Feb 2, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 2
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on February 2, 2021 to provide coronavirus updates. He announced that COVID cases and hospitalizations are dropping and also provided updates on vaccine distribution. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Governor Mike DeWine: (04:37)
Afternoon, everyone. As you know, those 70 years of age and older were able to start getting shots this week. Of course, that includes from 70 up. Next week, we’ll go down to 65 and up, and we’ll hold probably for a number of weeks at 65. This morning, Fran and I were able to get our shot. So we’re very happy about that. This was at the Jamestown Rural Health Clinic in Jamestown. Dr. Kevin Sharrett was the doctor, and you got a sucker afterwards, right, Fran? What kind of sucker did you get?
Fran DeWine: (05:17)
I got a red one.
Governor Mike DeWine: (05:18)
Got a red one. I got a purple. So it’s all good. So we’re very happy to have that done. Let me talk a little bit about, again, this week, people 70 years of age and older. In addition, we continue with individuals with severe congenital, early onset, or inherited conditions and with developmental or intellectual disabilities may receive the vaccine. Those individuals should have been contacted, are being contacted by their local county board of developmental disabilities. If you believe you fall into this category and haven’t been contacted, please reach out to your county board of developmental disabilities. So shortly, a week or so, we will expand that group using the same basic criteria and including people who do not have developmental or intellectual disabilities. So that group will be expanded in the next week or so, and we’ll announce when that is taking place. Finally, of course, we are full-blown into the vaccination of teachers. This is going to occur not just for teachers, but all personnel in schools. Our goal, of course, is to get all our kids back in school by March 1. That’s going along well. Our goal is for everybody in schools to be able to get a vaccination, the first dose, in the month of February. Some will get their second dose in the month of February. Those who do not get their second dose in the month of February will get it in the early part of March. So that program is moving forward. We’re very excited about it. Again, we can’t vaccinate every teacher all on the first day or even the first week. We have limited supply, and we wanted to continue to be able at the same time to be vaccinating our older Ohioans. So on kind of a dual track here as we move forward.
Governor Mike DeWine: (07:34)
Eric, let’s look at today’s data, and we’ll start with the information we normally look at. Again, you can see our cases are down from the 21-day average. We’re happy about that. Our deaths, of course, lag, and they don’t always come in. They don’t come in necessarily on the day when they occur. But 106 deaths, just very, very tragic. Hospital admissions is running about what the 21-day average is, and ICU admissions is very similar to that 21-day average as well. Let’s go to the hospital population slide, Eric.
Governor Mike DeWine: (08:18)
Again, we watch these numbers, because this tells us how many COVID patients are in our hospitals as new inventory every single day. It’s really something that we look at and have been looking out throughout this pandemic. As you can see, by and large, these numbers continue to drop. We are now below 2,500, 2,488. So we’re very happy to see that.
Governor Mike DeWine: (08:55)
A little update on our congregate housing, specifically in regard to our nursing homes and in regard to our assisted living. Our goal with the vaccine program is to save lives. To do that, we have to protect, we must protect the most vulnerable Ohioans. By far those are our older Ohioans and those living in congregate settings such as a nursing home. So we started early, in fact, the first day we could, to vaccinate people in our nursing homes. We began vaccinating in our skilled nursing facilities as soon as the CDC allowed it. In fact, Ohio residents were among a handful of states that took part in the CDC’s early roll-out of the federal pharmacy program and began receiving the vaccine three days earlier than most of the rest of the country.
Governor Mike DeWine: (09:50)
We have 920 skilled nursing facilities in Ohio. So I said I think we’re the second highest state per capita in nursing facilities and in number of beds. 920 skilled nursing facilities in Ohio. We’ve given the first dose in all of these facilities, and we’ve given the second dose now in 89% of those facilities. So we’re getting close to being totally done, first, second dose. Additionally, we have 645, 645 statewide assisted living facilities. Excuse me. So far, we’ve administered first doses in 86% of those facilities and second doses in 48% as well. Further, we have a plan in place to continue vaccinating in both our nursing homes and our assisted living facilities as new residents continue to move in. So very, very important, and we’re going to continue that process so that when somebody is new, they move in, if they’ve not already been vaccinated, there’ll be able to get vaccinated.
