Dec 17, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 17
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on December 17 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Govenor Mike DeWine: (04:54)
Good afternoon, everyone. During this pandemic, more of our fellow Ohioans are turning to food banks. My wife Fran is here, I’m going to switch over to Fran, she’s going to tell you a little bit about the food banks and how far a dollar goes when you contribute. Fran.
Fran DeWine: (05:14)
Well, our Ohio food banks today are serving about 2 million Ohioans with basic take home groceries. The need has really increased since this pandemic began. But you can help prevent hunger in your community… A small donation really goes a long way. For instance, these groceries here, this is what $25 buys for you if you go to your grocery store. If you come over here, this is what a $25 donation provides to a local food bank, because they have relationships with farmers and grocery stores. So your $25 goes nine times farther, it’s $225. So this is $225 that you can [inaudible 00:06:10] for giving a $25 donation to the food banks. If you need help, or if you want to give help, go to ohiofoodbanks.org/coronavirus. There, you can find the closest food bank if you need them, or you can donate specifically to that local food bank, which will directly help people in your very own community. This is one holiday gift that’s going to make a big impact on a lot of people. [inaudible 00:06:48] tomorrow, locally.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (06:51)
Thanks Fran. Sadly we were notified today about the death of a corrections officer working for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. David Keith worked at the Ohio State Penitentiary for nearly 16 years has died, he tested positive for the coronavirus less than a week ago. Those at the prison tell me that Officer Keith was dedicated, very, very, well-liked, and very, very well-respected. He leaves behind five children and a number of grandchildren, we extended to his family are our deepest, deepest sympathy.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (07:40)
Eric, let’s go to the data report for today. And one thing we would point out, we had trouble yesterday in the system reflecting all the cases, and so it was impossible to determine how many cases were yesterday, how many were today. We had a number that was lower than it should have been yesterday, but I think what is instructive is that the two day average, which we know is right for those two days, we just don’t know how many cases in each day, but the two day average is 8,411. So 8,411 would be the two day average.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (08:25)
Eric, let’s go to our alert map slide. As we look at today’s advisory system, we have one County continuing at purple, and that is Richland County. Miami County is new to the watch list. Wyandot County is red for the first time ever. What we’re seeing with the advisory system today is similar to what we’ve been seeing over the past month or so. We’re seeing counties move to the watch list, then purple when we’re seeing worsening trends in cases and healthcare indicators. And then many times they returned to red when these all plateau at a very critically high level. So as we pointed out to remain at the purple, it has to keep going up, and even if it just plateaus out at a very dangerous level, it will, the way their system is set up, go back to red.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (09:29)
So as we look at this map, virtually everything’s in red. And so while this color code system was very helpful as we move forward a month ago after we started it, it really told us how the state was moving and what was going on in your county, when everything is virtually red, the importance of it takes on less meaning. So what I again would advise everyone to do is look at what’s going on in your hospitals, look at what’s going on in your hospitals, that’s going to tell you there’s a problem connected with the hospital because of too many people, too many COVID patients coming in.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (10:13)
The other thing to look at is what we’re going to look at right now. And Eric if we could go to the next slide, this is our all 88 counties again, one to 88. And the thing that we would again, emphasize is if you want to see what the risk is in your community, go to this. Every county, very, very sadly, is at least three times over a number of cases that the CDC requires for the county to be considered high instance. So it’s high instance multiplied by three, that’s the lowest county, and then we have many that are much, much, much higher than that.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (10:56)
Let’s go to the first 20. This is the first 20, as you’ll see at Wyandot, Brown, Jefferson, and what you’re seeing is they’re really spread out geographically all over the state now, it’s not just in one particular area. And again, if you look at the top 20, you go from 13 times the rate of high incidents in that county down to nine and a half times. So counties, no matter where we go, we’re seeing counties that are just very, very, very high. What’s the results? The results are, of course, people get sick. We look at what’s going on, really in our hospitals to see the results of that many new cases. So we’re going to talk right now with Dr. Vanderhoff more about what our hospitals are seeing. Specifically, doctor, if you could address what we’re seeing in our ICU.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (11:59)
Yes. Thank you, Governor. Well, as many people know, our ICU’s are the place in our hospitals where we care for our sickest patients. So our ICU’s are the place that offer us some of the clearest illustrations of just how busy our hospitals are and why that matters. Now, most of the time patients don’t start off in the ICU. They’re moved there after a very serious surgery, like maybe brain surgery or heart surgery, or when they’re conditioned deteriorates, despite aggressive therapy in a regular hospital bed. So it’s really important that we always have some ICU beds ready for those who need them. It’s just not good when our ICU are more than about 80% full. And when, in addition to being very full, more than a fifth of an ICU beds are filled with just one diagnosis, like COVID, people start getting very worried because that one group of patients is now so large they’re making it [inaudible 00:13:08].
