Dec 15, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 15
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on December 15 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Governor DeWine: (05:37)
Good afternoon, everyone. This morning, Fran and I watched the first shipment of vaccines arriving at Mercy Health Springfield Regional Medical Center. While we were in Springfield, Lieutenant Governor Husted was watching the vaccine delivery at Ohio Health Riverside Methodist hospital in Columbus. Across the state, shipments also arrived today at Aultman Hospital in Canton, Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Genesis Hospital in Zanesville, Metro Health in Cleveland, and also at the Cleveland Clinic.
Governor DeWine: (06:17)
Today, we’ll have the opportunity to talk to some people who are receiving those shots and some people who are involved in administering the shots. We’ll talk to some people from around the state. But first, I want to talk a little bit about where we really are today. Yesterday, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center started vaccinating healthcare professionals involved in the care of COVID-19 patients. Vaccinations are continuing today at both of those hospitals. While supplies are limited right now, we have been told that we will continue to get vaccines throughout the rest of the month. And so these are the estimates that we will get. We won’t know until we actually get them, but this is what we have been told.
Governor DeWine: (07:10)
This week, we have received 98,475 doses from Pfizer. Next week, we should receive an additional 123,000 doses from Pfizer, as well as 201,900 from Moderna. Combined, that means that by Christmas, Ohio should receive more than 420,000 vaccines. During the week of New Years, we should receive an additional 148,000 Pfizer vaccines and additional 89,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Certainly, all of that is very, very good news.
Governor DeWine: (07:55)
So I mentioned this morning, Fran and I were able to visit the loading dock in Springfield at Mercy Hospital. One of the first individuals we had the opportunity to talk to a moment ago was Casey Gardner. She’s a nurse in the progressive cardiac care unit. And Casey, are you ready to get your shot? Casey’s in Springfield, and we’re ready to go, and we’re going to watch her get her shot.
Speaker 1: (08:29)
All right, Casey.
Casey Gardner: (08:29)
Speaker 1: (08:32)
Are you ready? Quick stick. Good job.
Casey Gardner: (08:44)
Good job. That didn’t even hurt.
Governor DeWine: (08:48)
Casey, tell us a little bit about what you do at the hospital. What’s your job?
Casey Gardner: (08:55)
Well, governor, I am a nurse on the progressive care unit at Springfield Regional, which is Three North. And I also have had the opportunity to go and work on one of the COVID units here at the hospital. So I’ve been a nurse, and I have been in the front lines. And so, I just didn’t want to inadvertently cause someone else to get it when I can vaccinate myself. I just completed a nurse practitioner program, and I feel like I’m a strong vaccine advocate, so I had to step up.
Governor DeWine: (09:40)
Well, we appreciate that very, very much. And your message to anybody who’s about to get the vaccine or thinking about getting the vaccine would be what?
Casey Gardner: (09:51)
I would say to, number one, trust. And number two, talk to those around you. My primary doctor is Dr. Michael McKee here in Springfield, and he was excited about the vaccine. And I don’t think that I would have, even as a healthcare professional, had the nerve to get it, if I hadn’t sat and talked with my doctor and really felt his enthusiasm for it.
Governor DeWine: (10:21)
Well, that’s great. So how do you feel? You doing okay?
Casey Gardner: (10:24)
I feel fine.
Governor DeWine: (10:27)
Okay. All right. Well look, thank you very much. Fran and I were in Springfield this morning. It was exciting to see the unloading of the box. So it’s a big box, as you know, because it’s got all the dry ice in it, but then when they open it up, it’s not too big. But thank you for what you do. Thank you for taking care of patients, and thank everybody else at Springfield Mercy. We’d just appreciate what you all do. And I know that you’re going through vaccines today, I think about 100 people today, and then I was told maybe maybe 300 tomorrow and 300 for the next three days. So thanks for being with us. And again, thanks for what you do every day.
Casey Gardner: (11:10)
Governor DeWine: (11:12)
Casey Gardner: (11:13)
Thank you. And I want to thank you for your leadership in this endeavor.
Governor DeWine: (11:17)
Thank you very much. Have a good day. We appreciate it.
Casey Gardner: (11:19)
Governor DeWine: (11:21)
Thank you. So let’s go to Toledo, an exciting day in Toledo. Joining us is Dr. Kevin Casey, chief clinical officer of Mercy Health in Toledo. How are you doing?
Dr. Kevin Casey: (11:41)
I’m doing very well, Governor DeWine. Thank you. How are you?
Governor DeWine: (11:43)
I’m well. So have you all started vaccination yet? Have you started the process?
Dr. Kevin Casey: (11:49)
So we received our vaccines today, and we’re starting our vaccinations today, yes.
Governor DeWine: (11:54)
All right. And behind you, I guess, is that where it’s going to take place?
Dr. Kevin Casey: (11:57)
It is, it is. In fact, we’re about to start with probably the leader of our critical care team here and the one who’s been a tremendous leader through this entire COVID pandemic for us, Dr. [Tita 00:12:07].
Governor DeWine: (12:08)
Oh, very good. Very good. Well, this has to be exciting for you and other health workers. I’m sure you’ve been waiting for this day a long time.
Dr. Kevin Casey: (12:16)
There’s been a lot of anticipation behind this day. We’ve had a vaccination committee that has been planning for weeks, following the guidelines given to us by the government about who of our frontline healthcare givers should receive the vaccination. We’ve gone through that list, and we have a number of people who are just so excited to get it. It is a very exciting day for us.
