Apr 21, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 21
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on April 21, 2021 to provide updates on coronavirus and vaccine distribution. He also addressed police reform after the Chauvin verdict. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Governor DeWine: (06:18)
Good afternoon, everyone. Yesterday, as we all know, a jury in Minneapolis convicted Derek Chauvin of second and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Our system of justice worked. The jury members listened to the evidence, did their duty, came back with a verdict. As we go forward as a nation, there is a lot for us to learn from this great tragedy. George Floyd’s death laid bare some of our deepest divisions in our country. Our goal, my goal, all of our goal, should be to work every single day to bring us together as a people, to bring us together as a country.
Governor DeWine: (07:22)
I want to talk now about police reform in Ohio. There’ve been some things that we have been able to do by executive action. On June 17th of last year, I ordered every cabinet agency to review the use of force policies and also to ban the use of chokeholds. That has been done. So every department under my direct jurisdiction, highway patrol, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and others have now banned the use of chokeholds.
Governor DeWine: (08:19)
Last summer, I ordered the highway patrol to start the action to obtain body cameras for everyone. For some time, they’ve had dash cameras, but I felt it was appropriate now for them to lead by example and to have the body cameras. The purchasing of these body cameras has begun and we would anticipate within a short period of time, the members of the highway patrol will always have on the body cameras.
Governor DeWine: (08:59)
Next, we established the Office of Law Enforcement Recruiting within the Office of Criminal Justice Services, again, to help local law enforcement in this area. Next, I ordered the Ohio Community Police Collaborative to develop a standard for law enforcement responses to mass protests, and I’m happy to say that they have now adopted a uniform standard.
Governor DeWine: (09:28)
Let me talk for a moment about several budget initiatives that are now in front of the general assembly. Several things that are pertinent were contained in our budget. We had $10 million, we provided for law enforcement body cameras for local law enforcement around the state of Ohio. In addition to that, we provide in our budget a million dollars in grant funding to support local police agencies and their innovative initiatives to recruit women and minorities. These are two things that are already containing in our budget.
Governor DeWine: (10:12)
Let me now turn to legislative proposals. I talked this morning with state representative Phil Plumber. Phil is a former sheriff of Montgomery County. He has been working on a law enforcement reform package. We have worked with him on this, and I’m happy to say that he advises me that this bill will now be ready to be introduced within the next few days. This bill will increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement. It was developed with the help of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, of veteran law enforcement officers, organizations, including the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, as well as civil rights leaders.
Governor DeWine: (11:06)
This bill will do a number of things. Let me just mention several. We’ll establish a police peace officer oversight board. It is time that in Ohio, we began to treat law enforcement as the professionals that they are. What does that mean? It means that in other professions, if you’re a doctor, you’re a nurse, you’re a lawyer, we could go on and on, there’s not only state regulations, there’s a state board, there’s a state disciplinary board, a state board that has the ability to pull a license, to suspend a license. It’s time we do that in the area of law enforcement. Again, it is a profession, we should treat it as such.
Governor DeWine: (11:56)
Next, the bill also establishes a use of force database, a statewide use of force database so that the almost 1,000 law enforcement agencies in the state of Ohio would report use of force. And that would be contained in one central location whenever the use of force was used. Next, it would establish an officer discipline database, an officer discipline database. And again, this goes back to treating law enforcement as the profession that it is. So the situation we have now is someone can go from one police department to another and if they left under bad terms and that officer doesn’t even report that he worked at the other law enforcement agency, and it’s clear across the state, one law enforcement agency may have no idea that he had even worked for another law enforcement agency. Again, an officer discipline database. Fourth, we will require an independent investigation of officer-involved critical incidents. Again, outside, impartial, coming in, I think will give people more confidence in the end results.
Governor DeWine: (13:19)
I think there’s also a general agreement that we need more police training. I’ve never met a police officer who did not think that more training was good. We need an independent, sustainable funding source for law enforcement training in Ohio. Last month, as part of the need to address law enforcement training in the state, I asked the justice of Criminal Justice Services to send a survey to law enforcement agencies all throughout the state of Ohio. And we asked them to identify training needs and the type of training that they actually have conducted in the last year. Aspirationally, what they want, but also what have they done. The survey is back on the 30th of this month. The information from the survey is going to be used to assist in studying the potential for developing a long-term funding solution for law enforcement training in Ohio. I know talking with Phil Plumber this morning, I have not looked at the language, but he tells me that there is language and money in the bill that he has introduced in regard to law enforcement training.
Governor DeWine: (14:27)
Once we have established independent an funding source, we need to mandate minimum continuing professional education training hours, just as we do in other professions. Certainly that should always include deescalation and use of force training.
Governor DeWine: (14:50)
Fran and I had opportunity this morning to visit Primary One Health vaccination site. It’s St. Stephen’s Community House in Columbus. I would just say at St. Stephen’s they do some amazing work, helping everyone from young, young children all the way up to senior citizens and they’ve done that for over 100 years. Primary One Health, a community health center, operates a number of clinics around the city, and they go giving vaccinations from one clinic to another. Primary One Health, like other health centers and providers are receiving state vaccine allocations every week. Let me commend Primary One, their team, I had the opportunity to meet, Fran and I did, a number of their members of their team today, and others like them are working hard to ensure their efforts are focused on delivering vaccine to everyone, and certainly, including communities of color.
Governor DeWine: (15:48)
Fran and I talked to one man, it’s always interesting what you find and what you hear when you talk to people and ask them, “Why are you getting vaccinated?” I always say, “Did you have a hesitancy about getting vaccinated?” And there’s always a story about how they got there and why they are there. And one man told us, he said, “I’ve got an 86-year-old mother and she’s already received her vaccine. And I take care of her. I want to make sure she’s around for a long time. And I felt I needed to get the vaccine.” So everyone’s got a story and so many people are getting the vaccine and getting that for others. The clinic at St. Stephens is just a great example I think, of efforts across Ohio, to ensure that all Ohioans have access to this very precious and life-saving vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (16:45)
April is Minority Health Month. Every day our team is focused, and our local health department partners and nonprofits throughout the state, and so many others are focusing on making sure vaccines are delivered fairly to minority communities, underserved communities. We still have much to do to make sure all Ohioans are reached and it’s convenient and easy for every Ohioan to get it. But I just want, again, commend the work that Primary One is doing and other health clinics like them across the state.
Governor DeWine: (17:21)
Tomorrow is Earth Day. It’s also our grandson Grady’s birthday. Fran and I have just been talking on the phone a minute ago. I plan on planting… Grady always plants a tree, and deciding what kind of tree and talk with Grady tonight about what kind of tree we’ll plant tomorrow. So plant a tree in honor of Grady and honor of Earth Day. Really, Earth Day is a great opportunity to recognize what each one of us can do to protect the earth and protect our planet.