Dr. Vanderhoff: (13:08)
There is so much COVID and the ICUs are so full that we have just this problem, not only are our ICU is very busy, they’re very busy with critical volumes of COVID-19. That’s a signal to all of us that we can’t let this thing get any worse, we can’t let our guard down for one minute. We have to continue to make a real priority of wearing our masks, and when we do that, we have to do it the right way, covering our nose and our mouth. We have to keep our distance and stay safe in everything we do, even as we’re looking forward to getting vaccinated.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (13:50)
Doctor, thank you very much. Thanks for telling us about what’s going on in our ICU. A little vaccine update, we continue to see healthcare workers who are being vaccinated this week, very exciting. Next week, we’ll see many, many more hospitals we hope will get the vaccine. The Moderna vaccine will be going out to them, and that will be very exciting. So 10 this week, in hospitals this week, what the federal government provided for, but next week, a lot, lot more hospitals.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (14:27)
Tomorrow, we will also see something very exciting, and that is the beginning of the vaccination of people in nursing homes and people who work in nursing homes. We’ve lost a large number of people in our nursing homes, we can’t wait frankly, to get as many as vaccinated as quickly as we can. Tomorrow as part of the federal program to vaccinate nursing home residents and staff facilities in Ohio will be among the first in the nation to receive vaccines through Walgreens, CVS, PharmScript, and Absolute Pharmacy. Those are the four pharmacy companies that will be vaccinating for us in the nursing homes.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (15:13)
Ohio was invited by the CDC to participate in the scaling up the federal program, and we could not be more excited. We can’t wait. More vaccine news on the horizon, today an FDA panel of independent medical professionals is expected to recommend that the FDA grant emergency use authorization to Moderna, which is similar to what Pfizer was granted. The FDA is expecting to meet later this week to issue the EUA, these vaccines will start flowing into Ohio during the coming week. And again, this is great, great news for Ohioans. So for the next few weeks, at least what you will see is the Pfizer vaccine will be going into our long-term care facilities for people who live there and people who…
Govenor Mike DeWine: (16:03)
… or long-term care facilities for people who live there and people who reside there and people who work there, and Moderna will be going towards our healthcare workers and we’ll keep you informed of the progress. We’ve heard on our press conferences directly from a lot of people in the healthcare community who have really tried to give us an understanding of what is going on in hospitals, what it’s like to be a COVID patient, what it’s like to be someone caring for a COVID patient. We started yesterday, two spots, a 62nd spot and a 32nd spot that the two ads are running now statewide and we thought we would play one of those ads for you today, is a 62nd ad featuring some of the nurses and some of them, you’ve already seen on our program here before, but this is an ad that just came out yesterday. And Eric, why don’t we go ahead and run it?
Erin Russo: (17:03)
I think the scariest part of COVID is that it’s unpredictable.
Dara Pence: (17:07)
It does not pick or choose who it affects.
Erin Russo: (17:12)
It is life-threatening, it is serious.
Dara Pence: (17:14)
When I see people who aren’t following the guidelines, it scares me.
Jasmine S.: (17:19)
It makes me think, well, I’ll them soon in the hospital.
Dara Pence: (17:21)
We see young, healthy people come in.
Erin Russo: (17:25)
Elderly and middle age, it does not discriminate.
Jasmine S.: (17:29)
Some patients tell us they didn’t think the virus was real and then they need a ventilator to survive.
Erin Russo: (17:34)
They are alone, they’re with no one familiar. They beg for us to call their families. We hold their hands while they’re speaking into their cell phones moments before they’re going to go on the ventilator.
Lisa Burich: (17:46)
And some patients die on the ventilator.
Dara Pence: (17:49)
It’s taking a toll, not only on our community, but also on our hospitals.
Lisa Burich: (17:53)
Nothing is more important than your life.
Erin Russo: (17:56)
I beg the public to take this virus more seriously.