Governor DeWine: (12:40)
Well, that’s great. I was going to ask you what the mood is there, and I guess you said there’s a sense of excitement and enthusiasm, so that’s great.
Dr. Kevin Casey: (12:50)
It’s almost as if the race is about to start. We’ve been waiting for this gun to go off. We’ve been prepared for this for so long, and we’re just all excited, finally, that the race has begun.
Governor DeWine: (13:00)
So, doctor, this is the beginning. We know it’s going to take a while to get to the average person out there. And maybe, what is your message? This is a day of hope. Yesterday is a day of hope. We see our frontline health workers being able to get vaccinated, as well as we’re going to start on Friday on people in nursing homes, but what would be your message, as a doctor, to people out there who are watching today?
Dr. Kevin Casey: (13:32)
Sure. Thank you. As a good friend of mine shared with me a couple of days ago, this is just the beginning of the end. It is not the end. And it’s great to be able to offer some level of protection to those healthcare heroes that have been caring for us through this entire pandemic, but we’re not near the end yet. It’s only the beginning of the end, and we need to continue to protect our healthcare givers. We need to continue to protect the people in our community. So I would ask that everybody continue to mask up, do the hygiene, the physical distancing, all those things that we’ve been doing for the past few months, so that we can keep each other safe and continue to provide that high quality and safe care that our community deserves.
Governor DeWine: (14:11)
Well, we appreciate it. We wish you well today. How many people today? And then maybe how many tomorrow, if you’ve got that figured out?
Dr. Kevin Casey: (14:19)
Well, people have it figured out. I just know we’re going to do as many as we safely can, every day that we can.
Governor DeWine: (14:25)
Well, I like that attitude a lot. And I’m looking at… Turn around and tell me what I’m looking at back there.
Dr. Kevin Casey: (14:31)
[crosstalk 00:14:31] So what you’re seeing behind me is Dr. Jim Tita, our critical care physician. Again, the one who really has been the tip of the spear through the COVID pandemic for us here in Mercy Health Toledo. And there is no one more deserving to receive this vaccine today than him. I am so appreciative his leadership and how he has brought the entire team together. I cannot say enough about the team we have had here, caring for our people.
Governor DeWine: (14:58)
So it looks like whoever’s giving him the vaccination is going through the protocol back there.
Dr. Kevin Casey: (15:03)
Yeah. They’re going through the list, answering all the questions, confirming who he is, doing all the things that we do before we give any vaccine or care for any patient of ours. And then when everything checks out and he’s prepared, he will receive the vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (15:17)
Okay, we’re going to watch this then. We’ll watch over your shoulder, if that’s okay. It looks like he’s ready. There we go. All right. Well doctor, thank you very much. Good luck today and this week, and thanks for all you do, and thanks for all your team does.
Dr. Kevin Casey: (15:42)
Thank you very much, Governor DeWine. Have a wonderful day.
Governor DeWine: (15:45)
Thank you very much. We’re going to go from Toledo to Zanesville. Today we’re speaking with Ryan Smith, a registered nurse at Genesis Hospital in Zanesville. Ryan is the clinical coordinator of critical care. As an essential caregiver fighting the pandemic, Ryan, I guess… have you already got, Ryan, you got the vaccine today?
Ryan Smith: (16:05)
I did. I got the vaccine this morning.
Governor DeWine: (16:08)
Well, very good. Tell us a little bit about what you do.
Ryan Smith: (16:11)
Sure. So in the critical cares, we typically have the sickest patients in the hospital. Currently, our staff is caring for… Our population in the critical care is about 70% COVID-19 related illnesses. So we’re seeing an abundance of COVID-19, of some just really sick patients.
Governor DeWine: (16:37)
Yeah. How long have you worked with COVID patients? Throughout the pandemic or…
Ryan Smith: (16:43)
We have. We saw our first COVID-19 illness in the spring this year. We didn’t see a lot, really, until the past two months.
Governor DeWine: (16:55)
And just tell us a little bit more about what you’re seeing, what age you’re seeing, or anything else that’s of interest.
Governor DeWine: (17:03)
You’re seeing, what age you’re seeing or anything else that’s of interest.
Ryan Smith: (17:04)
Sure. Most of our patients have are 60 and over. We have had some as young as in their 30s. Really that’s about it.
Governor DeWine: (17:18)
Yeah. Well, look, we wish you well. We want thank you for what you do. Thanks for taking care of all patients, and please thank everybody else at the hospital. We appreciate that and we hope the vaccinations go well over the next several days. You know how long it’s going to take you to get everyone to go through that 975 or-
Ryan Smith: (17:46)
We vaccinated over 30 people so far today. I believe our plan is to get those out through the rest of the week and hopefully we can get them out as quickly as possible.
Governor DeWine: (17:56)
Ryan Smith: (17:56)
We want to get I’m sorry.
Governor DeWine: (17:59)
No, that’s great. That’s great. Then in three weeks or so you’ll be back at this, those same people, in that second, that second one. So thank you. We appreciate what you do.
Ryan Smith: (18:11)
Thank you, Governor.
Governor DeWine: (18:11)
You’re very, very much. We’re going to go now to Canton. Dr. Boutros, the Medical Director of Critical Care Services at Aultman Hospital is joining us today from Canton. This afternoon, healthcare workers at Aultman are beginning to receive the first dose of the vaccine. Dr. Boutros, you’ve already got your shot, I believe. Is that right? Oh, we got to get him un-muted there. Let’s try again. Yeah.
Dr. Nihad Boutros: (18:49)
Yes. I just got my shot, half an hour ago.
