Dec 14, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 14
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on December 14 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Gov. Mike DeWine: (04:07)
Good afternoon. Well, today is the day that we have been waiting for. Vaccine arrived in Ohio this morning. This morning, after months of hard work and tremendous effort from scientists, researchers, manufacturing companies, now transportation and logistics professionals, the first vaccines to inoculate our fellow Ohioans arrived first at the OSU Wexner Medical Center and about the same time at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Fran and I saw the truck pull up to the loading dock at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center with the delivery of the special box containing the life-saving vaccines. We watched as was then taken into the hospital where the vaccines were prepared for shots for the first group of healthcare workers.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (05:11)
Our healthcare workers have put all they have into curing for their fellow Ohioans who’ve been stricken with COVID-19. They put their own health at risk to care for others. Today, we start the process of vaccinating them against this terrible disease. Fran and I were thrilled to watch healthcare workers begin to get vaccinated. It was truly a moment of hope. It is the first day of a process that will continue over the months ahead as Ohioans have the opportunity to receive the vaccine. Today is a very good day for Ohio. But of course, until the vaccine is widely available for all Ohioans to be vaccinated, we need to continue to use all available tools to prevent the spread of the virus.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (06:07)
Tomorrow, eight other hospitals in Ohio are scheduled to receive the vaccine. They are as follows: Mercy Health St. Vincent Hospital in Lucas County, Cleveland Clinic in Cuyahoga County, Metro Health Medical Center in Cuyahoga County, Mercy Health Springfield Regional Medical Center in Clark County, Ohio Health Riverside Hospital in Franklin County, Aultman Hospital in Stark County, OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens County, and finally, Genesis Hospital in Muskingum County. Those hospitals, along with OSU Wexner Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, were selected based on geography, population and access to ultra-cold storage capacity. Next week, we hope, if Moderna is approved, that we will see vaccines going to many, many hospitals throughout the state of Ohio.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:16)
I also want to mention that as COVID-19 vaccines continue to come into Ohio, we’re pleased to announce that Cardinal Health’s OptiFreight Logistics business will work with the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Department of Health to help us provide same-day delivery services. Once the vaccine is widely available, this partnership will allow us to ship the vaccine to approximately 350 locations across the state. So, that is very good news as well. As you may recall, when we talked about the National Guard and when Fran and I went out there to look at them practicing, these units many times come in Pfizer, 975 unit doses. So, some of those have to be broken out to go into the smaller communities. That’s what will be happening. The Guard will be doing that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (08:17)
I’m also pleased to announce today that the CDC has invited Ohio to participate in early scaled launch of vaccines in nursing homes. As we’ve reported before, we had been scheduled to start this on the 21st day of the month and that would be Monday; Monday, December 21st; in partnership with pharmacy providers. But as part of this scaled approach, Ohio will begin vaccination in five to 10 nursing homes starting this Friday. So, we expect to start nursing homes this Friday in Ohio. Our team is working out the details of where and when those vaccinations will happen. Let me say, in regards to our nursing homes, you will be called. This is really, at this point, in matter of simply scheduling. Nursing homes are all in same priority, but the scheduling is something that the pharmaceutical, excuse me, that the pharmaceutical companies will be actually doing. So CVS, for example, will be doing this as well as the three other companies that are handling the vaccinations in our nursing homes.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:49)
Today, we’re thankful to have with us, Dr. Andy Thomas, the chief medical officer at Ohio State Wexner Medical, and Dr. Mercy Dickson, one of the first vaccine recipients from Ohio State. She’s a third-year emergency room resident. Fran and I were able to watch these first vaccines being administered on Skype from the State House, something that frankly we’ll never forget. Dr. Thomas, thanks for being with us again. How’d things go today?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (10:20)
Governor, thank you so much for having Dr. Dickson and I here today to represent Ohio State. It went incredibly well today. The UPS truck, as is shown in the video, arrived nearly on time. We were prepared. Soon after our pharmacy colleagues got the vaccine ready for injection, we had decided, when we found out over the weekend that we were getting vaccine today, to do a dry run of a group of individuals from our high-risk employees, so those that work in the emergency departments and those that work in some of our intensive care units. As you’ve described, we don’t have enough vaccine in this first allocation to cover all those populations. But, the good news is with the Moderna vaccine coming next week, we’re going to be much closer to covering all of our high-risk employees.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (11:17)
But, we had just a terrific day with 30 individuals being vaccinated. It was a dry run to the check-in process, the releases that need to be signed and so forth, to make sure that all of our procedures are in place to hit the ground running tomorrow with our first full day of vaccination at Ohio State.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (11:36)
So doctor, I believe you, as well as the other hospitals, are getting 975 doses this week. You got those today. Fran and I had the chance to see those pull up to the loading dock. That was pretty exciting. So, you will be starting back in on this number again tomorrow. Is that right?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (11:56)
Correct. We have three different vaccine locations, one on our east campus, one on our main campus, and then one just north of the Columbus campus at our Ackerman Road administrative facility. So, we’ll be moving from location to location throughout the week. We’re moving through hundreds more employees over the course of the next few days. So, we look forward once again to that allocation for next week and look forward later this week to inviting really thousands of more of those higher risk employees to sign up to be vaccinated over the next couple of weeks.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (12:35)
Next week will be exciting because we’ll be expanding beyond the 10 hospitals to more hospitals throughout the state of Ohio. They will be prioritizing those who are most at risk in the healthcare community. So, that’s exciting. Dr. Dickson, thank you for joining us.
