Feb 11, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 11: Curfew Lifted
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on February 11, 2021 to provide coronavirus updates. The curfew for Ohio was lifted, as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decrease. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Governor DeWine: (02:28)
Good afternoon, everyone. We’ll start today by going to Pickaway County, Circleville, where we’re seeing our school employees being vaccinated at the Pickaway County Fairgrounds. With us is Jennifer Weimer, Director of Nursing for Pickaway County public health. Mrs. Weimer how are you doing today?
Jessica Weimer: (02:52)
Good, how are you?
Governor DeWine: (02:55)
So tell me about your day to day. Where’d you start off?
Jessica Weimer: (02:59)
We were at Teays Valley, and we did about 310 vaccinations, then today for Circleville, 226.
Governor DeWine: (03:12)
You guys are pretty busy today, huh?
Jessica Weimer: (03:15)
Governor DeWine: (03:17)
No, that’s great. With us today also as Danielle Stultz, English teacher, Mrs. Stultz. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it very much. How do you feel about getting the vaccine today?
Danielle Stultz: (03:34)
I’m so excited to get the vaccine. I can’t wait to have this added protection.
Governor DeWine: (03:39)
Well, that’s great. So you teaching high school, or grade school?
Danielle Stultz: (03:43)
Yeah, I teach ninth grade English at Circleville.
Governor DeWine: (03:44)
That’s pretty important.
Danielle Stultz: (03:49)
I think so.
Governor DeWine: (03:50)
Thanks for doing it.
Danielle Stultz: (03:51)
Governor DeWine: (03:52)
All right. We’re going to watch you get a shot. Stultz how you doing? You doing okay?
Danielle Stultz: (04:30)
I’m good. That was easy.
Governor DeWine: (04:34)
Well, thank you very much. Good luck. Good luck the rest of the day. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Governor DeWine: (04:44)
We’ve spoken about our efforts for equitable vaccine distribution, making sure we’re getting the vaccine. And of course this week, we’re in the 65 and we’re going to stay for 65 for a few weeks. This week, thanks to the efforts, the Ohio Department of Aging, as well as the Ohio National Guard, we’ve begun to deliver vaccines directly into affordable senior housing locations in Ohio. Joining us today to talk about these efforts is Ohio Department of Aging Director, Ursel McElroy. Director, thanks for joining us.
Ursel J. McElroy: (05:19)
Absolutely. Good afternoon, governor. As you stated, we’re on site today at one of our affordable senior housing locations. This is part of our Regional Rapid Response Assistance Program, or what we refer to as RRRAP. There are about 97,000 older Ohioans living in these sites, and we’ve identified more than 1300 sites within the high density, metropolitan and suburban areas, as well as hard to reach rural areas. So when we talk about equity and access, that we need to make sure that our actions are very strategic with the limited amount of vaccines in this country right now. And being able to offer to Ohioans, who are aged 65 and older, who are living in affordable housing, who may have been on their own since perhaps last spring, it’s a really targeted approach to advance better health for all.
Ursel J. McElroy: (06:08)
So you’ll see through our partnership, the National Guard has trained medical personnel. They’re administering the vaccination, coordinating all the volunteers, all the logistics, and all the things that we need to do to be sure that this is a really good day and good experience. Also, on site, we have our local area Agency on Aging. And while we’re doing the critical work of getting the vaccines to the most vulnerable, we are also on a mission to connect with older Ohioans and do isolation screenings.
Ursel J. McElroy: (06:37)
We do know that during the pandemic, many of the older adults have been staying home. They’ve done some of the things we’ve asked them to do, and they’ve not spent a lot of times with maybe some of the people they’re used to. And so we also know for those who are isolated and feeling lonely, they have higher risk for heart disease, or stroke, dementia, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and perhaps even premature death. So when we go out, we are looking to do these important screenings, not only for isolation, but other red flags. And we’re looking for anything that indicates that an individual who comes through our line may need to connect with additional resources. So we’re really excited about this critical opportunity for the Aging Network to connect with many of these older adults, while at the same time, working with the Guard to put in place these really important vaccinations.
Governor DeWine: (07:27)
You’re getting the vaccines out, but at the same time, you’re having the opportunity to interface with the residents, see if they have any other things that they need, any other challenges. I think this was going on in Toledo. I think we have a picture, Eric, Toledo. And was that yesterday?
Ursel J. McElroy: (07:47)
Correct. Yesterday, we had about 300 individuals through. Today we’re in Cleveland, tomorrow we’ll be in Cleveland. We’ll also be in Columbus and Cincinnati. We’re already looking forward to next week. Next week we plan to be in Akron, Youngstown and Dayton.
Governor DeWine: (08:05)
Okay. Well that’s good. Everything going okay so far, do we think?
Ursel J. McElroy: (08:09)
Absolutely. Everything I’m hearing is that we have really great interest, great uptake. And we’re just going to keep rolling.
Governor DeWine: (08:16)
Okay. That’s good. We appreciate it. Okay. We’re going to roll right now to Cleveland. We’re going to see a few of those Ohio seniors be vaccinated at Ambleside Towers in Cleveland. Joining us is Kristie Groves. Kristie Groves is the Director of Resident Services, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. Ms. Groves, how are you doing today?
Kristie Groves: (08:37)
I’m great. How are you doing, governor?
Governor DeWine: (08:40)
It looks like you got a lot of activity in the background there.
Kristie Groves: (08:43)
I think everybody’s frozen right now, because of you.
Governor DeWine: (08:48)
Well, when you and I talked 15 minutes ago, there was a lot of activity going on back there.
Kristie Groves: (08:55)
Yeah. Yeah. We’re just waiting to talk to you. We’re excited about this today.
Governor DeWine: (09:00)
Well, I know we’ve asked some seniors who going to be vaccinated and we have the Ohio National Guard, who’s going to be doing that. Maybe we’ll start with Phillip [Zumora 00:09:12] . Mr. [Zumora, 00:09:12] where you? Raise your hand.
Kristie Groves: (09:17)
He’s coming over.
Governor DeWine: (09:20)
All right. So we’ll make a place for you there. How are you doing today, sir?
Phillip Z.: (09:40)
Pretty good, sir.
Governor DeWine: (09:43)
Are you ready to get vaccinated?
Phillip Z.: (09:45)
Yes I am.
Governor DeWine: (09:48)
All right. We’re going to watch you do it. Is that okay?
Phillip Z.: (09:50)
Fine with me.
Governor DeWine: (09:51)
Okay. Let’s do it.
Phillip Z.: (10:01)
January 13th, 1949. [Zumora 00:10:03] .
Kristie Groves: (10:15)
Phillip Z.: (10:15)
Yep. Didn’t feel a thing.
Kristie Groves: (10:31)
Governor DeWine: (10:31)
So how you doing, sir?
Phillip Z.: (10:31)
Governor DeWine: (10:35)
Tell me the truth, were you’re looking forward to this, or not?
Phillip Z.: (10:39)
Yes. I want to start getting out of the house.
Governor DeWine: (10:44)
I understand. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Phillip Z.: (10:53)
Governor DeWine: (10:55)
Thank you. We now have Ms. Bentley. Arlene Bentley is also here. And how are you doing today?
Arlene Bentley: (11:06)
Governor DeWine: (11:06)
Are you looking forward to this or not?
Arlene Bentley: (11:09)
Yes, I am. I have several family members that have had COVID.
