Apr 7, 2020

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 7

Mike DeWine Ohio Briefing Transcript April 7
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsOhio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 7

Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio held a press conference on coronavirus in Ohio today. He enacted an emergency liquor rule which would allow for cary-out alcohol in the state. Read the full transcript here.

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Mike DeWine: (00:43)
People who have been sentenced are coming in. The intake is now down for the last week to about 20%. That will certainly begin, it has begun to reduce the population in prison, and I want to thank the people at the local level, our judges, sheriffs and others who have been involved in that.

Mike DeWine: (01:19)
Last week, I asked judges to consider the early release of 38 select offenders, 23 of whom are pregnant or postpartum women. I also asked, at that time, for the judges to take a look at 15 inmates ages 60 and up who are already approaching release. In other words, they are within 120 days of release, and so we did that, and we sent those names out with letters to judges around the state of Ohio for them to take a look at those particular prisoners and see if they would be eligible under the statute for judicial release, release that can be controlled by the local judge.

Mike DeWine: (02:14)
Since then, my team has continued to carefully analyze our prison population. Finding inmates to release from prison to create more room for social distancing is frankly not easy. We have around 49,000 people in prison today, and each one of them is there for a reason. Murderers, sexual predators, people like that, we’re not going to let out. We’re just not going to do that. We have no intention of releasing them back into society. To protect the public, we must be smart and targeted about who we recommend for release.

Mike DeWine: (02:59)
Let me talk about the first group that I’m announcing today. There is a long standing statute, Ohio revised code 2967.18, that allows the director of Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to alert a group called the Correction Institution Inspection Committee of an overcrowding emergency and recommend that certain inmates be released to make more room. The CIIC is composed of members of the Ohio house and the Ohio Senate. Their purpose is to assist in the state’s efforts to ensure a safe and humane correctional system.

Mike DeWine: (03:46)
We are in an emergency, an emergency that makes the situation more urgent. We are in unprecedented times, which is why I’m announcing today that we are moving forward with this process and are notifying the CIIC of overcrowding in our prisons. To help relieve the situation, we believe that there are specific inmates who already scheduled, already have a release date within the next 90 days. So these are all inmates who are within 90 days or less of being released anyway. Now again, let me be clear, we’re not asking that everyone who is scheduled to be released, everyone who is within 90 days of their time, be released. We start with that number, and then we start narrowing it down. I want to just share with you the process that we went through. So we first started with people in our prison who are now within 90 days or less of the date when they will be, in fact, released. We then began narrowing that list down. We then eliminated those who are convicted of serious charges, such as sex offenses. We eliminated them. Those with homicide related offenses. We eliminated them. Kidnapping, abduction, we eliminated them. Ethnic intimidation, eliminated them. Making terrorist threats, we eliminated them. Domestic violence, we eliminated them as well.

Mike DeWine: (05:35)
We have also screened out those who have been denied, in the past, judicial release. We screened out those who have a prior incarceration in Ohio. We screened out interstate offenders. We screened out who have warrants or detainers on them from other states or somewhere, and we also screened out those who have serious prison rule violations at any time in the last five years. Once we did that, that left us with 141 inmates who qualified for emergency release under Ohio’s overcrowding emergency statute. All of them have a release date on or before July 13th, 2020. Now, these 141 inmates are all in our minimum security prisons. Prisoners in these facilities live in what’s called open bays with 80 to 300 people in a large open room. They sleep in bunk beds with three feet or less between them. Because of this set up, this is where we have the potential for the fast spread of COVID-19. Again, these are individuals who are already approaching the end of their sentence, and releasing them slightly earlier than planned will create more social distancing for those who will be kept in custody, so I encourage CIIC to give this issue their immediate attention. That’s group one.

Mike DeWine: (07:18)
Now let me turn to a second group and describe how we are handling that, again, under a different provision. There is another much smaller group of inmates who we believe should be considered for release. These are inmates who are age 60 years of age or older and who have a chronic health condition. Again, we started with people who are 60 years of age or older and have a chronic health condition. That makes them obviously more vulnerable to COVID-19, and we look for those who had served at least half of their sentence.