Governor DeWine: (17:54)
One of the things that we can do is help clean up litter. Litter is ugly, and it costs a lot. So I asked the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to launch a campaign, to focus on how a little bit of litter contributes to the bigger statewide problem. This new campaign will prioritize sharing information about litter, why it’s a problem, and what we can each do to stop from adding to this litter problem. Additionally, our agencies will host various events throughout the spring and the summer, including a litter summit. Today, the Ohio Department of Transportation Director, Jack Marchbanks is out the ODOT Hilliard garage with the City of Columbus Director of Public Service, Jennifer Gallagher. This week, they challenged their respective staffs to a friendly competition of who can collect the most garbage. So let me go to them now. Director Marchbanks, how are you?
Jack Marchbanks: (18:58)
Governor, I am fine. Thank you for your leadership in these trying times. And yes, we are having our Step Up , Pick up Litter Challenge with the City of Columbus. We have Public Service Director, Jennifer Gallagher with us this afternoon. But I would also like to introduce or Ohio EPA Director, Laurie Stephenson.
Governor DeWine: (19:15)
Jack Marchbanks: (19:16)
Laurie’s here. And our Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Director, Mary Mertz, who knows all about trees. She’s here also. So I wanted to share with everyone that we are working together, cabinet-wide, to make sure that we are making Ohio as beautiful as it can be. One of the most annoying and unfortunate things we have to do at ODOT is pick up the trash of other people along our roadways. It might seem like it’s just a little bit of litter to you when you toss it out of your car, but it’s a big problem. Last year alone, ODOT picked up 362,000 bags of trash with our crews, our Adopt-a-Highway volunteers and inmates. In Franklin County alone, we picked up over 29,000 bags of trash in these trucks behind us. That’s 100 bags of trash in the ODOT truck. And that’s what we pick up in one day.
Jack Marchbanks: (20:12)
So we are asking people to do their part, dispose of your trash in the proper place and not on our roadsides. And equally important, make sure if you’re carrying a load down our highways, that it’s tied down, and if you’re carrying something even larger, put a tarp over it. Together, we can demonstrate pride of place as Ohioans, and we’re working together. And we thank everyone out there listening for helping us and making litter a blight of the past.
Jack Marchbanks: (20:42)
I’d like to introduce right now, governor, our City of Columbus Public Service Director. Jennifer Gallagher will tell you some more about the challenge. Jennifer.
Governor DeWine: (20:50)
Director Gallagher, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you for what you do.
Jennifer Gallagher: (20:56)
Good afternoon, Governor DeWine. Thank you for inviting me to be here today on the Eve of Earth Day. I think you know that the City of Columbus and the Ohio Department of Transportation are engaged in a friendly competition to see whose crews collect the most litter along our roadways. We are battling it up, in a Step Up and Pick Up Litter Challenge during this week of Earth Day to clean up our communities. Mayor Ginther and Director Marchbanks have have had clean, fun, engaging in a little trash talk during this challenge. But there really is nothing funny about the serious problem of litter. This unsightly and unacceptable pollution, strung along our roadsides and elsewhere denigrates our community and causes damaging environmental impacts. Often litter is a great problem in our neighborhoods that are already challenged in socioeconomic factors.
Jennifer Gallagher: (21:50)
On this day before Earth Day in 2021, Columbus continues to move closer to being an equitable and sustainable city. My Department of Public Service leads our city’s aggressive litter abasement efforts. Last year, we…
Jennifer Gallagher: (22:03)
… leads our cities aggressive litter abasement efforts. Last year, we completed our first ever litter index to score and catalog the amount of litter on Columbus streets. This will help us prioritize clean-up and enforcement. Our department cleans up illegally dumped trash and debris in city alleys and litter along state highways and city arterial streets. We also work with the Franklin County Municipal Court to use litter collection as an alternative sentence when appropriate. Even though we are opponents in the step up and pickup challenge, Columbus does assist ODOT with litter cleanup along freeways and ramps when needed. In the near future, Mayor Gunther and I will be announcing a major initiative that will employ hundreds of Columbus teens and young adults to collect the litter and participate in hands-on environmental educational activities, inspiring them to become leaders in protecting our precious environment. Even before our competition with ODOT began on Monday, Columbus street maintenance crews had cleaned up more than 26 tons, yes, 26 tons of litter, and almost 200 tires discarded along our city roadways.
Jennifer Gallagher: (23:11)
It is a messy task that also poses safety risks for our crews. It is a task that shouldn’t be necessary as Director Marchbanks mentioned. Litter is a solvable problem when each of us takes the time and personal responsibility to properly dispose of our trash. Use public trash receptacles, or wait until you get home to toss your trash in our refuse container and recyclables in your cart. Get involved in community cleanups. Our city has a very active Keep Columbus Beautiful program. Countless volunteers devote thousands of hours each year to litter collection in neighborhoods throughout our community.
Jennifer Gallagher: (23:51)
Just join the effort. Challenge a neighboring subdivision to see who can collect the most litter to build pride and friendships, similar to the competition this week between us and ODAT. Now, Governor, ODOT is a worthy opponent. With all due respect to Director Marchbanks and his team, when the final tally is announced tomorrow on Earth Day of how much litter each of our crews has collected this week, I do think that the city is going to walk away with the bragging rights. Thank you for hosting me here today. I so appreciate it.
Governor DeWine: (24:22)
Director Gallagher, thank you very much, and to all four directors, we appreciate it and keep picking up the trash and we’ll see who wins.
Speaker 1: (24:32)
ODOT will be victorious, governor. Don’t doubt it.
Governor DeWine: (24:36)
Thank you. Appreciate it. Thanks everybody. Eric, let’s go to the slides for the data. We’ll start first with the daily data. Cases, 1789. The good news is we’re seeing what appears to be certainly a plateau in cases. We will feel better when it’s really a defined downward direction. I don’t think we can say we’re there yet, but we certainly hope as more and more people get vaccinated, we’re crowding this virus out, making it tough for this virus to spread. So it’s still at a high rate, but it’s certainly not going up and we’re seeing some, certainly a very significant leveling off.
Governor DeWine: (25:24)
If we look at the other numbers, unfortunately, our hospitalizations are higher than they have been. On the average, ICU is right what the 21 day average. Let’s go to the next one, Eric. We look at this, this is all 88 counties. Again, this is the key indicator. Our top county unfortunately remains Lucas County at 357 cases per 100,000 over a two week period of time. So Lucas, Williams, Madison, Erie, Summit, Cuyahoga, Jefferson, Defiance, Ashtabula, those are the top, unfortunately, the top counties. The lowest county is Gallia and Meigs and Fayette, so again, as we look at this, again, we would hope that this would all become white. We’re still at a pretty high level as you can see, about three and a half times what the CDC says is a high incident level. And this is appearing certainly more prominently in the northern part of the state. Eric, we’ll go to the next.