Dr. Mercy Dickson: (12:54)
Thank you so much, governor, for having me here. I’m very excited to be here.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:00)
So, you got a shot today, huh?
Dr. Mercy Dickson: (13:01)
I did. I got a shot today.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:04)
How’d it go?
Dr. Mercy Dickson: (13:05)
It went fantastic, painless unlike usual.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:13)
Tell us what you do. What do you do every day?
Dr. Mercy Dickson: (13:17)
Sure. So, I am an emergency medicine resident physician in my final year. So daily, in emergency room, we tend to care for often the most vulnerable in our population. Some of the sickest people come to us. Daily, I get to take care of multiple COVID patients, as well as other of my colleagues, including residents, other staff and providers.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:47)
Well, that’s great. Well, you represent a lot of people who are doing a lot of great work across the state of Ohio. We can’t wait until we get all of them vaccinated. So, thank you very, very much for being part of that today. Thank you for what you do each and every day to take care of our patients, some of our sickest people, many of whom are COVID patients. We appreciate it very much.
Dr. Mercy Dickson: (14:14)
Thank you. I’m grateful to be able to do that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (14:17)
Well, let’s go to Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati Medical Center. We’re joined again today by Dr. Lofgren, president, UC Health in Cincinnati, as well as Kaitlyn Kaufman, one of the first vaccine recipients at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Kaitlyn is a respiratory therapist providing critical care to COVID-19 patients. Dr. Lofgren, thank you very much for being back with us. How did things go at UC today?
Dr. Lofgren: (14:47)
It was an exciting day. I think at UC Health, we’re really excited to be part of really momentous occasion that I think from the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve all been looking forward to this moment in time. As you mentioned, we got a 975 doses in this first wave of vaccinations. We really were focusing on those healthcare providers in critical positions who really have unavoidable exposures to infected patients or contaminated surfaces along the way. I had a distribution committee that worked, a multidisciplinary team that really followed the national guidelines that are out there about who should be part of that first wave to make sure that we’re getting our workforce protected and allows them to safely care for our patients as this pandemic moves forward.
Dr. Lofgren: (15:34)
So, we really look at those high-risk healthcare workers and first responders in our system. That’s about 1,900 individuals. We’re great that we’re going to get into the 975. We’re really excited about it, so quickly following with the Moderna vaccine and availability of that to really reach these individuals for a particular risk of acquiring the disease so that they’re there and protected, and therefore our patients moving forward. As we did the first wave, we wanted to make sure that we were also-
Dr. Lofgren: (16:02)
… as we did the first wave. We wanted to make sure that we are also mindful of protecting those parts of our organization that provides unique services that are unique in our region, such as our ECMO service. The people that really provide extra precordial support for people with respiratory or heart failure. As part of our first wave of individuals got vaccinated this morning, they were part of that. So we were able to vaccinate 20 individuals. We’re really very much following the outline and playbook that Dr. Thomas talked about over the weekend. We had dry runs to make sure that our systems were up and were prepared. We really feel that with the first 20 that we got through, we’re going to be prepared to be the use the allotment of the 975, really by Thursday of this week, and really prepare for the next wave of vaccinations since we is really work to keep our workforce safe.
Dr. Lofgren: (16:54)
One of the things that governor you said that I would really like to echo is that this is really exciting and it’s great that we’re starting, but I think that all of us out there knows that this virus is still out there and that we still need to be mindful. That we need to be as mindful as ever about keeping our guard up and doing those things that we know that will keep our community safe and keep our economy open. Social distancing, wearing a mask and a disinfecting surfaces in washing your hands. So anyways, it was great to be part of this, a momentous occasion, and very exciting, a lot of joy.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:31)
Doctor, thank you very much for being with us again, Katelyn. Thank you. How’d it go today.
Thank you for having me. It actually went very well. I was very excited to be a part of this new journey and hopefully it will encourage many others to be a part of this journey to help make the change in the world and to help keep others safe.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:51)
Kind of an uneventful shot, right?
Oh yes. It’s just like the flu shot.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:58)
So, tell us what you do a little. What do you do every day?