Mike DeWine: (08:05)
We looked at this group and then we started screening out. We screened out anyone who has been convicted of serious charges such as, but not limited to, sex offenses, homicide related offenses. We screened out anyone who’s been convicted of kidnapping, anyone convicted of abduction, ethnic intimidation, making terrorist threats, and screened out anyone who’s been convicted of domestic violence. We also screened out, among this group, people who have been denied judicial release in the past, people who’ve had prior incarcerations in Ohio, they’ve been Ohio prison before, those who are interstate offenders, those who have warrants or detainers on them currently, and those who have had a serious prison rule violation in the last six years.

Mike DeWine: (09:03)
So we started with those 60 and older. Those people of 60 or older who have an underlying medical condition, a chronic health condition. We also took out habitual offenders, those with two or more prior convictions. This left us with 26 inmates statewide. As I explained yesterday, under the normal procedure, I cannot, cannot quickly grant a commutation, and obviously, this needs to be done quickly. Under the law, we must give prosecutors, judges and victims notice of at least 60 days, and that makes sense, and that’s after all the paperwork has been filed. Because of these individuals’ medical vulnerability, the fact that some would not qualify for judicial release, and the need to consider these cases quickly, I’m taking the following action.

Mike DeWine: (10:10)
We are asking judges and prosecutors across Ohio who are associated with these individuals to waive the 60 day notice so that they can take these cases directly, so that we can take these cases directly to the parole board. This will be a decision then made locally by the judge or the prosecutor. The parole board is prepared to meet starting this Friday to consider these matters.

Mike DeWine: (10:38)
Now, in these 26 cases, it is a statutory requirement that the parole board consider and make a recommendation on each of these cases. In those cases where there are specific victims, those victims must and should receive notice, and they will be given the opportunity for their voices to be heard. After the parole board makes a recommendation on each of these 26 cases, I’ll act quickly to make my decision in respect to each case. If the parole board recommends the sentence be commuted, the parole board can also recommend, and many times does, additional conditions upon the release of that inmate. As governor, I can accept those conditions and/ or I can add additional conditions as well. If, in the future, then the conditions are violated, we will send that individual back to serve the remainder of their sentence.

Mike DeWine: (11:44)
Overall, these are all tough decisions. We’re trying to take a measured and responsible approach, an approach that protects the public, but also tries to minimize the spread of this virus in our prisons.

Mike DeWine: (12:02)
This virus in our prisons. Now we have a list of all 160 inmates who are up for potential release which will be made available to the press corps that’s covering this this afternoon and then will be available after that to the public.

Mike DeWine: (12:21)
Now let me ask lieutenant governor to give you an update on some of the things that he’s been working on.

Lt. Governor: (12:30)
Well, thank you very much, governor. I know that one of the things, well, one of the things I spend a lot of time on is listening to people and what’s going on in their real life experiences as we go through this, and I spend a lot of time on the phone with small business owners, medium size business owners, even large business owners to really understand what’s happening in the economy. And then we try to respond to the things that people are telling us need to occur or at least they would like to occur.

Lt. Governor: (13:02)
And some of the things that have happened along the way have been Bureau of Workers’ Compensation deferrals, grace periods for property, casualty, health insurance, the loan program which was in the CARES Act for small businesses through the payment protection program and disaster relief. Some of those loans, to remind you, are forgivable. Sick leave requirements, lay off alternatives, business relief for small businesses and not-for-profits, essential business dispute orders, safe workplace regulations. All of these things are really important and they’ve been spread out kind of throughout our coronavirus.ohio.gov website and we’ve kind of put these together one by one.

Lt. Governor: (13:53)
But today we’re announcing a collaboration, a pulling together of all of those services under one roof in the Office of Small Business Relief. The Office of Small Business Relief will help coordinate the efforts and identify ways to provide support for the nearly 950,000 small businesses that are operating in Ohio. The Office of Small Business Relief will be housed in the Developmental Services Agency, where director Lydia Mihalik and her team reside. They are uniquely qualified to handle this. We feel that they will do a fantastic job. They’re going to really be there to help people navigate the recovery fund component of this for small businesses, regulatory reform issues, and other services like the Ohio Small Business Development Center and the Minority Business Assistant Centers. They run these things and they’re going to help navigate through not only the services that they normally provide, but also all of these things that have been added in the interim to help businesses navigate through this difficult period of time.