Speaker 1: (18:00)
To beat this virus, we need your help, please.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (18:03)
We want to thank all the nurses, nurses on this ad, but all the nurses in the state of Ohio, all the healthcare professionals who are working, trying to save COVID victims. Those who were in the hospital, I don’t know what to say, but thank you. We’re very, very, very grateful. I want to specifically thank the nurses who did this ad, Erin Russo, Memorial Hospital in Marysville, Dara Pence, OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, Jasmine Shavers, Miami Valley Hospital, and Lisa Burich, St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. Thank you very, very much for doing this ad. Once a week, we get an update from our schools in regard to how many schools are open five days a week in class learning, how many are totally remote, and how many are a hybrid or a combination of those two. We’ll start with this map.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (19:09)
This is the map, and you’ll see, white is the five-day in-person. So these are by school districts. So again, that’s in-person and this is as of last week. So these have changed and continue to change. And one of the things that we’ve seen is that even schools that were open five days a week, some of them have had to pull back for some period of time because of the spread in the community, because they can’t put bus drivers in buses because they don’t have the teachers. So some of them are going back and forth. This is a snapshot in time as of now. So the five day in-person is kind of the white, the hybrid is light blue, and then fully remote is the dark blue. Eric, you want to go to the actual slide that shows the numbers, which would be the next one, I hope. Yeah, there it is. No, Eric that’s not it. Okay, we don’t have that slide.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (20:26)
Well, I apologize for very everyone. Oh, I’m going to ask my team to give us the numbers and they can hand me the numbers and I’ll come back and read those because what I wanted to show is the number of ones that were open and the different percentages. And so, again, that has been changing. It’s just something, I think, everybody in Ohio needs to understand where we are with our schools. Throughout this, we have left it up to the schools, the local school board, the local superintendent, the community, to decide what they are doing as far as being completely open or a hybrid or completely remote. So we’ll come back to that. I want to talk for a moment about a topic that’s very, very important, and that is disparity that we see in Ohio and in other states as well in infant mortality.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (21:19)
And it’s a racial disparity and it’s extremely, extremely troubling. Today, the Department of Health is releasing the 2019 infant mortality report. It shows that the number of Ohio infants who died before their first birthdays dropped to 929 last year, a third straight year of decline. However, racial disparities continue to widen with black infants being 2.8 times more likely to die than white infants. Let me repeat that, 2.8, almost three times as likely to die as white infants. It’s just simply unacceptable and we can correct it, we can change it. Since my first full day in office when we created the home visiting advisory committee, we’ve been working to reduce infant mortality and the racial disparities that exist.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (22:17)
With the help of the legislature who are fully on board for this, we’ve invested new resources into proven programs, such as evidence-based home visiting programs, group prenatal programs, community navigators and other programs designed to address infant mortality and racial disparity. Unfortunately though, the report that I’m just giving you only goes through 2019. So we can’t see the full impact of these investments because the investments only really began in late 2019. So we only had a few months of these programs. And we do believe that these programs will make a difference, but frankly, we know that we need to do even more beyond these programs that I just talked to you about. We got to do more. So today, I am establishing the Eliminating Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Task Force.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (23:17)
We have the goal of developing a statewide shared vision and strategy for reducing infant mortality rates and eliminating racial disparities just as quickly as we can. The task force will create actionable recommendations, actionable recommendations for interventions, performance and quality improvement, data collection and policies to advise our effort to change this very, very unacceptable situation. I want to announce today some State Opioid Response Grant. One of the more troubling things, and there’s a lot of troubling things about the pandemic, but one of the more troubling things is the fact that our death rate from drug overdoses for a significant portion of this period of time were going up. We know that this remains a big problem during the pandemic and it was a problem obviously before then.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (24:22)
The uncertainties of this pandemic have intensified the struggles with substance use disorder that many Ohioans face. As demand for mental health and substance use disorder treatment increases, I’m pleased to announce grants totaling over $76 million that have been awarded to local alcohol drug and mental health boards, as well as prevention, treatment and recovery support providers across the state. I’d like to thank Senator Rob Portman and Senator Brown for their efforts in getting this needed funding. We are ready to go to questions. We don’t have any questions there.
Speaker 2: (25:14)
First question is from Dan DeRoos, WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRoos: (25:21)
Good afternoon, governor. Want to go back to the public health advisory map and wonder if you could explain in a little bit more detail, are you encouraged that the purple is pretty absent on the map today, but then discouraged at the amount of red? What does that say to you?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (25:46)
Well, again, I want to try to pull people a little bit away from this map and more focus on what’s going on in your county. This map system was very good and I think it gave us early warnings and it really told a story as we move through here. But now with virtually everything red and the only movements mostly we’re seeing is between purple and red and that’s because the way the system was set up to be red, which is simply, you have to continue to see a spike going up. No matter how high your plateau, the spike has to continue to go up for you to continue to be purple. That’s just the way it was designed, it was designed more as a warning and a trendline. So I would ask people to look at the chart one through 88 and look at where your county is. So no, there’s nothing to be happy about as we look at these numbers.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (26:51)
Now, the only good thing we can say, I think, is that the Thanksgiving bump that we feared has not been what we expected. We think that there probably was a bump, but we also think that the health orders, the fact that we are now enforcing the mask and that the mass compliance is way up across the state. And we think that coupled with the whole issue in regard to the curfew, putting a curfew on, we think those two things together have slowed this down. So if you look at the number of cases, what you’re seeing is the cases that go like that now. Now, we don’t know if it’s a real plateau or not. So that’s good, it’s not good enough. And what we really need to see is a drop in the number of cases. We’ve got to start seeing those cases go down.
