulated a lot of reasons. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Chris Shelton: (08:05)
Yes, sir. Thank you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (08:05)
You ready to get the shot?

Chris Shelton: (08:08)
No, not really. But [crosstalk 00:08:10] I take it.

Governor Mike DeWine: (08:16)
So where are you guys right now? What am I looking at?

Chris Shelton: (08:20)
JC Penney’s. It used to be the Upper Valley Mall.

Governor Mike DeWine: (08:23)
Sure, sure. I don’t know, you got some pretty good, good muscles there, [inaudible 00:08:30] working out.

Chris Shelton: (08:30)
My dad gave them to me.

Governor Mike DeWine: (08:47)
How are we doing?

Chris Shelton: (08:49)
Didn’t hurt too bad. She’s really good at this.

Governor Mike DeWine: (08:54)
Well, we thank both of you very, very much and hope you have a blessed Christmas. And we just appreciate you being with us today, and thanks for what you both do to keep us all safe. Appreciate it.

Chris Shelton: (09:09)
Thank you for having me be a part of this. Thank you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (09:09)
Thank you. Appreciate it. We’re going to go to Tuscarawas County. Go to the health department in Dover, where they’re vaccinating their emergency department physicians today and tomorrow. Next week they will start vaccinating EMS first responders. Today, we’re going to see two emergency room doctors get shots there today. We’ve got Dr. Kevin Miller, who in addition to being an emergency physician is Chief of the Sugar Creek Fire Department. Hi Chief. Good to see you. And also the County EMS Director. Also Dr. Jeffrey Cameron, who is also the Tuscarawas County Coroner and an emergency room doctor. Thank you both for joining us. We appreciate it. How y’all doing today?

Dr. Miller: (09:53)
Good. We’re excited.

Governor Mike DeWine: (09:56)
That’s good. Well, you’ve probably seen a lot of COVID patients. You’ve been treating directly COVID patients in the last few months, I assume?

Jeffrey Cameron: (10:07)
Lots of COVID patients.

Dr. Miller: (10:09)
Every day, every day.

Jeffrey Cameron: (10:12)
Probably 50% of our patients.

Governor Mike DeWine: (10:14)
Wow. Wow.

Jeffrey Cameron: (10:19)
At the minimum.

Governor Mike DeWine: (10:19)
Oh boy. Well, are you…? One of the things that we hear when we see some things on the internet about the vaccines and some of the myths about the vaccines, I wonder if you have any thoughts about that. Obviously, you’re getting these shots today and you’re emergency room physicians.

Dr. Miller: (10:42)
The way that I think about it is the world is sick right now. And the medicines that we prescribe to patients when they come to the hospital and they’re already sick. We’re grasping at straws with those treatments. They’re not shown to change the outcomes for our patients. But it’s what we have. Once you have the virus, how it’s going to play out in your bodies is how it’s going to play out this. This vaccine is the cure. We have the cure in our hands. We all need to take part. We all need to work together to get vaccinated. Obviously, it’s rationed right now. But as it comes available, every one of us needs to do our role so we can make the world healthy again.

Governor Mike DeWine: (11:19)
All right, y’all ready to get the shot?

Dr. Miller: (11:24)
[inaudible 00:11:26].

Governor Mike DeWine: (11:25)
So we have Amy Kaser who’s was going to give you both your shots now. And she’s not messing around. She’s moving. [inaudible 00:00:11:34]. Okay, she was ready.

Dr. Miller: (11:40)
Quick and painless.

Governor Mike DeWine: (11:42)
Looks like she’s done this before. What do you think?

Jeffrey Cameron: (11:45)
We’ve been looking forward to this for months and months. This is one of the best Christmases gifts we could have asked for.

Governor Mike DeWine: (11:54)
Well, we appreciate everything you’re doing. And we’ve been anxious, obviously. I know you have been to be protected. So just thank you for what you do every day.

Jeffrey Cameron: (12:08)
I would echo what Dr. Miller said. This is the cure. This is what’s going to make the difference for the future.

Governor Mike DeWine: (12:17)
Yeah. It changes the future. Well, we thank you all. Thank you very much. Good luck.

Jeffrey Cameron: (12:26)
Thanks very much.

Governor Mike DeWine: (12:30)
And thanks again for all three of you for your fine work. Appreciate it very much.

Amy Kaser: (12:36)
Thank you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (12:37)
Thank you. Now we’re going to go to Twin Valley Psychiatric Hospital, another part of our 1A process is making vaccinations available to those at state psychiatric hospitals who choose to receive them. The congregate nature of those facilities makes those that live and work there vulnerable to spread. It’s a congregate setting. Twin Valley Behavioral Health Care Hospital received vaccines yesterday. They’re continuing the process of vaccinating staff and high-risk residents today and tomorrow. And with us is Charles Shepard, therapeutic program worker at the hospital who is choosing to be vaccinated. Good to be with you.

Charles Shepard: (13:19)
Thank you, Governor.

Governor Mike DeWine: (13:21)
We, we, we have, how many years have you been there?

Charles Shepard: (13:24)
I’ve been here at Twin Valley for 10 years.

Governor Mike DeWine: (13:29)
That is great. And we, we appreciate your good work. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is certainly a widespread and we always worry about it getting into any congregate care setting like you, like you have there as well. Do you have any thoughts about this? Are you ready to go?

Charles Shepard: (13:56)
Yeah. So, well, first of all, I’d like to say it is an honor. It’s a privilege. And I feel grateful to have this opportunity to make the world a better place right now. This situation with COVID has been something I’ve dealt with personally, because I have two children that were stricken with this illness.

Governor Mike DeWine: (14:19)
Really?

Charles Shepard: (14:19)
One of my children was actually placed in a coma for three weeks. She is currently still in the nursing facility. And my other daughter, she’s getting better very slowly. And I would just like to say to anybody that has any concerns or worries about this, you owe it to everybody. You owe it to everybody you love, everybody you care for, everybody you work with, and everybody take care of to get this vaccination. We need to get life back to the way it was. This is the way we can make it possible.

Governor Mike DeWine: (15:00)
Well, I wish your children the best. I wish you the best. You’ve been through quite a bit. That’s very tough. Thank you for your statement and thank you for doing this. And this is really the day we’ve been waiting for. Let me introduce Abby Hunter, who’s going to administer your vaccine. Abby, how are you today?

Abby Hunter: (15:26)
Doing well, thank you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (15:29)
You’ve given a few shots. Have you?

Abby Hunter: (15:31)
A couple.

Governor Mike DeWine: (15:31)
You’re ready to go?

Abby Hunter: (15:35)
I’m ready.

Governor Mike DeWine: (15:36)
All right, let’s do it then.

Abby Hunter: (15:37)
You ready?

Governor Mike DeWine: (16:05)
Well thank you both very, very much and good luck. You doing okay?

Charles Shepard: (16:10)
Thank you. Yes.

Governor Mike DeWine: (16:13)
Thank you very much. Hope you have a good Christmas.

