Oct 20, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript October 20
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on October 20 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing with his remarks here.
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Governor Mike DeWine: (08:46)
Afternoon, everyone. This All Ohio mask was made by a friend. People are still having fun making different mask.
Governor Mike DeWine: (08:54)
Before we go to today’s numbers and recount exactly where we are, I want to talk for a moment about what is at stake, and I think we know as this virus rises and it’s really … it’s red tide going all the way across Ohio, that a lot of things are at stake. People’s lives are at stake. We worry about our hospitals starting to fill up. We worry about longterm damage that people might have from the COVID who do in fact recover. But as I go through the statistics today and kind of bring you up to date about what we’re seeing today, I want to ask you to think about something else that is clearly at stake, and that is whether our kids can be in school. That’s really one of the things that certainly is at stake, and it really depends on what we’re willing to do. Our willingness to wear mask, our willingness to keep a distance, our willingness to avoid gatherings where there might be spread, or if we are at gatherings to wear a mask and to be careful because we truly do control the spread in the community and the spread in the community is what determines what is going on in our schools.
Governor Mike DeWine: (10:26)
Some schools because of high community spread have had to go remote because too many of their kids and teachers are out of school. In the last two weeks, at least 16 districts have made the decision to scale back to hybrid or fully remote models because of the spread in their communities. Other schools have had to change their plans for the year due to spread in their communities. Just this week, for example, school leaders in Toledo made the decision to keep their high schools closed through the end of the semester, meaning that in Toledo, for these students, they will have no in-person class for at least half of this year. Overall, we now have at least 50 districts that are fully online right now with nearly 300,000 students unable to attend in person classes.
Governor Mike DeWine: (11:28)
Important thing I think for us to remember is we can change this by more of us wearing mask, more of us avoiding being in situations where there can be spread, avoiding large gatherings of people. Just really being careful, we can turn this down. We can turn this heat down and we can get back to a simmer of this virus instead of a flame starting to really, really come up because that flame is a direct threat to keeping our kids in schools.
Governor Mike DeWine: (12:02)
I believe that it should concern all Ohioans and it concerns me that so many of our kids are going to school remotely. While many kids can do well under these circumstances, many cannot. Some of our poorest children who thrive in an in-person learning environment do a great for a number of reasons maybe just don’t do nearly as well remotely, and it’s not just our poor children. It’s many of our children throughout the state just do better in school.
Governor Mike DeWine: (12:35)
We can control this by what we do every single day. We owe it to our children, we owe it to their future, we owe it to our state’s future to fight back against this virus, to not accept this as something that just has to be. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can control this. We’ve done it twice before. We’ve knocked this thing down early on, and then three months ago, when it was starting to spike back up, we knocked it down again with very significant mask wearing in those parts of the state that we’re seeing the most spread. Today, we’re seeing spread virtually everywhere. So Eric, let’s take a look at these numbers and bring everyone up to date on exactly where we are today. Today we’re reporting 2,015 new cases in Ohio. It was not long ago, excuse me, it was not long ago that we were at a thousand cases a day and trending downward. As we can see from our 21 day trend chart, our numbers continue to rise at a rate that should concern all of us. We have 216 new hospitalizations reported in the past 24 hours. It’s the highest number of hospitalizations we’ve ever reported. And there’s over 50 hospitalizations more than the previous high that was back in July.
Governor Mike DeWine: (14:08)
In addition to that, we now have the more people who have COVID who are in our hospitals, in the hospital beds than any other time during this pandemic. So higher numbers than ever before coming in and more actually in beds in hospitals today than we’ve seen during this entire pandemic. Tragically, we also had eight deaths reported since yesterday and 36 new ICU admissions.
Governor Mike DeWine: (14:38)
Eric let’s go to the top 88 counties. Here is the full list of all 88 counties by case rate per hundred thousand. And as you will see some of the top numbers are just staggering. Those are four times what the CDC says is a high incidence rate. So the virus is just running rampant in some of these top counties. On this version of the chart, we have shaded in blue all the counties that meet the CDC’s definition of high incidence. So if you look at that, everything that is blue is high incidence. As a reminder, high incident counties are ones with a case rate of more than 100 cases per a hundred thousand population in the past two weeks. Currently 69 of our 88 counties are now considered high incidence counties.
Governor Mike DeWine: (15:35)
As always, these slides will be posted to our coronavirus.ohio.gov website if you would like to take a closer look at the list. Let’s move to the top 20. We have 20 counties with the highest case rate per a hundred thousand population during the past couple of weeks, and again, as we look at these, with Putnam at a rate that we’ve never seen before, Auglaize, we’ve never really seen any rate that high. So up at Putnam, you’re almost five times what the CDC incidence is. And as we go down with these counties, just literally shocking numbers. And I think the thing that we have to remember is that these numbers will not change unless we change, unless we do things. We can change the numbers, but automatically, they will simply not change. Let’s take a look at the data from some of our nearby states, and what we have done is kind of done a timeline. As you can see Ohio is mapped out a little bit in here. You can see our neighboring states and you can also see Illinois and Wisconsin. And what we wanted to do is just look at these, how they were. This is October 4th, October 11th, October 18th. As we look at these Sunday’s, we can see a rather dramatic change, and what you’re seeing is there is certainly a change all throughout the region and you can see how this is changing. These maps show the case rate per a hundred thousand population by county over the past few weeks. The counties in green and yellow have relatively low case rates while the counties in orange and red have higher case rates. As we see for the past three weeks cases have been increased throughout the Midwest. Three Sundays ago, we saw a lot of counties at a very high case level in Wisconsin, but the rest of the Midwest is not nearly so bad. As we look at two Sundays ago, though, we could see more counties move into the orange level and then trends continue into this past Sunday.
Governor Mike DeWine: (17:51)
While we do know that there’s some spread from neighboring states, there certainly is also significant spread among counties, between counties, as residents move about. I just thought that was kind of interesting just to see how this is in fact, moving.
Governor Mike DeWine: (18:18)
We know that our small businesses have really been hurt throughout this pandemic. Many of them have closed. Many of them have just are hanging on and they’ve, virtually all of them, have been hurt. In the next week or so, we’ll be announcing steps to try to help these businesses. I want to announce today that the checks that we announced on August 20th, we’ll go back to August 20th, where I asked the Bureau of Workers Compensation board of directors to approve a second dividend for public and private employers as financial support during the ongoing pandemic. We felt that BWC could do this and stay fiscally solvent and well, and we also felt that businesses needed this. The board approved this request on September 25th. Those checks will be mailed to employers beginning, I believe, on Friday. The final dividend amount will be approximately $1.3 billion. $1.3 billion that will be going out in checks starting on Friday to businesses throughout the state of Ohio. Distributions such as these are possible because of the strong investment returns on employer premiums, declining number of claims each year and prudent fiscal management, so our companies are doing well, BWC has been run very, very well and is doing a very good job.