Governor DeWine: (11:12)
Arlene Bentley: (11:14)
So i know what the disease can be. So I was looking forward to having this. It’s very beneficial.
Governor DeWine: (11:21)
Well, good. Well, we’re glad you’re getting it today. Very, very much. And we’ll watch you if that’s okay?
Arlene Bentley: (11:27)
Governor DeWine: (11:31)
Doing okay, Ms. Bentley?
Arlene Bentley: (11:57)
Governor DeWine: (11:58)
Are you doing okay?
Arlene Bentley: (11:59)
Yes. I’m all right.
Governor DeWine: (12:03)
Well, we thought with we thank both of you very much.
Arlene Bentley: (12:07)
Governor DeWine: (12:07)
We’ll let everybody get back to work back there. So good to see everybody. Say hello to The National Guard and all of you. Thank you. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Governor DeWine: (12:18)
We’re going to now see a little video of our friend, Jimmy Malone, who’s getting vaccinated. Jimmy has been a long-time radio host on WMJI in Cleveland. And we thank Jimmy for rolling up his sleeves, getting the shot and also encouraging all his listeners to do the same. And if this was a live shot, I would give Jimmy a hard time about those muscles he’s got there. I did not realize that Jimmy was working out that much. So see how he’s doing. It looks like he’s okay. Jimmy, thank you very much for doing that. We appreciate it. Let me talk for a moment about our nursing homes and bring everybody up to date on some data, as we look at one of the slides. We know that this is where we’ve seen a large number of our cases over half our deaths. And we put a real emphasis on going into the nursing homes, into the assisted living. And now we’re leading up to something we’re going to start next week, which is where we’re going to continue to put vaccine into the nursing home, so that people who may have missed it the first time, or new residents who are coming in, who have not been vaccinated, or new employees are coming in. So it’s very important for us to do that.
Governor DeWine: (13:42)
Let me take a look at the slide. This is a slide and it’s comparing, these are cases, long-term care, as well as the general cases. So what you will see here in the black, and you can follow it through here, but what you see in the black is number of number of cases. And they’re obviously scaled differently and you can see on the side of the chart, but the number of cases, generally in the state that we have, and then the number of cases that week in the nursing homes. And so what you can see as a rather dramatic change. They’re both going down, but the number of cases in the nursing home, which is this light, light, light blue that you see right here has gone down much more dramatically. So it is something that we really are very happy to see.
Governor DeWine: (14:43)
And just to take a couple snapshots, November 29th, 2020, that week, there were 2,697 cases in our long-term care facilities, new cases. The week of January 17th, that week, that number was down to 612. That is a very, very, very significant drop, 77% drop. And again, you see it here. Now, these numbers from here on are still incomplete. We don’t have the full numbers yet. But even if you go out here, you see quite a change. So we’re very, very happy with that. And that’s a very good thing as we see. Now, we’re going to go look at the hospital slides, Eric, if we could do that. You got them up there already.
Governor DeWine: (15:37)
We continue to go down. We’re very, very happy about that. 1,862 people in our hospitals now who have COVID, you can see how this number has gone down. Probably a couple of causes. One is the lowering of cases overall. But another one I’m sure is the chart that we showed you just a moment ago, which is when we’ve really tamped the fire down in the nursing homes, those are people who many times end up in the hospital. Over half the deaths have come out of the nursing home, so probably half the hospitalizations have come out of the nursing home. So one of the real benefits, obviously the most direct benefit is to that particular resident of the nursing home who doesn’t get the COVID. But we also have the benefit of free more space up in our hospitals.
Governor DeWine: (16:34)
And so when you look at this coming down in the hospitals, it is a result of lower cases overall, but it’s also a result of significant vaccination in those nursing homes, so we’re very happy about that. And one of the fringe benefits as we see this number, the curfew, we indicated two weeks ago, that if we got below 2,500, and we got below 2,500, and we kept that for seven days, well we’ve blown through that. And what we said is if we did that, then we would be able to take the curfew off. So the curfew actually expired officially at noon today. So there’s no curfew. Now we may, in the future, we don’t know, have to put a curfew back on. We certainly hope we do not. But it’s very important, and I think doctors will say, very important for us to continue to do what we’ve been doing.
Governor DeWine: (17:32)
Let’s get the vaccine into our arms as quick as we can. But at the same time, we’ve got to continue to wear a mask. We’ve got to continue to keep the distancing. We check on the mask wearing every week, sampling throughout the state of Ohio. In retail establishments, it’s about 93% and it’s been holding steady. So we got to keep it up there. That’s just part of what we’re going to have to do as we go through this period of time. What we don’t know is what’s going to happen with the variants. You’ve seen some of the national stories about how fast it replicates. We don’t know. So we could be back in a situation where we have climbing cases. We certainly hope we don’t do that, but we all can control this to some extent. And one way we can control, is to continue to wear masks, continue to keep the distance, whether it’s in the workplace, whether it’s in schools, whether it’s our own personal lives.
Governor DeWine: (18:27)
Let’s turn to schools. One of our goals of course, has been to get kids back in school. And we set a goal of March one, have every child back in school. And then we asked our schools to commit to that. Every school but one in the state has committed to doing that. But the good news is, well two things. We’re well into our second week of vaccinations in schools, that is going very well. At the end of this week, by the end of this weekend, we will be about halfway through vaccinating in the personnel, in our schools, across the state. So big, big job. That’s going well. We’re very happy where we are. A couple of days, we’ll be about 50% done, so that’s a good thing. The other good thing is that we’re already seeing a very significant change in schools going from totally remote. And we’re just, very, very, very happy where we are there.
Governor DeWine: (19:28)
And Eric, you’ve got that chart already up here. Let me just show you this. For remote, which is what we’ve been looking at. This is a snapshot of where we are this week. So we do this, we do a snapshot every week. And you can see that the numbers have changed. The percentage of districts that are totally remote is now only 5.1%. That constitutes 12.5% of our students. So we are really moving in the right direction, getting our kids back in school. And we’re very happy about that.
Governor DeWine: (20:20)
Let me just give you a few figures about how much vaccine we’re getting. First doses, the week that we’re in right now, 178,722 Moderna and Pfizer combined. Then we have a Federal Pharmacy Program at 35,800. So total coming into Ohio this week, this week, which basically came in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 214,525, 214,525. The doses for next week are similar. They are going to total 223,025, 223,025. So we’re moving in the right direction. Just to give you a little heads up this week, we’re seeing now Rite Aid, part of the Federal Pharmacy Program, Rite Aid, will be doing vaccinations in 164 of its stores. And Kroger will expand to all 194 of its stores in Ohio. So just to give you a heads up of what is is coming, and what is actually taking place right now.
Governor DeWine: (21:40)
Might also say that we;ll be adding next week, 17 new independent pharmacies. That will take us up to 36 independent pharmacies. And we will continue to grow those as we move forward. And as we move, and as we look down the line, at some point we will add to these pharmacies and health departments and hospitals, we will add bigger, more, mass vaccination sites. And that is when we get more vaccine coming into the state and that’s been our plan all the way around. Let’s go look at the rest of the data.