Charles Shepard: (16:16)
Thank you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (16:17)
Thank you to both of you. Thanks a lot. One of the things that we worry about always, but particularly during the pandemic is just food security. So Fran is here to tell you a little bit more about what’s going on in regard to our food banks.

Fran: (16:37)
Well, last week I showed you what $25 buys you when you go to the store. And then I showed you what a $25 donation buys a local food bank. The food banks can take the $25 and stretch it to about $225 worth of food for people in our community. One of the reasons they can do this is because they have a partnership with Ohio farmers. The farmers donate and sell surplus items to help Ohioans.

Joree Novatny: (17:17)
Thanks to generous community members and the extraordinary supportive of State of Ohio, the Ohio Association of Food Banks is proud to have partnered with Ohio’s farmers, growers, and commodity producers for more than two decades, directing surplus Ohio-grown, Ohio-raised and Ohio-produced agricultural products to people in need throughout our state to ensure that they have the healthy, nutritious foods they need to nourish themselves and their families.

Mark Hoewischer: (17:44)
I’m Mark Hoewischer, a Champagne County dairy producer. And Ohio’s dairy farmers are very concerned about their communities. And right now, milk and dairy products are the most sought after foods at food banks. So Ohio dairy farmers have been doing their very best to keep those nutritious products in the food banks so the families can get them that need them.

Gary Cooper: (18:11)
Hi, I’m Gary Cooper with Cooper Farms. Our company has been donating cartons of eggs and turkey meat to the local community food banks, as well as State of Ohio’s food banks for many, many years. In fact, our parents, Virgil and Virginia Cooper, started that way back in the 40s. So we’re very thankful to be able to partner with the food banks of Ohio. And this year, in 2020, we donated about 92,000 cartons of eggs to the food banks in Ohio. So we really enjoy helping out the local communities.

Fran: (18:56)
So if you need food or you can give a gift to help provide food, please visit ohiofoodbanks.org/coronavirus, ohiofoodbanks.org/coronavirus. You can find your local food bank there and you can get help if you need it. So you can get help or you can give help. So we hope you’ll give help if you can. It’s nice to see so many Ohioans helping Ohioans. It’s part of our spirit and one of the many things that makes our state so great. And we want to see everyone have food this Christmas. Thank you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (19:37)
Thanks, Fran. Eric, let’s go to our data slide for today. Today we’re reporting 7,790 new cases in Ohio. This is below average for the last 21 days, but it’s still obviously at a very elevated level. Sadly, we’re reporting 109 deaths that have been reported since yesterday. In addition, we have 431 new hospitalizations reported. That is the 10th highest of the pandemic. And 52 new ICU admissions. So while we’re seeing the leveling off of the cases, we’re seeing obviously, later indicators, which is the deaths and the hospital admissions, as well as the ICU admissions.

Governor Mike DeWine: (20:27)
Eric, let’s go to our top 88 counties. All the counties, but in the order. And again, these are all at a very high incident level. Let’s go to the top 20, Eric. And you’ll see Wyandot, Pickaway, Harrison, Brown, Richland. You just get an idea that these are spread all over the state. It just shows how widespread the virus is. It’s every corner, it’s permeated every single county. The lowest county, even in the top 20, if you go down, Williams County, it was still nine times, which is the 20th highest incidence, it’s still nine times the high incidence level. So very high.

Governor Mike DeWine: (21:13)
Today, we’re showing you two new maps. They illustrate the key measures we should be looking at each week to see how severe the spread of COVID is in the state. And let me start with this one. This is kind of a time-lapse. And you’ll see the key cases per a hundred thousand residents here would be zero. Over here would be 1500. So it just shows how widespread it is. And this is kind of a time-lapse starting August 1. September 1, October, November, December, December 1, and December 22nd. And so what you can see is we’re moving further and further this way. And basically every County is in the red. But we designed this to really show you, so that someone can look at this map and see how they compare with other counties.

Governor Mike DeWine: (22:13)
Again, this goes back to the data point that we just showed a moment ago, that we’ve asked people really to look at to determine how much spread they have in their county. It’s the best data point to see what’s happened in the last two weeks, what’s out there, how widespread Covid is in your county. It’s widespread everywhere, but this gives you kind of again, a time lapse of how this has progressed. Unfortunately, obviously going the wrong way.

Governor Mike DeWine: (22:41)
Eric, let’s look at the next slide. We’ve indicated there are really two things now to look at, now that we have spread all over the state. One is what we just showed you, which is the number of cases per 100,000 in the last two weeks. How much spread is there in the county? The other is to look at your hospitals, in what kind of shape…

Governor Mike DeWine: (23:03)
Look at your hospitals and what kind of shape they’re in. And so, this has been designed, COVID patients as percentage of all ICU patients. Again, you will see the progression as we move, and the darker, of course, this is the darkest point is 75% as a percentage of all ICU patients. So, if the question were asked, what percentage in that hospital or in the ICU are COVID patients, that’s what this is showing. So again, it is what the doctors tell us and the hospital administrators tell us is the best way to indicate how much pressure is being put on our hospitals. So again, the darker is worse. We have it broken down into the different regions and you will see which regions, region seven, region eight, those are the ones that now are really hit the hardest, as far as again, this is not spread but it’s ICU capacity.

Governor Mike DeWine: (24:11)
So, we’re going to update these every week and these would be two maps that I would suggest that you look at every week, and Eric, let’s see the next one, which is just where we are. These are the two. This is today, or as of yesterday. Again, spread on one side, how much ICU’s are being hit in our hospitals by that particular region. Let me now go to Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff and doctor, you want to give us a little report and maybe a update on what we’re seeing going forward and what we’re concerned about.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (24:51)
Yeah. Thank you, governor. As you’ve illustrated so clearly, we’re heading into Christmas riding our highest wave of COVID- 19 ever. Our cases as noted are high, our hospitals are extremely busy, and that’s in every corner of the state. Simply put, we can’t afford to let this get worse. And so, we really can’t let our guard down between Christmas and New Years. Our holidays just have to be different this year because we have to take special precautions to protect ourselves and the people that we love. So as we head into this special week, I want to remind everyone of the steps that we need to take.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (25:38)
First, we need to stay home. We need to stay home as much as possible. Home is the safest place. As we’ve said over and over, we need to wear our masks whenever we’re around people from outside our household, and when we do wear those masks, we need to make sure it covers both our nose and our mouth. You need to keep your distance and keep it short. Remember, the more people you’re around and the longer you’re together, the higher your risk of sharing COVID-19. We need to wash our hands. Work from home whenever you can, and if you have to meet, do it virtually.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (26:23)
Also, let’s remember to keep celebrations safe and small. Remember that our older family members are people who are especially at risk, so make an extra effort to protect them this holiday season. Don’t eat or drink with people who are outside your household. Remember, we really can’t wear our masks when we eat and drink. Rethink those travel plans. This is a holiday to stay close to home. Finally, choose safe holiday activities like drive through light shows and phone or video visits. Remember, COVID spreads from me to you mostly through the air we breathe and it spreads even when we have no symptoms. Let’s work hard this holiday season to keep each other safe until we all get vaccinated. Thank you, governor.