Governor Mike DeWine: (19:55)
These checks will be mailed, starting as I said, at the end of the week. And they will be mailed out through the end of October. So if you see a check, an envelope, come in the mail like this, please, please open it and we hope you’ll see your check. Sometimes in the past, BWC tells me, when these checks have gone out, some have simply gone uncashed. So, you know, we want to make sure you get your check. You open up the envelope and see the check inside. Also later this week, we’ll also be announcing programs to help small business and help others that we use CARES Act funding. I’ve been talking with the Speaker and with the Senate president about this. We’re working with them and the Development Services Agency, DSA, to create a wide ranging program to address the needs of some of our struggling Ohioans. This would include funding for rent, mortgages, water, and sewer utility bills, as well as funding for small businesses and nonprofits. Again, we’re looking towards the end of the week to make that a joint announcement with the legislative leaders.
Governor Mike DeWine: (21:18)
I want to share something that the White House sent us this week as they analyze, based on their data, what was going on in every state. Our letter obviously pertains to Ohio, and I just want to quote something that they wrote in there, because as I looked at it last night, it struck me as something that I thought I should share with all of you. This is from the Trump administration.
Governor Mike DeWine: (21:49)
“We continue to see community spread initiated by social friends and family gatherings. People must remember that seemingly uninfected family members and friends may be infected and may not have symptoms. Exposure to those who don’t have symptoms, and that exposure to that asymptomatic spread can easily lead to spread as people unmask in private gatherings.”
Governor Mike DeWine: (22:17)
The task force that sent us this, White House Task Force, recommended that Ohioans limit friend and family get togethers to prevent situations where the virus can rapidly spread and reach those most at risk of complications. It’s the same thing that I hear when I talked to County health commissioners around the state and when they tell me where we’re seeing the spread, and that is where we’re really seeing most of the spread.
Governor Mike DeWine: (22:45)
We’re all excited. Beginning of Ohio State football season, and Big 10 starts back up, Brown’s fans, Bengals fans, just a word of caution for all of us and that is as we get together to watch football, just be careful. You know, if you’re not in your direct family, in your socializing, keep a mask on and just be careful. We feel that the teams, for example the Bengals and the Browns, are doing a good job in the 12,000 fans that they have at their stadium and we’ve seen them do a good job in the past. What we’re really concerned about is just all of us as we get together and watch it on TV. So please, please be careful.
Governor Mike DeWine: (23:39)
Want to talk a little bit about the vaccine that will be coming. We, this week, submitted Ohio’s interim draft COVID-19 Vaccine Plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a framework of how decisions will be made when we know more about the vaccine and will provide us a way forward as the next chapter of the pandemic unfolds. This draft will be available to the public tomorrow on the COVID-19 website at coronavirusdotohio.gov if you want to take a look at that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (24:16)
This week, we’ll also be taking another step in this fight against COVID by launching a new registration tool for healthcare providers who would like to eventually administer the COVID-19 vaccine. This proactive move allows us to better be prepared and respond quickly once a vaccine is available. Providers, this would be health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, nursing facilities, these would all be people and organizations that we would anticipate would be directly involved in the distribution and the giving of shots when the vaccine is available. They should all register when this goes up on line this week.
Governor Mike DeWine: (25:03)
When this goes up on line this week. Also something that’s going up online today that we are announcing that our long-term care facility dashboard is going live. This dashboard, part of the COVID-19 dashboard on coronavirus.ohio.gov is another tool to help Ohioans keep informed. Nursing facilities were prevented to allow indoor visitation beginning October 12th and we hope that they have done that. This tool breaks down the types of visitation facilities are allowing across the State. So you’ll be able to go online and check your county. If you’ve got a loved one in a nursing home, you can see what the status is of visitation with that nursing home. So this is more transparency. We hope is an effective tool to help you as we move forward.
Governor Mike DeWine: (25:55)
We talked briefly about a flu update. This fall we know we’ll be fighting flu and COVID, both. We know that someone can have both and that the experts tell us that certainly is something that we all want to avoid. Some symptoms of the flu and COVID are similar, and sometimes it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Some distinguishing symptoms of COVID, I’m told by the doctors, include shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell. With flu, however, nasal congestion and a runny nose are more common. If you become ill this season, many healthcare providers will test for both flu and COVID to get a proper diagnosis.
Governor Mike DeWine: (26:44)
Further while the symptoms can be similar, COVID-19 is obviously more serious. COVID-19 symptoms last longer. Those hospitalized tend to have longer hospital stays and the virus has a higher mortality rate. Want to especially encourage our young people who may not be thinking about getting a flu shot, to get one. We know everyone should get one, certainly the elderly should get one, very, very young children should get one. But sometimes those teenagers and those in college years, or maybe just out working at 22, 23 years of age, sometimes think that they should not get one. We would encourage them to get one as well. You can get flu shot at your doctor’s office. You can get it at retail pharmacies, urgent care clinics, student health centers. In addition, many providers and local health departments are offering drive-through and curbside flu clinics. For example, recently Perry County had a half-day drive-through flu clinic, they had 370 people. Almost as many as the 400 who were vaccinated in a full day in 2019. Harrison County doubled the number of people vaccinated over last year and the recent drive-through clinic. Union County combined their typical city and county employee vaccination event with a drive-through clinic vaccinating more than 350 people in a day’s time. Washington County tripled the number that they had had before. So these are all encouraging things. Your health departments are going to be very aggressive. Obviously also get the flu shot at your doctor. You can get it at pharmacies. And so, we just encourage people to do that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (28:33)
We talked earlier about, sadly, record setting day and days in regard to hospitalizations, and so I thought it would be good to bring in someone who you’ve heard from before and someone who really is involved, not just in what is going on in Columbus, Wexner Medical Center, but he is directly involved in the system that we have set up statewide. So we have divided the State early on in this pandemic into three different zones, and some of the lead hospitals take the lead and work with the other hospitals. And let me just introduce Dr. Andy Thomas. Dr. Thomas, thanks for being back with us. We appreciate it very, very much and I know you and I were talking before we went on the air. You’re on the phone with these smaller hospitals, I know, several times a week, and you’re on the phone a lot with the hospitals in your particular zone as well. So just tell us kind of what’s going on with our hospitals. We know we’re seeing this hospitalization go up. We don’t like to see it, but what’s the status of our hospitals around the State?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (29:52)
Thank you, Governor. Thanks for having me here today. So in terms of what we’re seeing with hospital census for COVID patients, we are certainly at the highest point that we’ve seen across the State at any time during the pandemic, in terms of total hospitalizations. Here in zone two, we are at our highest rates since back in early May. Zone three is actually at the highest rate that it’s been at any time during the pandemic.