Governor Mike DeWine: (11:03)
This is certainly very good news. These really are people in Ohio who are the most vulnerable of our citizens, and we have, I believe, a moral obligation to protect them. That’s going very well. As we know, however, in any large-scale vaccination program, depending on people, there sometimes is human error. We have Dr. Vanderhoff with us now to walk us through a situation that we were just notified about this morning by Walgreen Pharmacies. Walgreen, as you’ll recall, is one of the main pharmacy companies that has been working in our nursing homes, vaccinating people and in our assisted living and other congregate care settings.
Governor Mike DeWine: (11:50)
Dr. Vanderhoff will explain this, but just very, very quickly, before I turn it over to him, this was a case where the temperature was not kept where it should have been, in layman’s terms, my terms. This involved vaccinations that occurred yesterday in the following facilities, Ashtabula County Residential Service Corporation, The Maples in Kingsville, Ashtabula Towers in Ashtabula, Heather Hill Care Communities in Chardon, Six Chimneys on East Cleveland, and Willow Park Convalescent Home in Cleveland. Again, vaccinations were given, and what Dr. Vanderhoff will explain is no harm to anyone, but these vaccinations will have to be done again. So Walgreens has reached out to those nursing homes, those facilities, and the individuals will then be notified. So Dr. Vanderhoff, you want to kind of walk us through what your understanding is of what happened in regard to these facilities yesterday and what the problem is and what the remedy is?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (13:21)
Certainly. Thank you, Governor. Yes. Well, I’ll remind everyone that our mRNA vaccines are just amazing vaccines. They’re remarkably safe and effective. But as the governor noted, they can be challenging to handle, because they require ultra-cold storage until they’re ready to be administered. If there is any breach in that cold storage process before the vaccine is thawed and then administered to patients, the vaccine can’t be relied upon to be effective, to work as it was designed.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (14:03)
Now we learned just a short time ago, as the governor noted, that yesterday, Walgreens may have erroneously administered some vaccines in those five nursing homes that shouldn’t have been used because of uncertainty about the proper cold storage leading up to vaccination. Now, we understand that Walgreens identified this through their quality control processes and then promptly communicated with the CDC and the manufacturer regarding what the appropriate next steps should be.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (14:44)
Based on a conversation that I literally had with them just prior to this press conference, the guidance that they’ve received leads them now to be working with the CDC and the impacted nursing homes and the nursing homes’ medical directors to determine which patients may need to be revaccinated. So, again, as the governor noted, this is really an issue about taking every step that we can to ensure that whenever a person gets a vaccine, they’re getting a vaccine that will work. This is not an issue, though, of any known harm having been done. So more to come.
Governor Mike DeWine: (15:40)
So, Doctor, the remedy, I believe, from the CDC, the remedy from the manufacturer is what? These individuals will a [crosstalk 00:15:50] vaccine?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (15:50)
Yes, that’s right. That’s right. So the remedy here is to identify individuals who need another vaccine. Again, not everyone who is in those nursing homes are impacted by these particular lots, these particular vials of vaccine for which the cold storage chain was not maintained. So the patients don’t need to do anything. The CDC and the nursing homes and medical directors along with Walgreens are working to very carefully identify any individuals who will need another vaccine and then to ensure that they get that vaccine in a timely manner.
Governor Mike DeWine: (16:41)
So my understanding is just for the people in those nursing homes that might be watching or might hear about this on the news that the lot of this vaccine that was compromised was not the only shots that were administered, that somebody could have been in that nursing home and got it from a different lot.
Governor Mike DeWine: (17:03)
That somebody could have been in that nursing home and got it from a different lot and were assured by Walgreens that they know who got what lot. And so they will be talking with the medical directors of those nursing homes. They will drill down to figure out exactly who those individuals were. And that’s my understanding, Dr. Van Hoff, that there is a wait period until probably those shots are given again. Or is that clear yet?
Dr. Vanderhoff: (17:34)
Well what the nursing homes and Walgreens are doing is Walgreens is working directly with the CDC as we speak to not only identify the patients, but to make sure that if they need to be revaccinated, they’ll get that at the right time. So there are more details to be worked out, but Walgreens assures me the CDC is helping them make the right determinations.