Speaker 2: (27:55)
Next question is from Jack Windsor at WMFD in Mansfield.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (28:01)
Jack Windsor: (28:01)
Hi governor. So I’m going to ask a two part question today on behalf of the several islands. First, on Monday, you said there’ll be a vaccine dashboard. And as you’re probably aware of report out of Alaska caused some backlash. A healthcare worker there went into anaphylactic shock after her jab. We’ve also received some anecdotal reports similar to that in Ohio. So in order to alleviate the fear of the vaccine stands up to the claim that it’s extremely safe, will we track and will the dashboard contain adverse data like reactions, injuries, or God forbid, deaths? And then second, if these vaccines end up being riskier than anticipated and since they’ve been rushed to market faster than any other, do you think it makes sense to petition Congress to overturn protections previously voted on that immunize drug companies from full liability when they’re drugs cause injury or death? Thank you.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (28:54)
Well, Jack, I’m going to let Bruce answer the question. I mean, look, we’re going to be very transparent. If somebody has a reaction, that certainly is going to get reported and my guess is it will be reported in the local media before we might even see it. But anything that we know, we will certainly report. I would just say though, with all due respect that to promote not wearing a mask and then to promote not taking a vaccine would mean that we have no defense against this virus. And we do not want to go with no defense. This is how we-
Jack Windsor: (29:42)
I’m sorry, where in my question did I promote not wearing a mask or taking a vaccine?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (29:46)
Well, I’m going back months ago, Jack. I didn’t think you were a believer in mask. I’m sorry. Maybe you are now.
Jack Windsor: (29:52)
No, I’m a pro health choice. No, I’m pro health choice meaning each person should have a choice. If somebody needs to wear a mask or wants to, they absolute should. Thank you for letting me clarify.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (30:03)
Sure. Okay, sure. Bruce, you want to-
Dr. Vanderhoff: (30:09)
So I think that the concern is a very valid concern. It’s a concern that the medical community has. How can we be assured that as we go through learning more about the vaccine, that we’re able to share what we know and assure people that their safety comes first? Because it does. And there are robust structures in place to ensure that whenever there’s any kind of adverse reaction, not only to this vaccine, but to any vaccine, that that is reported. And it’s not just at the level of the state, it’s reported federally through a special vaccine reporting program. As far as the question or the concern about cases of anaphylaxis, we’ve anticipated that there will be infrequent events of anaphylaxis. And let me add that this is not the only vaccine for which that’s a possibility, that’s a possibility with many of our vaccines.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (31:13)
The good news is that anaphylaxis is something that the medical community is prepared to treat, knows how to treat and is in fact a transient event in the vast majority of cases. So I understand the concern, but the safety profile of this vaccine is very, very good. We are not surprised by reports of anaphylaxis because they were shared with us even before the vaccine gained approval.
Jack Windsor: (31:47)
So if it is safe, putting that-
Speaker 2: (31:50)
Next question is from [crosstalk 00:15:53].
Govenor Mike DeWine: (31:54)
Let me follow up with Bruce just a minute. So Bruce, what is the advice? And I may have missed it, but what’s the advice then-
Govenor Mike DeWine: (32:02)
And I may have missed it, but what’s the advice then for people that are considering getting the vaccine? Who should put a hand up and say, “Maybe I shouldn’t get it.”?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (32:12)
That’s right. So every person who gets in line for this vaccine is given information about things they should consider before getting the vaccine. At this stage, if you are a person who has a history of an anaplastic reaction or very, very severe reaction to another vaccine in your life, then we’re recommending those individuals forgo for now, receiving the vaccine. However, the vaccine has been demonstrated to be safe in populations that are old, populations that are young, populations that have a variety of medical conditions. It’s actually got a remarkable safety profile during the phase two and phase three trials. Again, anaphylaxis is not something that any of us want to experience after receiving a vaccine, but it’s also something that your medical professionals who are administering vaccine are trained to handle.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (33:23)
Before we go to the next question, Dan, let me give the numbers in regard to our schools. And this is by populations, not by school district, this is by population. Of the children in public school, in the state of Ohio today, this is a snapshot. It changes every day because of the problems with the virus, but 27.9%, almost 28% of the students are in class today in-person. Fully remote is 45.2%, hybrid is 26.1. And then there is a district I believe that is closed. Dayton’s closed, that it would be 0.8, almost 1%. So those are the numbers again. Five day in person is almost 28%, fully remote, about 45%, hybrid about 26%. So, that’s where we are today. We’ll go to the next question.