Governor Mike DeWine: (30:21)
Andy, remind everybody where zone two is, where the three zones are?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (30:26)
Happy to. Zone one spreads from the Northern West part of the State through Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron, Canton area, and Bob Wiley, who’s the Chief Clinical Officer at Cleveland Clinic leads zone one. Zone two is regions four, seven and eight. Region four spreads up 33 Northwest of Columbus down through what we would call the Central Ohio contiguous counties to Franklin County. And then essentially everything, 23 South, 33 South and 70 East, that Southeast quadrant of the State. And then zone three, are regions three and six, which are essentially the Dayton metropolitan area and everything to the West, and then the Cincinnati and Southwestern part of the State. Rick Lofgren from UC Health is the lead for zone three.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (31:11)
So what we do as zone leads, to your point, Governor, two days a week, I’m on the phone with local public health folks here in Columbus, as well as the lead clinicians for large group practices here in Columbus and the Columbus hospitals. Three days a week, we’re actually on a call for all of the hospitals in the zone that have COVID patients in the hospital. Once again, talking about their capacity, talking about the volume of patients. Making sure that we’re coordinating things well around the zone. And in fact, just yesterday at noon, we stood back up our regional transfer center here for zone two, so that any hospital in the zone that needs to move a patient to Columbus, either because they have too many COVID patients to manage in their hospital or a patient is too ill to be in their local community hospital and needs kind of a higher level of care. Any of those hospitals in the zone can call and essentially get a centralized call center so that we can make sure the patient is going to the right place at the right time to move between hospitals.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (32:11)
Also, in terms of clinical updates, two Fridays ago, we had 130 infectious disease, emergency department, critical care and hospital medicine physicians, plus pharmacists and nursing leaders from all the zone hospitals on the phone talking about the latest treatment protocols for COVID-19. So we did that a number of times over the summer related to remdesivir. And this conversation covered both remdesivir, as well as convalescent plasma, steroids, and a variety of other treatment protocols. So, the zone leads in zone one and zone three have similar cadence of meetings with the hospitals and providing that sort of support for physicians at the local level, so that they don’t feel like they’re out at the end of a limb.
Governor Mike DeWine: (32:53)
That’s great. So I interrupted you a few minutes ago. I asked you to kind of define the zones. Go back and tell us again, let’s start with Northern tier of Ohio. What are we seeing in that zone? What are we seeing in the other two zones?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (33:10)
Sure. Well, the numbers are up in every zone, compared to earlier in the summer. Certainly we all saw a peak in the spring and then another peak in that late July, early August timeframe. But zone three is the one that is actually at the highest point at all during the pandemic and zone one and two are certainly higher than we’ve been now for about two and a half months. So, the total number is certainly higher than we’ve had at any time during the pandemic, but I think what’s really important is to talk about the distribution of those patients.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (33:40)
So region seven and eight in my zone are the rural areas of the State, where you have smaller hospitals in their local communities. And actually part of our strategy is to make sure patients that may be ill enough to be in the hospital, but not ill enough to need a high level of critical care or high-end treatment that may not be available at those hospitals. We want to try and keep as many patients locally as possible. So those regions maybe saw 10, 15, 20 patients in the past, might be at 30 to 50 patients now. So we’re doing our best to support those local hospitals. There’re excellent doctors, nurses, pharmacists working in those hospitals and if they are capable of taking care of patients, we want them to stay as close to home as possible. But when you look at the distribution of where patients are coming from across the State that needed admitted to the hospital, it’s very different than that April, May time period, where it was mainly patients from the metropolitan areas of the State, and some of the suburban areas around the big cities where hospitalizations occurred.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (34:38)
I think one other major difference now is the number of ODRC inmates that need to be in the hospital. We’re seeing far better numbers in terms of the number of inmates that need to be admitted. The system for the State has done an excellent job, once again, of trying to take care of anyone who does become sick at their local facility. But obviously we’re here as a backup as a hospital for any of those inmates that need admitted. So, and it goes to probably the biggest differences is in the distribution of the patients this time around as well as just the overall numbers.
Governor Mike DeWine: (35:14)
So more were coming from the rural areas, more coming from a larger area of Ohio, going into the hospitals.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (35:21)
Governor Mike DeWine: (35:23)
And we’re now at a high, but you and I have talked. You’re not alarmed at this point. Tell us kind of the level of concern that we should have, because I get asked that question. So I figured I’d put the expert on.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (35:39)
Understood. Thank you, sir. Understood. I completely understand the question. We’ve been having this discussion on all of our local and zone calls for the past two weeks, because we’ve seen these numbers start to trend up a few weeks ago. And all of the hospital executives and administrative and clinical leadership that we talked to feel that at this time, we’re doing okay. The concern I think that we have is we’re not seeing the number of cases peak. We’re not seeing the number of hospitalizations peak. And until we know where the peak of that curve is, it’s a little anxiety provoking to say, if we got to double or triple the numbers we have now, not saying that’s where it’s going to go, but at this point we just don’t know where it’s going to top out. So right now, all of the hospitals that I speak with feel that they can manage this level of capacity. Back in the spring, when we had somewhat similar numbers, slightly less than where we are now, the majority of our elective operations were actually shut down.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (36:38)
So we actually had a lot of extra hospital capacity, where now we’re back at a period of normal operations for our hospital. So at some point, if the numbers just continue to rise and rise and rise, we’ll run into some difficult decisions to make. But right now, we feel we have the capacity in our hospitals. We have surge capacity, especially in most of our larger hospitals to actually increase the volume of patients that we take care of. So for the time being, we’re okay.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (37:04)
But at the same time, if we don’t start to see the numbers start to peak and come back down over the next few weeks, heading into what is normally a winter flu season, where we already see in December and January relatively high hospital occupancy numbers. I think those two issues will collide at some point, if we don’t see a change in the trajectory of our total cases, in our total hospitalizations over the next few weeks.
Governor Mike DeWine: (37:31)
Well, I know you’ve seen the chart. I don’t know if you can see this one, but for our viewers, this goes from April to October 16th, and this is the patient count in the hospital. So it’s not how many are going in everyday, but it’s what the census basically is in the hospital. And Doctor, you were talking about, basically, we don’t know where this peak is. We’ve clearly not hit a plateau yet.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (37:59)
Governor Mike DeWine: (37:59)
And so, we’re always looking for that. We’re always looking for that plateau. We’re really looking for it to go down, but we’re at least looking for a plateau. So this is for everyone, this is the number in the hospital. This down here, the darker blue is in ICU and below that is who have a vent. So you can see what’s happening with those numbers.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (38:28)
The ICU numbers and the ventilator numbers tend to lag the hospitalization numbers a little bit. Most patients when they present to the hospital, don’t end up in the ICU for-
Governor Mike DeWine: (38:36)
Dr. Andy Thomas: (38:37)
… Some do right off, but most for a number of days later. So, those will tend to trend up as the total hospitalizations continue to trend up. As hospital leaders and physician leaders, nursing leaders, pharmacy leaders, we all are taught to prepare for the worst case scenario, whether it’s about any, one individual patient or in this case, a pandemic. So I know all of my colleagues are thinking about where do we go with two weeks from now, the numbers look like this, or four weeks from now, the numbers look like this. We are preparing for the worst case scenario. At the same time, our goal in making sure people understand what they need to do, to try to get these numbers to peak are the exact things that you described on your press conferences and in your other speeches around the State.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (39:19)
It’s relatively simple things, wearing a mask, distancing from others that don’t live with you in your home, washing your hands routinely, and making sure that businesses and other public areas are keeping high touch areas clean of any risk of having the virus on them. They’re relatively simple things that will hopefully, to your point earlier, even this afternoon, sir, that we’ve done this before. We’ve bent the curve and kept this from becoming a worse problem than it’s been twice over the past seven months, and I’m sure the citizens of Ohio are up to the task again.