Governor DeWine: (26:32)
Again, this is the top of the top counties. We’ll go to the next one, Eric. Our daily slide. This is our daily slide of vaccine, first thing I look at. Comes out usually around mid day, and certainly keeping an eye on that. These are first doses, 29,000. So not where we… Certainly where we want to be, not where we have been. We had days there were 80 and 90,000 and we’re seeing certainly a significant decline in the number of first doses. I want to look at the age groups, and I think the age groups are quite interesting because our older Ohioans, those numbers continue to slowly go up, even though they’re already at a fairly high rate. Over 80 is 70, almost 74.5%. 75 to 79 is 75.5%. 70 to 74 is 78% of that population has got the vaccine, and 65 to 69 is 72, and we drop off from there.
Governor DeWine: (27:49)
One of the keys going forward obviously is to get people 50 and under taking it at a higher rate than what we’re seeing so far. And interesting, if you look at the first doses, I ask our team to break it out for just 16 and 17 year olds, and not bad. Almost a fifth of all of them, 18.6% of 16 and 17 year olds have now received their first dose. So what happens with our younger people is really going to determine how fast we can reach this herd immunity, how fast we can reach the numbers that we need to reach to make us a lot, lot, lot safer.
Governor DeWine: (28:36)
Second dose, Eric, you’re going to put that slide up. And again, 66,000 second doses yesterday, so those numbers are hanging in there pretty good on the second doses. We are now at 38, going back to the first doses, 38% of the population, the total population of the state, and some people obviously are not even eligible. 38% of the total population in the state has got the first dose and 27 and a half percent are now fully vaccinated. Eric, we’ll go to the hospitalization slides. Again, these are lagging indicators. 1243 is the number for today. So as we look at the virus, where are we today in Ohio in regard to our battle? These are really the essential facts. 38% of us, more than 4.4 million of us have now received our first shot. That’s good. Second, cases, while high, seem to have plateaued. That’s good. Third though is not good, and that is the virus is more contagious than it’s ever been. Some estimates are 40% more contagious. The way Dr. Vanderhoff explains it is it sticks better. So the first two facts are good, third fact is not good.
Governor DeWine: (30:18)
So Dr. Vanderhoff, let’s go to you and maybe from a medical point of view and a health point of view, maybe talk a little bit about, we’re kind of settling out into two different groups and they’re certainly not permanent groups, we’re having more people vaccinated every day. But we have a significant number of us, almost 40% now of us who are vaccinated, and we obviously have people who are not vaccinated, some are not even eligible yet. But talk to us a little bit about the risk of where each group might be and how we should think about this as we move forward, and how individuals can think about it.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (30:59)
Thank you, governor. As you note, the pandemic is quickly evolving into a tale of two groups of Ohioans. On the one hand, we have the vaccinated Ohioans who are very well protected against this virus and much less likely to spread it to other people. Their situation is very good, but that very good situation for the vaccination contrasts sharply with that for the un-vaccinated. Un-vaccinated Ohioans simply lack the same protection against the virus which is now, as you noted, more contagious and able to put younger people at much greater risk, including the risk of ending up in the hospital. Also as you noted, essentially, the new variants have evolved to stick more easily to ourselves, so it takes less of the virus, less exposure to make a person sick. You add to that the fact that more older Ohioans, and you reviewed those numbers, have been vaccinated, and it all means that if you’re young and un-vaccinated, what might not have been much of a concern to you this fall sure ought to be a concern right now. And if you’re counting on herd immunity to cover you, you really can’t count on it yet. There’s no doubt, our herd, our population is more and more protected as a result of vaccines, so I’m expecting that we’ll see better and better numbers over time. But until we get a lot more vaccines in people’s arms, the un-vaccinated are quite simply playing a COVID lottery, and it’s a lottery whose consequences are pretty stark.
Governor DeWine: (32:57)
Doctor, thank you for that assessment. We are introducing this week three new public service announcements. Two of them are focused on why some of our younger Ohioans have taken the opportunity to get vaccinated, and as I said, a significant number of young people who’ve already done so. These young people talk about wanting to get back to the things they love, such as going to live concerts, going to sporting events, going out with friends, all the things that we all like to do. They also share reasons for getting vaccinated. Let’s take a look at these ads now, Eric.
Ad speakers: (33:38)
I’ve gotten the COVID vaccine.
Ad speakers: (33:39)
So have I.
Ad speakers: (33:40)
I have too.
Ad speakers: (33:41)
The sooner we’re all vaccinated…
Ad speakers: (33:42)
The sooner we can get back to normal.
Ad speakers: (33:45)
I’m looking forward to going to live concerts…
Ad speakers: (33:47)
Ad speakers: (33:48)
Ad speakers: (33:49)
Going out with friends.
Ad speakers: (33:50)
It’s not about me.
Ad speakers: (33:51)
It’s not about me.
Ad speakers: (33:53)
It’s about protecting the people I care about.
Ad speakers: (33:55)
To protect my community.
Ad speakers: (33:56)
I just want to do my part.
Ad speakers: (33:58)
Even though I’m young and healthy…
Ad speakers: (33:59)
I know it’s the right thing to do.
Ad speakers: (34:01)
Take your shot…
Ad speakers: (34:02)
Protect your family and your friends.
Ad speakers: (34:04)
Don’t hesitate, vaccinate.
Ad speakers: (34:11)
Now that I’m vaccinated, I feel protected.
Ad speakers: (34:15)
I feel safer.
Ad speakers: (34:17)
I feel incredibly hopeful.
Ad speakers: (34:19)
I would say relieved.
Ad speakers: (34:21)
I feel extremely optimistic after being vaccinated.
Ad speakers: (34:24)
I can’t wait to go and see my grandparents again.
Ad speakers: (34:26)
I’m looking forward to going to classes in person.
Ad speakers: (34:28)
It’s not about me.
Ad speakers: (34:29)
It’s not about me. It’s about protecting the people I care about.
Ad speakers: (34:32)
It’s about my community.
Ad speakers: (34:33)
To keep everybody safe.
Ad speakers: (34:34)
It’s all about protecting the people that I love.
Ad speakers: (34:38)
Protect your family and your friends.
Ad speakers: (34:38)
Don’t hesitate, vaccinate.
Governor DeWine: (34:43)
Those are great. We also have a PSA featuring Dr. Frederic Bertley, the president and CEO of COSI. He’s an immunologist. In his PSA, he talks about the ingredients in the vaccine. Let’s take a look.