Governor Mike DeWine: (27:17)
Bruce, thank you very much. Very, very good message. Kind of to go along with Bruce’s message, I want to read a card that I got open yesterday. It’s from Jessica Cable in Northwest Ohio, who is an artist, art teacher. Here’s one of the things she writes. I wanted to give you one of the ornaments I made to try to remember 2020 in a positive way, and to thank you for your leadership, but to try to remember 2020 in a positive way, and I really like it. This is what it says. We Stayed Home 2020. So, thank you very much for sending me that, and I thought it went very well with what Bruce’s thoughts are and what his comments were.

Governor Mike DeWine: (28:12)
Sadly, we’ve been notified about the death of a youth specialist working for Ohio Department of Youth Services, Robert Burns, who worked at the Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility for more than 28 years, died last Thursday. He tested positive for the Coronavirus on November 29th. DYS director, Ryan Geese tells me that youth specialist, Burns, had a strong sense of community, love for his community, was actively involved with the masons, with scouting, and with the star County Sheriff’s office, so we extend to his family our deepest, deepest sympathy. Leaves behind his wife, Pam, children, Bobby and Rebecca, and grandson, Levi. So, our prayers are with his family.

Governor Mike DeWine: (29:13)
So a question that I’ve been asked a lot, and it’s very understandable, is in regard to the vaccine, who is next? What’s going to happen? And so, today I’m going to try to outline that a little bit. We don’t have all the details. We don’t have all the timeline, but I felt it was important to share this with you just as soon as we had this information and we’ve consulted a lot of people, listened to a lot of people, listened to the medical experts and specialists. Everyone in Ohio who wants to get this vaccine will, at some point, be able to get it. They just can’t get all today, to state the obvious.

Governor Mike DeWine: (29:57)
What we hope is that, there’ll be additional companies come online. We have two now, Moderna and Pfizer. We hope there’s more. We hope that Pfizer and Moderna continue pump up their production as well. And so, we will keep you informed as what is coming into the state. [inaudible 00:30:17] promised us a steady flow, but it means there’s going to be months before everybody will be able to receive the vaccine. So we’ve had to make some difficult decisions, but we’ve been guided in this by a desire and I believe, a moral imperative to save as many lives as we can, and to do this as quickly as we can.

Governor Mike DeWine: (30:45)
We’re now, as you know, in what we describe as phase 1A and you saw people being vaccinated on TV live today, all over the state of Ohio, and that will continue in the days ahead. Just to recap, who is getting vaccines now? It’s our frontline healthcare workers, is one large group. The next group is people in congregate care settings. Why did we pick those two? And I think most states have done this and I think it’s consistent with what CDC has said. We picked those two groups because our frontline medical people need to be protected. They’re protecting us every single day and we need to protect them. We need them out there, and that’s why they’re in this first group.

Governor Mike DeWine: (31:42)
In addition to that, we are seeing our heaviest losses in our nursing homes and in other congregate care settings. So we are starting with our nursing homes where the risk is the highest, and then we’re moving to other congregate care settings where people are living together and where we know when it comes in, it spreads very quickly. And where we also know that many of the cases, these are individuals who have a higher mortality rate than others might. So, that’s what you’re seeing happen today. It’s not going to be done overnight. It’s going to take weeks and weeks to do it, but we have the process in place to get that job done and we have people out there who are doing this. We have, for example, our health departments who are getting vaccines. They’re now working with EMS, just as one example. They’re working with some other congregate care settings. In addition to that, we have the four pharmacy companies that are out there every day that are giving vaccines to residents and to workers in our long-term care facilities. So, they’re moving forward. You’re also seeing our hospitals, and each day more hospitals get the vaccine and they’re vaccinating those people who work in that hospital and work for them, who were on the front line, so that’s where we are today.

Governor Mike DeWine: (33:10)
What is the next step? Again, the goal I believe, must be, I think it’s just imperative that we do everything that we can to save lives. We’ve consulted medical professionals. We’ve consulted a lot of people and we’ve looked at a lot of data. So Eric, can you put the slide up, please? This is a slide which shows mortality in Ohio from COVID by age and starting at the bottom, those 80 years old and over represent almost 53% of all deaths in the state of Ohio. 75 to 79 represents 14% of the deaths in Ohio. Those age 70 to 74 represent 12%, and those age 65 to 69, 7.9%. That totals up to 86.8% of the population of the state. Excuse me, 86.8% of all those who have died from COVID. So, those 65 up comprise almost 87% of the deaths in the state of Ohio. It really is an astounding figure when you look at that. That represents, approximately, that group, 1.8 million Ohioans.

Governor Mike DeWine: (34:56)
And we looked at where to draw the line and it was clear that this is the most at risk group. Obviously the older you are, the more at risk you are. So this group will be in the next group. The rest of the decision is logistics. Whether we roll this out, frankly, in starting at this group and then this group or this group, or whether they are lumped together, we have not figured that out yet, but that really is a basis. The question that we, our team is looking at right now is, how is the best way to get this out as quickly as we can to the most people who are into that category. So, we’ll have more information. Wish we had it today, we don’t, but we’ll have more information. As soon as we get that information, we will be able to share that with you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (35:56)
We also have a smaller group, a very, very small group of people who are under 65, but they’re younger people, not always young, but younger than 65 with severe inherited or developmental disorders. Sickle cell disease, for example, would be one example. Down syndrome would be another one and there were a number of them and we will list those out, but again, based on what medical professionals have told us, these are individuals who are at a very, very high risk, if they would get the COVID. And it made sense with our goal to preserve lives, that we try to preserve their lives and that we give them the opportunity early on in this same group to get the vaccines.

Governor Mike DeWine: (36:49)
Let me move to the third group that is in this new group that we’re creating today. School children. We must protect them and the way we must be able to get them back in school. Now you know, of course, that the CDC has not provided this vaccine can go to anyone 16 or under, but the goal is to get these kids back in school. These children are obviously our future. These children are Ohio’s future. We must invest in our future. We must invest in our children. The latest data shows as of last week, that 45% of our children in Ohio, in public schools are now fully remote. 45% are fully remote, not in class at all. 26% of our children in the state of Ohio our school-aged children, K through 12, are partially remote, or what we will call hybrid.

Governor Mike DeWine: (38:05)
That means that 71% of all the children attending public schools in the State of Ohio are not fully in-person. And there’s many reasons for this. Many school schools have struggled with this. Many have tried to open, were open for a while, and have had problems in keeping kids in class because of quarantining. Some of them had problems in regard to personnel, and some of them, they have had to pull back. That is very understandable. We are in a very difficult, difficult period of time.

Governor Mike DeWine: (38:43)
Some children, when I talk to parents and I talk to educators, it’s clear, some children do well remotely. There’s probably a small minority that maybe even prefer it and do better, but some do okay, some do better, some do okay, but there are some who certainly do not do as well. Those are particularly the kids that we must worry about. We’ve had some children who have been remote the entire year and some of them have done fine, but it’s clear that others have not.