Governor Mike DeWine: (39:52)
So summary, numbers going up throughout the State, all three zones. Much more coming from the rural areas than we saw in the spring. And any one region, I think you mentioned one region worse than the other, or is there much difference?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (40:10)
Zone three, which is the Southwest portion of the State is seeing, once again, the highest numbers that they’ve seen at any time during the pandemic. They barely got to 300 patients. I believe this morning they were in the 370 range. They barely got to 300 patients over the summer. So it is definitely feels very different to my colleagues down there. We were just on a call yesterday morning discussing that. But it’s distributed all across the State.
Governor Mike DeWine: (40:35)
Dr. Andy Thomas: (40:36)
Region seven and eight, which are the rural zones for zone two, are seeing the highest numbers over the past 10 days that they’ve seen at anytime during the pandemic in their hospitals.
Governor Mike DeWine: (40:45)
Which is generally Southern Ohio, South Central, Southeast Ohio.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (40:49)
Governor Mike DeWine: (40:49)
They’re seeing more than they’ve ever seen?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (40:51)
Governor Mike DeWine: (40:54)
Doctor, thank you very much.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (40:55)
Governor Mike DeWine: (40:55)
Dr. Andy Thomas: (40:56)
Governor Mike DeWine: (41:00)
One more announcement. Interim Director of Health, Lance Himes, issued a directive today to require all labs to start sharing all positive, negative, inconclusive and invalid test results related to COVID-19 with the Ohio Department of Health. Previously, labs were reporting positive COVID results at the individual level, as an aggregate count for all other test results. Adding these categories will allow us to gather additional data for a more complete picture of how COVID is spreading in our communities. And this also allow us to provide positivity data by county in the coming week, something we’ve been looking forward to. It will take some time for us to gather enough data to provide these positivity rates, but we expect to have some information available by the second week of November, barring any technical or reporting issues.
Governor Mike DeWine: (41:52)
It wasn’t just a question of issuing an order. If it was, we would issue the order a long time ago. But to get to this point, Ohio Department of Health developed a technology solution to allow their systems to receive negative test results. The pandemic has shed a light on the need for better data collection methods and systems, and this is one of the improvements that frankly they’ve been working on, and we’ve been waiting for.
Governor Mike DeWine: (42:14)
This will help address that issue in this specific area, reduce a paperwork burden on local health departments and will help ensure that we have the fastest and easiest reporting process for all parties involved, including labs and long-term care facilities. So again, positivity numbers by county that we can rely on are coming soon. Let me go to Lieutenant Governor, see if he has comments.
Lt Governor Husted: (42:43)
Thanks, Governor. Over the past week, you’ve really effectively explained what we are facing as a State with the increased number of cases, the number of high incident counties that we see growing. I noticed that on September the 19th, we had 19 counties that were considered high incidents, meaning that they had over a hundred cases per hundred thousand. As of today, we have 69 counties that exceed that a hundred cases per hundred thousand. And as we saw on the chart earlier, there are many counties that are 300, 400 cases per hundred thousand, which is a highly concerning number yesterday.
Lt Governor Husted: (43:28)
I spent some time calling around to some of those counties who were at the levels of 300, 400 cases per hundred thousand, and we talked about the threat that faces not just the State, but those communities in that as it’s getting colder, as people are going to spend more time inside and unless we take some kind of action, it’s very hard to break that trend. And in these conversations, we talked about how they can attack these issues at the local level. We can make statewide policies, but we know that from our life’s lessons that the closer you get to the source of the problem, the more impact you can have on it, and we talked a lot about how to do that.
Lt Governor Husted: (44:14)
I would like to highlight one county that I really believe has taken this charge seriously, and just give it a little explanation about what they’re doing to try to coordinate. In Jackson County, I want to highlight them. They have presently 333 cases per hundred thousand, which is a high number. The county commissioners there have initiated weekly calls with countywide officials, with all the mayors of their communities, with the superintendents of schools, with the health director for the county, and other health officials and emergency personnel to talk through the issues that their county is facing and how they can go about mitigating those issues. This is an example of what every county can do to help bring their leaders together in controlling the spread. We really need people to engage like this at the local level, in identifying hotspots, potential problems, and that we all have community connections. This is an example of local government officials, but a lot of times there are networks of not-for-profits, there’re networks of businesses and business associations who can do these same kinds of things, of coordinating efforts, learning from each other about best practices, talking about… For example, if you’re a business, how to talk with your employees about after work and in their personal lives and how they can help to mitigate the problem.
Lt Governor Husted: (45:48)
And we want to thank you those local officials and encourage them to take these leadership roles. It’s not just coming from the governor and from me, it’s everybody has the ability to be a leader in helping to slow the spread, as the governor often says, “We can control this.” These are the facts, but we can control by our behavior, by our actions, how bad this gets in the coming months, and just wanting to highlight Jackson County for what they’re doing and talk about what others can do.
Lt Governor Husted: (46:26)
And then finally, a response to a question from last week in an update about the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the events that they are overseeing and how they’re attempting to make sure that we don’t have spread at those particular athletic events. We talked with the Ohio High School Athletic Association last fall, and for those of you don’t know, as part of our responsible restart for sports, the Ohio High School Athletic Association has hired what we call observers to go out and evaluate these game sites, to educate the schools about what they can do to make sure that they’re keeping the facility and the event as operating as safely as possible, and to be accountable, to provide those accountability measures.
Lt Governor Husted: (47:21)
The observers from the Ohio High School Athletic Association in football have visited 458 sites and observed 600 football games, at least 50 soccer matches and 50 volleyball matches over the course of the fall, so far. Every visit results in a report back to the school to advise them on how they did, what they can improve upon. In some cases, these reports have issued what they would call a failing grade, and we know nobody in school likes to get a failing grade. And what the Athletic Association reiterated to me on a call that we had to discuss this, was that this didn’t mean that the school lacked the plan. It didn’t mean that they refuse to follow the protocols. It meant, quite the contrary in most cases, that schools did react well to the report that they were given. And that the report didn’t lack a failure of an attempt, but it really focused on the failures to comply during the game.
Lt Governor Husted: (48:37)
And what they emphasize to us was that it wasn’t the fans. It wasn’t the ingress or egress. It was a lot of times the student athletes themselves, at a particular point in the game, as you might have imagined where somebody scores a touchdown or somebody makes a great play, or the game’s close at the end, that those students, in their enthusiasm are congregating, they’re getting close together, and they’re basically making the point to the schools that you got to try to control that. You can’t allow that to happen. And the schools are being counseled on that.
Lt Governor Husted: (49:15)
There were extreme instances of, for example, fans not wearing masks at the game. Those schools have received warning letters from the Ohio High School Athletic Association and all of the schools who’ve received them, have committed to improved compliance in those areas. And the Athletic Association was not aware of an incident of spread due to any of these compliance lapses, but they wanted to reassure us and the public that they have an accountability mechanism, that they are sending observers out there, that they and their member schools take these responsibility seriously. And the bottom line is, because right now it’s playoff season. Whether it’s golf-
Lt Governor Husted: (50:03)
It’s playoff season. Whether it’s golf or basketball or… I mean golf or volleyball or football, it’s playoff season. And the schools themselves and the student athletes themselves have the most at stake. They could lose their season if they don’t comply. And so they felt good about where things are. From the first game, they saw a lot of confusion week one, but those educational opportunities have made compliance and helped the schools operate these venues a lot more successfully over the course of weeks.