Governor Mike DeWine: (18:06)
Thank you very much. We’re going to move to one other topic, and that is really equity. Since we started this vaccination program, one of the things that we have focused on and frankly have been concerned about is inequality in healthcare and inequality in regard to how these vaccinations might be being administered. The pandemic has highlighted significant inequities in our healthcare system. Things that we knew, what they were really brought more to the surface during this pandemic. And we’ve seen them, we’ve seen them throughout the 11 months of the pandemic. The truth is that there are Ohioans, there are Americans who simply do not have equal access to healthcare. We’ve worked hard to address these gaps and especially in our efforts to roll out the vaccine, but it is a work in progress. And we have more to do. Let me start with geography. When we create our plan to distribute vaccine, we intentionally chose to make sure that there are multiple vaccine providers in every county in the state.
Governor Mike DeWine: (19:20)
Some states made another decision. I’m not being critical, but their other decision was to have bigger locations and fewer. We recruited a network of providers that Ohioans would have access to the vaccine no matter where they lived in the state of Ohio. This week, we’re using more than 700 providers around the state to receive our vaccine. And that’s why, again, why we did it. It would have been a lot simpler to go to some mega sites. We decided we wanted these into every county, every community, people to have access. Let me talk for a moment about our federally qualified health centers, or FQHC’s. We also made a conscious decision to provide vaccine to our federally qualified health centers because they serve highly vulnerable neighborhoods in our cities and also in our rural areas. These community health centers are where many Ohioans seek healthcare and that people are used to going there for services.
Governor Mike DeWine: (20:28)
By offering vaccines at these facilities, it’s another way that we’re making vaccine available for equitable distribution. More than 60 of these centers are receiving vaccine this week. We talk about some pop-up vaccine sites, something we’ve started and will continue to do. We’re also working with federally qualified health centers with our faith based communities and with local health departments to pilot pop-up vaccination sites in at-risk communities. We hosted two days of these sites in Columbus last week with primary one, which is an FQHC. And we have another scheduled this week in Cleveland. And we intend to do more as we move on into the future.
Governor Mike DeWine: (21:16)
Talk about transportation, which we know is a challenge for poor people, it’s a challenge for underserved communities. Now our department of health is working with partners at the department of Medicaid to provide transportation options to make sure there are no barriers for those who want to receive a vaccine. Again, though, it’s a work in progress. Let me talk about our local health departments. I talk to our health departments every Monday morning, and they’re doing a very good job. And one of the things that we noted from our call this past Monday is that there are a number of them that are setting aside doses every week when they come in for underserved populations. So many of our health departments are prioritizing underserved populations. For example, in urban areas, such as Dayton, Columbus, [inaudible 00:22:07] County, the health departments are partnering with faith-based communities, senior centers, and other organizations that work to serve African-American, Hispanic, Latino, and other underserved populations to provide education and offer opportunities for vaccination when vaccine is available. So that is an ongoing process as well. And some of them, as I said, are just literally setting aside to make sure these underserved populations are in fact served. Another example in Athens County, when Ohioans are scheduling appointments, the local health department is connecting vulnerable seniors with transportation options, and they also are partnering with their senior groups to help with communication and connection to at-risk seniors. Education, let me talk about our education and our communication strategy because we know that we have two challenges. One is to make these vaccines available in convenient places, and allow people in underserved communities to be able to get them.
Governor Mike DeWine: (23:08)
The other challenge we have of course is to make sure all Ohioans have information about the vaccine and what we have found starting with nursing homes, that the more information people had, the more likely they were to take the vaccine. No one’s going to be compelled to take the vaccine, but good information makes it more likely that people will take that. As part of our vaccine planning, we created a minority health vaccine advisory group whose mission it is to help advise us on how to best deliver the vaccine to underserved populations and better ensure equity. This group is made up of a broad range of advisers, including healthcare professionals, community leaders, clergy, people from our Appalachian communities, minority small business owners, and advocates from around the state. We’re listening, we’re listening to this group and we’re getting their feedback. We will continue to gain by doing this a much better understanding of the barriers to vaccination, and this will help us develop solutions.