Dr. Bertley: (35:02)
I’m Dr. Bertley, president of COSI, but I’m also an immunologist. There’s a lot of misinformation about what’s inside the COVID 19 vaccine. The truth is there’s just a few simple ingredients. Water, sugar, salt, fat, and most importantly, building blocks for protein that teaches your body how to recognize and fight COVID-19. That’s less stuff than a candy bar or a can of pop, and the vaccine can save your life. And that’s why I’ll take the shot.
Governor DeWine: (35:26)
Well, that’s the first in a series of PSAs that Dr. Bertley has done, and I’ve had a sneak preview of the other ones and they’re a lot of fun, and more importantly, very interesting as well. So we appreciate him doing that and we appreciate COSI.
Governor DeWine: (35:56)
I have the opportunity every week to hear some great stories of what innovative people throughout the state are doing to take the vaccine to their fellow Ohioans, some wonderful efforts. Toledo-Lucas County Health Department teamed up with the local fire department, EMS, and they’re using zip code data, they’re looking at the zip codes and going into those areas that are the most underserved. That’s some information that we’ve been able to provide them, and it’s very, very impactful. What do they do with that information? They then go into those neighborhoods, distribute vaccine to anyone who wants it. Sometimes, they’re literally going door to door, knocking on doors. They’ve got a vaccination station set up on the corner. They then go out and knock on doors. So I really appreciate their creativity, and just keep it up. We really, really appreciate that great work.
Governor DeWine: (36:57)
We’re also seeing some innovative work from a lot of our employers. They’re coming up with innovative ways to help their employees and members of their community get vaccinated. For example, ScottsMiracle-Gro, working with the Union County Health Department, held two weekend drive up clinics for not just their employees, but also for people in the community. During those clinics, they vaccinated about 800 people. Whirlpool partnered with local providers at each of their five facilities located across the state of Ohio to hold on and off site clinics to provide easy access to vaccinations for their employees. Worthington Industries conducted seven COVID 19 vaccine clinics to help get employees and their families vaccinated. Great when you can do it, for our businesses to be able to include families.
Governor DeWine: (37:55)
At first, they held drive through clinics for their frontline employees who were working in facilities throughout the pandemic. Then Worthington Industries expanded appointment opportunities to their office people, support personnel working on site and those working from home, as well as the employees’ family members. So we salute all the companies that are doing this, and I know many of them have plans to do it and are working on those plans.
Governor DeWine: (38:24)
Let me give you a quick update. The Wolstein Center, they continue to average about 6,000 doses a day, putting in arms. It’s open today. We are in week six of the clinic, so week six is the last week of the second doses. First three weeks were first doses. Four, five and six are second doses. To date, we’ve administered about 200,000 first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (38:53)
We’ve opened up appointments. Now, appointments are open for next week for the seventh week. Anyone can go at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. That’s gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. You can also call 833-4-ASK-ODH to book your vaccination. Those should be open right now and you can start reserving your space for next week. Pfizer will be the vaccine. Pfizer will be the vaccine. This year, we’re reaching an important milestone. One year of connecting Ohioans who are struggling with pandemic related anxiety, depression, stress, other mental health issues. Putting them in contact with trained personnel professionals who can listen and then them to local services. The Ohio CareLine, the Ohio CareLine, 1-800-720-9616, is a toll free service that began in April of last year as we began ramping up efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. We knew that helping Ohioans maintain good mental health was very, very, very important. Since its launch, counselors have taken nearly 6,100 calls from throughout the state of Ohio, all 88 counties. I want to thank particularly director Lori Chris and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and their local partners for supporting this effort. It’s important to know that it is okay not to be okay, and to reach out for help if you need help. Again, the number for the Ohio CareLine is 1-800-720-9616.
Governor DeWine: (40:43)
Let me take a moment to recognize National Volunteer Appreciation Week, which is this week. Thanks to all the volunteers who are out there who are making a difference. We appreciate your work very, very, very much.
Governor DeWine: (40:58)
Last week, I was asked to give an update on the progress being made to improve the unemployment experience, those who are unemployed who were trying to seek benefits, and to get Ohioans the help that they need. So I’ve asked the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services interim director, Matt Damschroder, to give us an update. Director, good to have you with us again. The floor is yours.
Matt Damschroder: (41:21)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon. So by way of update, the Public Private Partnership, or P3 Team, and the JFS unemployment team have made significant progress improving Ohioans’ experiences with unemployment services, from the contact center to clearing up the snags people sometimes hit what their claims or the backlog. In addition, we are aggressively combating unemployment fraud. With respect to fraud, we have new tools at work to enhance fraud detection, including enhanced identity verification requirements and new IT measures such as Experian and Lexus Nexus technology, to verify the identity of unemployment applicants. And these efforts, governor, are really making a difference. We’re intercepting more fraud attempts and seeing a decrease in the number of initial claims being filed. For the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program alone, which was created by the federal government for people who do not normally qualify for traditional unemployment like the self-employed, our anti-fraud efforts reduced initial applications by more than 65% the week after the team implemented those new technologies. For the traditional unemployment program, the reduction was 45%.
Matt Damschroder: (42:31)
We continue to make improvements in the anti-fraud effort and suspected fraudulent claims need to be actively investigated while we prioritize getting benefits to Ohioans who are legitimate claimants. Great strides are also being made to eliminate our backlogs, while the team has completed the processing of all outstanding traditional unemployment and pandemic unemployment assistance claims from 2020 that weren’t flagged as being potentially fraudulent and or under appeal. They’re also working hard to clear the remaining non fraud backlog for 2021.
Matt Damschroder: (43:03)
And governor, with regard to the contact center, we know there’ve been frustrations in the past about the time it takes for someone to get their questions through to a live agent. I call the contact center regularly just to personally check and see how long it takes for a call to be answered. Over the last several weeks, each time after the recorded messages are played, it rings and a call center agent answers. I don’t even get to the point where I have to listen to the recorded message about how long I will still have to wait to speak to an agent. Simple questions that don’t need a lot of agents are also being answered with automated responses now and recorded messages, and we have more self-service options in development that we hope to put into production in the very near future. For callers who still need to talk to an agent, more than 70% of callers are successfully completed now, compared to less than 20% in January. The average call handle time is now trending below 10 minutes, the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic. So obviously, we know…
Matt Damschroder: (44:03)
… the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic. Obviously, we know certainly on the call center front, and for people who have claims that are still pending, it’s good news that we’re moving forward. But we still need to make a lot of progress, and the JFS team and the P3 team will not stop our efforts and our work striving to improve. We want Ohioans to have a better experience with their unemployment system, and we’re not going to let our foot off the gas, and we’re going to make sure that people with valid unemployment claims get their questions answered quickly and receive the financial assistance they deserve as soon as possible. We’re going to continue our good work, Governor.