Next question is from Jim Audi at WHIO in Dayton.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (34:38)
Jim Audi: (34:39)
Governor, could you discuss for a moment what’s going to be happening tomorrow? Where or when and how with the nursing home distributions, where did you decide to start this? When will that begin? How did you choose where to start with this? This is going to take some time, because there are a lot of nursing homes, a lot of workers, a lot of residents across the state.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (34:58)
You’re absolutely right, Jim. And this was not supposed to take place. The initial order we had from the federal government was that the day that the green flag went down, it was going to be the 21st. But they have given us permission to start, I think, several other states to start. And so we will start on Friday. We have the four companies that I talked about. All four of them will be in the field on Friday doing nursing homes. And there may have been some discussions back and forth between my staff and them about where to start. But basically as we go through this, it’s a scheduling question. And that we leave it up basically to these four pharmacy companies to do the scheduling. So, they’re starting with nursing homes and all the nursing homes really have the same priority.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (36:05)
So we’re not picking one nursing home over another. It’s a question of how they schedule them. And there’s a lot of logistics involved in regard to that. But our goal was to get it out just as quickly as we can, to everyone who lives in the nursing home, everyone who works in a nursing home. They will be involved … and we can put out a list. We’ll put out a list today about where they will be. But again, it’s the four different companies and they’re going each one going obviously different ways. The nursing home signed up with one of the four companies. We have a few nursing homes that didn’t sign up with anyone, we’ll have to take care of them as well, but they won’t be taken care of through the pharmacy companies.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (36:55)
We will do tomorrow I know. And only I can tell you that our two veterans homes will be included tomorrow. I plan on being in Sandusky for one of the veterans homes tomorrow. Also plan on being in Columbus and Cleveland. So I know that those are three communities that I will be visiting. So I know that nursing homes there will be getting the vaccination, but there’ll be more, there are more tomorrow and we can put out a complete list.
Next question is From Tom Bosco at WSYX in Columbus.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (37:37)
Tom Bosco: (37:39)
Hi governor. Given those numbers from the schools that you just gave us a few minutes ago, do you, in retrospect, believe that it was the right decision to make each of those districts, give them the opportunity to make their own decisions as to whether they should be open, closed, hybrid, strictly from home, et cetera? Or does anything in those numbers make you think that you should have issued any kind of statewide order?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (38:08)
Well, I second guess myself every day on a lot of different things, but you can’t spend much time doing that, frankly. And what I have to look at is as we look to the future and what do we want to do? And where should we be going? We have a long tradition in this state, a tradition that I think is respected and liked by most people. And that is that our school districts, our public school districts reflect their community. They’re run by their community. There’s an elected school board. There’s an appointed superintendent and they’re controlled locally. We have some things of course, where we require certain standards and there’s a lot of things the state does. But the running of the schools themselves, the hiring of the teachers and all these things, the calendar, for example. Calendars, we have calendars every different thing in the state. The local school sets all of those things. So it shouldn’t shock anybody that during this pandemic, we made a decision in the summer that schools would be able to start however they wanted to start. So, that decision was made.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (39:21)
But let me tell you what I do think about these numbers and what I take away from these numbers. I believe that most Ohioans believe as I do that children are better off when they’re in school in-person. That should be the optimum goal. That should be what we should aim for. There are some children, and I base this on talking to parents, talking to teachers, talking to school superintendents, some students do better remotely, but that’s probably a smaller number. Some students do okay remotely. They’re okay. There are other students who just don’t do well. There was a story today reported out of Cleveland about the number of students, and it was in cleveland.com. The number of students in Cleveland, who they lost track of and they weren’t logging in. That is not unique to Cleveland.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (40:27)
I had a call today with the mayors, as I do every day before the press conference at 11:30, I talked to the mayors of the major cities and the state. And I think to a person, I don’t want to speak for them, but I don’t think anyone was shocked by that. And they’re seeing that in their own schools. And so we have a real challenge and I have a real concern. And if there is a reason, I just say this to anybody who’s listening. If you don’t have a reason yet to wear a mask, to keep distance, to not eat with anybody that doesn’t live in your own household. And if you’re with anybody, that’s not in your own household to wear a mask and to keep a distance. If you don’t have a reason to do those things yet, I’ll give you a good reason.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (41:17)
We need our kids back in school. And they can’t be in school when we have bus drivers out. They can’t be in school when we have teachers who can’t fill the classroom and we’ve got kids quarantined. So this ought to be an incentive for all of us to get these numbers down. I was asked earlier, as you heard you, do I feel good? Do I feel bad about these numbers? Look, these numbers are just much, much too high. Our hospitals are filling up. We got fourth of our hospital population’s COVID patients today. One fourth, one of every four people. One of every three in ICU is a COVID person. So all of the spread that we’ve seen in our community impacts our ability of the schools to stay open. Schools are doing a good job, but they can’t do this alone.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (42:11)
They wear a mask. We don’t think there’s much spread in the school. But the school swims in the ocean of the community, and when the community has high rate, it’s tough for the schools to stay open. So I think our goal should be, I’m going to talk more about this next week. I think our goal should be to get kids back in school, but we cannot do this, we cannot do this with rates as high as they are today. Even schools that make a decision, “We’re going to stay open.” Many of them are having to close as you saw. And these numbers, these numbers should shock everyone. You had many schools that want to be open. They have not been able to be open in the last week or last two weeks, simply because of the spread of the virus in their community. So that’s what I take away from this as we look towards the future.