So I am a respiratory therapist and I currently work in the cardiovascular ICU here at UC Hospital. Some of our everyday task as respiratory therapists are to give breathing treatments, to intubate patients, to extubate patients, and to continue doing pulmonary toilet therapies to help keep the lungs healthy. So we are at the bedside constantly with these patients, ensuring lung health and to try to either help recover them after they’ve had COVID or to help prevent them from getting other future lung [inaudible 00:02:34].
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:35)
Pretty close contact work, then?
Since the beginning, we’ve been there at bedside.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:41)
Yep. Hands-on well, very, very important. And thank you for what you do every day. And you represent many of our first line healthcare workers who are out there every day, who will be getting shots in the days ahead. So thank you for being on our program today, but also thanks for what you do every day. We appreciate it. Good to be with you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (19:11)
Let’s go Eric to the data slides quickly. Today we’re reporting 7,875 new cases in Ohio. If you look at the trend for the past few weeks, this might look like a plateau and maybe it is, but we just can’t tell that yet. And it certainly, unfortunately is at a high, high level. Today’s numbers is below the 21 day average, but on Mondays, sometimes our numbers are not exactly what they are that during the rest of the week. However, if you look back a month ago on November 12th and compare that to today, this would today be our hightest day higher than anything we’d had before then. We report 59 deaths since yesterday. In addition, we have 291 new hospitalizations and 38 new ICU admissions reported during the past 24 hours. We’ll talk more about those hospitalization numbers in just a few minutes. Eric, let’s go to our chart top 88 counties.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:22)
Excuse me. So as you can see, we now have 30 counties of the 88 with the case rate over 1000. So exceedingly, exceedingly high, everything is high. [inaudible 00:20:44] Country, it remains the lowest that you can see it, it’s still at a very high, high level. As we have explained before with 30 counties with a case rate above 1000. Above 1000 means that there is at least one person out of every a hundred in the community in the last two weeks who was tested positive. So, that is a high rate of spread. Let’s go to the top 20 Eric. Again, the top 20. And again, these are the ones that are exceedingly high, starting with Jackson, and then Jefferson. And as you can see, they are really kind of now spread out all over the state of Ohio, really in different locations.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:33)
Let’s talk about hospitalization for a moment. While we have great news about the vaccine today, it obviously it’s going to take a while before everyone get the vaccine. We must continue to follow our Stay Safe Ohio protocol. The 10 things that we outlined in the last press conference, so we can slow the spread of the virus. This slide shows the trends on the census of COVID-19 patients who are currently in the hospital on a given day. You can see we are at 5,157 who are currently hospitalized, and 1,225 of those patients are in the ICU. We’re up to 827 patients who are on a ventilator. These patients require the highest level of care. They require additional staffing because they are so sick. Just one month ago, instead of 827 that we see today, it was 360 patients on a ventilator. We want to continue to provide you with all the information that we have. Vaccination started today. We’re now going to be putting up a vaccine dashboard so that people can follow, see how many vaccinations have actually occurred in Ohio.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:03)
The next few days, we will launch this COVID 19 vaccination dashboard. Take a look at this chart. This is not yet, but it’s going to look similar to this. This is just to illustrate, and this is now showing hepatitis A vaccination data. That’s what it will look like when we put this up in the next several days when your COVID-19 vaccine data. So you’ll be able to see the number of people vaccinated in Ohio. You’ll be able to sort the information by demographic data, and you’ll be able to sort it by county. Again, we’ll roll this out in the next few days on coronavirus.ohio.gov. Let me now turn to the Lieutenant governor.
John Husted: (23:52)
Thank you, governor. Very exciting news about the vaccine rollout today. Certainly exciting that the CDC has asked Ohio to take part in efforts with the nursing homes. We will have an advantage in our state that others won’t and that’s great, great news. As I look at events like today, I always think about them and I’m reminded that they don’t happen by accident. There are a lot of people involved in making days like today happen, and I want to focus on one group that’s special, and that’s the scientists. The people who helped innovate these vaccines to help put us in this position today.
John Husted: (24:37)
I was reading over the weekend about one of the scientists from Moderna, person who leads this. 35 year old woman, who’s running the team to create this opportunity. And as we see this, I hope that there are a lot of young people out there, who have a growing interest in this. Are understanding how important science is in our lives and how it can be so impactful at changing everything for everyone. From education to the economy, how we’ll live our lives are going to be affected by scientific advances that start with STEM education.
John Husted: (25:18)
It starts with the opportunity to get more young people educated in those areas. Because as I was reading about the skills of the scientists, they’re in microbiology, epidemiology, genetics, vaccinology. These are incredibly complex things, but it starts in our K through 12 education system with access to STEM education. Or even if you want to be a nurse or an emergency room doctor, all of that is STEM education. And I want the moms and dads and grandpa and grandma’s and the kids out there to understand that we have a great STEM education system in our state. We have the Ohio STEM learning network, OSLN.org, a great resource for you to help your young people understand how they can get the background in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine.