Lt. Governor: (15:09)
And this will all be at our coronavirus.ohio.gov/businesshelp component. There’s a brand new page there under that. It’s easy to navigate. It’s just dedicated to business and at the bottom of that, after you read through it, if your questions don’t get answered because we have frequently asked questions, the ones that they get the most, we put the answers in there to try to help make this simple for folks. But if you get through it and if your answer’s not there, there’s also an email address and a telephone number that you can call for additional assistance. And we hope that that will, this is, like I said, we listen to what small businesses are telling us. We listened to what people are saying. They’re having a hard time navigating and we hope that this new office will help with that.

Lt. Governor: (16:01)
Additionally, I mention every day since we’ve started this, the number of critical businesses in healthcare, in the food supply chain, manufacturers who are trying to help us ramp up to produce PPE. They have now over 30,000 jobs at our job search website under the coronavirus.ohio.gov/jobsearch. Over 30,000 jobs. I know a lot of folks are out of work. Folks maybe who’ve had their plans for the spring disrupted. Please go take a look at that. See if there’s something there that you might help. The plea that we get from businesses every day about trying to hire people in these essential, and I will even use the word critical, business sectors are on there and we encourage you to go take a look at that.

Lt. Governor: (16:52)
And I had this call, I keep getting this call from a lot of folks who just, I know that they’re looking for certainty out there. They want to know what the future looks like and believe us, we want to know what the future looks like, too. More than we could possibly ever communicate to you. And we understand that that uncertainty is a difficult place to live. And I keep getting the question, you know, when will things get opened back up? And I want to give some, what I think is helpful advice.

Lt. Governor: (17:19)
Understand that this will not be at the point in time when we start to see the cases go down and the hospitals not be filled up as much as we expect them to be, it’s not going to happen like flipping a switch. This will be gradual, so businesses out there, think about how you’re going to prepare for this, how you’re going to prepare for the safe workplace environment that you need to have on the hygiene front, on the social distancing front, on maybe even having masks and other things available for your workforce because what you don’t want to have happen is that when you open back up, that you have a spread of the coronavirus right in your own workplace because that will decimate your workforce and it will do the opposite of what we’re trying to do.

Lt. Governor: (18:06)
And as I stood here yesterday saying that Ohioans have been doing a better job, I mean you’ve done a great job, but that is not license to let up. It is to say to you that if we keep going, if we stay on this track, we’re going to get through this faster, but know that these safe practices are going to be with us for a while, even as we look to the future and start to ease out. So know that it will all be very gradual and that we’re working on plans that will help you navigate that and help make this as orderly, orderly and thoughtful of a process as possible. And I know that, you know, I spent a lot of time on this. The governor has to do everything. Dr. Acton and I try to take our parts, and I want the business owners out there to know that your voices are being heard. We’re listening, and we’re trying to plan with you to figure out what the best way is to go forward when that time comes. Governor.

Mike DeWine: (19:11)
Lieutenant governor. Thank you very much. Dr. Acton.

Dr. Acton: (19:14)
Thank you. Thank you, governor, lieutenant governor. I think the message the lieutenant governor just gave is so, so important. I think back to some of our early talks together and we talked about a tolerance for ambiguity and the evolving and sort of unprecedented nature of what we’re facing. And I want you to know that we are working tirelessly behind the scenes, behind the scenes what you’re seeing here, fighting every day to get you the information you need, and we appreciate all you’re doing. Today, I want to start out with our numbers as I usually do. We have confirmed today 4,782 cases, and unfortunately, we have now seen 167 deaths in the state of Ohio and we have cases in 81 counties. Next slide.

Dr. Acton: (20:16)
Couple of things to point out here. We still are looking at about 50,000 tested. We’re still facing shortages of different testing reagents, different test kits, but we’re really maximizing the testing as best we can. Behind the scenes, the lieutenant governor has taken the lead on finding some of the most precious kind of testing that will get us out of this, the kind of testing I’ve been talking about, the blood testing, serologic. We’ve made some amazing progress on that front thanks to his efforts and I’ll be telling you more about that in the days to come. But at this point for most of us, I know most of you are staying at home without that testing, but using these numbers we can say that we are still slightly more females becoming ill, unfortunately. Slightly more males in our death numbers thus far. All of this data is still lagging far behind. Many of our test results are from tests that are still coming back from the private sector. But this is what we know right now. And ICU admissions still staying at about 9%. that’s a very important number for us. Next slide.