Governor DeWine: (18:53)
Dr., tell us, I mean, look, this shot is just, people just started getting it today and yesterday. If someone’s watching this on TV, what do you want them to know about the shot?
Dr. Nihad Boutros: (19:04)
Sure. I think the safety has been established. People have been following more than two months. Side-effect has been limited to fever, chills, body-ache, local pain, headache, less than 24 hours. If that’s all it’s going to take for suffering, let it be.
Governor DeWine: (19:26)
Some people. I know, Are concerned, maybe because what they’ve read about other vaccines, that maybe you could get COVID from this vaccine. You want to address that?
Dr. Nihad Boutros: (19:37)
You cannot get COVID from this vaccine, that because there is no viruses being given. This is not a killed or weakened virus. You cannot get a COVID from getting this injection..
Governor DeWine: (19:48)
Very, very good. Very good. Well, your vaccinations are going to spread over a few days, I assume. You got started today, I believe?
Dr. Nihad Boutros: (19:59)
Governor DeWine: (20:01)
Well, we wish you well.
Dr. Nihad Boutros: (20:03)
Governor DeWine: (20:03)
We wish you well, and thank you and your team, everybody at the hospital for everything that you do. We’re very, very grateful.
Dr. Nihad Boutros: (20:10)
Thank you, Sir.
Governor DeWine: (20:11)
Thank you, Doctor. We’re going to go now to Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester, who has joined us before. Doctor, thanks for being with us again. We appreciate it very, very much. Tell us a little bit, we want to ask you about a question that we get from people and that is, “I’ve got symptoms. At what point you call a doctor?” Then, let’s say, you’ve called a doctor and you’re staying home and you’re following what the doctor tells you to do. What are there, if it doesn’t go well, it gets worse. at what point do you call 911? What point do you do whatever needs to be done there?
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (20:59)
Great. This is a great question. And thanks Governor, for giving me the opportunity to speak to Ohioans again. It’s really important just to get care when you need it. Problems like difficulty breathing and chest pain really should not be ignored and are definitely reasons to go to the nearest emergency room. It’s a bit harder though, when you have those mild non-specific symptoms. It’s really hard to determine what you have and when to see a doctor. Now, more than ever though, especially as we get into flu season and we’re in flu season, you really should talk to your doctor early, so you can A, make a difference in your own care. B, also potentially decrease the spread of this or other viruses like the flu.
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (21:45)
That’s what we’re here for as doctors. The symptoms, like we said, a runny nose, headache, fevers. they’re so common with COVID, but they’re so common with the flu. They’re so common with other viruses and they can even be signs of something, either bacterial illness or even non-infectious problems. Speaking with your doctor earlier will help you determine which of the tests you need, flu other respiratory viruses, a COVID test, obviously. This can be important in your own care because thanks to the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorizations, not only of the vaccine, but also of some other treatments like Bamlanivimab, which is a monoclonal antibody that blocks a little protein on the SARS, COV-2 virus from attaching to human cells, and this infusion can actually be given to some people and may help them from getting sicker and keep them out of the hospital.
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (22:40)
There are other monoclonal antibodies similar to this that may be in the pipeline as well. You may be actually a candidate for getting some treatment to get help you get better. If you do get tested for COVID-19, it’s important to know what that result means, though. I think we’ve talked to Dr. Vanderhoff and you have talked about this previously. It’s important to know what that result means so that you do the right thing. First, if it does happen to be positive, just remember to isolate yourself, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Obviously, like I said, ask your doctor if you qualify for a treatment. But if you’re feeling bad and the test is negative, it’s still important to monitor your symptoms and talk to your doctor, especially for not feeling better, and definitely if you are feeling worse.
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (23:26)
Remember, the test could be a false negative. Maybe it wasn’t the best sample. Maybe it was too early in your disease course that enough virus wasn’t available for the test to pick it up. So, maybe you should be tested again. Maybe you should be tested for the flu. Perhaps you have, like we said, a bacterial infection or something else that we can have some treatments for. Just, keep open lines of communication with your doctor. We’re here to make sure you get through this. That’s what I would recommend. Talk to your doctor as much as much as you feel when things change or something just doesn’t feel right for you.
Governor DeWine: (24:03)
The infusion that you talk about, is that generally available throughout the State? Can I, if somebody’s watching this, you see, but if someone’s in a Toledo or someone’s in Zanesville or Lima or someplace else, is that something they should at least talk to their doctor about?
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (24:20)
They should definitely talk to their doctor. I believe it is a bit, initially it was a bit limited, but there have been more shipments throughout the state. It’s fairly widely available, maybe not directly where you are, but certainly likely somewhere close. It’s an infusion. It takes about an hour, honestly, generally well-tolerated from what I’ve seen from patients getting it. Again, like I said, this can keep people from getting sicker and stay out of the hospital, which is good for everybody.
Governor DeWine: (24:53)
Yeah. It can potentially keep you out of the hospital, which is no one wants to go to the hospital, if they don’t have to go to the hospital. Tell me again though, let’s say I’ve seen my doctor, I’ve got a test. I’m positive. I’m at home and I’m going along for a while and then something happens. What should I look for? I mean, what should alarm me enough to maybe either call my doctor or to call 911? What’s the alarm that goes off?
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (25:26)
Really, what we’ve seen for COVID-19 is really the difficulty breathing. Those are the, that’s really the symptom that is likely going to require some kind of care in the hospital. Sometimes this can also be chest pains. There are some things that can be associated with COVID 19 infections like thrombotic events or clots that can happen in different parts of your body. Those are important once you have COVID, that sometimes it might not be the virus itself causing worse symptoms, but something that the virus did to your immune system that caused it to react this way. Those are really important reasons to go to the hospital.