Governor DeWine: (22:26)
You’ll see a big change in deaths. And again, Director McCloud has talked about this, talked to the press about this today. This was an error that was made, basically the reconciliation. And I won’t go into it, because she went through it today earlier, but the reconciliation was not taking place. We had a big surge in deaths. They all did not get reconciled the way it should have happened. We found out about it recently, and now they’re being reconciled over the next few days. And so you’ll see a jump today…
Governor DeWine: (23:03)
… over the next few days. And so you’ll see a jump today, tomorrow, maybe the next day. We’re not sure exactly how many days it’s going to take, but you’re going to see a distorted number in the number of deaths. And we believe that, that’s going to put us back on track to where we actually are. So this was a failure of reconciliation not taking place and having more cases coming in, more deaths, sadly, were coming in. So we’re getting that straightened out. We believe that for today, approximately 650 of these deaths are from the reconciliation that is ongoing. So in other words, added to this figure, about 650 though 71 would have been the normal cases we would have thought would have come in.
Governor DeWine: (23:55)
Let’s go to our next slide, Eric. This is our all counties as ranked. Again, this is what we ask you to look at, to see the spread in your county. We’ll go to the next one, Eric. Again, the top county is Brown County. Again about seven times what the CDC says is a high incident level. Next slide, Eric. Continuation. Slide basically looks the same as it has looked for the past few weeks. Same as last week. I want to talk now about part of our commitment to reduce the number of lives lost to COVID. We directed the Department of Health and our healthcare providers to prioritize people with developmental disabilities and severe medical conditions for vaccination. So that has been ongoing for the last several weeks.
Governor DeWine: (24:58)
Our county boards of developmental disabilities in partnership with local health departments and I want to point out, partnership with our children’s hospitals, have worked over the last three weeks to identify, to schedule, transport and vaccinate this high risk group of individuals. We want to go… Even though they’re not 65, but these are people who have a very high risk if they get COVID, extremely high risk. And so this effort has been ongoing. And it’s been ongoing specifically with people with developmental disabilities for the last three weeks. Through this effort, we’ve heard incredible stories of local collaboration and incredible planning that’s gone into assisting people in getting access to this vaccine. Today, we believe approximately 12,000 individuals who come under this category have been vaccinated. And so we’re very happy about that.
Governor DeWine: (26:04)
We’re going to continue our work to work with our local partners, our local developmental disability boards, to make sure that the rest of the people in this group are in fact contacted and those who want the vaccine do in fact receive the vaccines. So this is a work in progress, not done. People are still eligible in this group, but we’ve got 12, 000. Now, next week, Ohioans who have certain conditions, the same conditions we talked about, certain conditions they’re born with, or those that were diagnosed in childhood and carried into adulthood will be able to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Again, even though they’re not 65, individuals with these conditions face significantly higher risk for adverse COVID-19 outcomes. We’ve listed these conditions before, but as we approach the first day when individuals who qualify can get a shot, and that will be next Monday, we thought it would be good for Dr. Vanderhoff to explain these conditions in more detail and explain how individuals who qualify can get a shot.
Governor DeWine: (27:21)
And let me explain, again, the rationale. We’ve identified, doctors have identified approximately 200,000 people in this state who are under the age of 65 who have a very high risk of adverse result if in fact they get COVID. It is a prescribed list. And so we would ask you, take a look at that list. It’s the same list we’ve been presenting. We tried to make it clearer, particularly for patients. So when you look at that today, I think you’ll find it’s a little easier to read, a little easier to understand. But I’m going to have now, Dr. Vanderhoff explain two things. Who’s in the groups, who’s in this group that we’re talking about, in addition to that, how these individuals can get vaccinated. Dr Vanderhoff.
Dr Vanderhoff: (28:17)
Thank you very much, governor. Well, as you’ve noted, overall, age really is our very best predictor of one’s risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. But as our understanding of the virus grows, medical science has pointed us to these conditions with which we may be born or develop in childhood that also place those old enough to receive the vaccine at serious risk. Now, remember, vaccine eligibility starts at least 16 years old for Pfizer and 18 for Moderna. You’ll recall, as the governor noted, we’ve shared this list previously, and we developed the list in consultation with medical professionals from across the state based on the best evidence available from the CDC. We’ve reflected on subsequent feedback from medical professionals, patients and families. And as the governor noted, we’ve made some refinements to ensure that what we’re sharing today describes the condition on the list even more clearly.
Dr Vanderhoff: (29:29)
So let’s go through the conditions on the list. First we have sickle cell anemia, then Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spinal bifida. I think those are all diagnoses people have heard about and it’s fairly clear what we mean by those. But next we have people born with severe heart defects requiring ongoing medical care. So this refers to those with heart defects who still require regular care from their heart doctor. This would not include the many Ohioans who thankfully had heart surgery as a young child, but now are doing very well and don’t need to see their heart doctor regularly. Next on the list, people with severe type 1 diabetes who have been hospitalized for this in the past year. This category applies to what has been commonly called juvenile diabetes. It’s the kind of diabetes that usually starts at a young age and requires insulin, not the kind of diabetes that so many develop later in life and for which they often begin their treatment with pills.
Dr Vanderhoff: (31:04)
Also, even among those with type 1 diabetes, we’re asking that vaccination at this time, be restricted to those who may have not been able to achieve good control of their blood sugars and have needed to go to the hospital for the treatment of things like diabetic ketoacidosis. All right, next on the list we have phenylketonuria, also known as PKU, Tay Sachs and other rare inherited metabolic disorders. If you have any question about whether you have a rare metabolic disorder, just ask your doctor. Next, we have epilepsy with continuing seizures, hydrocephaly, microcephaly and other severe neurologic disorders. Now, this would expressively not apply to the many people who had febrile seizures early in childhood, but today are doing just fine. Next on the list, Turner syndrome, fragile X, Prader–Willi syndrome, and other severe genetic disorders. These conditions are also referred to as chromosomal disorders. Next, we have people with severe asthma. Again, in this case, we’re not talking about the vast majority of us who have asthma but do very well with our inhalers and other medications. Rather, we’re referring to those whose asthma is much more serious and has taken them to the hospital in the past year. Next, alpha and beta thalassemia. These are blood problems for which most patients with the problem see a specialist. And finally, solid organ transplant candidates and recipients. So again, as the governor noted, next week we’ll open vaccination to everyone on the above list. Now, we’re asking providers to clearly display this definition of the 1B group on their websites to help inform patients about whether they’re eligible. Know that many eligible patients in this category who were hospitalized in the past year may receive outreach from their treating hospital to schedule your vaccination with them.
Dr Vanderhoff: (33:48)
Now, if a patient chooses vaccination at a pharmacy or a local health department, the state will not require additional documentation. We will however, be asking providers to instruct patients to affirm their eligibility at registration, and or to confirm that verbally when they receive their vaccination. And finally, the state will not be monitoring… Correct, the state will be monitoring this population’s vaccination rate. And we’re going to be doing that to ensure that there is uptake and that there is not abuse of the category. And we’ll do that through our disease reporting system. So hopefully that provides a little bit more information and a little bit more detail. Thank you, governor.