Governor Mike DeWine: (39:24)
We’ve been told by parents. I’ve been told by parents, by educators, that some of these children, because they’re out of class have more mental health problems, they have more emotional problems. They have concerns, the parents do, about their social wellbeing, as well as the mental health. We’ve also seen, and there have reports and some clear evidence of this, that absenteeism has gone up among some of these children. So, I want to make it very clear. These are decisions that schools have made, families have made, and they’ve been made in good faith by everyone. But I believe, it’s time to get all our children who want to be in class, back in class. That is our goal. These kids are our future. These kids have really been hurt in some cases, by not being in school. Some of them have gotten further behind and quite candidly, according to the educators I talked to, some of the children who were already behind, now have been most impacted, and they’re further behind than they had been before.

Governor Mike DeWine: (40:56)
So, our goal is to get all these children back in school. The vaccine gives us a tool that schools did not have, that educators did not have, that school boards did not have. And so, we’re going to make the vaccine available to the schools to accomplish the goal of getting the kids back in school. Now, make it very clear. This decision will always be up to parents and parents want to make a decision the child, they feel the child’s better off remote. That’s fully, fully acceptable. That’s fine. Parents know what is best for their own children and should make those individual decisions.

Governor Mike DeWine: (41:49)
So, we’re going to offer vaccines to all schools that want to go back or remain in person. So if a school has been out, not been able to go back, not to be in person, if that school makes the decision, we want to go back in person, we then will be able to offer to that school, the ability to vaccinate all the adults in the building, the teachers, bus drivers, the custodians people in clerical. Anybody who is in that building, people work in the cafeteria, anybody in that building who will come in contact with children, they will be able to get a vaccine. Now, what I cannot tell you today is exactly the date that that is going to occur. Our goal is to start this phase around the middle of January. The subgroups within them, schools included, will be scheduled from there.

Governor Mike DeWine: (43:03)
So we don’t know what schools will start on that date or not, but our goal at a minimum, is for any child in the state that wants to be back in school, to be back in school by March 1st. Now again, many schools are already in person. Many are planning to go back in person after the first of the year, so that doesn’t interfere in anyone’s decision, but we believe it’s important. I personally, believe it’s important. The parents have this option, the schools have this option, the children have this option to be back in school. I’ve heard for the last nine months about this, and let’s keep in mind that these children were not in school in the spring. We accomplished a great deal because state pullback. We kept the curve flattened. We saved many, many, many, many lives, but it means that they were not in school in the spring. Schools did the best that they could remotely, and we’ve also seen, based on what I just read, that we have a number of children who are not in school today. So we want to provide that opportunity for any school that wants to go back in person or stay in person, that opportunity will be there. Now we’re still working out the details, but again, our goal is to have kids back in school if the parents want them to be, back by March 1st.

Governor Mike DeWine: (44:45)
Let me mention one more thing before I turn it over to the Lieutenant Governor, and I mentioned this last week, and again, there’s no state order on this, but after talking to our health experts a lot about this, I want to emphasize something that I said last week. And that is this, that as we look forward to heading back to school after the holidays, it’s important for schools, for kids, teachers, everyone, to get off to a good start. With this in mind, I know some of our schools are choosing to delay coming back for a week or so after the new year. I think that’s a good idea. And I think I would ask that schools take a look at this, and if that will work for them, I would like for them to do that. This is based upon what our medical experts have told us. It’s a great way to create a buffer, a buffer between unintended holiday exposures, which may occur in the classroom and I encourage our schools to consider this s-

Governor Mike DeWine: (46:03)
… Encourage our schools to consider this step. I want to go to Bruce for a moment before I go to the lieutenant governor. I don’t know if Bruce is still up there. Bruce, you and I have talked a lot about this and I wonder if you have just some comments from the medical point of view about this.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (46:17)
Thank you, governor. We of course are looking forward to the great effort that we saw around the Thanksgiving holiday from Ohioans, including our students. But as we head into this holiday season, Christmas, New Year’s and the get togethers that families have, we know that there could be some increased risk that kids being kids may have some exposures. And giving it a little more time allows for that space allows for anything that may have occurred not to get carried over into the school year. And to really have that start of the second half of the school year be a fresh start.

Governor Mike DeWine: (47:10)
Thank you, Bruce. We’ll go to the lieutenant governor.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted: (47:15)
Thank you, governor. I just want to open by offering some words of support for the decision you made about the prioritization and the next phase for the vaccine. This decision protects our most vulnerable and the silent victims of the virus, our kids. And I just want to emphasize that, reiterate something you said that when you vaccinate people 65 years of age and over, that covers the population that has composed 86.8% of all of the deaths.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted: (47:56)
And if you add in those that I know you and Dr. Vanderhoff have talked about quite often, those who are with severe medical conditions, you protect really Ohio’s most vulnerable. And making that a priority is super important. I think we all know as you articulated well why it’s so important to help get the schools back open for in-person education. Kids have had a great deal of academic opportunity taken from them by the virus. And this is a prioritization of those children, which has been very important to you as leader of this administration to help kids, to give them an opportunity to live up to their God-given potential.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted: (48:44)
And in this is going to make sure that many, many more of them have that opportunity sooner rather than later. And that is good for their education, their mental health and for their future. And so I thank you for making that decision. But I know we often emphasize as well that as the vaccine’s rolling out, we still can’t let off of the other things that are important like wearing our masks, keeping to our small groups, staying socially distanced. And that’s why I’m glad to make this announcement about something that the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is doing. You know that they distributed 23 million masks to Ohio’s workforce through businesses and employers during the summer and fall of this year.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted: (49:35)
The BWC is now beginning a second round of that with Ohio-made masks, 23 million of them. The shipments have begun and they will continue through the first half of 2021. These were made by Ohio companies, many of them part of that initiative that we talked about, governor. You emphasize very early on we don’t want to find ourselves in this position again, where we are reliant on PPE that has to be produced in foreign nations. Sometimes those nations, not friends of ours. And through the efforts with JobsOhio and Development Services Agency and this order from the BWC, we are helping support the development of these companies and the products they’re making.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted: (50:28)
Two of them that they’ve contracted with are Buckeye Mask Company in Cleveland for 10 million of these masks and the Career Development and Placement Strategies Group also in Cleveland for another 13 million Ohio-made masks for a total of 23 million. And these companies are putting Ohio’s workers to work, they’re protecting Ohio’s workforce and helping us build a strategy for the future of our economy as well. So I want to thank the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for their efforts, the whole team that’s helped develop a PPE supply chain right here in Ohio.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted: (51:11)
Additionally, in this season of merry and a joy that we celebrate, we know that there are a lot of gifts out there. A lot of people making last-minute shopping decisions, remember to shop local. Now we have a whole list of everything from restaurants to gift card suggestions, to a blog about Ohio retailers all available at ohio.org. And you can go on and search that website for different places to get carryout from restaurants. You’ll find where restaurants are doing carryout there, gift card suggestions, and just the unique things that are going on in Ohio small businesses and retailers. And take a look at that at ohio.org.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted: (51:59)
And I will note something that the first lady said, the importance of food banks and helping people who are in need. I went out to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank yesterday. It’s amazing work. The volunteers, the food bank, the National Guard, the generosity of many are helping brighten people’s lives. If you don’t think there’s a need for this, if you’re maybe out there and you’re listening to this and it sounds like the same old thing we always hear, I want you to think about this.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted: (52:27)
The food bank didn’t open until eight o’clock and people were lining up as early as 6:00-6:30 AM yesterday and there’s a need in. And so reach out to your local community, your food bank, through your church, wherever you might, you might feel like you want to go and help people out this holiday season. And I just want to say Merry Christmas and governor I’ll turn it back over to you. Thank you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (52:53)
That’s great. Well Jon, it’s so exciting to have these masks made in Ohio. It’s been a goal of ours since we saw the supply chain just totally disrupted and the problems that Ohio medical personnel had and getting masks early on this pandemic. And to be able to make these masks in Ohio is a very, a very exciting thing. We’re very, very happy about that. Ohio workers doing it. That’s good. I think we’re ready for questions.