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (26:09)
I would also say things like legs swelling, that’s different from normal. Those could be signs of clots in your legs, or even signs that your heart might not be pumping as great as it could. We do know that COVID-19 can affect the heart. Those are really the big issues. I would say, if you don’t feel like you can go through your normal activities of the day and that, if you’re unable to eat or drink or actually take care of yourself, which, hopefully if you have someone at home that can help you with that., great. But if you can’t, we’re here to help you, because we want everybody to really make it through this.
Governor DeWine: (26:49)
Tell us about you, you talked about breathing problems. Tell us about, the oxygen level. I know some people, because they have asthma are familiar with oxygen level. They’re familiar with, what’s it called? You put on your finger.
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (27:04)
Right. The pule oximeter.
Governor DeWine: (27:06)
Yeah. Let’s say, you’ve got one of those or you’re, you’ve got somebody that you had a loved one in a nursing home and they’re checking on them. At what level would you get nervous about it?
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (27:18)
Right. Honestly around, if you’re normally around 99 100 percent, that’s where most of us who aren’t on oxygen, or even sometimes once a year on oxygen chronically for some of the medical problems, like you mentioned, some chronic lung diseases. If you are less than 95%, those are times where we’re concerned about something different going on. Now, sometimes people in their … their doctors may be monitoring that. If you go lower than your normal, you should talk to your physician, if you’re not sure what to do. But generally, around, 95%, if you’re normal, normally 99 to 100%, that’s a time to be pretty concerned.
Governor DeWine: (28:06)
Okay. We appreciate it very, very much. I forgot to give you a proper introduction, but Dr. Forrester, Associate Chief Medical Officer at UC Health, Associate Professor Infectious Disease doctor at UC College of Medicine. Doctor, thanks for being with us again. We appreciate it.
Dr. Jennifer Wall Forester: (28:22)
Of course. Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (28:23)
Thank you. We will now go to the Lieutenant Governor, who will tell us a little bit about his trip to Riverside Hospital today.
Jon Husted: (28:33)
Thanks Governor. Yeah, it was an exciting visit to the OhioHealth Riverside Methodist campus in Columbus. You see me there with the President of Riverside, Rob Cercek and then Dr. Joe Gastaldo, who’s the specialist in infectious diseases. He’s been on the news conference before. You see that box there. It’s I, heard it described as a cardboard box full of hope today, because it’s a pretty special, it was pretty special. You could see the excitement among the people who were there in the Riverside community. I’ve heard it described that what’s inside of there is lifesaving, that there are going to be people whose lives are saved as a result of that.
Jon Husted: (29:23)
You saw the refrigeration unit. Refrigeration is an understatement. 75 degrees below zero Celsius is what that gets to and they were excited, but the team was ready. They’re going to distribute those vaccines over the course of the next 24 hours to the staff that confronts these issues on a daily basis. Another important part about this delivery, is that half of the delivery is going to go to the OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens, which is the only pre-positioned site in Southeast Ohio.
Jon Husted: (30:03)
They are positioning those, those vaccines in Southeast Ohio to help the communities down there and the healthcare workers there. There was a lot of excitement at the hospital today. The term I heard often is that this is the beginning of the end. We know we have a lot to go, but it was hope, and it was the beginning of feeling I think, for many of them that they didn’t just have therapeutics, but they had a weapon against the virus that will work and ultimately defeat it. There was a lot of excitement, enthusiasm for the beginning of this process. It was great to be there and thanks to all those healthcare workers that are out there, really just doing amazing things for all of us. Thanks Governor
Governor DeWine: (30:52)
Lieutenant Governor, thank you very much, Eric, let’s go to the slides real quick. Today, reporting 8,755 new cases in Ohio. Sadly, we had 103 deaths reported since yesterday. In addition, we have 614 new hospitalizations, which is the second highest of the pandemic, to date. There were also 74 new ICU admissions reported, which is about twice as high as the average during the past three weeks. In a moment, we’ll have an update on the number of patients who are currently hospitalized or in ICU. Let’s go to our top 88 counties, 88 counties in Ohio. We’ll look at which ones are top, which ones are, are down. Holmes County, clear at the bottom of the spectrum with 377 cases per 100,000 residents.
Governor DeWine: (31:46)
Even though it is the lowest county in the state, as far as spread, they are still almost four times what the CDC says is high incidence. It’s high, every place. We currently have 29 counties with a case rate above 1000, which is 10 times higher than the CDC is threshold for high incidence. We’ll look at the 20 county lists. That’s the top county now, starting with with Jefferson County, eastern part of the state. You can see, these counties are now really spread out at our top counties, geographically, all over Ohio. We’ll look at the hospitalizations. Certainly. A lot of reason to be optimistic because of the vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (32:33)
We have our work cut out for us though, to slow the spread of the virus until enough of our fellow Ohioans can get vaccinated. We must continue to try to do everything we can to prevent overwhelming the hospitals. The data, today, tells us that Ohioans are being hospitalized at record numbers. You can see the chart there. Today, we have 5,296 patients who were hospitalized. 1,311 of those patients are in the ICU, which is the second color there. We now have more patients, just in the ICU, than we had total for all COVID patients hospitalized during our previous peak last summer.