Governor DeWine: (34:43)
Doctor, thank you very much. Lieutenant governor.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (34:47)
Thanks, governor. It was great news on the vaccine strategy. It’s great to see that we have nearly 90% of our school districts back to some form of in-person education. The nursing home numbers, amazing. The impact that the vaccine targeted at that population, how that’s changed things around. And we’re seeing the results of that with the hospitalizations down, which is another great sign. And I know for many people, I spoke with the restaurant association yesterday, the idea now that because of the health situation, because of the vaccine strategy is better. Still not perfect, but better. Now they’re going to be able to have some expanded hours. And the restaurants, governor, wanted me to make sure that they reassured you and the public that they’re going to adhere to the safety protocols that are in place.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (35:45)
They know that they want their customers and everyone to know that when you come out to go to their facilities, that the safety protocols will still be in place for all of those facilities. I want to start out focusing as I have a lot on the education and economic recovery conversation. And today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. And I was just educating a couple of the women that work here in the governor’s office about the first person to win two Nobel prizes was Marie Curie. And the leading researcher for Moderna was a female who led that champion, that cause at Moderna. And we have a lot of opportunity for women in science in this state, particularly through the Choose Ohio First scholarship program.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (36:50)
So if you have a daughter or granddaughter that’s maybe thinking about science or has that aptitude, take a look at all of the opportunities we have for science education. We have these innovation centers, one in Cincinnati, an innovation district. Another one that we announced in Cleveland and are doing some world-class research in these areas. And we encourage our girls and young women to take an academic role in science and do some of these great things. Also, governor, an announcement today, that we officially surpassed the 5,000 mark for Ohioans who graduated to the Apprenticeship Ohio program since you and I took office. We were pushing apprenticeships. We wanted to see more of them. This is a big benchmark for Ohio. To put the number precisely, it’s 5,236 graduates. So congratulations to all those graduates. Remember how an apprenticeship works.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (37:52)
You earn while you learn. On average, these jobs pay $60,000 a year when they’re complete, and you don’t have the high cost of tuition because these programs, you work with your employer to develop these skills. Ohio is currently number one in the country among states who run registered apprenticeship programs at the state level. We’re number four in terms of the number of states who run registered federal apprenticeship programs. So we currently have 19,578 Ohioans in the program. You can earn this apprenticeship certification within two to four years. And as I mentioned at the end, no debt and a great career there. Yes, in the traditional fields like construction and manufacturing, which we all think about when we think apprenticeship, but it’s also an IT and in healthcare.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (38:54)
Some professions that we sometimes don’t think about when we think about apprenticeship programs. And we have one of the most powerful apprenticeship programs in the country right here in Ohio. It’s mature. It works well. There are a lot of great opportunities. And if you or son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter are interested, go to apprenticeship.ohio.gov for more information. Apprenticeship.ohio.gov. This is all part of our educational and economic recovery. Preparing people for the jobs that we know exist, doing it in an affordable way and helping make sure that the employers of our state have the skills that they need in their workforce to achieve success. So all great news, governor. And with that, I’ll turn it back over to you.
Governor DeWine: (39:46)
Great. Lieutenant governor, thank you. We’re ready for questions.
Speaker 1: (39:50)
Governor, first question today is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.
Alex Ebert: (39:54)
Governor, thanks so much for having this. Can you please elaborate on what the state intends to do to correct some issues it’s finding with unemployment fraud? The latest update would be really helpful. We received a release today indicating that we had almost a 200% spike in fraudulent potential claims filed last week. So love to hear what the state is going to do, especially considering the [inaudible 00:40:20] is taken out in your name.
Governor DeWine: (40:21)
Sure. It’s a national problem. We’re very concerned by it. As we saw that huge jump as the department has explained. Indication is that a great deal of that is fraud. I know lieutenant governor, my request has been working on that and I’ll let him answer the question. And, John.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (40:47)
You probably saw in the release that was issued by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that there was a 202% increase week over week in the number of claims that were filed. 140,000 claims filed. 44,000 of those were initially flagged for suspicion of fraudulent activity. So that’s 31% of those right off the top that they believed were fraudulent. These attempts at fraud beyond those flagged are being investigated for criminal activity. And as we know, when you have this problem, it will slow up the process for processing many of the legitimate claims. That’s one of the unfortunate problems we have when we have people from around the world attempting to defraud the unemployment compensation systems that each state has in administering these programs. Many of the claims of the 140,000 that were filed that are legitimate will be processed and paid. Many more will be delayed though, until they’re properly qualified to make sure we don’t send out money that shouldn’t be sent out, but also trying to do that as quickly as possible so that we get the money out to the people who deserve it.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (42:13)
We will have Jeff Frickey, who is the private sector lead on the partnership that we’ve created under the governor’s request at the Department of Job and Family Services. He will be available next week. And we will have those who are dealing with this in the private sectors. Look, international cyber fraud activity is something that the private sector’s dealing with, the public sector’s dealing with. And we will have Jeff available next week to give a report on how this is working with the private public partnership that we’ve created. I talked with Director Henderson who would be with us today, but she’s testifying before the legislature right now. And she was really appreciative of what the private sector cyber folks have brought to this conversation. So I think that, that is the best information we have available now on what we’re doing.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (43:19)
I would also say it’s worth noting that since last Friday, because the team has been working to get the funding out to the people who qualify, since last Friday, they paid out $190 million to 372,000 Ohioans receiving pandemic unemployment assistance, which again includes the additional $300 a week that they’re eligible for under the federal program. In the last 11 days, they sent out around $326 million to more than 586,000 Ohioans. And so you see the scope of what the problem is, how much money has gone out the door to these many Ohioans who qualified for it. And that’s the challenge is that when you have… All states are dealing with it. There are people attempting to commit these frauds from around the globe. Jeremy Pelzer, by the way. Jeremy’s on today, Jeremy did a great job in an article at cleveland.com explaining the nature of what’s going on. But we’ll have Jeff Frickey and the team on next week to explain in more detail what we’re doing to confront it.
Speaker 1: (44:43)
Next question is from Patrick O’Donnell with the74million.org.
Governor DeWine: (44:50)
Hi. So we’ve talked a couple of times about the March 1 school reopening date and how some districts may open later. Akron has set March 22nd as their opening. Cleveland’s actually looking at pushing it until after their Easter break, which could be April 6th. What are your thoughts about that?
Governor DeWine: (45:12)
We really need them to be back in by March 1. Every school signed the document that said they would be back in, March 1. And we allow them to be hybrid, we allow them obviously to be totally back, but we really need to get these kids back in school. And when we looked at what the Superintendent of Public Instruction, what the Department of Education, what they released, it was consistent with what I’ve been hearing from parents, we’ve been hearing from educators. That there are some kids who do fine remotely, some even like it best. Some kids do okay and some kids don’t do very well. And my concern, frankly, is the children-
Governor DeWine: (46:02)
And my concern, frankly, is the children who have been out of school since March, who have really not been in school at all. They’ve been remote, and that has been inconsistent for some of them. Some of them have not been online very much, so all kinds of stories and concerns. And so I really have a concern about that. And the reason that we are devoting over 200, 000 doses, first doses to our teachers is to get our kids back in school. This is a major commitment, but we know that many kids are not getting the socialization they need. Some children are having mental health problems because of this, and that’s not to even talk about the academic challenges. So there’s a lot of reasons to put kids back in school.
Governor DeWine: (47:04)
Now, if a parent doesn’t want their child back in school, that’s the parents’ decision. That’s the family’s decision. We respect that, but I would hope that these schools would look at this and say, “This is something we can do.” And we know so much more today than we knew when this started. We had no idea how powerful mask could be. I started hearing about it. We put an order on, and I know a lot of people were saying, “Hey, the whine’s crazy. You’re going to compel kindergarten kids to wear a mask,” and we did that.