Governor DeWine: (44:34)
Director, thank you very much. We’ll bring you back every few weeks to kind of give a report to the people of the state. Thank you very much. We’re ready for questions.
Speaker 2: (44:47)
Governor, first question today is from Jess Hardin at MahoningMatters.com.
Governor DeWine: (44:52)
Jess Hardin: (44:53)
Hi, Governor. Thanks for taking my question today.
Jess Hardin: (44:56)
I spoke last week with a Cleveland-based food distributor who told me that Mother’s Day is the biggest day of the year for the food service industry. Folks in the industry have also pointed to Easter as a source of the spring surge. Cases are plateauing now, but how can we ensure that they continue to do so, given that we’ve been in this position before?
Governor DeWine: (45:17)
I think the best thing that we can do as far as keeping cases from surging back up, we have a tool now that we didn’t have. We were all on defense before, had no way of being on offense. The offense now is the vaccine. That’s why we’re working so very hard to take the vaccine to everybody in Ohio who wants it, making it available, and we will continue to do that.
Governor DeWine: (45:42)
We would like to see those numbers go up every day. We’d like to be looking at 60s and 70,000s instead of 20,000s. But the good news is every time you see another 20,000, 30,000 people, those are people who are on a pathway in a very short time, not to be able to host it, not to be able to pass it on and not be able to get it. That’s how we drive this thing down. That’s how we win.
Speaker 2: (46:10)
Next question is from Andy Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Governor DeWine: (46:14)
Andy Chow: (46:15)
Hi, Governor. A question for you, and then also for Dr. Vanderhoff.
Andy Chow: (46:20)
When I talk to people who say they’re not going to get the vaccine, they say it’s because they’re willing to get the virus. If they end up getting the virus, they’re okay with it and then they’re okay about their loved ones, if they’re worried about them, because their loved ones did get the vaccine. Are people who don’t get the vaccine only putting their own health at risk?
Governor DeWine: (46:41)
I’m going to let the doctor answer that. Doctor?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (46:44)
Andy, that question is very timely. It’s very important because I’m hearing that a lot myself. The fact is that, yes, people who don’t get the virus are putting themselves at risk, but they’re putting other people risk as well. Think about this virus and the fact that it now just doesn’t take as much of it. You don’t need as much of an inoculum, as a high exposure amount of the virus, to get sick.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (47:16)
Look at what it’s doing to younger populations. I looked back at our December, January timeframe for hospitalizations by different age groups, and then looked at what March April have looked like. It’s pretty striking. When you look at people in their 20s, back in the winter, they were 3 to 4% of the admissions. They’re 6% of the admissions now. Look in the 40s, they were 6 to 7% of the admissions. It’s nearly doubled. They’re 10 to 13% of the admissions. While people in their 70s, they’ve dropped from being 25% of the admissions to 18%. You can see this shift going on.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (47:55)
But you’re absolutely right in pointing to the fact that we’re also doing a disservice to the people we care about because we know that for many, many young people, what happens is you get the virus and it’s relatively mild, or you don’t even notice you’ve got it at all and you’re spreading it around to the people that you care about and they could get sick. Vaccine avoids all of that.
Governor DeWine: (48:21)
Andy, let me maybe give a scenario, in looking at the facts that you kind of stipulated here. This would be the facts. I’m not worried about it. I’m willing to get sick. Everybody in my household has been vaccinated. My loved ones. Let’s say my mother, who I visit has been vaccinated. Again, though, there is other people around. You can’t be sure that everyone that you’re going to come in contact with has been vaccinated. In fact, we know statistically that we still have over half Ohioans who have not been vaccinated. If I get it, I certainly can spread it and I can spread it to anybody who I might come in contact with who has not been vaccinated. We’re sort of playing, if I do that, then I’m making a decision, maybe four or five closest people to me are vaccinated, maybe I’m not going to worry about them, but how about other people that I might come in contact with?
Governor DeWine: (49:39)
We’re not in this separately. This is not just a choice that everyone decides to make and then they live with the consequences. The sad truth is that when someone makes a decision not to get vaccinated and they end up getting it, they very well may be giving it to other people, and other people who are very vulnerable. There’s no way to ensure that that will not happen.
Governor DeWine: (50:08)
If you look at it from the big, big picture, the macro point of view, we know how we drive this virus down, and that is by more and more of us getting it. The more and more of us get it, get the vaccine, the safer we’re going to be. But as Dr. Vanderhoff has pointed out before, just because the numbers are getting better, just because we’re seeing more people getting vaccinated and the macro point of view might look good, for an individual who is not vaccinated it’s more dangerous than it was a number of months ago, because now we have the variant and it’s much more contagious.
Governor DeWine: (50:58)
It’s a little illusory. It’s a little, kind of a strange situation where you can have good news, big picture, but for the individual who’s not vaccinated, not good news at all. They in turn can share that with someone else who is not vaccinated. We’re in this together. We’re not by ourselves. We’re not only suffering the consequences ourselves. There will be other people, very likely, that will suffer the consequences if you get the virus.
Speaker 2: (51:35)
Next question is from Chelsea Sick at WKEF in Dayton.
Chelsea Sick: (51:40)
Hi, Governor DeWine.
Governor DeWine: (51:41)
Chelsea Sick: (51:42)
The Clark County health commissioner told me yesterday that they didn’t request first dose vaccines for next week because they have so many unused from this week. Are you seeing this across the state? Is there a solution to get these vaccines to Ohioans? What would be your recommendations, I guess, to these public health departments?
Governor DeWine: (51:57)
We are seeing a number of not only health departments, but other providers who have told us do not send this week. We’re still in business. We’re still putting shots in arms, but we didn’t get rid of all that we had last week. Now on the other side of that is we have expanded every week for the last few weeks. We’ve expanded the providers. We’re reaching out further and further, more and more primary care physicians.
Governor DeWine: (52:24)
I would say this, that if you’re a primary care physician, if you think you can get shots in arms of your patients who have not had these shots, let us know. I mean, we’re looking for partners out there. Anybody who thinks that they have a unique ability to reach people who have not been reached yet, we want to supply you with the vaccine to do that.
Speaker 2: (52:48)
Next question is from John Bedell at WHIO in Dayton.
Governor DeWine: (52:51)
John Bedell: (52:53)
Hi, Governor. As you mentioned, you first brought up police reform and calling for it along with Attorney General Yost about 10 months ago in June. A mix of administrative changes that you’ve laid out and implemented also some legislative proposals then. I know that the legislative effort has not reached the threshold until this point of actually being introduced, but what makes this time different since legislative efforts on this front have stalled so far?