Lt Governor Husted: (50:38)
So Governor, that’s the report back from the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the accountability and the potential lapses that have occurred during course of the fall. Turn it back over to you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (50:50)
Thank you very much. And shout out to our friends in Jackson County. Everything is local, and the ability of communities to come together and talk about how they’re going to fight back against the virus is really something that’s exceedingly, exceedingly important.
Governor Mike DeWine: (51:08)
Let me just, before we go to questions, talk about, sadly ,gun violence in Ohio. Every week I do this, and sadly, it’s just every week, they’re just gut-wrenching stories. And this is something we can fix. Legislature has a bill in front of it. I don’t know who is against going after repeat violent offenders, getting them off our streets. People who have no right to have a gun, who continue to have guns.
Governor Mike DeWine: (51:40)
From October 13th to the 19th, at least a dozen people were shot and killed in Ohio. Another 24 or more were shot and wounded, some critically. Headline one. Austintown, Mahoning Valley. “Suspect charged with fatally shooting man at Austintown apartment complex.” Now, we looked into the suspect’s record, to find that he’s been prohibited from carrying a gun since 2008. Since 2008, he’s not been allowed to carry a gun, following a conviction on drug and gun charges. He was placed on probation. Violated that probation three times before he was ultimately sent to prison in 2012. Suspect was released in 2013. And in 2015, he was involved in a shooting, as well as another separate incident involving a gun.
Governor Mike DeWine: (52:34)
These two cases resulted in four years of incarceration. He was released in June, 2019 and was arrested again in October, 2019 in Pennsylvania. He was released from Pennsylvania’s custody in May, 2020. Now less than five months later, he is accused of murder here in Ohio.
Governor Mike DeWine: (52:58)
Headline two. This one happened yesterday in Columbus. “Five injured in shooting. Crash in Italian Village. Two young children shot. Suspect charged.” That’s the headline. According to media reports, 25 shots were fired into an SUV, which crashed. Three kids were in the vehicle. A two-year-old who was shot in the leg, a four-year-old who was shot in the chest, a five-year-old who was injured in the crash. The driver was grazed by a bullet, and a woman who was hit by the car is said to have suffered serious injuries. Suspect who was accused of this crime of opening fire on a car full of children is prohibited already by law from carrying a gun. He served six years for aggravated robbery and firearm charges before his sentence expired in May. A warrant for his arrest was also filed last week in conjunction with an unrelated assault.
Governor Mike DeWine: (53:53)
Both suspects in these cases are certainly innocent until proven guilty, but these are the exact scenarios that we can help prevent through Senator Dolan’s bill there’s pending right now in the general assembly. It will save lives. We’ll go to the questions.
Speaker 1: (54:10)
The question today is from Dan DeRoos at WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRoos: (54:17)
Good afternoon, Governor, how are you?
Governor Mike DeWine: (54:19)
Dan DeRoos: (54:21)
Governor, I want to walk you through… I hear from two types of people in Ohio. Today, I took a phone call about an hour before the news conference from a viewer who is very panicked at the numbers that are escalating, basically saying you’re not doing enough, that you need to find some new level of either in enforcing masks, whether it’s through enforcement tickets, whether it’s local police, or maybe new levels of shutdowns. As the numbers came out, I took a text message from another viewer, who said that at eight deaths today, it’s not that serious, and that we should never have shut down two months ago. So who’s correct here? Who is on the right side of this, especially as numbers escalate?
Governor Mike DeWine: (55:06)
I’m always saddened by people saying we only lost eight people today. That makes me sad because for each one of those people who died, they had loved ones. They were a mother, father, sister, brother, child, and to trivialize these lives, as I hear some people doing, I just do not understand it. Others say, “Well, most of them were over 70. Most of them had a medical problem.” I just don’t know how we can respect life and come up with that kind of attitude. So it is serious.
Governor Mike DeWine: (55:50)
To your viewer who said we should do more, I will tell you, I ask myself that question every single day. And I ask what else can we do? We’re significantly increasing the testing. We’re doing everything we can to get this out as quick as we can. I spent parts of the last eight or nine days, flying around every media market in the state, to talk directly to the people of that region about what we’re seeing in the numbers.
Governor Mike DeWine: (56:23)
But what we’re seeing is most of the spread is coming from people who are doing informal things. It may be in their home, it may be in their backyard, it may be getting together someplace else. And people are letting their guard down when they’re with friends. They’re letting their guard down when they’re with family. And this is a virus that is sneaky, nasty, because it rares up any place. And many times, the people who have it don’t know they have it, and they’re carrying it, and they can spread it.
Governor Mike DeWine: (57:07)
We don’t have the ability to go in people’s houses, and we don’t want to do that. But there is a remedy, and the remedy is very much at hand. And I think I got a call from a legislator friend of mine yesterday, who told me about two different examples in counties that he represents, where people were, who in the past did not worn masks, were wearing masks within the last few days. Basically he said, “They’re concerned, they’re seeing these numbers go up. They know more people who are coming down with it. They’re changing what they’re doing.”
Governor Mike DeWine: (57:49)
So I’m optimistic. It is within our capacity to change the future. And the fastest way we can do it is not for me to issue some order that you can’t enforce or be too difficult to enforce, but rather for every Ohioan to take this seriously. And just to think, it’s only a mask. It’s only a mask. We think of sacrifices that have been made by people for this country. There’ve been huge. This is only a mask. And we’re just asking people to wear it. There may be some people who can’t wear one, that’s fine. Got a medical problem, that’s fine. But we get 85, 90, 95% of people wearing masks, we’re going to knock this thing down.
Governor Mike DeWine: (58:39)
And so to your viewer, your caller, that’s what I would say. Help us get that message across to everyone because what each one of us does determines whether our kids go to school, whether we keep working, whether we keep this virus down.
Speaker 1: (58:57)
Next question is from Jim Otte, WHIO in Dayton.
Governor Mike DeWine: (59:01)
Jim Otte: (59:02)
Governor, good afternoon. I want to go back to the financial help that you’re about to provide to people. What is the total dollar amount that you have to work with, this is from the Cares Act, what your overarching goal is, and how would that interplay with the federal stimulus money that is coming, we think, in a month or two or three, whenever they figure that out on their end in DC, how would that work together?
Governor Mike DeWine: (59:27)
That’s a very good question. We got a lot of balls in the air, and we don’t know exactly what’s going on because we don’t know what Congress is going to do. I remain an optimist. I think Congress is going to take action. I think there’s a deal there to be had. I think they will pass something this year. I think when they pass it, we’ll have more money in different traunches, different causes, different reasons. But at the same time, they will give us more flexibility that we can roll this money over.