John Husted: (26:12)
That one day may lead them to be that 35 year old scientist, who’s helping develop a solution to one of our world’s great problems. And we’re doing a lot of this in Ohio. We’ve built a great STEM learning network. We have additionally, the Choose Ohio First Scholarship to help people go to college in Ohio and be able to develop these backgrounds and skills. So if you want to be the people like Dr. Thomas who’s on with us today, Dr. Lofgren. Katelyn, who’s on the show with us today, the press conference, Mercy. All of these people who are on here all the time, they started with a background in STEM education, and Ohio can develop this next generation to even be better than those who’ve come before us. So take advantage of all those resources we have for young people in Ohio through the STEM learning network. Governor back to you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:06)
That’s great. Thank you very much. We’re ready for questions.
Speaker 1: (27:11)
Governor, flirts question today is from Amanda Van Allen at WEWS in Cleveland.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:19)
Speaker 1: (27:28)
We’ll skip Amanda. Next question is from Jim Province at the Toledo Blade.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:32)
Hi governor. Why is there not Ohio snowbirds are going to be heading South for the winter and they’ll likely be there when their turns in the vaccine line come up. Should someone start the process at another state if they won’t be there long enough to complete it with the second dose? And will these people be tracked in some way so we can be sure that they get their second dose when they winter?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:56)
Jim, that’s an excellent question. I don’t really know the answer to it. I don’t know whether Bruce, you have any idea how that’s going to be handled. You’ve got several situations. We’re not certainly to thinking general population yet. We’re still in 1A. One of the concerns I suppose, would be that when we get to a more general population, which might be over a certain age, that when they get that first shot, that there’s a follow-up so they can get that second shot. So that’s one of the challenges. Bruce, you have any comments on that?
Governor, I would agree with you. That’s absolutely correct. As the CDC and ACRP are moving through each of the recommended phases, they’re working with health departments and states that understand what some of these contingencies are and develop plans to respond to them. So that will almost certainly be a part of the planning as we get to that population.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (28:58)
So I think it’s a good question. If someone is in fact going South for the winter and they’re there for an extended period of time, how they’re going to get covered. So we’ll have more information on that as we go forward.
Speaker 1: (29:14)
Next question is from Marty Shledon at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Good afternoon, governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (29:20)
Last week, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration passed on hundreds of millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine even though there was no financial risk to the US government over that. In your governor’s discussions with vice-president Pence, has he brought this up and explained what happened and what the thinking was?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (29:45)
No, I don’t recall that. I don’t recall that. We’re on another call today, but no, I don’t recall any conversation about that.
Speaker 1: (29:53)
The next question is from Dan de Rosa, WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan De Rosa: (30:00)
Good afternoon, governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:01)
Dan De Rosa: (30:02)
Would like to ask about your concern that this message is going to send, we are celebrating today. It’s quite the advancement. You’ve got to be worried that the general public will see this as a, “Oh well, I’m going to get my vaccine in the next month or two.” And let their guard down. Are you anticipating, have you been warned by experts that we could see some sort of let down spike in the coming weeks?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:32)
Dan, I’ve not been warned by an expert, but I certainly have that concern. On the other hand, I think it’s important to when you have times in life, when it’s time to celebrate that you actually do celebrate. This pandemic has been tough, we’re into nine months or so. And I think people have a right today to say, “Look, the ingenuity of a lot of great people in this country pulled this off.” A lot of great people working, and we’re starting to see the results. And as the way I look at it, every day from here on somewhere in the state of Ohio, someone will be getting vaccinated. A lot of people will be getting vaccinated and they will be given that opportunity to not get the COVID. We’re told that the first vaccine does do something.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (31:29)
We’re told that the protocol says, though, that you should get that second one, which comes three weeks for one, the drug companies, and four weeks later for the other. I think it’s important for everyone to keep in mind the data that we have so far. First, what we don’t know. We don’t know in the months ahead, how fast this is going to come to Ohio. And one of the reasons we don’t know is we don’t know if it’s going to be two pharmaceutical companies, three, four, or five, however many are sending drugs into Ohio. Because as you know, we only have one approved now, we hope we’ll get the second one approved next week. So we-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (32:03)
Because as you know, we only have one approved now. We hope we’ll get the second one approved next week. So we don’t know as we go out on those out months how fast that this will expand. What we have been told is that the first month we will get approximately 660,000 doses. And we were told that in all likelihood, the second month we will get that. So people can do the math and figure out population under 12 million in Ohio, that it’s going to take a while for us to even get close to the herd immunity that people are talking about. So the good news is our frontline workers are going to start, have already right now, started getting the vaccines. Our people in our nursing homes, and other kinds of care settings that are the most at risk are going to start getting vaccines as early as this Friday, and so that’s the good news.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (32:58)
The bad news is it’s going to take a while before we even get out of the first group, which is the 1A group. So I think people just being realistic about this, having an understanding of the facts, you can be happy for this and celebrate this as we should, but also realize that it’s going to take a while. It’s going to take months before we reach the herd immunity that we’re been told by the scientist is what we really need to reach.