Governor DeWine: (33:23)
Now, we also have 863 patients who need a ventilator. As recently as a month ago, there were just 360 patients on a ventilator. Next week, we expect our local health departments to begin receiving vaccines. Today, we are sending them additional guidance on who should be prioritized and where they should start the vaccination process. Local health departments should coordinate vaccinating of congregate care residents and staff.
Governor DeWine: (34:03)
… of congregate care residents and staff, such as those at nursing homes and assisted living facilities who are not enrolled in the federal Long-term Care Pharmacy Program or not registered as providers themselves. So in other words, most nursing homes will not be handled by the local health department, but only those who have not registered, who have not signed up with one of the four pharmacies to do the vaccination. So the local health department will be doing those that have not signed up with those for any of those four.
Governor DeWine: (34:39)
This congruent care group that we’re talking about also includes people with developmental disabilities and those who have mental health disorders, including substance use disorders who live in group homes, residential facilities or centers, as well as the staff. In addition, local health departments should prioritize vaccinating other health care providers who are not being vaccinated by hospitals and health systems and not enrolled as providers themselves. These providers could include home health workers, hospice workers, emergency medical service responders, primary care practitioners, freestanding emergency department, urgent care pharmacy and dialysis center providers not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems. Dental providers, public health employees are at risk of exposure or transmission, such as those who do the vaccinations themselves, mobile unit practitioners, federally qualified healthcare center providers and high-risk ancillary healthcare staff members.
Governor DeWine: (35:48)
So that is a illustrative list of those individuals who the health departments will be vaccinating. So we will be providing the health departments today with this guidance. At the same time, they will get a list of those places that are not being covered by someone else. So, in other words, congregate care facilities that are not being covered by someone else. We are ready to go to questions.
Speaker 2: (36:19)
Governor, first question today is from Bennett Haeberle at WBNS in Columbus.
Bennett Haeberle: (36:24)
Hey, governor, good afternoon.
Governor DeWine: (36:26)
Bennett Haeberle: (36:28)
My question is you have previously said that Ohio doesn’t have enough money to pay for the vaccine’s distribution and you’ve urged Congress to pass a bill. They’re meeting this week. I’m curious, if they fail to act, what will Ohio do to get the vaccine out there? And can you talk about who’s further down the line in getting this?
Governor DeWine: (36:51)
If I said we didn’t have enough money to pay for it, that was a misspoke. We do need Congress to step in, but these vaccinations will take place one way or the other, whether Congress passes a new bill or whether it doesn’t. This will happen and we will find a way to pay for it. So I don’t want anybody to worry about that. People should not worry about that. We will get this done. Vaccinations, there will be nothing to slow these vaccinations down.
Bennett Haeberle: (37:22)
Can you say what monies will be used to do that then?
Governor DeWine: (37:24)
Sure, we have CARES Act dollars, we have other potential sources. Look, this is a priority. We have to get people vaccinated just as quickly as we can. Now look, it would make it a lot easier if the federal government comes in with a bill, this is only one of the reasons why we’ve asked the federal government to pass a bill in this lame duck session. I don’t know whether Congress is going to do this or not. We hope they do, but we will get people vaccinated in Ohio.
Speaker 2: (37:55)
Next question is from Andy Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Governor DeWine: (37:59)
Andy Chow: (37:59)
Hi governor. I’m wondering if you, and maybe if Dr. Vanderhoff is on the call too, if you could maybe talk about the pace of distribution. I think you were saying that, well, we heard that 30 vaccinations were administered at one hospital, maybe a hundred at a different. To me, it sounds a little low, but I’m not sure what a typical pace of distribution is. Is that low? And is there any concern that there’s a reluctance among healthcare workers to get the vaccine?
Governor DeWine: (38:31)
Each hospital, Andy, gets in this batch, and this is just an initial batch, 975 doses. I believe these hospitals, at least the ones I’ve specifically talked to about this, have said they will get the people vaccinated by the end of this week. In other words, they will go through a process. Some of them are doing a trial run day where they start maybe like, for example, Springfield, Springfield is doing a hundred, they told me today. Tomorrow they’ll do 300, 300 and then 275, whatever it takes to finish it out and they will be done with that vaccination round.
Governor DeWine: (39:10)
Now, they still will have people to go. I mean, think about a hospital as big as the Cleveland Clinic, obviously they’ve got a long, long way to go. So this is just a start. Moderna, when Moderna comes in, we hope next week, we’re going to have a significant amount and this will then go out to virtually every hospital in the state and they will start vaccinating people. So it is a process and I’m an impatient person. It’s never going to be fast enough for me, but our job, we believe, is to do everything we can to keep this process moving. So, on the one hand you got over a hundred health departments that are going to be getting the vaccine very, very shortly, and they are going to be some times doing the vaccination directly, sometimes handing that off to somebody who has the ability to vaccinate themselves.
Governor DeWine: (40:04)
We also have the four pharmacy companies, the two biggest ones, of course, are CVS and Walgreens. They’re doing all the nursing homes now. We’ve got hundreds and hundreds of nursing homes, so it’s going to take a while. And they have already started the scheduling process. We hope that, that will start on Friday. Local health departments, I read through the list of those that they’re going to be doing. EMS, for example, generally are going to be done by the local health departments, unless they’re attached to another medical facility. Bruce, you want to answer that? I see you on the screen.
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (40:48)
Yes, governor. Thank you. The only thing I’d add to the governor’s very good summary is that this is not at all unlike how the large mass vaccination programs are conducted in hospitals every year for flu. Usually at the beginning of that vaccination season, you’d take an initial smaller step into the process, make sure that you’ve got everything lined up, that the process is going to work smoothly when you bring larger numbers of people in to complete the vaccination. So, Andy, it’s a good question, but I think that what you’re seeing is pretty typical.