Governor DeWine: (53:20)
Well, that’s a very good question. I know a lot of work has gone into this. We brought civil rights advocates together, community advocates together with the FOP and put them in a room and in some cases got feedback from some. We’ve been going back and forth. Former Sheriff Phil Plummer, who is the author of this bill that will be introduced in a few days, he and I are both confident that we can get this passed. This is something that a lot of work went into it. These are common sense reforms. These are reforms that police can agree to. They are reforms that community activists can agree to. They just make common sense.
Governor DeWine: (54:07)
Shouldn’t we treat police officers the same way we treat other professionals? Aren’t they that important? Shouldn’t there be a central database if a police officer has been disciplined where that information can ultimately be available if another police department wants to hire that individual? Shouldn’t use of force by over 900 police departments in the state have to be reported so that we can see what patterns there are, if there are any kind of patterns? These are just common sense reforms, but they are reforms that need to be made.
Governor DeWine: (54:45)
If this bill is passed, it will put Ohio at the forefront. We will be able to say, “Look, we have gotten serious about this.” We respect our police. Great majority of police do wonderful jobs. We want to make sure that we have the uniformity and policing and that we make it as professional as we can. This bill, Phil Plummer’s bill, will do that.
Speaker 2: (55:14)
Next question is from Dan DeRoos at WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRoos: (55:18)
Good afternoon, Governor.
Governor DeWine: (55:19)
Dan DeRoos: (55:21)
Sir, in my conversation this week with Dr. Michelle Medina, she is the associate chief of clinical operations at the Cleveland clinic, she brought up a surprising statistic. They are seeing only about 60% of people coming back for their second shot. So they went through the trouble of getting that appointment with the Cleveland Clinic, only about 60% are coming back for their second shot. Now it appears the state not only has a problem of just getting people to get the vaccine, but you’re also now going to be dealing with the approximately 40% of individuals who aren’t coming back for their second shot. Why is that? Is that a concern for you? Is that a concern for Dr. Vanderhoff?
Governor DeWine: (56:00)
Yeah. Interesting, Dan. We will certainly check that. We watch this. We talked to the providers all the time. I’ve not seen numbers like 60%. But if that’s what she said, I’m sure that’s what it is. We don’t think that’s what we’re averaging statewide at all. We think it’s a higher number. Now, are there people who don’t get a second dose? Yes, there are. Anecdotally, it was reported to me that after the announcement, in regard to Johnson & Johnson, you even had some fall offs of second doses, even though it wasn’t Johnson & Johnson, that that hurt the whole total confidence that people have in vaccines in general.
Governor DeWine: (56:46)
I’m going to go to Dr. Vanderhoff. I see he’s on the screen. I don’t know whether, Dr. Vanderhoff, if you have any additional perspective on Dan’s very good question?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (56:56)
Yes. Thank you, Governor. One thing I think I can add is that I think too often people make the mistake of looking at the very good numbers for that first dose of either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine and think, “Well, that’s pretty terrific. If I can achieve that level of immunity, I’m good with that.” But what they don’t understand is that second dose is the dose that gives you the long-lasting immunity.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (57:27)
These vaccines are proving to be terrific in that regard. Pfizer just had the release of its information from its ongoing Phase Three trial that showed it at six months, their vaccine, when you get that second dose, is not only long-lasting, it goes out at very high level six months, but holds up very well against the variance, including, they made particular note of B1351, which was originally from South Africa. That is going to be lost when people don’t complete the series. I would really strongly encourage people, if you missed your second dose, it’s not too late. Get back in, make that appointment, get that second dose.
Governor DeWine: (58:13)
Doctor, let’s just follow up on that if we could, because I think that’s a very interesting question. If someone has decided, for some reason, they just kind of blew it off for that second dose and now they’re watching you, or they’re hearing this on TV tonight, can they go back and get that second dose? They missed their appointment. What do they do?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (58:32)
Yes, governor. Absolutely, they can go back and get that second dose. Again, the ideal interval that we look for is the recommended interval of three or four weeks, depending on which vaccine. Sometimes when we’re planning it out, we might extend that as much as 42 days out. But if you go longer than that, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the opportunity to get that benefit and to get in there and get that booster. I highly recommend that if you’ve missed that second dose, you get in, get that second dose. You still have the opportunity to have that important booster effect.
Governor DeWine: (59:13)
Let me just say, there is vaccine available. At some point, we really had a shortage. We don’t have a shortage. Vaccine is available out there for that first dose, as well as the second dose. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (59:28)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.
Governor DeWine: (59:31)
Laura Hancock: (59:33)
Hi, Governor. I just have a question about the Wolstein Center, how you’re doing this alternative of Pfizer shots. Does that mean that the center will wrap up after eight weeks or, I mean, you’re going to have to keep it open a little bit longer, right? For the followup shot?
Governor DeWine: (59:49)
Yeah. What we hope to be able to do, and we don’t have everything finalized so I can’t announce it officially. The only thing officially I can announce is we’re doing next week. But the goal will be to extend that, and to extend that a number of weeks. Next week we will start the seventh week with Pfizer. The eighth week, in all likelihood, it will be Pfizer. Then we would pick up a ninth week and then we would flip those back. Second doses for those three weeks. You could see 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. It’s possible. That’s what we hope to be able to do. We’re still lining people up. We’re still aligning volunteers up. A lot of moving parts here. We can’t really officially announce that yet. What we can announce is, next week, open, go online. You can sign up, get your Pfizer. In three weeks you’ll be able to get your second dose of that Pfizer.
Speaker 2: (01:00:57)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:01:02)
Governor, good afternoon. Thank you so much for taking our questions.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:01:05)
Getting back to police reform. A lot of people today, obviously focusing on the shooting of a 16-year-old girl in Columbus. Do you have any reaction or a statement to that shooting? I understand the investigation is ongoing. As this story really gets nationwide attention, are you concerned at all about the unrest that could be coming to Ohio over the next few days and this weekend?
Governor DeWine: (01:01:33)
I watched the video. Anytime anyone is killed, it’s a tragedy. Anytime a teenager is killed, a child is killed, it’s a horrible tragedy. I think that we have available a video. I think we need to let the investigation play out. That’s what Mayor Ginther has said. I think, as governor, that’s what I would request. We need to let the investigation play out.
Governor DeWine: (01:02:10)
One thing I’ve learned in 74 years of life is that gathering the facts is the most important thing that there is. Sometimes that takes longer than we like. We all want things instantly. I certainly do. But to gather the facts, get all the information, let an impartial body look at that, impartial people do the investigation. I have every confidence that that will be done in in this case, and that’s what we all should wait for.