Governor DeWine: (47:41)
And what we found is that kids could, by large, some exceptions, but by and large can wear masks and they’re fine. Then what we started hearing from principals and superintendents and teachers is the quarantine is too tough because guess what’s happening when kids are in a classroom and maybe they’re closer than six feet, but they’re further than three feet. And CDC was requiring these children to be… Their guideline was that if somebody came down with COVID in the classroom, anybody that was close to that within six feet, closer than six feet needed to be quarantined.
Governor DeWine: (48:23)
Then we had superintendents and principals telling us, “Look, we’re quarantining, but no one ever gets sick even though that child was exposed.” So anecdotally for several months, we kept hearing this. So we then went in and tested, and what we found is that was consistent with what some testing that’s been done on the national level in the schools is that the spread in schools is not very much in the classroom. So you put those things together and add all those facts. And then you add that anybody in the school that wants to can be vaccinated. I think that teachers should have good conference and custodians and cooks and bus drivers, and anybody who works in the building should have good conference as long as the protocols are followed and everyone continues to wear a mask, and everyone continues to follow all the protocols that have been laid out. There’s a pretty safe environment.
Governor DeWine: (49:24)
So I would just urge anyone who’s making these decisions. Please, we need you back in by March 1st. And I want to congratulate the schools that are starting. We’ve had some schools that have been out for a long time and they’ve started now. And if you look at the numbers that we just showed, you’re down to a relatively small percentage of the school districts that are now still totally remote. Now, some may have hit a bump in the road and had some kids who came down with COVID or somebody who came down with COVID and they had to isolate them, and they’re out for a week or they’re out for two weeks. We understand that, but we hope everybody comes back by March one, John.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (50:08)
Governor, yeah, look, we’ve learned so much, and the evidence is clear. Everybody from the CDC to the Ohio Department of Health and others have the evidence that when you wear masks and you follow the protocol, school is a safe place to be. And it’s especially safe after you get a vaccination. We see that from even nursing home patients and people who are the most vulnerable. Once they have the vaccination, it’s working. And we also have the evidence of schools. Many schools have been open throughout either five days a week or hybrid, and they’ve managed to do it safely. And for those schools that are the holdouts, the kids need you, we need you back open to serve them.
Speaker 2: (50:55)
Next question is from Danny Eldredge at Hannah News Service.
Danny E.: (50:59)
Governor DeWine: (50:59)
Danny E.: (51:00)
Can you go into a little bit more detail on how the state missed these 4,000 deaths and why should we trust the case numbers, hospitalization numbers. What is administration doing to make sure that you can trust these numbers?
Governor DeWine: (51:13)
Yeah. Well, let me go to the director. Director, I think you are on there.
Stephanie M.: (51:18)
I am governor. Thank you for the question, Danny. We are actually taking on several efforts at the same time, and I do understand the concern. I was the first one to push back because that number didn’t seem correct with me. I had concerns about it. So I was in fact, the first one to push back, but we are working with staff. We have been working with staff to understand the process, the points of entry for death data. Much like other states, we have two points of entry when we receive death data, and it’s really the reconciliation of that data that was done timely, and there was a miss there that created these numbers.
Stephanie M.: (52:03)
We’ve restructured the Bureau of Infectious Diseases. We’ve restructured that department, including leadership. We’ve added additional resources to resolve the issue quickly so that we can get these numbers in and not spend any more time than necessary with uncertainty in our daily numbers. We’re working on a new process and quality assurance process going forward. And we’re also taking this opportunity with these additional resources and restructuring to do a thorough review of everything that’s been reported and not yet reported to get a second look.
Stephanie M.: (52:38)
We’re also starting what we would refer to as our standard administrative review as to why this was not flagged sooner. As we talked about last year with cases, these departments of health, whether local or state have not really in the past been organized to report things in real time, and that has created some issues. We’re by no means the only state to go through this. Most recently, Indiana announced on February 4th that they were adding about 1500 more deaths. My understanding is it’s the same reason, it was a reconciliation between the two entry points for death data. I know there was also some re-evaluation and changes in Washington State in December and Texas last July. But I understand the concern. I’m quite confident of the new processes we have in place and the new eyes on this. And certainly this will look much different, better and accurate going forward. But thank you for the question.
Speaker 2: (53:41)
Next question is from Sarah Arthurs of the Finley Career.
Sarah Arthurs: (53:56)
I’m so sorry. Can you hear me now?
Governor DeWine: (53:59)
Sarah, I can hear you. Yes, go on.
Sarah Arthurs: (54:00)
I’m so sorry. I’m wondering if you can speak to concerns about the new variants and whether concerns that the new, more contagious variants become more common, is that affecting or changing your decision-making at all with regards to the pandemic? Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (54:18)
Yeah. And I’m going to let Dr. Vanderhoff talk about it. He’s the person that should be talking about this. He’s the person who advises me about it, but yes, we’re concerned about it and again, if anyone needs a reason to continue to wear a mask and to continue to be careful, this is a good reason. Dr. Vanderhoff.
Dr Vanderhoff: (54:38)
Yes. Thank you. I think it’s a very important question. And I’m going to touch on two points. First, I think a lot of questions have arisen in people’s minds about whether our vaccines are still going to be good against the new variants. And the short answer that I want people to take home is yes. First, we now have multiple studies in the laboratory of the current vaccines, the mRNA vaccines that have shown that even in the face of the most serious of the variants, there appear to be still very good antibody responses measured in the laboratory.
Dr Vanderhoff: (55:24)
But most importantly, we now have the data that Johnson & Johnson shared about their vaccine in the real world, where it was studied in South Africa and Brazil, two geographies that have two of the most worrisome of the variants and their vaccine was very effective. In fact, it was 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death, which are really the end points that matter the most. So that’s point number one, point number two, is that what we need to think about when we think about these viruses, these variants is that the virus is becoming more contagious and it’s more contagious because it just takes less of it to make us sick.
Dr Vanderhoff: (56:27)
But our masks and our distancing still work very, very well. And we’ve known for a long time that there are a few things about our masks that we have to pay attention to. And you saw the CDC just yesterday provided clarification about this. First, it’s the mask you wear that works, so let’s wear our mask. Secondly, we’ve long advocated that the mask that we wear, if we wear a cloth one, make sure it’s a two layer cloth mask or purchase a medical grade surgical mask, or one of those KN95 masks. And then third, fit matters. Make sure that mask fits snugly everywhere, including sometimes those little pouches that form by our cheeks. Tuck that in if you have to if it’s not fitting snugly. Thank you governor.
Governor DeWine: (57:21)
Thank you doctor.
Speaker 2: (57:24)
Next question is from Jim Otte at WHIO and Dayton’s.
Governor DeWine: (57:28)
Jim Otte: (57:28)
Governor, thank you. You’ve started the K through 12 vaccination, vaccination for teachers. Let’s look forward, what’s your plan for college and university professors, professional staff, could they be in the next group for the vaccine? And if not, when would they be eligible?
Governor DeWine: (57:44)
Well, Jim, one of the things that we have done is make more testing available at our colleges and our universities. And I want to really congratulate them. We’ve worked directly with them. Chancellor Gardiner has worked directly with them. And so we’re more testing. We’ve made more testing available for them. So as far as the vaccination, certainly there will be some members of their faculty who are 65 years of age and older, and certainly they’re eligible for it now, but as we look to where we go from here, where we still do not have enough vaccine, we’ve got to really focus on the most vulnerable. And the most vulnerable are the 200,000 people Dr. Vanderhoff described and I described today who next Monday will be able to start being vaccinated.