Governor DeWine: (41:25)
And the other thing, Andy, to keep in mind is of this first batch that came in from Pfizer, the way it had been worked out with the federal government, most of those are going over to the pharmacies who are going to start vaccinating on Friday. So most of these are going over and will be there to vaccinate people in nursing homes. Little less than 10,000 were set aside and went out to 10 different locations, 10 different hospitals around the state. And that’s what you’re seeing today. But when we get to Friday, you’ll then see it kick in and it will continue to get faster and faster as we move forward.
Speaker 2: (42:06)
Next question is from Ben Schwartz at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Governor DeWine: (42:10)
Ben Schwartz: (42:12)
Hi, governor. You and some medical professionals you’ve had on recently have told us that we’re not at the end of our fight against COVID, but we’re at the beginning of the end. I guess I’m just wondering is the state’s elderly population and healthcare workers getting vaccinated the main hurdle that we have to get past right now before getting much closer to that actual end?
Governor DeWine: (42:41)
Well, Ben, I think it’s a continuing process, frankly. I mean, we look at the people in nursing homes, we know over half the people who have died have come out in nursing homes. So we know that we need to get that group protected just as quickly as we can. We also know we need to protect the frontline health workers so they can continue their great work and so we can protect them. But those are both pretty big groups. And so it’s going to be a while to get through those groups. Then we’re going to go into the next level. But no, it’s going to be a continuing process. And there’s no time really during this that we’re going to be able to say, “Okay, let’s go rest. We don’t worry about it anymore,” because we ultimately want to get that herd immunity, which I’m told is somewhere between 70-75%, something in that neighborhood. So we’ve got a long, long way to go. The good news is we’ve started, but we have a ways to go.
Speaker 2: (43:35)
Next question is from Andrew Welsh-Huggins at the Associated Press.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins: (43:40)
Hi, governor. I was hoping to ask you real quick, in honor of a lame duck session, if I could actually ask you to look ahead real briefly to the next General Assembly and two part question, are there any COVID related priority bills that weren’t around this year that you would hope the legislature might take up? And then similarly, with the state budget proposal coming up, any chance you could just outline generally what spending priorities you might be looking for in that budget proposal, again, in terms of fighting the coronavirus?
Governor DeWine: (44:22)
It’s going to be very important for us to continue to shore up our health department and the 113 health departments around the state. Some of this we can do with CARES Act dollars. Some of this is going to be more long-term structural challenges, but that certainly is a priority. Your question, I think, was just focused on COVID. We have other priorities out there, but as far as COVID, yeah. Making sure that we are able to battle the COVID and making sure our local health departments, those who are literally at the front line in every community, making sure they have the resources, making sure we have the resources, making sure we have the technology. So, all of those things are very important.
Governor DeWine: (45:11)
We have a health department and a public health system that’s been neglected for too long. And one of the lessons from this pandemic is we cannot continue that. We have to pay attention. So, those would be things that we’re certainly going to be looking at in the next session, as far as COVID.
Governor DeWine: (45:33)
The other thing that’s certainly going to be a priority, and let me just say, the legislature has been great to work with in regard to prioritizing where money goes to deal with the COVID problem, whether it is helping with small business or whether it’s helping in tracing, whether it’s helping in making sure the money is there in regard to the testing. We’ve worked with them, all the dollars that have flowed through the controlling board, obviously that’s legislators who are on the controlling board. And so it’s been a good working relationship and that will continue into next year. We’re going to have the need to continue to run those dollars through the controlling board and get them out and to fight this virus.
Speaker 2: (46:22)
Next question is from Jackie Borchardt at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Governor DeWine: (46:26)
Jackie Borchardt: (46:29)
Hi governor. There was a disturbing story in the Cleveland Jewish News last week of a long-term care facility in Beechwood where the staff was allegedly falsifying COVID test results so that staff members who were infected could come into work. How is this allowed to happen? And how’s the state making sure long-term care facilities are following the procedures that are in place that are supposed to protect these residents?
Governor DeWine: (46:55)
Well, it’s the first I’ve heard of that. My team may know about it and they may be working on it, so I will check that out and we will report back. I mean, if that is true, that would be totally outrageous. That would be wrong. But we’ll check it out.
Speaker 2: (47:15)
Next question is from David Winter at WKRC in Cincinnati.
David Winter: (47:21)
Hi governor. Are you able to hear me okay?
Governor DeWine: (47:23)
I can indeed. I can see you, too.
David Winter: (47:25)
Okay. All right. I should have removed my glasses then. Hey, real quick. Where do things stand in reference to inmate populations and those that are administering them? So the staff at jails and prisons, what are the state’s recommendations for when the people who are incarcerated are going to get vaccinated?
Governor DeWine: (47:53)
Yeah. That decision has not been made yet. We have focused on 1A Group, which is a pretty big group. I think with 1A, there’s a real consensus that our healthcare workers, particularly those who are dealing with COVID patients, but our healthcare workers and the people who live in congregate care settings who are the most vulnerable, that these are the two first groups that should get the vaccine. And we’re following basically, I say there’s a consensus because as far as I know every state’s following that, and that’s what the federal government recommended.
Governor DeWine: (48:31)
Once you get beyond that, however, my guess is you’re going to see some states go different ways because you get into some real equity questions. And so we’re still looking at that. We’re listening to people, we’re having people call us and people who are writing us and emailing us and say, “My group needs to be in this next group. My group needs to be.” And they all have a good case.