Dr. Acton: (21:37)
I wanted to take a moment to talk about modeling and take us back to the very beginning of some of these decisions we made early on around social distancing. If you remember, as this was evolving, this is a pandemic of a scale that has not been seen in our lifetimes. And we went back, knowing what we were knowing, watching China, watching other countries, learning from the science, we realized that very early on we needed to be St. Louis and not Philadelphia. We’ve since seen other cities around the country and around the world that have taken different measures at different times and that’s made all the difference in their trajectory. Thinking about cities like Lodi and Bergamot in Italy, very geographically close, but taking some different decisions and we knew so it was so important way back from that national pandemic guidance that plan about the nonpharmacologic interventions.

Dr. Acton: (22:41)
Those were the Swiss cheese efforts, from limiting mass gatherings to closing schools to all the measures on social distancing we’ve taken. We said that none of them are perfect alone. That it really is like slices of Swiss cheese. When you layer them slightly over the holes with each layer, collectively that makes a difference. And what we now know here in Ohio and around the world is it truly works. But it’s so important for us to think about this when we think about modeling. There’s a lot being said about modeling right now, and it is not a science that predicts our outcome. It’s our actions that predict our outcome.

Dr. Acton: (23:20)
So when we made those, those initial decisions, modeling wasn’t even available yet because there wasn’t data yet to put in models. So remember that modeling is still like a weather forecast and even weather forecasters don’t use one model. They use multiple, and they take a wide range of things. And similarly, when we look at the modeling for this pandemic, we look at the most conservative, worst case scenarios. And we heard some of that in our very conservative sort of Cleveland Clinic model originally and we look at some of the other modeling that is showing much better outcomes, but it’s so important. All these modeling do, all of it collectively, points us in a general-

Dr. Acton: (24:03)
… do all of it collectively, points us in a general direction of decision-making that we can use to make some guesstimates about maybe when a peak will be, maybe when we’ll need more ventilators than not. But it’s very, very general directional science. It’s important to think about worst-case scenarios because what we want to do and everything we’ve done is rule out the worst case. Worst case would be having to make really hard decisions about scarce resources. We know we have large shortages of things like PPE and ventilators and we are doing everything we can to never have to make that decision. But if we don’t know what a worst case is, we can’t aim well and we can’t prevent that. Similarly, we look at the best-case scenarios and we’re very optimistic and hopeful, but we have to continue to think about worst-case scenarios.

Dr. Acton: (24:53)
Let me show you our original curve. This is an oldie but goodie. Eric’s moving, if you remember, our original curve. This was before we had modeling or any numbers that could tell us exactly where we would be in the future. But we have learned from all the strategic national plans as well as the past that if you do no social distancing, no Swiss cheese, your curve looks like this. If you do the very aggressive measures we’re taking in this country, you flatten the curve and you spread it out. Now remember, you peak a lot sooner if you do nothing, but what you do, remember our black line, is that you overwhelm the healthcare system. We’ve seen the sad experience of countries that didn’t have the time that we have bought here in Ohio. We saw in Italy what that looks like. It’s heartbreaking. We see some cities like New York really struggling to not have to face those decisions.

Dr. Acton: (25:55)
Here in Ohio right now, the good news is the efforts you are taking have kept us below that hospital capacity. We still have capacity in our hospitals from doing things like getting rid of elective surgeries. All of these are costly, painful measures, but they have kept us under this curve. In fact, right now our modeling is showing us even flatter than the blue in this original curve, stretching our peak out a little further. It’s stretching out the onset of the spread of disease. But it’s very important to remember that within two weeks, if we let up, within two weeks, we will easily bounce back above that curve. Vitally, vitally important, Ohio. You’ve done this. You’re winning the war to protect our scarce resources and keeping our hospitals being able to deal with this. The second we let our foot off the gas, the second we are no longer that Category Three hurricane, it can pick up wind again and we be a Category Five. I want to show you some other numbers. This right now. Oh, go back. I’m sorry, Eric. This is taking a look at the onset of our measures. We are the yellow bar. We’re looking a little bit here at some other states, New York, Michigan, the United States writ large, Ohio where we are now, we’re this yellow line.

Dr. Acton: (27:22)
Now it’s important to know that there was already the spread of this disease before anyone took any measures. We now know that asymptomatic folks were spreading it. We know now that some areas of our country were seeing it earlier than others. Certainly if you have a lot more international travel, an airport, when we look like a city like Detroit, we know that they’re being harder hit right now. Ohio, they’re just a little ahead of us on this curve. We’re lucky because we all took measures, New York, Michigan, and we did. It’s really important to know that New York’s just a little bit ahead of us on the curve. They had spread sooner in a community fashion probably than we did. But we can go back and see the same kinds of things they’re seeing. We must [inaudible 00:28:12]. This is where Ohio is. We’re a little flatter in our curve right now. We’re spreading it out over more time, but we can’t become complacent.