Governor Mike DeWine: (59:58)
So we’re making decisions now, Jim, based on not really knowing what the future is. Can we move this money across the line, on 31st of December into the next year, or can’t we? And we don’t really know what’s coming. So what we did was we tried to be conservative throughout this. What we hope to be able to do is hold onto some of this money, frankly, so we can make sure that testing… We always have enough money to do testing, until we get the immunity that we need that’s going to come through, we think, through immunization.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:00:31)
So we’re balancing all these things in our mind. So what you’re going to see come out, probably on Friday, is a conservative approach, which gets money out, clearly, to people who need it right now, with the understanding that there may be more money coming. Some of this may come from the federal government. We may be able to take some money and put it out. But I think as the governor of the state, my obligation is first to make sure that we have the money necessary to test as much as we can test, as many tests as we can get in here, and do the tracing. The testing and the tracing, and we’ve got to have money for that because if we can’t do that, we can’t keep the virus under control. And if we can’t keep the virus under control, everything goes out the window.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:01:12)
So it’s a balance. I’m an optimist. I think Congress is going to do something. Get a bill. I think there’s a deal there to be had.
Lt Governor Husted: (01:01:20)
Governor, can I add a couple of points there to that, to Jim’s question, is that, look, we know this is a particularly difficult time for businesses, as a lot of the federal assistance has run out. And this is really helping to build a bridge to a better day, to a federal plan, to a time when the virus is more under control. And this is building a bridge to save a business, to save a job. And I think what the governor is putting together is going to impactful, as we roll that out in the coming days.
Speaker 1: (01:02:00)
Next question is from Kennie Bass at WCHS in Charleston, West Virginia.
Kennie Bass: (01:02:09)
Hi governor. You talked a lot in your last briefing about Thanksgiving and the holiday season, which many people of course translate into moving through Christmas and New Years. But with the Halloween just 11 days away, and it’s become really the biggest party for adults in America, not just children trick or treating, and with the situation that it is in Ohio right now, what is your message for people who are still planning Halloween parties, get togethers, and should everyone just resign themselves to wearing doctor and nurse costumes this year, which would of course include masks? Thank you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:02:45)
Well, I don’t know about doctor nurse costumes. I know for a while, we were seeing pictures of a lot of young girls dressing up as a Dr. Amy Acton. And we were seeing that. But I would hope that we wouldn’t see a few more people dressed up, kids dressed up, as first responders, a doctor, nurse, because they’re doing so very, very much. People who work in our nursing homes, and they’re just doing a fantastic job.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:03:20)
Look, I think there’s a way that people can do trick or treat. I always come back to, what do we really care about? We want to try to provide something for kids, but we want to do it in a safe way. And I think parents can supervise that and come up with a safe way of doing it. Don’t go right up to that door. If the light’s on, hope that there’s some candy out there, and for the people in the house, don’t put it so every kid has to go into the same pot and pull it out. There’s ways of doing this.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:03:57)
But as far as adults having parties, look, unless they can figure out a really safe way to do it, I think the answer is just don’t do it. Let’s all be around next Halloween. Make sure we’re all here. Let’s don’t take chances for one night of dressing up and going to a party. If you want to dress up in your own house and greet kids from a distance at the door, that’s a cool thing maybe you can do. There’s other things to do. But as far as getting together with parties, look, they’re probably going to be inside. And I suppose there’s a way to do it, if you wear a mask and you keep it outside, but just let’s look to the future.
Speaker 1: (01:04:49)
Next question is from Ben Schwartz at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:04:54)
Ben Schwartz: (01:04:55)
Hi, Governor. Vice president Pence is set to hold a rally around Cincinnati tomorrow. The Trump campaign says all attendees will be given a temperature check and masks. We have had a viewer reach out, though, who wants to know, with how much cases are rising right now, will Ohioans be able to be assured that everyone at the event will actually wear those masks that are given and remain somewhat distanced?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:05:25)
Well, look, I think that our message has been clear. And now, as you point out, as your viewer pointed out, the cases are up dramatically. They’re dramatically up in Southwest Ohio, where you would assume most of the people will be coming from. So I would just tell everyone they really need to wear a mask if they go to this event. They need to keep some space. This is your life that’s at stake. And you don’t know who’s going to be there, and you don’t know… Even people who may be there don’t know they have it, but may have it. So when you’re going into an environment like that, I would be very, very careful. I would wear a mask, and I’d want to look around and see if other people wear a mask too. Again, our message is the same, whether it’s a Trump rally, a Biden rally, whether it’s a protest, whatever it is. Be safe, protect the other person, protect yourself.
Speaker 1: (01:06:29)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:06:38)
Laura Hancock: (01:06:40)
Hi, governor. We were wondering… You’ve talked a little bit about cases, about the age going up in cases in recent weeks. So in other words, cases of older people are increasing, and we’re wondering if you could elaborate a little bit on that. Why is that?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:06:57)
Well, I don’t think anybody really knows for sure why that is, but it is a marked change from June, July, when we saw the last spike. We saw the last bike, it was over 50% was under 30 years of age. I don’t have the numbers off the top of my head, nor do I have a chart in front of me, but these numbers are creeping up. And so, what we are assuming, but don’t really know, we’re assuming that this is a rebound from young people who had it earlier, and who have infected older people. That’s about the best we can do, or at least the best I can do, as far as trying to figure out what really is going on.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:07:43)
But it worries us because we know the older group of people you get, the more likely they are to end up in a hospital and the more likely they are to die. So, it doesn’t mean that the 50% that in June were under 30 were totally safe, but statistically you’re going to have fewer people end up in a hospital, a younger group. So the age group is certainly going up, and it’s worrisome. And I’ll try on Thursday to break those numbers down a little bit further. We’ll take a look at where they are as of Thursday.
Speaker 1: (01:08:23)
Next question is from Jim Provance at the Toledo Blade.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:08:27)
Jim Provance: (01:08:28)
Hey, Governor. It’s been a month since the date in the Toledo areas where the sites of large political rallies. Now you’ve talked about the Pence rally coming up, but since you’ve noticed that the Western part of the state has been problematic for us for the last few weeks, Lucas and Montgomery Counties are both in the red now, have we found any connection between those rallies and any cases that have tested positive?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:08:52)
Yeah, I’ll ask the local health departments. As I recall, and I’ve got to check, some of them did find a connection, but I want to verify that, and we’ll get back to you about that. Look, any time you get a group of people coming together in large numbers, we worry about it, and we certainly worry about if they’re not wearing masks. We’ve seen a lot of spread, particularly in Southwest Ohio, all the way through this. If you go back… Sadly, Montgomery County, county right next door to where Fran and I live, Greene County, has been red an awful lot, as this thing is going through it.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:09:39)
So certainly, in Southwest Ohio, the virus has been here, and the numbers have been pretty high for a long time. We’ve also seen, along particularly the rural counties going up in Northwest Ohio, particularly along Indiana border, a couple counties even over, at least two deep, sometimes three deep, those counties have been high for extended period of time. Some of those counties have been red for 12, I think, 11 or 12 separate weeks. So, it’s these areas were already going the wrong way, unfortunately.
Speaker 1: (01:10:21)
Next question is from Max Filby at the Columbus Dispatch.