Governor DeWine: (58:40)
And the the million people, Ohio residents, 65 years of age and older, and you can look at our chart, and we’re making progress. I think we’re up to about 56%, 57% of those who are 80 and above. We’re seeing that 70 to 80 numbers go up appreciably, and this week we’re going to start seeing the 60 and above or 65 and above numbers go up, but we’ve got a long way to go Jim, before we get everybody in that two million group of people, 65 years of age and older vaccinated. And just to remind everybody, we’re going by the numbers, we’re going by the science, we’re going by who’s most vulnerable.
Governor DeWine: (59:24)
87% of all deaths have come in this day from people 65 years of age and older. So we have to stay focused on what will save the most lives. And this has been successful. If you look at what’s happened in the nursing homes, we’ve had very, very good success. We’ve taken the cases down. The deaths are a lagging indicator, but the deaths are going to continue to go down from here. So we’ve got to just stay focused on what the science tells us. We hope to be vaccinating everyone by this summer. I don’t know what date this thing will really pop open, but I’m optimistic. Pfizer will continue to expand some, Moderna will expand some.
Governor DeWine: (01:00:08)
I had the opportunity this week to talk directly to the Johnson & Johnson and got some pretty good news from them and feel pretty confident that that’s going to get approved. And once it’s approved, they told us they’re ready to ship. So we’re optimistic we’re going to be able to reach everybody, but we got to take this thing one step at a time.
Speaker 2: (01:00:39)
Next question is from Kevin Barry at WEWS in Cleveland.
Kevin Barry: (01:00:42)
Hi, governor this is Kevin Barry from News 5 in Cleveland. I had a question about the February 15th, I guess, group that becomes eligible for vaccines with severe conditions. Does that mean that any provider across the state? So the pharmacies, Health Department hospitals will be allowed to vaccinate that population. And then how do you plan on handling any abuse that you find because it seems like the state’s relying on the honor system for someone to say that they have a condition in order to qualify starting on Monday.
Governor DeWine: (01:01:20)
First of all, the answer is yes, they can get that. What we think is going to happen in most cases is that most of these individuals are being treated by a doctor. Most of these individuals are in a hospital system. Anybody who has these individuals in their system will be able to reach out directly to them and we’ll encourage them to reach out to your patient. And now that won’t cover everybody, but it we’ll cover a large percentage of these individuals. So we’re going to be generally dealing with doctors, hospitals who know their patient, know their condition, know that in fact they do qualify, but we did not want to create barriers. And we talked about how are we going to do this? Do we require a doctor’s certificate? Do we make them go in?
Governor DeWine: (01:02:07)
And we just looked at this and said, “Look, all you’re going to be doing is disadvantaging a poor person. You’re going to be disadvantaged someone who can’t go through these barriers or around these or over these barriers.” And so yes, to some extent, we are relying on people’s good faith. I think when people understand that we have a small amount of vaccine, we’ve got to cover at first, the most vulnerable people, everybody eventually is going to get it, but the people who need to be covered the most, and I think most Ohioans will not want to be vaccinated and jump in line in front of somebody who will have a much more difficult time if in fact they get the coronavirus.
Governor DeWine: (01:02:57)
So is it on a trust basis? Yeah, I trust Ohioans. And will there be some abusers? Sure, there’s going to be some abusers, but to erect a bunch of barriers because a few might abuse it did not seem to be the logical thing to do and did not seem to me to be the right thing to do.
Speaker 2: (01:03:22)
Next question is from Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.
Governor DeWine: (01:03:27)
Geoff Redick: (01:03:28)
Afternoon, governor. On education, we talked a lot about getting kids back in the classroom. A couple of things. Will you direct ODE to request a federal waiver on standardized tests? And when you talk with the speaker and the Senate president, what’s their stance on priority on waving the standardized tests and is it at all likely they could pass it before the test begin?
Governor DeWine: (01:03:50)
Well, I saw a report in the news media, what the Senate president thought about it. I think I’m aligned with him and I want to talk to the speaker as well. And that is basically that nothing wrong with having a test, but we do want to know who our students are, but having consequences, the reports in regard to the schools, to me, at least that’s a different question, but this is something that I need to consult with the legislature and get their input and we’ll come out with a policy, but that’s my kind of first take on it anyway.
Speaker 2: (01:04:36)
The next question is from Chelsea Sick at WKEF in Dayton.
Chelsea Sick: (01:04:39)
Hi there Governor Dewine.
Governor DeWine: (01:04:40)
Chelsea Sick: (01:04:40)
So the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says this fraud review will also impact legitimate claims. What is your message to Ohioans who have been flagged for fraud who genuinely need the money and haven’t been paid in months? How is it possible that the state of Ohio was able to be defrauded of millions of dollars?
Governor DeWine: (01:04:59)
Well, everyone is having this problem. I mean, we have international gangsters. Let’s call them what they are. They’re international gangsters who are moving in, and preying on the situation. So I’m going to let lieutenant governor jump in here. He spent a good part today looking at this and working on it and we’re going to continue. The most important thing I think that we’re doing, we’ve reached out to the private sector. We’re bringing experts in. Experts have started. They’ve loaned us individuals. And as the lieutenant governor talked about a little while ago, you’ll get the chance to hear from one of these experts who deals with these things every day in the private sector. So this is what certainly the private sector has to deal with. I don’t know if the lieutenant governor is on or not.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (01:05:50)
Here we go. We were in a little difficulty there, but-
Governor DeWine: (01:05:54)
John, if you want to [crosstalk 01:05:55] into that.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (01:05:56)
Yeah, I do governor. Look, this is the balance that we have is that we have tens, hundreds of thousands of attempts at fraud from criminals. And these are tax dollars, federal tax dollars in most cases, but they’re still your tax dollars. And we don’t want them to go out to criminals who are trying to defraud the American taxpayer. So we have the obligation to flag them and to make sure that they are legitimate before we pay them out. The team also recognizes that there are a lot of people who are struggling, who need this money and if you have a legitimate claim, you will get every penny that you’re eligible for. And that reassurance is important to know.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (01:06:53)
They’re working through these as quickly as they can. I mentioned just in the last 11 days, $326 million to more than 586,000 Ohioans went out the door. I talked with the director this morning, she and her team appreciate the dual responsibility they have to protect tax dollars and serve their customers, the people who are in need and Jeff Frickey who’s leading the private sector team, we’re going to make him available next week. They’ve been spending the time since the governor announced this effort to work with the team. They’re working very well together, but this is an enormous task.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (01:07:44)
A lot of the people that we’re bringing in are from the financial sector, banking insurance, who are facing these kinds of fraudulent activities on a regular basis. But understand, this is bigger than just unemployment. This is cybersecurity fraud on a global nature and there are a lot of ingredients to getting it right, but all hands are on deck to try to sort through these manually using technology, to sort through them as quickly as they can to serve both the customers and protect the taxpayers.
Speaker 2: (01:08:25)
Next question is from Nathan Hart at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Nathan Hart: (01:08:30)
Hi governor, before the curfew started, there was a 10:00 PM last call order. I was wondering now that the curfew has been lifted, if there were any discussions or plans to bring the last call order back.
Governor DeWine: (01:08:43)
No, we don’t intend to do that unless the circumstances change. If they change, we’ll change what we do, but no, we have no intention of doing that at this point.
Speaker 2: (01:08:57)
Next question is from Trevor Peters at WXIX in Cincinnati.