Governor Mike DeWine: (24:17)
One example of this work is our launch of a series of virtual town halls. This will begin live streaming the week of February 22nd. You can find more information on how to participate in these events on coronavirus. ohio.gov website. Also on the website right now are toolkits for our community partners, with information on the safety and the effectiveness of the vaccine. Additionally, we have started paid media efforts, including television advertisement that are on the air now with more to come and radio spots concentrated on minority radio stations. Further, we’ll be sharing vaccine information in both African-American and Spanish language newspapers. We’ve also developed an education toolkit for our community partners, such as leaders in the faith based community, leaders in the NAACP, the urban league, so these trusted leaders can have accurate and up-to-date information on the safety and the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Governor Mike DeWine: (25:19)
I’m proud to announce that next week we will host six vaccine events in senior affordable housing complexes. I’ve asked our director of aging, Michelle McElroy, to join us now to talk about those plans. Director, thanks for joining us. Tell us about what your plans are for next week and what we’re going to do.
Michelle McElroy: (25:40)
Absolutely, so thank you, governor. And we are pleased last week, when you announced the plan to coordinate vaccine clinics for our citizens living in affordable senior housing, and we understand this is a critical mission to help the state ensure equity and access to those who might not otherwise have a chance to get vaccinated. So whether their barrier is location, mobility, or access to care and education about the vaccine. There are about 87,000 older Ohioans living in these sites. We’ve identified more than 700 sites within high density metropolitan and suburban areas. And this approach will make it possible for us to take the vaccine directly to their homes. And this will service tens of thousands of older Ohioans. The department of aging in partnership with key state and local organizations will offer these onsite vaccination clinics at these housing communities and we’re calling this the regional rapid response program or RAP, and these onsite clinics will utilize teams of experts coordinated with support from the Ohio national guard.
Michelle McElroy: (26:46)
We know that these clinics will be convenient, accessible, and equitable. So one, they eliminate the need to arrange transportation to an onsite location, two, these clinics provide screening for isolation and resources for wraparound services, and three, we believe it will ease the demand on our local vaccine providers by sharing the work. Now in addition to using population data, we’re working directly with city mayors and other local leaders to strategize implementation and to guarantee that these clinics are done efficiently and equitably.
Governor Mike DeWine: (27:23)
Very good next week, I believe.
Michelle McElroy: (27:30)
Yeah, so we’re excited. We’re excited about the sixth. With the sixth, we are utilizing the area agencies on aging, as well as other providers so that when you come to get your vaccine, you will also have that connection point to very important programs and resources. So as you know, there’s about a 15 minute period after you’re vaccinated that you have to be observed. And this is a critical 15 minutes for us to have an opportunity to connect with and to better appreciate any concerns around isolation or service needs. And we also will include information on tips on avoiding tax fraud this time of the year, we’ve got recipes in there for local food pantries, we’re really excited about this opportunity.
Governor Mike DeWine: (28:17)
Well that’s great. And we intend to continue this week after week, we have a number of sites that you said we’ve identified around the state. And I know one of the things when you and I first talked about this, you told me you thought it was better to wait until we were open for 65 and older so that when you went into these facilities, that you’d be able to get a bigger group of people and would not have to turn too many people down because of the ages.
Michelle McElroy: (28:45)
Absolutely, in most of these sites, many of the ones, for example, that we’re beginning with next week, many of them are 200 plus individuals within these sites. And so again, going on the eighth makes it possible for us to be able to service as many people that want it within that building.
Governor Mike DeWine: (29:02)
Great. All right, we look forward to next week. Thank you very much. Lieutenant Governor.
Jon Husted: (29:09)
Thank you, governor. That is a very exciting development with the senior housing vaccination effort. I will say that we’ve had a big week in education. I have a small education announcement by comparison. We’re getting school employees vaccinated this week. More schools are opening with the goal of getting them all open for in-person education by March the first. And we laid out the two year state budget blueprint for funding education and particularly targeting some of those dollars in workforce and wraparound services and the things that are so very important for the education recovery. Today’s education announcement is around data.ohio.gov. We are bringing online the state department, the Ohio Department of Education as the latest agency to provide information to our data portal. We know that the data portal is creating transparencies for data in ways that we’ve never before done in the state of Ohio, the data is organized and useful.