Speaker 1: (53:25)
Hi governor. I’m your first question today is from James Pilcher at WKRC.

James Pilcher: (53:31)
It says I’m muted. Can you hear me, governor?

Governor Mike DeWine: (53:38)
I can hear you. You’re on.

James Pilcher: (53:39)
Happy holidays. Thanks for taking the question.

Governor Mike DeWine: (53:41)
Thank you.

James Pilcher: (53:43)
As you noted in the last two reports, the transmission rates are really, really starting to surge in rural counties. One of our area counties, Brown County earlier this week, we had the second highest. What do you attribute that to? And as a second part to that question, do you think that we’re seeing anything like the UK strain that is more communicable? Have you heard anything about that? Is that part of that? Or what do you attribute the high rates in these rural counties to at this point especially Brown County?

Governor Mike DeWine: (54:13)
Yeah, I’ve watched what’s happened with Brown County. I have no indication whether the UK strain is here or not. The doctors who I’ve listened to, the way people move around there’s no reason to think it’s not at least in the United States somewhere. But again, that’s not anything I know. I don’t know that. As far as what we’re seeing, this has really been a trend that we’ve seen from the fall on. The first two, what I call the first big two surges, one in the spring, one in June and July. They didn’t totally bypass the rural parts of the state, but they didn’t really hit it very hard. And so you could live in the rural part of the state and not know about that and not really feel it because it didn’t impact someone that you knew.

Governor Mike DeWine: (55:05)
But we’ve seen this in other States, we’ve seen other countries. It goes out and it permeates into the rural areas. And so, it spread and you can just see by the chart, the one to 88 counties, you can just see. The lowest county is now something that we would have just shuttered at, shuttered at, in June or July. We would have said, “Oh, how could that be?” And I think we’re almost numb to this because the numbers are so bad, the spread is so bad. And what we try to ask people to do is to look at two things, look at the spread in your county and look at the impact on your ICU.

Governor Mike DeWine: (55:50)
So I think it’s the natural progression of a virus that is just very contagious. And it has worked its way out in the fall. It worked its way out. We were told that we would see more spread in the fall when it got colder, people went inside, easier to spread. And that’s exactly what we’ve seen. I think also that candidly in the rural areas because they had not seen it early, the mask wearing was not as high. And so for a while you saw more spread, frankly, that was one of the facilitating things that people were not wearing masks or better way to say it was, it was not blocking it I guess.

Governor Mike DeWine: (56:35)
Mask wearing now in public in our rural areas is way, way up. But there was a period of time when this virus was secretly moving. And I don’t think people realized it and the mask wearing was simply not as high. So that’s what I would attribute it to Bruce, do you have anything to add on that? I’m not the doctor. I should have let you do the whole answer, but.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (56:58)
No, governor is usual you answered it very, very well. I can add that as it relates to the virus mutating or changing, this is something that all viruses do. We’ve been watching this virus very, very closely. Interestingly, most of the mutations that we’re seeing are affecting the so-called spike protein, which is key to its ability to do its spreading, getting into our cells. And the good news is if anything, that might make the various strains even more sensitive to vaccinations that we’ve developed. So we’re keeping a close eye.

Governor Mike DeWine: (57:40)
Thanks. Thanks Bruce. Before we go to the next question, I want to clarify something, make it clear. We’re not vaccinating children. We can’t vaccinate children. Not what we’re going to be doing. What we have said is we hope schools will be able to go back, children will be able to go back to school. And one of the concerns that has kept schools from going back has been the fact that you have adults who are exposed to a lot of children in a day, and there’s real concern about these adults being in the classroom. And so that is one of the reasons that schools have made a decision. Some schools have made a decision not to go in person.

Governor Mike DeWine: (58:21)
So what we hope to do with this vaccine is to say to schools, “If that is what has held you back from doing this, we have an answer to that. We now have a tool.” We’re not going to require anybody in school to get vaccinated. We don’t require anybody in Ohio to get vaccinated. But if a school wants to go back and says, “We’re going to go back.” Then anybody who works in that school, any adult who works in that school will be eligible in this group now. Not now, but when we enter that group that point in time, they will be able to get the vaccine. So I just want to make sure we clarify that.

Speaker 1: (59:02)
Next question is from Tom Jackson at the Sandusky Register.

Governor Mike DeWine: (59:06)
Hey Tom.

Tom Jackson: (59:08)
Hi governor. Thank you for taking my question. Governor, you’ve launched as promised the new vaccination dashboard to track how we’re doing. And I said we’re doing a lot better than the dashboard shows so far. The dashboard shows 95 vaccinations in Erie County. But as you know, governor, we did hundreds of vaccinations last Friday at the Ohio Veterans Home when you were there for that event. It also shows about 8,400 vaccinations statewide. And I suspect that’s a bit low too.

Tom Jackson: (59:45)
Governor, do you have an announcement on vaccinations have actually been done statewide? And is your team working to get that vaccination dashboard caught up?

Governor Mike DeWine: (59:57)
Yeah. Tom, good question. Thank you for asking it because what you’re seeing on the dashboard, it certainly does not reflect. It only reflects what we’ve got into the system, but it certainly does not reflect what’s going on. I talked to hospital leads this morning at 6:30 on the phone call and they tell me what’s going on in their hospitals and what they’re seeing in their zones. And every day that goes on, we’re seeing more and more vaccines going out further and further to more hospitals, it’s going out to you to cover EMS people, it’s going to health departments. The only answer I can give is that our team is working on it. This is one more example of a very antiquated health department system that the experts have tried to rig up and keep going and to spit out data, more data than its ever put out before. So this is a challenge. We’re trying to figure out how to deal with this. One of the problems is the way the system is set up. Some of these have to be done by hand and verified by hand. The system was not designed for what we’re seeing now. So the most important thing, and I can guarantee you, I was talking on the phone last night with one of the drug companies, just seeing how they were doing, making sure.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:01:23)
I was talking to Walgreen. And I said, “How’s it going?” And they told me that, “Look, we’re lined up. We’re on track. We’re where we want to be.” And so we’re following up with hospitals. And look, this is not a perfect system. You have the vaccine coming into Ohio. You have a manufacturer, then in some cases you have someone who is doing the logistics, another company’s been hired by the federal government to do the logistics. And then you have the freight company that is transporting it. So, we will run into cases as we’ve had where a hospital had people lined up, for example, and the vaccine didn’t get there. That is going to happen. A lot of moving parts.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:02:04)
Our job as much as we can control this is to keep pushing and keep trying to see were there problems and try to get help for those problems. But you’re right. The data you’re seeing is accurate. It’s just not inclusive. And we hope within the next few days to get that fixed. And no one’s more anxious than I am.