Next question is from Jackie Portrait of the Cincinnati Inquirer.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (43:13)
Jackie Portrait: (43:13)
Hello, how are you? Governor, you talked a little bit about the map and how it’s not as useful now as it used to be. There are a few other metrics that you’ve promised all these past several months that we haven’t yet seen. I’m wondering what happened to the health care setting cases by facility. Those were problems back in April. The three additional map indicators. I think it was originally seven, but supposed to grow to 10 and also county positivity rates. Where are we at on getting that information?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (43:44)
Okay. I’m going have to get back with you on all those. I’m going to have to go to our data team and see what they tell me. And we’ll report back on the next news conference.
Jackie Portrait: (43:53)
Next question is from John London at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (43:59)
John London: (44:01)
Hi Governor. In talking with nursing home directors around Cincinnati today, they tell me they have some staff and residents that are kind of unsure and want to see others get the shot first, which is why Walgreens has scheduled three clinics. For those who don’t consent in time, do you, or does the state have any sort of follow-up plan in the works for any additional clinics if the need arises, or is it kind of a now or never situation?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (44:33)
Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a now or never situation, but here’s what we’re faced with. We have, I think, a moral obligation to get this vaccine out just as quickly as we can. It’s the right public policy. It’s the right thing to do. So we’re getting the vaccine in. We want to get into arms just as quickly as we can. So what we are telling nursing homes is when Walgreens calls you or CVS calls you, one of the other two calls you and they give you a date, the wise thing to do is to say yes, on that date. And then frankly, every person makes a decision. They’ve got to consent and if they don’t consent, that’s okay. We respect their right not to take the vaccine. We would recommend everyone takes it. But we want to, when the team arrives from that pharmacy company, at that nursing home, they will want to vaccinate as many people as they can. Now, some nursing homes might be so large that it takes two days to do it, but once they get there, they will want to vaccinate as many people as they can. Now, I think what your question really boils down to is if someone today, when they come and says, “I don’t really want to get the vaccine.” Can they get that later? Sure. The answer is sure, they can get it later. What we don’t know is when. And that’s going to have to be something that the pharmacy companies are going to have to figure out, because what we don’t want them to do is … we want them to be efficient in getting the vaccine out and that vaccine not sit around.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (46:24)
We don’t want the vaccine to sit around. We got lives to protect. It needs to get out just as quickly as we can. But certainly, someone who declines today would have another opportunity. I don’t know when that opportunity would be. And again, that’s going to be based on what that pharmacy company can schedule. Again, it’s all a scheduling issue. Bruce, you want to say something?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (46:49)
Yeah. Governor, people need to remember, these vaccines were designed with safety in mind. They were designed to be safe and effective vaccines. In fact, these were under development as a potential replacement for our current flu vaccines before we ever knew about COVID. They were redirected towards this illness. From a scientific point of view, the design of these vaccines gives me and most of my medical colleagues, actually a great deal of comfort. And I think you see that in the doctors and nurses who are lining up to get these shots. We just on this broadcast, have seen critical care physicians and critical care nurses, emergency room providers do this. These are very knowledgeable, smart people. And I assure you, they wouldn’t be lining up to get these shots, if they really didn’t feel confident that these were going to be safe and effective. So my message to those who can potentially get at these in nursing homes is, COVID poses a very high risk to residents in nursing homes. In fact-
Dr. Vanderhoff: (48:03)
… a very high risk to residents in nursing homes. In fact, residents of nursing homes have among the highest risk of dying from COVID-19. This is an intervention that I really, truly believe is going to save lives and I’d strongly encourage people to consider receiving it.
Speaker 3: (48:24)
Next question is from Spenser Hickey at Hannah News Service.