Dr. Acton: (28:25)
There’s something else to look at. Next slide. This data, this is new. This is on our website because I know it’s very hard to see on TV, but we also, even within our spread in Ohio, it’s not going to be perfectly even. I keep saying we’re going to have hotspots and flare-ups in different parts of our states at different times. It’s so important, we have to have these measures across our state. This disease spread so rapidly. It’s so lethal. But you can see that some of these things that the governor was mentioning, prisons, nursing homes, hospice care, VA homes that we have in our state, psych hospitals, places where people have to be close together for various reasons are more at risk. They have more vulnerable populations. You’ll see some of that and it’s why it’s so important that we are not spreading this disease, we’re not spreading it to the workers in these settings who have to go in and come home.

Dr. Acton: (29:21)
Everything we’re doing is helping protect our most vulnerable, but we’re starting to be able to see some hotspots, some flares that come with cases up near Detroit, around the nursing-home issues we face, around a prison, around some nursing homes in Youngstown. These are hotspots that’ll flare up, they’ll recede, they can flare up again. That’s why we’re building a hospital system alongside our nursing home partners to be able to triage the best help and resources wherever those flare-ups occur in our state. We’re rushing PPE that we have to places that need it more. We’ll be able to move ventilators to hospitals that need it more, and we’ll be able to triage people if a hospital is reaching a capacity to a nearby hospital. All of that is the planning time that you helped us buy. Next slide.

Dr. Acton: (30:18)
We right now are this blue line in Ohio. Please, Ohioans, we’ve got a couple hard weeks ahead of us. It is the social distancing that we’re doing. It is the sacrifices that we are making in our businesses, and they are painful sacrifices. We have hospitals that do a lot of elective surgeries that aren’t getting the income that they would normally get. There is no business untouched right now. We’ve got to know that the sacrifices we are making do not let up. They have to be worth it. If we let up, we will change our trajectory and look more like that original yellow curve. Next slide.

Dr. Acton: (30:58)
I wanted to say a little bit, people ask a lot about ventilators and we don’t have accurate numbers exactly yet of every ventilator that’s in our hospitals. We’re getting those this week. But I want to show you what we did about the ventilators that were elsewhere in the state. We actually didn’t ask for all the ambulatory surgical facilities from all sorts of spots around our state where people donated information about ventilators that they can contribute to this cause.

Dr. Acton: (31:26)
In addition to the ventilators, we’re trying to purchase as a state, we have come up with 805 additional ventilators, folks who will give up their machines and we can move those to where they are needed. We found 577 anesthetic machines. We have BiPAP, CPAP and medical ventilators all available. I’m sorry. These are our responses, 805, so we have thousands of machines that have been donated to the cause because of work around our state. That is a great number. Next slide. I believe that gets us done. Two last things I’d like to say. I really want to remind you that there are issues that get worse during times like this, not least of which we’ve talked about, the horrible unemployment numbers and things that folks are facing. We also fear at times like this that we can see from past traumas and weather accidents and things that there can be upticks of violence, and especially domestic violence. We mentioned this briefly before, but I want to remind people that you can ask for help. There is help available. If you’re experiencing anything like that from domestic violence, human trafficking, child abuse, or elder abuse, we have hotlines on our website to help. Coronavirus.ohio.gov. There is the Ohio Sexual Violence Helpline, 844- Ohio-Help, and that’ll be on our website, the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can actually text for help, “Love is,” to 22522, “Love is.” It’s really important. I know there’s a lot of times that people can feel isolated, but if you are experiencing something and you need help, reach out to your provider, reach out to one of these resources. We want to help you.

Dr. Acton: (33:32)
Thank you so much, Ohio. Keep up the good work. You are winning the war. We are helping our hospitals. We are staying below that line. Don’t let up now. Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (33:44)
Dr. Acton, thank you very much. We’ll take a question. Mr. Otte is first.