Speaker 2: (01:02:47)
The next question is from Geoff Redick, WSYX in Columbus.
Geoff Redick: (01:02:56)
Hi, Governor. A follow-up to that question for me.
Governor DeWine: (01:02:57)
Geoff Redick: (01:03:01)
It’s three quick things here. When were you briefed on the shooting in Columbus? Is your administration reaching out to police or the family? Would your idea of deescalation and use of force training for police include protecting teenagers who may be acting out in crisis?
Governor DeWine: (01:03:20)
Well, as far as your last question, my experience as attorney general, when we spent a lot of time looking at this, a lot of time doing things, is that the more you can make police training real life, real time, the better off you are. That’s why scenario villages are good. If you can’t do the scenario villages, at least be doing it on a screen. The more you can make that real, the better outcomes that you’re going to have. Police officers have to make decisions in a very, very, very short period of time. And that’s why we need in this state to, and what my understanding of Phil Plummer’s bill does, he calls for a study, provide some money now, but we need a dedicated fund so that we don’t go through this every budget cycle. We need a dedicated fund to train police officers in the state.
Governor DeWine: (01:04:34)
We have over 900 police departments in the state of Ohio. The training that they receive is inconsistent by its very nature. Some departments, smaller departments, cannot afford a lot of the training. No matter where you live in Ohio, no matter where you’re a police officer in Ohio, you have should have basic training every single year at a high level. I don’t mean basic. Basic is the initial training. But you should have that training every single year and in scenario and how scenarios play out is a very important part of that. Yes, you should have use of force. You should also have how you determine, no indication in this case, but how you determine someone is autistic, how you deal with them, how you talk with them, because they hear things differently and see things differently. Same is true of someone who has a mental health problem. How do you deal with them? These are all things that there is good training for. Many of our police officers have this training, but until every police officer in the state has that training, we should not be satisfied.
Governor DeWine: (01:05:53)
As far as when I watched it, I watched it, pulled it up and watched it in the car a couple of hours ago. I can’t tell you exactly-
Governor DeWine: (01:06:03)
… car a couple hours ago. And I can’t tell you exactly. Someone on my team notified me about the incident, but I can’t tell you exactly when that was.
Speaker 3: (01:06:12)
Next question is from Molly Martinez at Spectrum News.
Governor DeWine: (01:06:15)
Molly Martinez: (01:06:16)
Hi governor, good to see you. My question is also sort of in this same vein, just minutes after we got the verdict from the George Floyd case we heard about this tragedy of Ma’Khia Bryant in our backyard. What would you say to the community activists and to the people who feel like this is just incessant, and ongoing, and the second they get a break, there’s another tragedy, the people that are really tired of fighting this fight, what do you say to them?
Governor DeWine: (01:06:44)
Well I think we have to let the facts control. And look, it’s hard. You cannot get over the fact that you have a teenager who is dead. And that’s a horrible, horrible tragedy. We have to look at the facts, we have to look at… Police officers are judged every single time to a standard, and we have to look at that. And you saw the video, I’m sure, and many people who are watching this saw the same video I saw. And so that’s what a police officer was seeing, at least part of a police officer was seeing.
Governor DeWine: (01:07:26)
And ultimately, it’s always a judgment call. Did they exercise reasonable force based upon the facts of that particular circumstance? I would like to, though, if I could, broaden our area of compassion. And not center it. We should have enough compassion to worry about every child who is shot in our cities in the state of Ohio in a year. Every single child. And every single community has got children who are shot, random acts of violence, civic violence, and they’re killed.
Governor DeWine: (01:08:09)
So the loss of every child who is dying in our cities, who is killed by a knife or by gun, we should worry about them and we should try to get to the root cause of that. And we should not accept it. And unfortunately, when we hear about a shooting, that’s a non-police involved shooting, somehow, it just doesn’t have the impact. We should be concerned with every victim. We should be concerned with every death that occurs in the state of Ohio. And each one has a different cause, and we should try and do everything we can, in our power, to deal with that.
Governor DeWine: (01:08:55)
Again, we have a bill in the legislature that would help violent repeat offenders who are shooting people, and killing five year-olds, and 12 year-olds. We ought to feel compassion for them as well. But back to this horrible tragedy, let’s let the facts come out. Everyone’s seen the video, I think. I congratulate the mayor, the chief, for putting the video right out, that’s the way to do it, so everything that we know is out, everything that they know is out. I’m not investigating it, but everything they know is out.
Governor DeWine: (01:09:24)
But then they’re going to go through and interview everybody who was there and that’s what the investigators will do. And we need to be patient, and wait, and let the facts take us where whatever the conclusion is.
Speaker 3: (01:09:40)
Next question is from Scott Halasz at the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Scott Halasz: (01:09:44)
Hi governor, how are you today?
Governor DeWine: (01:09:45)
Scott Halasz: (01:09:47)
I received a message from someone here in the [Adatenary 01:09:50], a former colleague of mine who’s in South Carolina right now, and he says they have no mask mandate and their cases per 100,000 are around 27. And he’s comparing that to Ohio where we’re 200 per 100,000 with a mask mandate. Is it fair? Is it accurate? Is it a good idea to compare what other states are doing and their numbers? Is, for a lack of a better word, ammunition to try and say, “Hey, let’s remove the mask mandate in Ohio?”
Governor DeWine: (01:10:18)
Scott, I’m going to leave it to other people who are a lot smarter than me to compare the 50 states. And at different stages of this pandemic. As you know, at different stages different states have been at different places for any number of reasons. The only thing I can do is to try to deal with things that we can control. And to use the science that the scientists have given us, and the information they have given us.
Governor DeWine: (01:10:46)
And so we believe that the evidence shows that by having a mask mandate, by having compliance at better than 90%, and having it in effect for some time now, that that has enabled us to be in the position that we are, and we think we would be in a lot worse position if we did not have that mandate on.
Governor DeWine: (01:11:11)
Now, we now are in a different situation, as we have the vaccine and we’re trying to drive this thing down. And if enough of us get vaccinated, then we’re going to have no health orders, at some point, obviously. So that’s our goal. Our goal is to get back to normal, and we’ve got to do that through the vaccinations. And that’s really what we need to do. I don’t know if, Dr. Vanderhoff, if you have anything to add to that or not.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:11:37)
Governor, I think you said it very, very well.
Governor DeWine: (01:11:41)
Speaker 3: (01:11:43)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (01:11:47)
Hi governor, I just want to follow up on the shooting that others have asked you about. I do have to ask you, what is your message to the family of Ma’Khia Bryant?
Governor DeWine: (01:12:00)
Well my message to any family who has lost a child is that there’s nothing worse. And my heart goes out to you. Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to you. And so I’m very sorry for your loss.