Trevor Peters: (01:09:03)
Governor, can you hear me?
Speaker 3: (01:09:03)
Speaker 4: (01:09:03)
Governor, can you hear me?
Governor DeWine: (01:09:04)
I can, thanks Trevor.
Speaker 4: (01:09:06)
Great. You said the curfew could be reimposed if trends do start to go south again, are you sticking with 2,500 hospitalizations for seven days to reimpose it? Is that the threshold that bar and restaurant owners should be monitoring for the future?
Governor DeWine: (01:09:22)
Well, that’s a lagging indicator, as we know, I think that we’ll look at all the facts, but that’s certainly going to be something we’re going to look at and we kind of lay that out and that will certainly be part of the analysis. We could have some other facts that would change that, but based upon what we know now, that would be something that we will look at. And that will be kind of, again, understanding that it’s a lagging indicator and the trend line is what you really look at, where’s the movement? Movements down now. It’s great. What’s going to happen in the future. I don’t think we know. So we hope that this stays down. We always hope it stays down but we’ve learned a lot in this past year. One thing we’ve learned is we never know exactly what this virus is going to do.
Speaker 3: (01:10:18)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at cleveland.com.
Governor DeWine: (01:10:22)
Chelsea Sick: (01:10:26)
Hey governor, I was wondering, kind of going back to the error that happened with the health department. We now though there was a major flaw in the reporting, and then of course our unemployment numbers are out of whack because of widespread fraud as we’ve discussed today, how can we trust the vaccination data or any numbers the state is realizing? And also in terms of accountability, is anybody being punished for what happened at the health department?
Governor DeWine: (01:10:56)
Well, I think first of all, I’m going to refer to the director. The director and I’ve talked about all these things as far as what’s going on in the health department, what happened. As far as unemployment, I think these are apples and oranges. I mean, this is a different situation, you mentioned the fraud, fraud is occurring everywhere and that’s something that we all have to deal with. People in the private sector have to deal with, people in the public sector have to deal with, it’s a very different world than it was five years ago or 10 years ago. But as far as the health department, I’ll go directly to the director and let her answer that.
Stephanie M.: (01:11:33)
Thank you, Laura. The answer to that question, as I mentioned earlier, we are starting what is our standard administrative review process as to how the issue arose and why it was not flagged sooner. And I’m really not able to comment on anything more than that until that’s completed.
Speaker 3: (01:11:53)
Next question is from Karina Cheung at WCMH in Columbus.
Karina Cheung: (01:11:59)
Hello governor, how are you?
Governor DeWine: (01:12:01)
Karina Cheung: (01:12:01)
Question for you, I know that we don’t typically look at deaths when making decisions on restrictions, but knowing that we saw a big increase here, would that have changed anything for you?
Governor DeWine: (01:12:18)
I got all the question, was the last part of the question, does that mean anything to me is what you said?
Karina Cheung: (01:12:23)
Would that have changed anything for you in the past restrictions that we had?
Governor DeWine: (01:12:30)
No. I think we knew that we were seeing a spike, we saw a spike, and the reason that this wasn’t caught, it appears, and the director says we’ve got to get further into this, but it’s because of the surge that was occurring. So we knew that there was a surge. The other thing, when you see deaths, deaths are a lagging indicator. So what you want to do is to be in front of things instead of behind things. So I don’t know if that would have changed any decision, but it’s a real tragedy and I’m impacted by any deaths, and I’m certainly impacted by these deaths.
Speaker 3: (01:13:22)
Question from Jo Ingles at Ohio Public Radio and television.
Governor DeWine: (01:13:26)
Jo Ingles: (01:13:27)
Hello, governor. I wanted to ask you, we’re continuing to hear from Ohioans who are 80 and over they cannot get scheduled for shots, they’re disillusioned when they see a younger person gaming the system, and that is happening, to get a shot ahead of them. We have people who need unemployment checks now, their lives are hanging in the balance, they cannot pay their mortgage. And we hear you telling people to have patience, that you’re working through it, you’re investigating, you’re doing all these things, but some people are just losing hope. What do you say? What do you do with them?
Governor DeWine: (01:14:03)
Well, I understand Jo, and I think I’ve made this clear that people should be inpatient. I would be inpatient. I would be upset. I understand that. On the vaccines, we are now at, I believe I’ve glanced at it quickly before I came in here, somewhere around 55% of the people 80 and above. We anticipate just by talking to people 80 and above that the uptake is going to be very high that many, many people. And so one of our goals is to continue to find ways so that we can drive this number of the 80 year olds and above up. I know for example, doctors who are literally going through their list and calling their 80 year olds and calling their 90 year olds and their 100 year olds and telling them we will prioritize you, and that is perfectly legitimate and that is fine if they do that.
Governor DeWine: (01:15:04)
Some states started at 65, we said that didn’t seem right. We started with 80, they got a headstart. But I understand that there’s still 80 year olds and 90 year olds, maybe 100 year olds who are still having difficulty, but with the increase in the vaccine that’s coming and a pretty good shot this week with most of it going, three fourths of it basically, going to that age group. I think that you’re going to start seeing those numbers go up and it’s still a supply and demand, there’s going to be more demand than there is supply. But we’re going to hang with this 65 group and above until we’re satisfied that we’ve saturated that age group and that people who have wanted it have had the opportunity to get it.
Governor DeWine: (01:15:57)
We also are very focused on making it convenient. What you saw of Director McElroy, the charge that she is leading and going into elderly housing. Again, is a way that we can reach people close to their home. We also are working on ways to go out and do this single shot, the individual who is in their own home, who might be 90 years of age, but is still on their own home. So we’re going to continue to make these efforts, we know it’s not perfect. If I wanted to get a vaccine this week and couldn’t get it, I would be just as frustrated as anybody else is out there. But my commitment to the people of Ohio is we are going to continue to focus every single day on the most vulnerable people. And can that system be gamed once in a while? Sure. But in the vast majority of cases, you’re seeing Ohioans not game the system. You’re seeing Ohioans who were following the rules because we’re Ohioans and that’s pretty much what we do. So I’m confident that individuals are going to get their vaccine and we’re going to continue to do everything we can to see that they get it.
Speaker 3: (01:17:10)
Next question is from Dan DeRosa, WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRosa: (01:17:15)
Governor good afternoon.
Governor DeWine: (01:17:16)
Dan DeRosa: (01:17:17)
I think this question is going to kind of follow along the vaccine and the frustrations. We’ve been reached out to now by a couple of individuals who, and I think this is a problem because Cuyahoga County is so large, our population is so large, individuals who are finally getting through getting appointments, but we have one person in Kiowa County who was told their appointment is in Sandusky. So I think we’re seeing maybe pharmacies outside of major counties are having these vaccines available, but now we’re telling some of our older population we need you to drive an hour and 45, two hours from your home to get the vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (01:17:58)
Yeah. Dan, I have no idea how that happens. That’s not supposed to happen. The reason we’ve got 750 now, and going up more than that now, places where people can go is we want people to be able to go fairly close to their home. And when we can go into senior housing, we’re going to take it to them. So that should not have happened. I don’t know why that happened.