Jim Otte: (33:48)
Jim Otte from WHIO TV. Thank you, Governor for doing this. Best-case scenario, what would be the timeline that we would start to see some of those inmates make their way out? Secondly, do you have a thought about how the parole system may, parole board may be able to get those people into a good situation when they leave the facility? Usually that takes a lot of time. What do you think? Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (34:13)
Jim, the second question? I’m sorry I didn’t get the second question, Jim.

Jim Otte: (34:18)
When they leave, where do they go?

Mike DeWine: (34:20)
You talking about people in prison?

Jim Otte: (34:20)
Yes. When they’re released, where do they go and who makes sure that that’s a good place?

Mike DeWine: (34:25)
Yeah, and that’s something that the director and her team will ensure. We’re not dumping anybody out. Last week, we talked about the pregnant women, woman who had just recently had children. I’ve been assured that each one of them, there’s a plan in place, there’s a place for them to go. That would be true again with these individuals as well. We would not dump these individuals out.

Mike DeWine: (35:02)
Another thing that we would also be announcing depending on where this person was coming from in regard to if they were in a prison or an area that had the COVID-19, there would have to be some arrangement to deal with that as well. That would be something that we will announce in a few days, generally how we will handle that.

Tara Morgan: (35:32)
He had a quick question about timetable. He’ll follow-up. For that, when would this happen?

Mike DeWine: (35:43)
What? I’m sorry, when would what? I just missed the question. I apologize.

Tara Morgan: (35:50)
My question. I’m with ABC Six. This is Tara Morgan. My question is, your thoughts on antibody testing. Governor Cuomo had talked about it this morning in New York, developing the test and working with the FDA. What does that look like here?

Speaker 5: (36:03)
Test and working with the FDA, what does that look like here in Ohio?

Speaker 6: (36:05)
Well, it certainly will be very, very helpful. We know that. I’m going to let the doctor respond to that.

Dr. Acton: (36:11)
Okay. So antibody testing and the FDA recently approved that and I’m actually going to let the Lieutenant Governor share some information about this as well because he’s sort of the hero and helping us work to procure it. But antibodies will be what’s formed in our bodies as we fight off this infection. We know that there is some immunity that builds up and that immunity can be detected. It’s through a serologic blood test, actually a finger prick test, which will be amazing. Similarly to giving glucose in a sugar diabetes check, and that will let us know that you have had the disease and have fought it off. No one is absolutely certain yet how long that immunity lasts. Those antibodies, there’s some hope that they’re lasting well into a year. There’s some studies being done now, but we’re still not sure. We always expect that as a fighting off of reaction.

Dr. Acton: (37:08)
It’s not a lifetime immunity. So that’s why we so desperately need a vaccine. But that test is going to be so central because we know we have not, we’ve tested just the tip of the iceberg. Our testing is telling us about history, not what’s happening currently. So we’ll be able to go back and learn more about who has actually had the disease and who has fought it off successfully and that will be a big part of our strategy to be able to resume life and get back to normal.

Dr. Acton: (37:37)
You can imagine if you have a health care worker who knows they’ve already fought off the disease, they can go back to work and sort of be part of the solution. Now eventually, this disease will continue to spread. It’s going to spread because none of us are immune. We’ll reach levels at a certain place where we’ll have more herd immunity when enough of us have had it or much less likely to spread it. We’ll get back to the point where when someone gets it, we can test them right away and then contact trace and be able to limit that spread. But that’s part of our future. I’d like to give just a moment to the Lieutenant Governor to talk about what he’s been doing to fight to get this because it’s so, so important for our recovery phase.

Lt. Governor: (38:21)
Yeah. Thank you Dr. Acton. We know we do these phone calls about what the future looks like and what the exit strategy is, and we talked about how important I will listen to Dr. Acton and others in the healthcare industry talk about how important these are to knowing, particularly in hospital settings and things like that, who may have built up the immunity as we often hear that most people who get it will never be tested or we won’t know that. But with this test we can find out who those folks are to help create some confidence among those individuals that they can be more exposed without running the risk that somebody who hasn’t had the COVID-19 infection, the virus spread in their body.

Lt. Governor: (39:11)
And so hearing, that I started making calls to every one of these companies that I could find in the country. Starting with US companies first and we have identified several leads on these tests. We are busily trying to acquire those tests. Many of them are not ready now, but we could use them now, but we’re going to need them out into the future. So we are aggressively pursuing having those tests in Ohio because they are a critical part of the exit strategy.