Governor DeWine: (48:55)
We’re particularly concerned about our department of rehabilitation and correction workers. I have a process of writing notes to two families who lost a loved one who worked for the state of Ohio, worked for the people of Ohio and worked in our prisons and they got COVID. So, our heart goes out to them. And so those workers in the prison are certainly going to be a high priority when we look to the next ranking, but that’s a work in progress. It is not done. And we’re open to people coming forward with ideas and suggestions. It gets much more difficult once you get beyond this group that I’ve already described.
David Winter: (49:46)
What criteria will you use to determine whether the prisoners are going to be considered in the next tier?
Governor DeWine: (49:56)
Look, I think you try to weigh these things out and there’s many things that you are concerned about. One is saving human lives. That’s important. The other is spread in the community. So those are two different criteria that frankly are both very, very important and we’ll have to make those decisions.
Speaker 2: (50:19)
Next question is from-
Governor DeWine: (50:21)
Those are the issues. Those are the issues that how do you keep it from spreading and how do you save the most lives as quickly as you can.
Speaker 2: (50:30)
Next question is from Tom Bosco at WSYX in Columbus.
Tom Bosco: (50:35)
Hi, governor. The federal government has asked all states to sign a data use agreement, essentially urging states to send the federal government personally identifiable info on who gets the vaccine. Several governors and health organizations have objected on privacy concerns. What information will Ohio be sending to the federal government? And what is your take on those concerns that other governors and organizations have?
Governor DeWine: (51:02)
Tom Bosco: (51:02)
… other governors and organizations have?
Governor DeWine: (51:02)
Yeah, I’ll check on that. I don’t know if our team has looked at that, and we’ll get back to you. I think one thing that has to be kept in mind is it’s very important under the protocol that we have that the person who got the first shot gets the second shot. They need to get it in a timely manner. And we need to make sure they’re getting the shot from the same company. And that’s the protocol that we’ve been given, and that’s the protocol we intend to follow. So obviously, having information about that individual is going to be very, very important.
Speaker 3: (51:41)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.
Laura Hancock: (51:45)
Hi, Governor DeWine. I have a question about coronavirus data. There’s a study going around on the internet saying that infections across the world, take it for what you may, but it says that Ohio is after Tennessee in terms of infections per 100,000 people. And then there is another, when I went onto the CDC website, it looks like we’re number five right now after states like Tennessee, Arizona, Oklahoma. And so I was just wondering, I mean, are you planning to do, instead of recommendations and suggested protocol, are you planning to, if we’re really this bad relative to other states, are you planning to do more mandates?
Governor DeWine: (52:30)
Well, we are high. Look, there’s no doubt. I mean, we’ve said this press conference after press conference. We’re exceedingly high. This is not where we want to be. Again, we have put out the protocols and if we can get people to follow the protocols. And look Ohioans beat this back twice before, but we’re in a worst position today, frankly. We’re in a worse position than we have ever been in regard to this virus. So the next few days are absolutely critical. I mean, we saw a little downturn in cases today, but even if it stayed at that number that we showed you today, it’s still much too high. It’s still an exceedingly high, high number. We’re very concerned about it. Deeply concerned.
Speaker 3: (53:26)
Next question is from Alex [Ivert 00:53:28] at Bloomberg.
Alex Ivert: (53:32)
Thanks for having us, Governor. When it comes to these vaccinations, we’re really interested in tracking them across the country, and seeing, especially, what kind of demographics data we can find. Initially when Ohio was responding to the coronavirus, we were noticing a differential in the infections between people of color and those that were white in Ohio, and higher infections of people of color. Is the state going to be producing data that shows the vaccinations per demographic groups, ages-
Governor DeWine: (54:05)
Alex Ivert: (54:06)
… race, that sort of thing? And how are we going to be able to see that? How will you guys make that available to us?
Governor DeWine: (54:11)
Yeah, we’re going to put it up. It’s going to be a dashboard. We showed yesterday a mock up of the dashboard. It’s going to look like what you saw on the screen yesterday. We don’t have it up yet, but you’ll be able to break it down by county. You’ll be able to break it down by race. You will be able to see what percentage of the African-American population, what percentage of the Hispanic population of the state at any one time has gotten the shot. And so you’ll be able to compare that, you can see how many people who are white, what percentage of that population has gotten the shot, African-American, Hispanic, and on and on. So yeah, you’ll be able to look. It’s very transparent. And we’ll look at it. And if we see that there’s a discrepancy there or disparity, we will be able to act on that. And that’s important for us to watch that.
Speaker 4: (55:11)
Governor, could I just add, because there’s been a couple of questions about this that we will protect people’s privacy. We want people to get access to the vaccine. We’ll try to make information available, but the individual, the person’s privacy will be protected. We have an obligation to do that, because we know that will encourage people to get the vaccination, which is a goal we have.
Speaker 3: (55:34)
Next question is from Jordan Laird at the Dayton Daily News.
Jordan Laird: (55:40)
Governor DeWine: (55:42)
Jordan Laird: (55:43)
A lot of Americans and Ohioans have indicated they’re skeptical of the coronavirus vaccine, and reluctant, or outright refuse to get one. How does the state plan to address vaccine skepticism, especially in Ohio’s minority communities that have some legitimate historical concerns about healthcare?