Speaker 2: (33:30)
Next question is from [Farnutra Meery 00:33:31] at the Associated Press.
Farnutra Meery: (33:38)
Hi, Governor. My question is a little bit jumping off of what you just responded to, but this morning, as thousands of frontline workers were getting vaccinated across the country, Dr. Fauci said that he believes the general public will be getting it by March or April. Have you been involved in those types of conversations and believe that that is a possibility within Ohio?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (34:04)
It’s a question of math. It’s a question of how much we get, and we don’t really know. And for me to speculate, I think, is a mistake. As I said, 660,000 we hope in December; 660,000 in January. You can tell where you are. It means by the end of January, we will have covered a lot of people, but we also have a long, long way to go. It’s not been totally determined what the next group is and how that prioritization will be made. But when you talk about general population, that would basically mean anybody could go in, that’s going to be a while. It’s going to be awhile. We’re trying to do things that will slow the spread at the same time, protect the most vulnerable people. Those are the two goals as we move forward. So I don’t know at what date we will be to the general population, can’t come soon enough for me, can’t come soon enough for this state.
Speaker 2: (35:14)
Next question is from Jeff Reddick at WSYX in Columbus.
Jeff Reddick: (35:19)
Good afternoon, Governor, a question for Dr. Vanderhoff. I believe it was last week, Doctor, that you talked about the surveillance tools that would be used to determine the efficacy of the vaccine, how close Ohio was getting to herd immunity. As this process starts, can you lay out more specifically what those numbers will be so that we can determine at some point when it’s more safe in Ohio again?
Yeah, I’d be happy to. So, first of all, I think that the map that the Governor shared just a few minutes ago is one very important piece of that because it will transparently enable Ohioans to look at the state and look at their county and see what the progress is, as we iterate through that. In addition to that, we are working very closely with the CDC and federal authorities who are continuing to study this vaccine to understand what the uptake is and what the impact of that uptake appears to be on the trend for this pandemic. So the answer that you’re seeking, which is a really good thing for us to be seeking, will be forthcoming. I don’t have a number that I can share today and say, “When we hit this spot, we know we’re there,” but rest assured we’re working very closely with federal authorities, so that we will have a good sense of when the population of the nation and the population of Ohio is reaching that point.
Speaker 2: (36:56)
Next question is from Andy Chow in Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Andy Chow: (37:00)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (37:01)
Andy Chow: (37:02)
With looking ahead to when the vaccine can be distributed to a larger group of people, when it comes to rolling out any sort of large widespread plan, there’s the potential for missteps and problems. So I’m wondering what the state’s doing right now to monitor this phase one. What kind of lessons do you want to learn from this initial rollout to avoid any potential missteps of distribution when that net is cast wider?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (37:32)
Well, sure, Andy, I mean, you always look to see where there are problems. And in this many moving parts as we have just in Ohio, there’s bound to be some problems. I mean, nothing’s going to go perfectly. So there’s a lot of things going on. We have an obligation to be nimble and quick and change things if we’re seeing that there is a problem in some area. You have over 100 health departments that are going to be involved in this. You have many, many hospitals throughout the state of Ohio that are certainly directly involved in this. You’re going to see Walgreen involved, as well as CVS and two other smaller drug companies. Pharmaceutical companies are going to be involved in the distribution. So a lot of moving parts. You also have with the smaller counties, you’re going to have the National Guard involved.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (38:35)
So there’s a lot of things going on, but we’re going to track it. We’re going to get reports back or find out if there’s problems and move on from there. I would just mention one thing. Some nursing homes have started to been contacted, and let me just use the term. This is a scheduling issue at this point. And so these four pharmacy companies, better are way to say it I guess, that are involved in making sure that our folks in nursing homes get these shots, they’re scheduling now. So if you are a nursing home and you get a call from one of these companies and they say, “We want to be there on such and such a date,” my plea to you is say yes. Tell them that you will do what needs to be done to get ready for that date.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (39:35)
What we don’t want is anything to slow this down. We want to get this vaccine out, number one safely, but number two, we want to get it out just as quick as we can because we know every shot that’s put in an arm has the potential to be life-saving. And we want to get that out just as quickly as we can. I don’t have all the details. The companies that are contacting you do have those details. You should listen to them, not me, but I suspect one of the things that they will be asking is that your employees, folks who work there, who are in the frontline, be there that day, whether they are on that shift or not on that shift. We would want to vaccinate as many people in one site, one location, as is possible.