Speaker 3: (01:12:25)
Next question is from Todd Dykes at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Todd Dykes: (01:12:30)
Thanks governor for taking my question. I think this may be more for Dr. Vanderhoff, I’m curious about the concern, if there is any, you talked about the more sticky nature of the virus as it’s evolving. Should people who have been vaccinate, double dose, two weeks out, fully vaccinated, I mean, is it possible that there could be more breakthrough infections that would go lower than 95% on the effective rate and get into that territory?
Todd Dykes: (01:12:57)
And that’s one part. The second is, I would love to know your thoughts about, a lot of folks in Cincinnati took part in the trials last July, August, September, and they’re now six, seven, coming on eight months away from the initial vaccination. And I’m sure many of them are wondering, “Should I get a booster?” So two parts, one, should those of us who have recently been vaccinated be concerned about this sticky nature you’re talking about? And then the second part is, what about boosters for those that have taken part in trials and the like?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:13:24)
Two excellent questions. I’ll begin with the first one. So as we’re thinking about the variants and could the fact that these are more contagious, that it takes less exposure to create a problem for us, mean a problem for us in terms of the vaccination? And the good news is, it doesn’t appear to be so. If we look at the breakthrough cases here in Ohio and nationally, as I said, I think the last time, they continue to track at less than one percent of one percent. The numbers are vanishingly low.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:13:59)
Frankly, the breakthroughs are much smaller in number than I would have anticipated for even phenomenal vaccines like these that came in at 94, 95%. They’re performing more like 99%, which is, frankly, astonishing. So wonderful news there.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:14:19)
Then we look at the question of the durability, and will we need a second round? Will a booster in the fall be needed? The fact is that we’re going to need more time to definitively answer that. You may have seen that the chairman of Pfizer was talking about they’re working actively to develop one and it is a possibility. And that’s all true.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:14:46)
But, there’s really good news, that I referenced, that has come out of the phase three trial. This is how they follow people who were in that trial, they keep following them, and at six months, they did a check, and what they found was very strong durability of the immunity. It’s just not waning at that six month interval. Add to it, the fact that it appears to hold up very well against the variants, including some of the ones that were most feared to escape the protection provided by the vaccine. So on both fronts, looks good, I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing.
Speaker 3: (01:15:31)
Next question is from Laura Bischoff at Gannett Ohio.
Laura Bischoff: (01:15:40)
Good afternoon governor. My question has to do with the police reform stuff. Do you think that the use of force database and the discipline database, should those be open as public records for public review? Why or why not?
Governor DeWine: (01:15:57)
Laura, I hadn’t really studied that. I don’t really know. Certain things that we keep, as you know, only for law enforcement purposes, for example, criminal record, we run someone’s full background, you go up and look at warrants and things like that, those are generally confined. You can only use them for police purposes. So even if you’re a police officer you can’t look at them unless you’re looking at them for the right reason.
Governor DeWine: (01:16:28)
So that’s something that I certainly will look at, but I don’t have really any thoughts at this point.
Speaker 3: (01:16:36)
Next question is from Nathan Hart at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Nathan Hart: (01:16:40)
Hi governor, we have the 50 cases per 100,000 number here in Ohio when the restrictions come off. But in Kentucky, that threshold is based on number of people vaccinated. Now that everyone is available for a vaccination in Ohio and in the country as a whole, are you sticking to your case number? Or have you considered switching metrics to something else like vaccinations?
Governor DeWine: (01:16:59)
Yeah look, Nathan, great question. We are actually looking at that, we don’t have anything to announce, but we are looking at that, we’re looking at any kind of measures that would tell people kind of where we’re going and what we have to achieve. So we’re not ruling that out at all. We saw what Governor Beshear did, and we’ll certainly look at that.
Governor DeWine: (01:17:25)
I will say, that I do believe that these figures are so intertwined and so related that they’re going to… If you hit a certain level of vaccines, you’re going to hit that level of 50. That’s what we think. And where that is, I don’t think anybody knows, exactly. But we know, every time we remove someone, pull another person out who can’t get it, you’re making it tougher for that virus. And our goal, every day, should be, make it tougher for the virus. Don’t make it easier for the virus. Get vaccinated.
Speaker 3: (01:18:13)
Governor, next question is the last question for today. And it belongs to [Lexi Sersinger 01:18:16] of the Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune.
Lexi Sersinger: (01:18:18)
Good afternoon governor. I am once again looping back to the questions on police reform. You mention quite often the presence of “violent repeat offenders” as the root of the gun violence problem. However, a study a few years ago showed that law enforcement officers nationwide had a two to four times higher rate of domestic violence than the general public.
Lexi Sersinger: (01:18:39)
So many of these violent repeat offenders could be the very ones supposed to protect us. You mentioned a creation of a database on the use of force in this new bill, but would you consider upping the requirements and background checks needed to hire new officers or even consider reevaluating every officer currently employed to make sure they are the appropriate people to protect public safety?
Governor DeWine: (01:19:01)
Well I think it’s incumbent upon every chief of police, every department, every sheriff to, yes, to always look at their force. And if they feel that someone is not the right temperament, is not the right person to be in law enforcement, they should take whatever action that they deem appropriate. As far as looking at domestic violence, look, that is, yes, it’s a problem, domestic violence is a huge problem in this country. And should that weigh in on your judgment whether you hire someone to walk around and carry a gun? Well, absolutely.
Governor DeWine: (01:19:40)
There’s no doubt about it. My only point was, putting aside police reform and well, for police reform, we laid out a plan for police reform, it’s a very solid, solid plan. But besides that, we have other problems that are related to young people getting killed. And I don’t have the numbers, but we could go back and look at all the people under 18 who have been killed by gunfire in our cities in the last 12 months and it is a very high number. And you have some at five years old, and 10 year-olds, who literally were doing absolutely nothing wrong at all and they got shot and killed or they got shot and wounded.
Governor DeWine: (01:20:19)
And what the evidence will show is, the majority of people who are committing those crimes are violent repeat offenders who are not supposed to have a gun anyway. And so I would again ask the general assembly to pass our legislation which says violent repeat offenders who are not supposed to have a gun, the judge should have significant discretion to really have a very, very heavy sentence and remove that person from our community and save other children and other people from being killed. Separate bill, but it’s something that I think is very, very important.
Governor DeWine: (01:20:56)
So I want to thank everybody, happy Earth Day tomorrow, and this has been a kind of interesting day, at least most parts of Ohio, to wake up in snow on the ground, and look at the fruit trees blooming, and it’s kind of crazy. But we hope everybody has a good rest of today, and we’ll be back next week. Thank you very much. (silence).