Governor DeWine: (56:02)
Yes, absolutely they do, legitimate historical concerns. And we will have specific messages for the people of the state of Ohio. We certainly we’ll do it for the African-American community. So we’ll be showing you some of those things in the days ahead. I think it’s also important for every Ohio citizen, talk to your primary care physician, talk to your doctor. They’re the ones that I would say that you should listen to. I think also in the days ahead, people are going to be watching on TV. They’re going to be watching the FDA people. They’re going to be watching health experts in regard to this vaccine. There are also seeing today, as they saw yesterday, healthcare workers who are getting vaccinated. And I think the more people who get vaccinated, the more comfortable everyone else is going to be to get vaccinated. But yes, it’s certainly something that we are focused on.
Speaker 3: (57:05)
Next question is from Marty Schladen at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Marty Schladen: (57:09)
Governor DeWine: (57:10)
Marty Schladen: (57:13)
Obviously, we’ve got two effective vaccines that are coming out. Have you heard anything from the Feds about whether production of these vaccines can be scaled up, since we know that they work, or is the reason that so many are coming out the door now is a lot were pre-produced pre-approval?
Governor DeWine: (57:36)
Yeah, Marty. I don’t think we’ve got a clear answer on that. We believe that it’s going to be a steady stream, and we hope that we’re going to see additional companies come in, so that we’re going to have more than two streams coming in, we’ll have three and four. We don’t know that. So we hope that this will continue to grow, but I don’t have a crystal ball. And so I can’t really, nor have really, we’ve been told specifically where this goes beyond the first two months. The first two months we’ve been given some indication, roughly 660,000 per month. But beyond that, that’s about all I can say. It’s all I know.
Speaker 3: (58:23)
Next question is from Trevor Peters at WXIX in Cincinnati.
Trevor Peters: (58:28)
Governor DeWine: (58:29)
Trevor Peters: (58:29)
Curious as to why the UC Bearcats were denied an attendance variance from the state for Saturday’s AAC Championship game, when ones have been given to the Browns and the Bengals in the past?
Governor DeWine: (58:40)
Yeah. I’m working on that today. I’ve got a call with the UC’s president, President Pinto. And he and I are going to talk about it. So I’m looking into it. I don’t know what happened, but we’re going to try to get… We worry about the safety. We also try to be equitable. The goal is to put people in a stadium where they can be safe, far enough distance apart, everybody wear a mask, obviously it’s outside, so we think that it can be done safely. But we’re looking at that now, and I really don’t have anything to announce today. But we’ll have something shortly.
Speaker 3: (59:27)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (59:32)
Hi, Governor. My question is for you or for Dr. Vanderhoff, if he’s still on the call. I understand these numbers are changing, but when you look at the pace of vaccination in Ohioans versus the pace we’re seeing Ohioans being hospitalized, are we still concerned that our hospitals could become overwhelmed? Or are we hopeful that the vaccine will bring enough relief, especially since it is going to those healthcare workers who we were concerned about becoming ill probably the most?
Governor DeWine: (01:00:01)
Well, I’ll take a shot at it first, and then I’ll turn it over to the doctor. But look, we got to deal with this ourselves. This vaccine is not going to cover enough people quick enough to get us out of this. I mean, eventually it will, but we’re at a very, very high rate today. And the rest of December, January, February are probably going to be hell, unless we turn this thing around. Let’s be blunt. So no, we should not interpret this, the good news of the vaccine, as anything but what it is. Good news, but it will not get us out of this.
Governor DeWine: (01:00:41)
We need to think about this. The first person to get a second shot in Ohio is not going to happen for another three weeks. So only after three weeks, are you then going to start getting people who have the second shot, and you’re going to start moving then, we hope, out of the possibility of the range of getting it. But at the rate of, if we get 660 vaccines this month, 660 next month, we got a long way to go. So it’s good news. We’re happy about it. We’re excited about it, but this is not going to get us out of this. We have to take ourselves out of this. Doctor?
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (01:01:20)
Thank you, Governor. I agree with you. Look, here’s how I’d characterize it. This is, in fact, history in the making. Never before have two effective vaccines with such an incredible safety profile been developed and delivered so quickly. I mean, scientifically this is not unlike some of the milestones of the space program. So it’s a moment we can be very proud of, but the arrival of the vaccine is signaling to us that we’re being able to pivot from just being able to play defense to now having both an offensive and defensive game.
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (01:01:57)
But we can’t stop playing defense, wearing our masks, keeping our distance, if we want to win this game, because you’re absolutely right. It’s going to take a while before we vaccinate enough people in Ohio that we can even begin thinking that way. Today, we have to continue to focus on the important mitigation steps that we’ve been talking about now for a very long time, because if we don’t our hospitals will get overwhelmed.
Speaker 3: (01:02:30)
Governor, next question is the last question for today, and it belongs to the Shane Stegmiller at Hannah News Service.
Shane Stegmiller: (01:02:37)
Good afternoon, Governor. How are you doing today? I wanted to ask about Senate Bill 311, which you vetoed. Have you been discussing with the legislature possible compromise so they don’t go and override that veto possibly, maybe removing criminal penalties for violating certain health orders, or some kind of negotiation?
Governor DeWine: (01:02:59)
Well, I have learned a long time ago that when you get down to the wire on discussions that it’s probably better not to do it in public. And so I’m going to duck that question openly, and not answer it. Look, we’re in discussions. And we want to come out of this with a health department that is not crippled, not hurt. And I’ve made my position very clear. My position has not changed.
Governor DeWine: (01:03:36)
So we thank you all very, very much. And I know yesterday I said would see a Thursday, and now we’re back today, but barring something unforeseen, we’ll be back here at two o’clock on Thursday. Thank you very much.