Governor DeWine: (01:18:20)
The thing that I want to assure people, I know I’ve read some things that people in urban areas think, “Hey, rural people are getting it.” And then the people in the rural area think, “Oh the urban people are getting it.” We have a formula and every week we allocate based upon population, 90% of the formula is based upon population, there’s a 10% figure in there that has to do with poverty and other things. But by and large, each county is getting its vaccine that has to be administered in that county, that has to be administered in that county, based upon population. And we don’t know any other way to have that kind of equity. Now we have other equity issues we worry about, we worry about race, we worry about other things, income, et cetera. And we have to try to deal with those and we are. As far as population it’s based on numbers.
Speaker 3: (01:19:18)
Next question is from Jess Hardin at MahoningMatters.com.
Jess Hardin: (01:19:24)
Governor DeWine: (01:19:25)
Jess Hardin: (01:19:27)
We’ve talked a lot about high school sports and guidance on playing high school sports throughout the fall. But of course, sports aren’t the only extracurricular activities that students are engaged in. As we head into the spring semester, do you have any plans to issue guidance regarding school plays, concerts and things like that to enable them to happen and to happen safely?
Governor DeWine: (01:19:52)
Yeah. I think a lot of guidance has already been issued and we’re happy to take any specific requests and help people, whether we’ve already gotten guidance or whether we’re going to put out new guidance. What we do know is spread does not occur in the classroom very much, everybody’s wearing a mask. But what we do also know is that outside the classroom, there certainly can be spread. People are closer than three feet together, they’re up against a locker or something for some extended period of time, more likely than that it’s occurring, frankly, outside the school building where people are out doing what we all do, whether we’re young people or whether we’re older people, and that is socialize. And that’s where we’re really seeing, we think, the significant amount of spread. We have seen spread in sports, you saw spreading in wrestling. That again is a fact. We have to make people, make sure they under understand that.
Governor DeWine: (01:20:55)
As far as school plays something near and dear to my heart, we followed some more grandkids in school plays and really, I think it’s a phenomenal experience for a young person to be in theater. Just a great, great thing. But again, I think schools have to look at how can we do things and how can we do it in a safe way. And theaters tougher, theater is tougher, it’s inside, you’re projecting. So trying to figure out how maybe that can still take place it’s up to the schools, but we can certainly give them guidance and certainly the local health department will help give them guidance as well.
Speaker 3: (01:21:41)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (01:21:45)
Good afternoon governor.
Governor DeWine: (01:21:47)
Kevin Landers: (01:21:48)
Is there any evidence that points to the curfew working? You’ve also mentioned that you’re going to focus on vaccinating the most vulnerable, there are vulnerable people in Ohio who aren’t hospitalized, who feel they’re just as at risk and they say it’s infuriating that they’re being left out. Can you address their concerns, please? Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (01:22:11)
You want to explain the second group, Kevin? I’m not sure I fully understood you. You said people who are in a hospital. I’m sorry, I missed it.
Kevin Landers: (01:22:19)
No, there are people who are not hospitalized, who are also vulnerable health wise, and they say it’s infuriating that they are being left out because they are not either. They’re not hospitalized as you required under this new group.
Governor DeWine: (01:22:34)
No Kevin, the last group is not required that they be in the hospital, it’s a roughly 200,000 population group. And what we have said on several of the things, if their asthma, for example, is defined as severe asthma, I have asthma but I’ve not been hospitalized for many, many years, so I would not have been included in that group, for example. We were trying to define the groups that would not be so huge, but also that it would be targeted and focused. And that Bruce, if you want to have any comment in regard to that, because this is a good question I think Kevin has asked.
Dr Vanderhoff: (01:23:21)
Thank you governor. It’s a very, very good question. And I think that the way you’re answering it is right on target. As we looked at the literature, as we looked at the data, the data that is available so far that provides us with strong evidence for these conditions that would fall into this category are the ones we’ve listed. And for a couple of them, that literature was very clearly pointing towards a subset, it was pointing towards individuals who are at the severe end of the condition. So asthma being the example that we’ve been using here is a really good one. And as we spoke with medical professionals around the state, there was pretty good consensus that probably one of the best measures, one of the best ways of identifying those with that most severe end of the spectrum was those who ended up requiring hospital care. Because hospitals are by definition, the place where we care for people who are experiencing the most severe symptoms with just about any condition. So that’s the rationale.
Dr Vanderhoff: (01:24:34)
The reality is that there is no system that can be developed at this time that perfectly identifies every individual. We have to use the medical literature and the buckets of categorization that, that medical literature points to, and that’s what we did.
Governor DeWine: (01:24:58)
[crosstalk 01:24:58]. Let me add to what Bruce said. There’s only a few of those categories that require hospitalization within the last year. Many of them are a definition, there’s a name, down syndrome, you have down syndrome, you’re not. And so some of this is pretty easy to identify. And again, there’s data behind all of this to show that these individuals are at a higher risk. Lieutenant governor wants to say something, but I want to answer the curfew question.
Governor DeWine: (01:25:32)
The evidence that curfews work is very basic evidence. And that is that we know they’re spread inside more than outside. We know when people do not wear a mask, that there is more spread. So restaurants, bars, by their very nature have spread. We have clear evidence of that. What a curfew simply does is it reduces the hours, reduces the hours people are there. It reduces a period of time at night when people… And we don’t have a curfew now, but if we did and when we did, it reduces the hours of that contact. And by reducing the hours of that contact, that makes a difference. That was put into effect at roughly the same time as we started actually policing wearing masks in retail establishment. Those two things put together, we saw a significant change in what was going on. We saw a slow down, dramatic slowdown of what had been going up, and we believe that has made a big difference. Lieutenant governor.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (01:26:44)
Thanks governor. Look, Kevin asks a challenging question along with what Dan had asked and what Jo had asked. I want to revisit this. It’s all about supply and demand. We have two million people that have been identified by medical professionals as being high risk, as people who need the vaccine first. And when you’re getting 150,000 to 275,000 doses a week, whatever, it fluctuates by the very nature of the math involved means that some people are going to be served before others and it just takes time for us to get through this. We’ve said this many times, and we really need your help reiterating that because I think that once people understand the dynamics of the math question here, that they can better appreciate why we all have to be patient with one another and respectful of the prioritization list. And it’s not that we’re denying anybody. It’s just that it’s a prioritization process based on the best medical advice.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (01:27:56)
We’ve confronted this question almost on a daily basis. And I listened to Dr. Vanderhoff talk about this this week in our morning calls. That he really worked at talking, looking at CDC advice, talking with other medical professionals across Ohio about who should go next and why it should be prioritized, and that’s how we ended up with this. Not something that the governor and I on our own look at, it’s what these medical professionals give us advice on how we should make these decisions.
Governor DeWine: (01:28:33)
Whether we wanted it or not, it falls upon us to deal with a scarce product that saves lives. And we’ve relied on the best medical advice that we can get to target as precisely as possible the most vulnerable members of our society. It makes it more difficult to do. It may even slow us up to some extent, although I think we’re doing pretty well. If you look at where we are, we’re the seventh most populated state and yet we’re seventh in getting doses out, we’re seventh in getting first doses out, we’re seventh in getting second doses out exactly where we should be. But we’re very nuanced in trying to drive this down into the most vulnerable individuals and try to do it in a fair and equitable way. That is our responsibility. And it doesn’t mean we’re doing it perfectly, but that’s what we’re doing. And I think that people understand we have a scarce product, we don’t have enough at this point. The question really is how do we save the most lives? How do we protect the most people? And it makes sense to do the most vulnerable people. We’ll see all back here on Tuesday. Thank you very much.