Molly M: (39:44)
Hi, this is Molly Martinez with Spectrum News. My question is for the Lieutenant Governor, we’ve been inundated with viewer comments saying that they go to the unemployment website and they are constantly reaching dead ends, that it’s backlogged that it’s not necessarily a problem with bandwidth, but that the site keeps crashing and they’re getting desperate. This has been a month now that they just don’t have any sort of income. What would you say to those people who every day are trying to get past this system and can’t make any headway?

Lt. Governor: (40:14)
Well, I can tell this. First of all. That frustrates me too. I think it frustrates all of us when we can’t deliver something that we know somebody needs. And every single day I’m on the phone with the team over at ODJFS that’s working on that or constantly talking with them about their strategy. I was just looking through the numbers. You know when they come out on Thursday you’re going to see that they are processing a record number. There’s no time in history that’s ever even come close to the amount of unemployment claims that they’re processing right now. But we still know that doesn’t mean that everybody has a great experience and what I can say to them right now is that one, their benefits will be backdated to the point that they were eligible.

Lt. Governor: (41:07)
So even if they are not getting through immediately, they are backdated to the point they are eligible so they won’t lose any benefits because of the technology challenges. That we continue to upgrade their now currently 829 employees, they’ve added over 500 employees. I think it is. Since we started with this. They’ve added 20 times the capacity to the servers. It is sort of maxed out in that area that runs 24 hours a day. So going through during peak hours, maybe you want to choose a different time it would allow you-

Molly M: (41:44)
Is there another time that would be better?

Lt. Governor: (41:47)
Usually the times that are peak are in the mornings in the afternoons that you tend to see peak hours during them according to the latest data that I have. I’m just looking through this to make sure that I can give you as complete of an answer as possible. There have been $114 million over $114 million have already been paid out since this started to over 180,000 people, so that’s processing as fast as they can validate someone’s eligibility. And so the team is building out capacity. I will have a more complete update on Thursday when the unemployment numbers come out. But we hear your frustration. We are pushing the system to build capacity to train the people that they need to come in and do this and I’ll have more on that on Thursday, but please let everybody know they will get their benefits as soon as they’re out from the date they were eligible for them coming through and we apologize that it is not better. But it is getting better and I share the frustration and the sense of urgency that they have.

Molly M: (43:01)
Thank you.

Jessie B: (43:04)
Hi, this is Jessie Bomber with the Cincinnati Inquirer. I guess given the weather forecast, like nature of modeling, how will we know when we’ve reached the peak and do we have enough tools like testing to make that determination?

Speaker 6: (43:19)
Dr. Acton.

Dr. Acton: (43:20)
Yes. Hi Jessie. We will know it by tracking, if we can stay at the testing levels, we’re at now. And that’s an if because we struggled to find reagent even as we speak. I mean we are struggling to keep up the testing even at the pace we are. There’s just a scarcity. It’s not our state. It’s everywhere. And we’re on allotments of a small amounts of the necessary ingredients. So, let’s say we stay at the amount of cases, we’re going to see those cases go up, they’re going to go up and down on a given day. So we never want to make any quick decisions based on anything, but you will see it. What we’re thinking now is it’s going to plateau. It will be flatter and longer at the top and then you’ll start to see the cases per day go down and start to level the number of new cases.

Dr. Acton: (44:17)
One of the problems, and this is depending on how we handle social distancing, we could see a spike back up again. So, we still believe at this point, if we’re following on the trajectory we’ve been on that it will be late April, mid to late April, early May. That sort of a clump of time. That still holds true, but there’s no guarantee of that. Some of it has to do also with the subtleties of the spread within community. If we have a ton of these hotspots and those catch that kind of will give us a little bump for awhile and then we see cases go down. We’ve been very successful so far with our flare ups being able to come alongside the locals are doing a great job of the contact investigation that needs to go on right around an outbreak, say an outbreak in a nursing home.

Dr. Acton: (45:11)
And then we at the state, our epidemiologists, our medical team is coming alongside that. When we see that a nursing home is struggling because they don’t have enough gear, the very little bit of gear we have left, we’re trying to direct to them. So we’ve been able to sort of squash the hot spots as they occur. But time will tell how well we do at that. So I do still suspect our peak will be in there. We still aren’t quite sure the number of cases per day. They could be as low. The range is on the lowest end, have been closer to 2000 cases per day at the peak on the higher end models, they were as high as you heard at one point of-

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