Speaker 1: (01:02:29)
Next question is from Marty Schladen at the Ohio Capital Journal.

Marty Schladen: (01:02:32)
Good Afternoon.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:02:32)
Good afternoon.

Marty Schladen: (01:02:33)
Good afternoon, Governor. I’ve been told that at least four hospitals in North Central and Northwestern Ohio have been so strapped for staff that they’ve told in some instances, staff members who tested positive that they needed to come into work anyway. And I wanted to ask if you’d heard anything about that.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:02:53)
No, I don’t know anything about that. No, I don’t. I can check, but I don’t know anything about it.

Marty Schladen: (01:03:01)
Does Dr. Vanderhoff know?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:03:03)
I don’t know. We’ll ask him.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (01:03:05)
I don’t know anything about that specifically. I can tell you that the CDC does have a guidance available for quarantining of medical staff, people who work in hospitals that offer some alternative guidance. I don’t know if some of what you’re hearing might relate to that, but no, I don’t have information about your specific question.

Jack Windsor: (01:03:31)
Next question is Jack Windsor from WMFD.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:03:36)
Hey Jack. Merry Christmas.

Jack Windsor: (01:03:37)
Hi Governor. Hey, Merry Christmas to you and your family as well, sir. And real quick first, thank you for clarifying on the vaccine distribution regarding children. Somewhat lengthy questions so I appreciate your patience. So I’ll get it around the barn. Senate President Obhof said early in December, he had the votes to override your veto on Senate Bill 311. So far he’s failed to bring the bill to the floor. All week, Obhof and members of the Senate have been saying that the House lacks the vote. Yesterday, his office was actually saying to Ohioans that they were in close communication with Speaker Cupp and that the House indeed lack the votes.

Jack Windsor: (01:04:13)
However, I have a copy of a petition from the House clerk dated December 22nd yesterday. It has been journalized declaring the House’s intention to override Senate Bill 311 containing the signatures of 60 members, including Speaker Cupp. Governor, you said during these pressers you were in talks on Senate Bill 311 with President Obhof and Speaker Cupp. Did you and Larry Obhof strike a deal? And if you did, what is the deal? Thank you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:04:39)
Well, we certainly had discussions and it’s always my goal. And I know it’s theirs to try to work things out. My experience in legislative body is usually in a legislative body, not as governor, certainly. But has been that, you try to work things out and try to get things dealt with if you can. And so one of the things that we talked about for example is, one of the inequities in the spring when we went to an essential business model and closed businesses and that there was some inequity there. And it certainly looking back on it, certainly struck us that there was inequity. For example, a big company, a Walmart for example, not to pick on Walmart, but a big company that sells a lot of different things.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:05:44)
They might be selling a product there, but let’s say you wanted to buy jewelry and the local jewelry was closed, but Walmart was open because they were selling groceries. There was an inequity there. Now, some States roped off parts of the big store that you couldn’t buy that product. And of course, a lot of consumers complained about that as well. So we were trying to look at that inequity going forward. And it’s something that I recognize and that we wouldn’t want that inequity to exist again. So we talked about putting some language that would not tie down a future governor or a future health department, would keep people safe, but would deal with that inequity. And so that certainly one of the things that we talked about.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:06:44)
Beyond that, Jack, I can’t comment on what was going on in legislative body. In any closing days of a legislature, there’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of different things going on. So I’m not the one to ask about that. But I can tell you in regard to your question that’s yes. We were having some conversations. There were some things that we thought that we could come together on.

Speaker 1: (01:07:10)
Next question is from Dan DeRoos at WOIO.

Dan DeRoos: (01:07:15)
Merry Christmas to you and yours, governor.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:07:17)
Thank you, Dan.

Dan DeRoos: (01:07:19)
I do not envy the position that you are about to be in. I’m not sure if we’re calling today’s … Are we calling it phase 1A? Are we calling it phase two? As far as the next round, do you have a term for that?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:07:35)
No, let’s call it two for today anyway.

Dan DeRoos: (01:07:37)
Okay.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:07:38)
Let’s label it two for our discussion anyway.

Dan DeRoos: (01:07:41)
Okay. At some point you are going to have to wrestle with the decision of when you take the vaccine into prisons. It is a congruent living center. We know that it spreads quickly there. I know you are going to use advisers on deciding when that comes up in the rotation. How will you couch to the Ohio public that, “I’m sorry, you can’t get the vaccine, but we’re taking it into prisons first?”

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:08:12)
Well, that’s a pretty tough sell, Dan. At this point you would be saying basically that someone’s 80-year-old father, mother can’t get the vaccine because a 28-year-old is going to get it in prison. And so, life is full of choices. And one thing that a governor has to do is make choices. So, that’s what you’re up against when someone says … and I understand it. Look, I’ve got a list, a couple of sheets of people who have contacted our office and made a very legitimate good case that they should be next or they should be high-

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:09:03)
… that they should be next or they should be high on the list of priorities. Very good cases. And if you looked at them in a vacuum, you would say, “Yeah. Boy, that’s right. He does have a good case,” or, “She does have a good case.” But at this point we’re dealing with something that we’re not used to as Americans, and that’s a scarcity. We’re not used to dealing with a scarcity. And some people, because of their economic conditions, have scarcities in life. I don’t mean that they don’t. But in the healthcare field, we’re not used to the rationing. And the good news is we’ve got the vaccine. The bad news is we don’t have enough of it yet. And so we look at that and how you balance that.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:09:54)
So yes, 60% of our prison lives in open bays, which spreads very much so. At some point, again, we’re not sure exactly when, we need to get the prison guards, people who interface with prisoners, we need to get them vaccinated. Again, they’re people who can be at risk. Tragically, in the last several weeks, we’ve lost two of our members of DRC who died of COVID. So that’s kind of the process we go through. If you’re asking the question, “When do we get to prisoners?” I don’t know the answer yet. If you’re asking the question, “When do we get to prison personnel who are working there?” It’s going to be earlier. And you can accomplish a couple things with that. One is obviously you’re taking care of that individual. You’re getting them the vaccine. And of course the second would be that you’re lessening, at least, the chance that it’s going to come into that prison. But good question. These are tough calls.

Speaker 2: (01:11:09)
Next question is from Jon Reed at Gongwer

Jon Reed: (01:11:12)
Good afternoon, Governor.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:11:14)
Hey Jon.