Max Filby: (01:10:26)
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:10:27)
Max Filby: (01:10:28)
I wanted to ask if you could speak a little bit to the vaccine plan that’s getting published later this week online. Is this supposed to be sort of a living document of sorts? And can you speak a little bit more to the complexities of this distribution model?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:10:44)
Yeah. Living document might be a good way to describe it. It is something that federal government wanted from us. Our next step is to go online and get these different places signed up. This is obviously being driven by the federal government, by the administration. They want to make sure the states are ready, which I fully understand and appreciate that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:11:19)
A lot of this maybe sent directly to the people who are going to end up administering it. Some of it, it looks like will come to us, so we can break it out into smaller parcels. So that’s just a basic distribution issue. And again, we’re waiting for further information from the federal government. But I think part of it’s going to go directly to a hospital. Bigger hospitals certainly going to get it directly. Other places may be more efficient for us to have to break it out. It’s going to come in fairly large chunks.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:12:06)
And again, we don’t know when this is going to be. You’re following it, just like we are, on TV. Federal government has come up with some preliminary priorities. They certainly are the logical priorities, pretty much match what we’ve looked at, which is we want to take care of the most vulnerable people first, but also at the same time, try to take care of… Get immunized those who are the front lines, people who are dealing with people with COVID. We got to get them taken care of early on. So those two groups early, and then we move into other groups beyond that.
Speaker 1: (01:12:49)
Next question is from Jessie Balmert at the Cincinnati Inquirer.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:12:54)
Jessie Balmert: (01:12:55)
Hi, Governor. My question is, looking at the high number of hospitalizations today, are there any changes that you would anticipate making, if there was a surge, such as limiting elective surgeries again? And then a quick question, are you or the Lieutenant Governor going to the Pence rally in Cincinnati tomorrow?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:13:19)
Yeah. I’m not going. I don’t know whether the Lieutenant Governor’s going or not. He can answer that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:13:29)
As far as what we do, when elective surgeries were cut off and we issued an order on that, that was at the advice of our hospitals. So, in Cincinnati, I was in Cincinnati on Friday, and right before I got there, saw a story, may have been your story, that basically said that they were quoted, one of the doctors, saying that we have two weeks. Cincinnati, Southwest Ohio, we got two weeks to get this under control. And if we don’t, we’re starting to jeopardize elective surgeries.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:14:16)
So we don’t want to see that. And my point is, if that’s going to be driven by what the hospitals are seeing and what their space is, and they’re going to know, and it may hit one hospital at one point and another one at another point.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:14:32)
But we still have time. We still have time to slow this down. We do not want to be… what we’ve seen time and time again on TV, getting in Italy and then New York and different places. We don’t want to be that. We have avoided it. I would say to my fellow Ohioans, we’ve done well, we’ve avoided this. We had a lot of great tragedy, but we’ve not had these huge spikes. And we just don’t want to see that. And we really can control this.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:15:03)
I don’t want to see that and we really can control this. We’ve got to control it. Now’s the time. Now’s the time to get on it. We’ve got to do it.
Speaker 2: (01:15:10)
Governor, just quick answer to the question. I visited with Vice President Pence last week when he was in Columbus, but I do not intend to go to the event tomorrow in Cincinnati.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:15:22)
Yeah, let me just add one thing about Vice President Pence. And I talk to him regularly. He’s done a phenomenal job with the White House Task Force. We’re on the phone generally once a week in a bigger group, sometimes one-on-one, but certainly in a bigger group with Governors, and very, very focused. He has been exceedingly focused on saving lives. Exceedingly focused on keeping the spread down. And I appreciate what he’s done.
Speaker 3: (01:16:01)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins of WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:16:06)
Hi Governor, you said what’s at stake is our children being able to go to school. You’ve left the decision on how to open up schools up to the local level up to this point, but with the spread of the coronavirus happening statewide, are you considering maybe statewide action on schools if cases continue to go up? And just as a side note, do you still plan on addressing the last call for bars and restaurants this week?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:16:32)
Yeah. We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to do the bars and restaurants, sadly. I understand. I’ve heard talk to bar owners, restaurant owners, and I understand what’s at stake for them. But with these numbers going crazy, we can’t do this now. So I hope in the future, we’ll be able to lift those hours, but we’re not going to. It would be, in my opinion, very irresponsible at this point for a Governor to do this. So we’ve got to start getting those numbers down. And I’m sorry, you had a second question, I think.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:17:14)
Yeah. Sorry, Governor. My second question was just, you’ve left the decision for schools up to the local level. Would you consider statewide action though if cases continue to go up?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:17:26)
Well, I think, there’s a much better option, and that better option is Ohioans wearing the mask, keeping safe. We can control this. But my point as I started was simply that there’s a lot at stake as we see this spread, and we’re already seeing schools making decisions to go remote. We’re seeing schools making decisions to continue remote, and many times we’re seeing these decisions being made in our cities. And so what’s at stake is we have a large number of our children in our cities and other places who are totally remote and if we can’t get control of this, these schools are not going to flip back to hybrid or flip back to five days a week. You’re starting to see them now make decisions to continue for the rest of the year, rest of the calendar year at least, remote.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:18:33)
And I think we should consider what impact that has on these children. I’m not questioning why the schools are doing it, but what I am saying is, we can create a better environment so these schools don’t do this, don’t feel that they need to do this. We can create the environment in our communities and it’s incumbent upon us, the adults, to do that so that our kids can be in school. Now, some kids do very well remotely. Some kids have a lot of support. They’ve got parents. Sometimes they’ve got grandparents that are working with them, and they do okay. We have other children who may not have that and we have to worry about them, and we have to worry about the long-term impact of these children. So we can control this. And, again, my plea today, again, is let’s do that for the sake of our kids.
Speaker 3: (01:19:38)
Next question is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.
Alex Ebert: (01:19:43)
Good afternoon, Governor. There’s a business round table group in Ohio that is urging businesses to tell their workers to vote for Republican aligned candidates for the Supreme Court or risk losing their jobs. As a prosecutor for years and as the state’s Attorney General who is before the justices in the court, how does this make you feel about the way this group is portraying the court and what will happen if certain justices are elected? Thanks.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:20:19)
Well, I don’t know what the facts are and these are always fact driven. Obviously, no one can or should tell their employee how to vote. They can’t tell them that if they vote a certain way, because they voted a certain way, they’re going to lose their job. Businesses, based on the First Amendment, certainly have the right to tell their employees what they think. Employees have equal right to do whatever they want to do. But no one can condition a job on how you vote. First of all, our ballots are secret and are protected anyway. So I don’t know the facts, but those would be the basic guiding principles that I think should guide us all.
Speaker 3: (01:21:09)
Next question is from Laura Bischoff at the Dayton Daily News.