Speaker 2: (40:25)
Next question is from John Bedell at WHIO in Dayton.
John Bedell: (40:37)
Hi, Governor, two quick questions. First, what’s around two shaping up to look like for this vaccine, and secondly, your response to requests from Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, and the Ohio Restaurant Association to give court staff, including county court workers and also restaurant workers, priority status for being able to get this vaccine?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (41:00)
Sure, and look, compelling case can be made for both of those groups of people. Compelling case can be made for other groups of people. We’re evaluating that. We’re listening to guidance from the federal government, but we’re also very, very focused on the 1A group and making sure that we get that right and get that out. And so that group has basically been determined. We published it. We’ve given guidance to health departments. We’ve given guidance to everyone who should be in that first group, and it’s a pretty large group. It’s not a small group, so we will be awhile getting through a group 1A. The judgment calls that will be made in regard to the next group, again, will be made upon saving lives, will be made upon slowing the spread.
Speaker 2: (42:01)
Next question is from Jessie Balmert at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Jessie Balmert: (42:06)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (42:07)
Jessie Balmert: (42:09)
My question is, so some of our hospitals today got 975 doses. There was a hospital in Florida that got 20,000 doses. Do you know how those are being prioritized or doled out between states?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (42:25)
Yeah, well, sure. Well, I can tell you is that every state, this is basically, there’s a formula. Population weighs very heavily in the formula. I don’t know the exact formula, but the federal government tells us the numbers. And the number for this for delivery today and tomorrow is 98,750, something like that, and so, close to 10,000 that was to go directly to the hospitals. The other is to go to Walgreen, CVS, as they get ready to start on Friday in Ohio, vaccination in our nursing homes. So, we’re given a number every week and I put those numbers out. They’re available. I don’t have them in front of me, but if Moderna is approved, as we hope it will be, you’ll have a significant number of Moderna coming in next week, as well as Pfizer. So these numbers are based upon that.
Speaker 2: (43:35)
Next question is from John London at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (43:40)
John London: (43:41)
Hi, Governor. I don’t know if you can provide any clarity yet with regard to the state’s intentions about indoor winter sports. I know you talked about that last week, but I’m really interested also in once the curfew ends on January 2nd or the extension is reached, there’s going to still be two and a half more months of winter. And when you instituted the curfew on November 19th, Ohio was reporting 7,000 new cases a day. Is that the threshold for ending the statewide curfew, the 10:00 PM cutoff? How should bars and restaurants plan for January and February?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (44:15)
Well, John, it’s a very good question. It’s a legitimate question. I’m going to continue to listen to the medical experts. What you’re seeing in Ohio today may be a plateau, but it’s an exceedingly high level. As you have heard on this previous press conferences, doctors and hospitals describe this. They have said it’s not sustainable. So there’s a lag, as you know, between the cases and when someone shows up at the hospital and even further lag usually before they’re in ICU. We’re going to continue to weigh these things out and make judgment calls. I will tell you that our goal has been for our young people, to have them in school and have them playing sports and other extracurricular activities. We know that there’s a mental health component here. We know that it’s not just about the virus.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:26)
It’s about a lot of other things that can impact people’s health. So we’ve tried to have a balance. We tried to get the balance right. These are tough calls. I will tell you that I get emails from superintendents who tell me, “Please, please, let us make this decision. We don’t want you to come in and tell us not to have sports or to do a pause in sports.” I have other superintendents who have written me and said, “Look, if this is going to happen, we really need a pause in sports right now, right now.” So we’re trying to balance these things out. We’re trying to listen to people. We’re trying to listen to people at the local level. I would just say that every school can make that decision and has been making that decision.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (46:17)
Are they in-person? Are they hybrid? Are they remote? And every school has had the right to make that decision in regard to sports, but we’ll continue to evaluate things and continue to look at things in making those decisions. We don’t think there’s much spread directly in the classroom. We do know there’s spread outside the classroom. We do know that they’re spread in activities that might be connected with school, where you could look at it and say, “But for the fact there was school, maybe the spread would not have occurred.” Now, that’s not saying that teachers, staff, bus drivers, everybody, aren’t doing a phenomenal job. They’re doing a phenomenal job. It is just that when you’re bringing kids in, there are other things that are going on outside that classroom and outside the school, as far as people moving around. So we’ve tried, John, to get a balance. It’s not a hard science. We try to look at all the science data and also try then to make the best judgments based upon what people are telling us, what medical community is telling us, what the health community is telling us.
Speaker 2: (47:37)
Next question is from Spencer Hickey at Hannah News Service.
Spencer Hickey: (47:41)
Thank you. Governor, you mentioned the National Guard will be working in distributing the vaccine. And I was just wondering if you could give an overview on the current scope of their role in the pandemic response, including now in jails, as well as the recent federal extension at a 75% funding level.