Jon Reed: (01:11:15)
You mentioned that for the schools, the vaccine would be if they wanted to go back to in-person. Would that have to be a full-time in person, or would that be if they’re going from an all remote model to a hybrid model? And a second part there, would there be a gap between when they receive the vaccines and when they would have to go back to in person?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:11:37)
Yeah. The first answer to your question, we had intended full-time. I suppose we’re open to discuss anything but we were thinking about… Operationally, the goal is to get kids back as much as we can get them back. We’re open to some discussion, but what was in our mind as we looked at this was full time, getting the kids back. And your second question was what? I’m sorry.

Jon Reed: (01:12:05)
Was, would there be a gap between when they receive the vaccine and when they have to go back?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:12:11)
Yeah. A lot of moving parts here. First of all, schools can make a decision anytime to go back. That’s their decision, and they’ve got to weigh all the things. What we’re simply saying here is that at some point we want to get them started back and we want to start vaccinating those who are in their school. So if a school tells us, “We want to be back in person,” then we start the… When we get to whatever date we’ve set, then the people who work in that school, the adults who work in that school will be eligible to get the vaccine.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:12:57)
When that kickoff date is, when the flag goes down and they’re eligible, we don’t know yet because we’re still… It’s very, very likely… Well, it’s going to happen, that phase 1A will continue on. What we’re seeing, for example, with the pharmacy companies, four pharmacy companies, they’re doing most of the congregate care setting. Not all, but most of them. They’re starting with nursing homes, because that’s where the danger is the highest. That’s where the people are most fragile. But then from there, they’re going to move out to other congregate care settings. So I don’t know a date, but it would not surprise me if we’re significantly into March before they get through all the congregate care sites. So that 1A is going to continue on. It’s not going to stop. At some point we’re going to be able, maybe around the mid January we hope, we would be able to go into this next phase, which for today we’re calling two, we’ll go into the second phase.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:14:07)
And then when we roll schools in will be at some point after that time. But again, our goal will be to have kids… Where a school says, “We need to have the vaccination.” Every school is going to be eligible for it. If a school has been in person all the way through, they’re eligible for it and they can get it. If a school is closed and says, “We’re going to open back up,” they can get it. There are people in their school building. And quite candidly, you’re moving this group of people up who are very, very, extremely valuable and extremely important. They’re being moved up because we want our kids in school. It’s a policy decision, and that’s why that movement is taking place. So if a school doesn’t go in person, there’s really no justification to do that. Again, these are all, to which talked a moment ago, at the end these are all very, very tough decisions, but we’ve got to make the decisions and we think we’re grounded in science, and we think we’re grounded in good public policy. I don’t expect everybody to agree with it, but that’s what we’re doing.

Speaker 2: (01:15:26)
Next question today is from Laura Hancock Cleveland.com.

Laura Hancock: (01:15:30)
Good afternoon, Governor.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:15:32)
Hi, Laura.

Laura Hancock: (01:15:33)
Hi. When will you decide on whether to allow crowds? I have two questions. Crowds at basketball and hockey arenas. That’s the first one. And then to circle back to Monday when I asked if he had read the letter from the three former PUCO commissioners who wanted an independent investigation of FirstEnergy. Have you read that? Do you agree with this request?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:15:56)
Yeah, I glanced at the… Candidly, I’ve been busy on this, but I glanced at the letter. I thought what the letter was indicating is they wanted the PUCO to do that. And so that would be something under the new leadership of the PUCO. As you know, we’re in the process of filling a vacancy on the PUCO and then also naming a new chair, which is something that the governor does. But I think that issue would be taken up by the PUCO after that new chair is in place. And the first question had to do with indoor arenas. Look, we’re concerned about indoor sports. Again, we’ve been pretty consistent. You can go back in March of 2020, this year. And we basically said basketball, NCAA basketball could take place.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:16:53)
Players could play, but we shouldn’t have a crown. And we’ve been fairly consistent, I think pretty consistent throughout in regard to indoor events. It’s fundamentally different when you go inside, particularly when you go inside a gym that was not built with the most up-to-date ventilation. We have a protocol in place. We have a limit of 300 or 15% of capacity, whichever is less. And that’s what our order is. I can tell by my emails, there’s been a lot of people, a lot of confusion about that. And there’s been people saying, “You kept me from going to my child’s game.”

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:17:38)
Look, we have said that… And I’ve said to everyone. I’ve said to our schools that our goal would be that parents get to see their kids play, but aspirationally, that’s what I think the goal should be, is the parents get to see the kids play. But the most important thing is the kids get to play. And that’s what our rules are based upon. We know that when you go inside, it spreads more. And cold, you’re inside, not great ventilation maybe. And it just spreads. And we know that.

Speaker 2: (01:18:24)
The next question is from Jackie Borchardt at the Cincinnati Enquirer,

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:18:32)
Hey Jackie.

Jackie Borchardt: (01:18:33)
Hey Governor. Merry Christmas to you.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:18:35)
Merry Christmas.

Jackie Borchardt: (01:18:36)
This morning we reported that FirstEnergy gave money that ended up in dark money groups that supported your gubernatorial campaign and your daughter’s primary campaign. This was in 2019, a year when neither of you were on the ballot. Were you aware of these contributions, and did they have any impact on your decision to support and sign House Bill 6?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:18:54)
Well, certainly they didn’t have any impact on any decision I made. I’ve been very clear about what public policy I think should be. I think it’s important to keep nuclear energy in the state of Ohio. It’s carbon carbon-free. But I also have said now, that now that we know how it was passed and all the things that were going on, at least we know some of the things that were going on, not good. And that there’s a kind of stink connected with it. And frankly, that the legislature needs to start over, repeal it. I’d like to keep the nuclear power plants. I think that they’re important. You’re talking about an independent expenditure that securing Ohio’s [inaudible 01:19:42] that was independent, as it has to be by law, independent from our campaign committee, independent from our campaign. So it’s totally separate, totally independent.

Jackie Borchardt: (01:19:55)
So you weren’t aware of those contributions?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:20:01)
No. I don’t know what goes on what they’re doing. No. I don’t know what they’re… I didn’t know what they were doing. Look, you could tell… You’d see the literature come out. It’s not like I don’t know what they’re doing in the sense of what the results are. I’m seeing stuff come in the mail, just like we all saw stuff coming in the mail. But independent expenditure, there are rules of an independent expenditure, and they have to be independent. And that’s basically the way the law works. Now, we’ve talked about this before at this press conference in regard to reforms. And our team’s working on reforms. I think anytime that within the confines of the United States Supreme Court decisions that we can shed more light on any part of that as far as donors, for example, I think that is a good thing and we should do that.

Speaker 2: (01:21:08)
Next question is from John Bedell at WHIO.

John Bedell: (01:21:12)
Hi Governor. Two part question here for you as far as hospitals go. One, if we’re not hearing a lot from hospital networks about getting their vaccine shipments, is that something for the public to be concerned about? And secondly, as this vaccine distribution continues, as it becomes more widely available to the point where anybody who wants one can get one, how will vaccine distribution work and what role do you see hospitals playing here in Ohio?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:21:41)
Yeah, I guess I don’t quite understand your first question. If we’re not hearing from them? You mean if they’re telling you they’re not getting it? I’m sorry. I just don’t quite understand.