Laura Bischoff: (01:21:14)
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:21:16)
Laura Bischoff: (01:21:17)
It’s your understanding that a lot of the spread is from informal gatherings. Is that anecdotal or is there some real data from contact tracing that tells us that? And also, given the trajectory of Ohio’s numbers, what are the risks of having three to four million voters going directly to the polls two weeks from now?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:21:39)
Well, Secretary LaRose told me that he thinks it’s very possible, and this was a week ago, so numbers may have changed. But it is very possible that we’ll have more people vote before election day than vote on election day. Even with increased turnout, which would appear we’re having, it means that people are going to be more spread out on election day. I think people can do this safely. They’ve got to be careful. They have ample opportunity to vote before. They can do it by absentee ballot. They can go to the Board of Elections. This weekend, of course, opens up weekend voting. People can go to the Board of Elections. Again, try to figure out when there’s not a lot of people there. Stand in line. Keep the distance. Wear a mask. So I think on election day, yes, people can go, if they’re careful, and they can vote.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:22:38)
What’s different about this is that people have had a long enough time to understand the virus and how it has spread so that they can take their own circumstances into account and make a decision, do I want to go vote in person? Do I want to go sit in my home and fill it out and never have to go out? And so people had a chance to make those decisions. They’re making those decisions, and I feel that certainly it can be. But it’s important, it’s important that everyone who goes to the polls wear a mask. You’ve got poll workers who are sitting there, and poll workers, I worry a lot about. They’re there for 13 hours that’s open, the polls open, and then I assume they get there an hour or so before and then after. So they’re there a long, long day, and for at least 13 hours there they’re directly in contact with voters. And so we should help them and make sure that they can stay safe by everyone who goes through that line, everyone who goes to vote, should wear a mask.
Speaker 3: (01:23:49)
Next question is from Josh Rotenberg at Spectrum News.
Josh Rotenberg: (01:23:54)
Hi, Governor. Just wanted to follow up on Adrienne’s question. I’m not sure you answered it directly. Are you considering statewide action on schools?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:24:06)
Yeah, I did not answer that. Not at the moment. I mean, the situation I described is where I think we are today. We are a local government state. We’ve relied on, throughout our history, we have relied on our local school boards or local families to make decisions about their schools. Going through a very, very tough period of time we still rely on those families to make decisions. We give them a lot of guidance. We put on a mask order, which was not very popular with some people, and with the exception of, one or two schools, teachers, principals have done a great job. Students have done a great job in wearing masks and doing everything they can to be safe. While we have seen some cases certainly associated with schools, the spread in schools themselves, with students wearing masks, we don’t believe, from what we’re seeing, is huge. Any time you put people together, there’s a risk, but they’re doing it in as safe a way as they can in person. Still, there is always some risk, and there’s a particular risk when the county positivity rate is high, the number of cases are high. And so, again, one of the reasons we put out the color code, one of the reasons we list the counties so you can look and see how many cases are in your county relative to other counties for the last two weeks, the reason we put that data out all the time every day is so that people can make decisions about, should my child go to school? Should the school stay open? What should the school do? But we also know that in person for most kids is probably the best and is the best. And so that’s where we would hope to get, but we can’t get there when we’ve got these high numbers. So we’ve got to deal with the high numbers and we can deal with them.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:26:33)
But if we don’t, it’s abundantly clear from what we’re seeing is more schools are going online and more schools are extending online, and some schools that were in person before are now going online, and that is a natural consequence of rise in cases in the community. So it’s incumbent upon the adults, it seems to me, to drive those numbers down and we have the power to do it.
Speaker 3: (01:26:58)
Next question is from Jack Windsor at WMFD in Mansfield.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:27:02)
Jack Windsor: (01:27:03)
Hi, Governor. Amy Acton said that her dream was to have in unity certificates that would allow people to reclaim their freedoms and be admitted back to normal life. She also indicated the desire to eliminate any exemptions for vaccines. Now, Dr. Fauci has signaled that the first vaccines may not be highly effective. So given the fact that Acton was so adamant and appears is still getting some advice to the administration per your previous comments. Two-part question, is it your position to require vaccination and immunity proof in order to go back to normal life? Or will you backdoor mandate a vaccine by allowing businesses and schools to shut people out who don’t choose to vaccinate?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:27:43)
Jack, I’m sorry you’re still attacking Dr. Acton. I’m just sorry that you feel it necessary to do that.
Jack Windsor: (01:27:51)
I didn’t attack Dr. Acton. I just indicated what she stated.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:27:55)
Okay. Okay, all right. Look, we’re not going to require anyone to get a vaccine. That’s not going to be any requirement. We hope people will get vaccines. And I think that when people watch the process occur, watch people go through it, watch what the CDC says, watch what the experts say about this, that they’re going to have confidence, and they’ll be willing to, significant number of people, enough people, will be willing to take the vaccine. But we don’t require any vaccination. We’re not going to require them to take a vaccine. We hope that they will. And I think also we’ll see the results of what happens when the first responders take it and others take it, and I think that should build confidence in people that they’ll want to take the vaccine. But we’re not going to require that.
Speaker 3: (01:29:03)
Governor, our next question is the last question today, and it belongs to Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (01:29:10)
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:29:12)
Kevin Landers: (01:29:14)
Governor, for seven months you’ve told people about the importance of wearing a mask yet the numbers of positive cases are higher, hospitalizations are higher than ever before. Does this lead you to believe that irresponsible behavior is driving up the numbers? And if so, how do you combat that when your words don’t seem to be resonated with people? Thank you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:29:33)
Well, as I mentioned a little bit ago, I got a call from a legislator talking about two rural counties where I know the spread has been high, and what he basically told me, he wanted to call me yesterday and he said, “Look, I want to tell you good news.” And he says, “A lot more compliance in these two counties.” He said. “I was at events within the last, I think, week,” and you said people were scared, they’re concerned, and there’s a lot more high compliance. And he says, “I think that when people see what the reality is that more and more people will wear a mask.” So I’m optimistic. I think that we will see this. And we saw it before. Ohioans in June, July, when we started, when we saw that surge, we knocked that surge down. And how did we do it?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:30:27)
Well, one of the main ways we did it was through wearing a mask and we saw mask compliance in our urban areas, which is where at that time we were seeing a real spike, that mask compliance went up dramatically. So I’m optimistic. I think that, again, as communities come together, which we’re asking them to do, to talk about this and to talk about what is the best plans they can keep their schools open, best plans so they can move forward their economy. I think they’re going to come to the conclusion that this is what has to be done. And so I think we’re going to turn this thing around. Again, we’ve done it twice before. We can certainly do it this time. So that was the last question. I will close for where I began. These numbers are grim. They are going the wrong direction. Everything is going in the wrong direction. But we know what will work. We’ve done this before. We’ve done it on two other occasions and there is so much, so much at stake.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:31:38)
And again, to close where I started, one of the most important things that is at stake is the education and the future of our children. We do not want to skimp or in any way hurt the education of our young people, and the best way to do that, the best way to keep them in school, is for each one of us to wear mask, each one of us to keep a distance, each one of us, when we’re thinking about a Halloween party, say, “No, we’re not going to do it.” When we’re thinking about getting together with friends or family who don’t live with us closely, say, “Look, we’ve got to have a mask and we’ve got to be very, very careful,” if we do that. If we do that, and I think we will, we’re going to knock this thing down and we’re going to have more of our kids in school, and we’ll be able to give them the education that we really owe them. And that’s what this is. It’s about a lot of things, but certainly about our kids. I look forward to seeing you all on Thursday. Thank you very much.