Spencer Hickey: (48:03)
… and federal extension at a 75% funding level?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:05)
Sure. National Guard has been involved in multiple ways during this pandemic. Food banks, you’ve seen them on videos that we have shown. They’ve been involved since the beginning, in regard to food banks, for example. They were involved in nursing homes at one point, as far as people being tested. They continue to do community sites. We get a call from a community that says, “Look, we think we’re underserved. We’re not getting the testing done,” and our question to them is, “Do you want the National Guard to come in for a day, do pop up testing?” “Yes.”
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:45)
And so, we’re continuing to do that all over the State of Ohio. The Guard gets involved in nursing homes. Now, if a nursing home, for example has a real shortage, they have a real problem, they’ve got nurses who are out and it’s a crisis situation, our Guard has come in for a day or two, a few members of the Guard to work on that. The Guard is also available in regard to the situation on a very limited basis, but if there’s a crisis in regard to jail. So our National Guard is there many times to help our local governmental units, not on a permanent basis, but to come in and help.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (49:32)
One thing General Harris always reminds me, is that when you take someone out of their civilian life and put them in as a member of the Guard to go do something, you’re taking someone out of that civilian job. And so, our doctors and our medical professionals who are in the Guard, have a day job. And so, when you pull them out from there, you’re pulling a health worker, many times out of a situation where they’re needed, to put them in another situation where they’re needed, so we try to be mindful of that.
Speaker 3: (50:05)
Next question is from Justin Dennis at mahoningmatters.com.
Justin Dennis: (50:11)
Good afternoon, governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:12)
Justin Dennis: (50:12)
Thanks for speaking with us today. This is a question for both you and Dr. Vanderhoff. Doctor, does the coronavirus vaccine protect someone from spreading the virus themselves? And then jumping off of that question, governor, how long do you expect measures like masks and curfews to continue, after we roll out the majority of the vaccine distributions? What’s the plan for maybe rolling those back, and how do you plan to measure that success?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:36)
Well, I’ll take that question first, and then Dr. Vanderhoff can take the other question. Look, that depends on what the medical community tells us, it depends on what the best advice is at that poin. Candidly, the information that the medical community will have, and the health experts will have, will be more than there is now, and so we’re going to wait. What I would simply say is it’s been uniform when I’ve talked to the medical community. People have told me when someone gets a shot, that that does not mean they should stop wearing a mask. They still need to wear a mask. It’s the right thing to do. Doctor?
Thank you, governor. It’s a question that interestingly, the group of physicians I was with over the weekend, who were communicating with the CDC asked, and as of right now, what we know about the vaccine is it’s incredibly effective at protecting the individual who’s received it. The CDC is still in the process of going through the process with the FDA of studying, as more time unfolds, the impact of the vaccine in protecting other people, but we are very optimistic about the prospects for it, just given how effective it has demonstrated itself to be in protecting the individual.
Speaker 3: (52:03)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at cleveland.com.
Laura Hancock: (52:09)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (52:10)
Laura Hancock: (52:10)
I was just wondering when will you and Lieutenant Governor Husted get vaccinated? And then also, the legislature is wrapping up lame duck [inaudible 00:04:21], and I was just wondering if there are any bills that you’re particularly pushing, including whether to repeal House Bill 6, since it’s got sort of a bad reputation?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (52:34)
Sure. I will get my shot when it’s my turn. I want to demonstrate to people that I think the shots are a good thing to do, and so, I’ll do it on a press conference, and Fran and I will when it’s our turn, but it’s certainly, it’s not our turn yet.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (52:51)
As far as the lame duck session, we’ve had a lot of discussions with the Speaker, the Senate President, had discussions over the weekend. I’ll just name a few things. It’s not an exhaustive list, but our STRONG Ohio bill has been there. It has things that really, really matter, will save lives. We asked the legislature to take a look and pass it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (53:21)
I would also say that it’s very important for the legislature to look at another issue, and that is police reform. We have what I believe is a bipartisan bill that once enacted into law, will put Ohio at the forefront of police reform. It’s backed by the police, they’ve been an integral part of putting it together, and so have other community groups throughout the State of Ohio. It certainly moves the ball forward.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (53:56)
Look, the distracted driving, this is a bill that will save lives. We know as soon as it’s passed, it becomes a law, it will save lives, and we’re losing just too many people out there just in horrible, horrible gut-wrenching tragedies, to distracted driving.
Speaker 4: (54:17)
Governor, I’ll just add that I plan to get the vaccine as soon as I’m eligible, but I probably will be in one of the latter groups, I’ll probably be down the list, although who are eager to get it when it’s our turn.