Laura Hancock: (01:21:51)
No, I’m sorry. If they’re not saying much about their shipments, when they’re getting them. If they just have not said they’ve gotten them yet. If we’re not hearing much from hospitals about their vaccine shipments.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:22:03)
Well, we can pretty much tell you what hospitals are supposed to be getting them. And we went through the first week where, because it was Pfizer, they had particular stringencies, the federal government, did on which hospitals they could go to. So we found 10 hospitals that could deal with the deep freeze. The second week with Moderna, which is now flowing to hospitals, that was, I can’t remember the exact number, it was like 80, 90 hospitals around Ohio that were getting it. So they have not all gotten it. I know that there were some hospitals this morning that thought they were getting it this morning and they had not shipped yet. And so our team was trying to run that down. So not everything is perfect, but I can tell you from the zone call I was on this morning, a lot of hospitals are in fact getting it, and they’re doing what they should do, which is get it out and get it into arms just as quickly as they can.

Speaker 2: (01:23:06)
Last question-

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:23:07)
Oh, I’m sorry. He had a second question. I’m sorry.

John Bedell: (01:23:09)
Yeah, just as the vaccine… You’re talking about phase two, Governor, does this continued roll out and become… How is the distribution going to work?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:23:16)
Yeah. Good question. We can’t tell you exactly, but you’re going to see a lot more places. When you get to a point when you’re opening it up, as we propose to do, for about 1.8 million people. We may phase that in, but it’ll be phased in over a relatively short period of time. People are going to have to be able to go places that are easily accessible to them. And we’ve already got over 1,000 places signed up. You’re going to see not only the pharmacies that are the four pharmacies that are involved in getting the vaccine out, but you’re going to see other pharmacies around the state who will be involved in that as well.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:24:03)
You’ll see other companies that will be involved. So the goal will be that you will be able to get it. Some of this may go through primary care physicians, certainly some of it may go through health departments. But the idea will be you’ll have multiple places where you can go, because then you’re moving at a very, very fast rate where the individual will go out and basically, if they’re at the right age, they go get it from any provider that they can.

Speaker 2: (01:24:37)
Our last question of the day-

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:24:39)
You may also have… We may have the Guard out. We’re going to watch these numbers. We’re going to watch where people are getting it. If we see an underserved community, we’ll have the Guard out. You’ll be able to do, at some places at least, drive through where people can drive through, literally, which is probably the safest way, and then get the shot and go on. So there’ll be multiple ways that this will happen.

Speaker 2: (01:25:04)
Last question for today is from Randy Ludlow at the Columbus Dispatch.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:25:07)
Hey Randy.

Randy Ludlow: (01:25:09)
Good afternoon, Governor, and merry Christmas.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:25:12)
Merry Christmas.

Randy Ludlow: (01:25:16)
A federal advisory panel suggested in the next round of vaccinations that it include essential workers such as prison guards, grocery employees, those in the food chain, police, firefighters, daycare, et cetera. But it also recommended that only people age 75 and older be vaccinated in the next round. You’re suggesting 65 and over. Do you fear you’re going to crowd out any of those other recommended essential workers by expanding that date 65 and over?

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:25:50)
Well Randy, certainly people can argue one way or the other on any of these decisions. But we looked at this, we looked at a logical break based on age. We also, frankly, took into consideration that you have underserved populations, frankly, whose life expectancy is less, who might be medically underserved that would fall into that 65, 66, 67 category. So we looked at this. That’s where we decided to do it. The federal advisory group I think did a good job, but the reality is that they came up with a large number of people. If you look at that, if I had my chart here I could tell you how many people, it’s a huge number. And we had to make choices with inside that. As you point out, we went outside that on that 10 year gap of age. But our conclusion was that the goal should be two things. One is to save lives and the other is to get kids in school. But the primary that’s taking up most of the people is, how do we save the most lives? So we started with people in congregate care. We started with our first responders that we have to protect. And then the best indicator of potential liability to dying from this is age. It’s the best predictor. Not perfect, we have 30 year olds who die, but it’s the best predictor. So that’s what we did. In closing, we have a video from several faith leaders across Ohio sharing messages for how we can celebrate safely this holiday season. Fran and I, and I know John and Tina wish you all a very merry Christmas, happy holiday season. We’ll hear these messages.

Joel Marcovitch: (01:28:01)
Happy Hanukkah, merry Christmas, happy holidays to you all.

Rev. Larry L Macon Jr.: (01:28:04)
This holiday season is different.

Rabbi Josh Brown: (01:28:06)
We won’t be gathering with our extended family or friends..

Pastor Amy Miracle: (01:28:09)
Worship services look different.

Todd Polikoff: (01:28:12)
And many more people than we’ve ever known in our communities are experiencing hardship, be they financial or otherwise.

Cathy Gardner: (01:28:18)
Even with these changes, we can continue to celebrate the holidays, and do so safely.

Dr. R.A. Vernon: (01:28:23)
Wherever you go during this holiday season, wear your mask.

Bishop Timothy J. Clarke: (01:28:28)
You should stay home when you can.

Fr. Steve Brunovsky: (01:28:31)
Limit your interactions and observed social distancing.

Abdullah Ansar: (01:28:35)
Wash your hands.

Cathy Gardner: (01:28:36)
Continue to work from home.

Rev. Larry L Macon Jr.: (01:28:38)
Keep your celebrations small.

Joel Marcovitch: (01:28:40)
Limit your travels, and don’t eat or drink with anyone outside their household.

Pastor Amy Miracle: (01:28:43)
That is what loving God and loving neighbor looks like, prioritizing the needs of the larger community.

Abdullah Ansar: (01:28:50)
This holiday season there is a lot of hope.

Group: (01:28:53)
The hope that the COVID-19 vaccine brings…

Rabbi Josh Brown: (01:28:55)
And the hope of a healthy new year.

Bishop Timothy J. Clarke: (01:28:59)
This past year has been difficult for so many, but we can beat this.

Fr. Steve Brunovsky: (01:29:06)
We know what we have to do.

Dr. R.A. Vernon: (01:29:08)
This holiday season can still be blessed. This holiday season will still be fun.

Rev. Larry L Macon Jr.: (01:29:13)
The holiday spirit is very much alive, even if we’re socially distanced this year. We are still together in spirit.

Group: (01:29:19)
I hope that you and your family have a healthy and safe holiday season.

Joel Marcovitch: (01:29:24)
We will come out of this on top because we are truly in this all together.

Group: (01:29:29)
Together. Together. Together. Together. Together. Together. Together. Together.

Bishop Timothy J. Clarke: (01:29:35)
Together. Be blessed. Have a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, how ever you celebrate the beauty of this season.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:29:45)
Well, we thank all of our faith leaders, and Fran and I wish you all very merry Christmas, happy holiday. Joyous. We hope you have a joyous next few days and we look forward to seeing you next week. Thank you very much.

Governor Mike DeWine: (01:30:05)
(music).