Spenser Hickey: (48:29)
Thank you. Governor, can I get your reaction to the news that congressional leaders are nearing an agreement on another round of stimulus support?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (48:39)
Yes, I’m very excited about it. And I talked last night to Senator Portman who’s been involved in this bipartisan group of people and gang of 10 or something. But he gave me a good report. He’s pretty optimistic and thinks that no matter what has past, there’s a provision in there that will say that we will be able to roll the dollars over into next year. So that in and of itself is a major victory. I’m still learning what’s in this bill. And my experience in being in Congress is that you don’t know fully what’s going to pass until it actually passes. And so there’s a process and they’re going through the process. But yes, I’m very happy about the fact that they’ve been able to, it looks like, put a bill together.
Speaker 3: (49:32)
Next question is from Justin Dennis at mahoningmatters.com.
Justin Dennis: (49:38)
Afternoon, governor. Thanks for speaking with us today. Could you be a little more specific about the difficulties the state health department is facing in getting the data out everyday on the dashboard, keeping it kind of flowing from day to day? And also, could we talk a bit more about when the vaccine dashboard would be available?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (49:58)
The dashboard is almost ready to go. I mean, I think it probably will be up tomorrow or Friday or Saturday, and you’ll be able to see it and see the breakout. And again, I think as you look at that, understand that it’s about a day behind, usually, and that we, of course, dependent entirely on the different places where the vaccine is being used. People are being vaccinated to report to us the information. But it should be out Friday or Saturday. As far as the other problems, I don’t know that I have any technical expertise. I know I don’t have any technical expertise to speak about the problem. All I know is from yesterday is that the director called me in the middle of the day and said, “We’ve got a problem. We’re going to report at two o’clock. The time we normally report will be complete for that day.”
Govenor Mike DeWine: (51:04)
And I can’t explain it. I’m sure that the health department can explain it to you, but I can’t explain it. All I know is everything wasn’t being loaded in. We knew that the number we reported yesterday was low. And so we flagged that and said, we think this is low. Today, it’s really everything else that wasn’t recorded from yesterday and that occurred was coming in today. But what they can’t tell you is how much was going to yesterday and how much today. So what we know is for the two days, we know the number that, that’s accurate, and we can tell you what the average is for those two days, but we can’t tell you exactly what each day was.
Speaker 3: (51:51)
Next question is from Jo Ingles at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (51:55)
Jo Ingles: (51:56)
Hello, governor. We know that the nursing homes, that people who work there have been going in, they are COVID positive, but they’re still going into work because they’re short-staffed. And we see in other areas, in other places where people who have been diagnosed as positive are still going to work and people are not quarantining. Some people are even going into work sick. And there’s no real contact tracing to nail this down and figure out why people are doing this and where the problems are. Is there any way to beef up the contact tracing so that we can make sure that people who have COVID or have that been around people who have COVID are not out there spreading it, particularly to vulnerable populations?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (52:51)
Well, you’ve identified a problem. I mean, there’s no doubt that this is a problem. Every once in a while, we are getting a very specific report about someone who knew they were positive, who knew that they could spread it and still went about their business. We had a conversation this morning on our morning call in regard to tracing. And this is something that I am remained concerned about. Our health departments are overwhelmed. And we’ve tried to give them a different protocol or more refined protocol about the order in which to do the tracing and how to go about that. We have also significantly increased the number of people that we have hired to do the tracing. What you’re seeing out among the 113 health departments is they have dramatically increased the number, over the last few months, of people who were involved in the tracing. But Bruce, you want to take that and have any thoughts on the question?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (53:51)
I would agree that quarantine is an extremely important part of our efforts to control this. But there’s also a level of personal responsibility that we all have. Too often, as Ohioans, we’re having some symptoms and choosing to ignore them, or we’re bumping into a situation where perhaps we know that we should consider getting a test or going into quarantine and maybe we’re avoiding that. I think we all understand how important it is to be able to go to work, how important it is to be able to live our lives. But during this time we really have to put the community first and we have to remember that our actions can have real repercussions. So beyond the contact tracing, which I agree is very important in which the department of course is working with local health departments as the governor outlined to address further. In addition to that, each of us has a responsibility to help ensure that we’re acting appropriately to protect our community and the people we work with.
Speaker 3: (55:07)
Next question is from Molly Martinez at Spectrum News.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (55:13)
Molly Martinez: (55:20)
Oh, hello. Can you hear me?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (55:23)
Now I can hear you.