Speaker 3: (54:33)
Next question is from Randy Ludlow at the Columbus Dispatch.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (54:37)
Randy Ludlow: (54:38)
Good afternoon, governor. The virus cases more than tripled in Ohio during November, and last week was the worst week of the pandemic in Ohio, even throwing out the backlog of 13,000 antigen tests added to the toll. Do you really believe Ohio is plateauing, even though you say it is at a high, high level?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (55:03)
Randy, I don’t know that it’s plateauing, I want to make that very clear. I do not know that. I’m trying to describe what I’m seeing, and we’re putting all the data out, so any reporter can describe it any way obviously you want to, based on the same data. We’re all looking at the same data. So I don’t know if it’s plateauing or not. I said it might be plateauing, but even if it is plateauing, it’s still much, much too high. My point in saying that was even if it plateaus at this level, it is much too high and it’s not sustainable, according to the doctors who run the hospitals. So in this great day of happiness and celebration, I don’t want anyone not to understand the realities of what we face. And so, the numbers that you have given, absolutely correct. We’ve gone up substantially, our positivity number is gross, it’s horrible, and our level of cases is dangerously high, and the number of people that we have in the hospital because of COVID is dangerously high as well.
Speaker 3: (56:13)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (56:19)
Hi, governor. Thanks for taking our questions today. There seems to still be a lot of mistrust in the vaccine, with many people questioning its safety. How dangerous or detrimental to our recovery would it be if we do have a group of the population who doesn’t get vaccinated when it’s their time?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (56:37)
Well, I think it depends on what percentage of the population. We want everyone to get the vaccine, but we’re not going to compel people to get the vaccine. I think what really is happening now is a natural process where people are thinking about it, they’re watching TV, they’re reading the paper, whatever source of information they get it from, the internet, and they’re trying to determine, “Is this for me?” I think the evidence is overwhelming that getting a vaccine is certainly the right thing to do. Andy? I see you up on the screen. You want to make a comment about that?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (57:16)
Well, I think governor, it’s a great question, and I think it’s something at Ohio State, what we’re trying to do, first with our own workforce, and then we’ll all be doing, I think in the healthcare community with the general population, is reassuring people that the science works. Obviously, we have been studying this vaccine in the US in trials. There’s a lot of evidence that it is safe. I think there are some individuals who have had bad reactions to vaccines in the past, severe reactions, like severe allergy reactions, where the CDC is recommending those folks might want to think twice about getting the vaccine, but that’s a very, very, very small percentage of the population that have a known preexisting allergic reaction or response.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (58:01)
At this point, today, between Dr. [Lofgren 00:58:06] and my institution, we’ve had 50 people in the state vaccinated. By the end of the week, it will be hundreds to thousands, and we’ll grow from there, and I think what we’re hoping is we can be the role model for the state, in terms of the uptake of the vaccine, the fact that it’s safe, the fact that at some point, you’re going to be talking to your neighbor, you’re going to be talking to someone at church, you’re going to be talking to someone who’s the parents of a friend of your child and they’re going to say, “Oh, I’m a nurse. I’m a respiratory therapist. I took the vaccine,” and it’s through that means that we’re going to build trust with the general population. And as you described, sir, as we move forward into the spring, we don’t know exactly what the time is yet, but as we move forward to have the general population being candidates for the vaccine, we hope that we will be where we need to be in terms of trust and belief in the fact that this vaccine is both safe and effective.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (59:04)
Great. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (59:07)
Governor, the next question is the last question for today, and it belongs to Jack Windsor of WMFD in Mansfield.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (59:14)
Jack, you get to bat last here.
Jack Windsor: (59:17)
I get to bat last. Clean up, if you will. Governor, tough question, and I’ll appreciate your patience with it, it’s from a viewer and it’s two parts. First, you own stock in Pfizer and Moderna, and that these companies contribute to your campaign, pre and post-gubernatorial fund. And then second, obviously many people have diversified holdings in pharma, so that would be understandable, but you did fall under scrutiny as a US Senator and Ohio Attorney General for having stock in companies that you could’ve had influence on. And now since you’re governor and primary policymaker, and have encouraged millions of Ohioans to take vaccines through companies you may have ties to, do you see that as a conflict of interest?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (59:58)
The answer is, I don’t know if we own any stock in either company, but we will find out very quickly and make that public. So look, I don’t think there’s any conflict, I had nothing to do with the development, but look, I don’t know whether Fran or I own a stock of those two companies or not.
Jack Windsor: (01:00:19)
Yeah. Thank you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:00:20)
But we’ll make that public.
Jack Windsor: (01:00:21)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:00:21)
So we are at the end. Just to recap, today’s a great day, just a very, very happy day. I thought we would end with an inspirational video that we played actually before. It features the members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Chorus, joined by students from Cuyahoga Community College’s Vocal Arts Mastery Program, and they’re singing very appropriately the gospel favorite, Oh Happy Day. While the pandemic is not over, today is truly a happy day.
Speaker 5: (01:00:57)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:00:57)
We’ll see you all on Thursday. Thank you very much.