Molly Martinez: (55:23)
Hi, governor. Good to see you. So when I was covering the rollout on Monday, pharmacists were telling me that they were only allowed to extract five doses per vial. And today the FDA came out and said that, in fact, there are more like seven doses in each file and now we can in fact use every single dose in the vial. And two extra doses per vial may not seem like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, it really adds up. What do you think this will mean for our rollout and how do you think it will affect the general population getting the vaccine?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (55:58)
Well, we got guidance. We got that question. We went right to the CDC. Our team got guidance very quickly. And of course the answer is what you have just said, which is if they can get more out of it, then they should take that. And our instructions to them was if you’re vaccinating, just keep going. I mean, do not waste any of it. My understanding is the instructions do say though, that if you’ve got a partial, that you cannot use that partial. So you if you can get one more or two more complete ones out of there, you should use it. And our instruction to everybody, I’m going to make it very, very clear is keep going. We do not want it… This is like… You don’t want to spill any of this.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (56:40)
This is so valuable and we don’t want any of it lost. So it’s important. Just keep using it and get the whole. If you can get six out of it, if you can get seven of it, that’s great. And you can do the math. I mean, I don’t know how many of these have this extra. I don’t have that report back. But obviously every one that we get is valuable and we’re happy and that increases the number of people that we can get out of this last shipment, number of people we can get vaccinated. So we’re happy about it.
Speaker 3: (57:17)
Next question is from Marty Schladen at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Marty Schladen: (57:21)
Govenor Mike DeWine: (57:22)
Marty Schladen: (57:24)
I’ve seen some accounts in the national media that there are indications that hospitals have a higher threshold for admitting COVID patients now than they did earlier due to the strain that the hospitals are feeling. And I want to ask you and Dr. Vanderhoff whether we’re seeing this in Ohio and whether there’s been a formal change in guidelines, or this is just what hospitals are doing on a case-by-case basis?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (57:54)
I think that one’s for Dr. Vanderhoff. Doctor.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (57:58)
Yes. Thank you, governor. I think this is one of those really terrific stories that points to our hospitals and our healthcare organizations’ willingness and ability to clinically innovate, to improve care. Even before COVID started, our health systems were looking very actively at ways that they could care for more and more patients outside of the hospital setting safely and effectively. And I think what they’ve done is taken both emerging technologies, like the availability now of monoclonal antibodies for outpatient therapy, along with some of the work they were doing previously that has enabled home health care, that is much more developed and robust, and is actually allowing for programs that have been called hospital at home for patients who really can be safely cared for outside the hospital and are therefore able to avoid an unnecessary hospitalization.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (59:01)
So I don’t think that it’s true that our hospitals, and I’m certainly not hearing from our hospital leaders that they’re contemplating not bringing someone in, who they would have previously brought in unless they now feel they’ve got a better way of treating them that keeps them out of the hospital. And I’ll tell you this, whenever doctors can treat somebody outside the hospital, they prefer to do that. It’s better medical care [inaudible 00:59:32]
Govenor Mike DeWine: (59:33)
And Bruce, the other thing that was brought up at our last press conference has to do with people who are at home, understanding that sometimes they can be treated at home and making that happen with the ability… I’m not the doctor, you’re the doctor. But it’s been told to me, at least that you’ve told me is that we now have a better ability to treat people at home than we did before.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (59:59)
That’s correct. So not only do we have now medical therapies that can be used in the home environment, but [inaudible 01:00:09] more importantly, we have abilities like telemedicine and we have much more robust home health services where healthcare providers will come into the home to care for people and help them move along the path to recovery.
Govenor Mike DeWine: (01:00:24)
Speaker 3: (01:00:25)
Governor, next question is the last question for today and it belongs to Peter Krouse at cleveland. com
Govenor Mike DeWine: (01:00:31)
Peter Krouse: (01:00:34)
Hello, governor. [inaudible 01:00:36] today. Can you hear me?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (01:00:39)
You’re doing well. Thank you.
Peter Krouse: (01:00:40)
Okay. Question about vaccines and hospitals. Who at the state and in fact is the state making sure that hospitals are giving the vaccine only to frontline workers and not to say executives or others who are not directly working with patients?
Govenor Mike DeWine: (01:01:01)
Look, there’s a great deal of trust that goes into this. These are medical professionals. We’re not sending people out to check on them in that regard. They have every incentive to do the right thing. They want to do the right thing. And that is to cover their most vulnerable people. We’ve given them guidelines, but we trust that they can make that decision. They’re going to know who is most at risk and they will make those decisions. So we trust them to make those decisions. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, it doesn’t mean everybody will do it exactly the same, but by and large, this is the most practical way, frankly, to do it. We’re going to conclude today with a virtual performance by the Columbus Symphony Chorus of Carol of the Bells. Members of the chorus recorded themselves at home and they were combined together into one video. Eric. (singing) Well, that was great. I forgot to mention that I’m wearing this mask today in honor. It says Medina. A great community. Wearing it in honor of Larry Obhof, the Senate president, and he is from Medina. Everybody have a good weekend. Thank you.