Jon Husted: (30:18)
It’s done in a format where people can have access to it so they can better understand how the government is spending their money and how it’s being used and what outcomes we’re getting for those investments. A new round of data was unveiled just a couple of days ago. We thank the Ohio Department of Education for giving us that. Nearly half the data sets on this new data.ohio.gov website have never been easily available. They’ve always been public information, but they just haven’t been easily available. And now they are. The first thing that I want to discuss has a little flavor for speaker Bob Cupp. It’s the Cupp report. Anybody that’s familiar with how education policy has been analyzed over the course of the last quarter century knows about the Cupp report that that does then representative Cupp and Senator Cupp and now speaker Cupp was instrumental in organizing.
Jon Husted: (31:24)
And that data includes 50 variables about your schools, including demographic, personnel, property valuations and tax efforts from the local school level, expenditures, revenue by source, and school district financial status. And that information is now available on the data.ohio.gov portal. And that I think is a really useful tool that used to be when this first started, that if you wanted it, you had to ask for a floppy disk in which they would send out to you and you could take it. Now that data is easily moved around and analyzed and really can help us inform and educate ourselves about our education system and how the money’s being invested. There are other data sets that are being made available. Education, employee positions, demographic information about Ohio’s education staff and workforce salaries, full-time equivalency, race, ethnics, geography, all of that available at your fingertips now with this new data portal, with the cooperation of the Ohio Department of Education.
Jon Husted: (32:37)
The data portal team continues to add additional agency datasets and visualizations and features so that you can see this information, you can understand it, you can organize it, and we will continue to make announcements like this in the coming weeks as we get this data and we get it organized and we make it available. So if you’re interested in all of these resources that are out there but have never really been easily available, go to data.ohio.gov, and you can find out more about what’s happening with your tax dollars with how your state agencies and the services that are being provided across state government and the local government are working for you. So governor, I turn it back over to you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (33:21)
Thank you very much. We’re ready for questions.
Speaker 1: (33:23)
Governor, first question today is from Sean Haggerty at WTVG in Toledo.
Speaker 2: (33:29)
Good afternoon, governor. I wanted to get more into specifics about the specific steps you’re going to take to make sure minority populations not only get the access, but eventually get those vaccines. If you could walk us through what specifically the plans are.
Governor Mike DeWine: (33:45)
Well I think we went through some of those plans and Director McElroy, if you want to jump on here too in case I miss something. We have started, we had radio focused on…
Governor Mike DeWine: (34:02)
Radio focused on… Predominantly, listeners were African-American, those stations. This goes on kind of the education side or the communication side. We pulled a lot of people together to help advise us as we move forward. In addition to that, we’re going into places where we have a heavy concentration of African-Americans and other minorities. For example, what the Director McElroy talked about a moment ago, going into these settings where you might have 150, 200 people in apartments, we’re going to target those, frankly, that have a high minority population. So this will be a way to go in and to do that. Director, what else?
Michelle McElroy: (34:58)
No, I think you said it just right, Governor. I think the thing to appreciate is that while we have a broad approaches in the different phases that we’re moving in, we also have very targeted efforts as well within the broad approaches. So for example, our messaging, our communication, what we say, where we say it, making sure that we are connected with the right channels in which, where we say it, all of those things matter. This effort that I just had an opportunity to lay out is a prime example. We were very strategic in the locations, appreciating some of the metrics, and being certain that if we go into these locations, as we’ve now rolled out, 65 and older, that we will in fact be able to reach communities of color. So I think what you’ll see as we continue to move throughout our entire plan, which is strategic and designed on saving lives, is that we also appreciate that we have to be very focused and targeted with particular areas. And so embedded within our larger strategy is always a much more targeted approach for some of the more hard to reach communities.
Governor Mike DeWine: (36:07)
So the pop-up sites that we talked about, we talked about the one that was already been used, one coming in the future. We bring the National Guard in to do that. We’re working with federally qualified health centers. And not only are we working with them on pop-up sites, but certainly, in many, many areas, the predominant population that is served by these federally qualified clinics are people of color. And so by going directly into them and supplying them with vaccine every week, we believe that that will be of assistance as well. Director, you have worked also in your department in regard to the transportation side. I talked a little bit about Medicaid, but you all are involved in making sure people have transportation as well. You want to talk a little bit about that?
Michelle McElroy: (37:05)
Absolutely. It’s all about access. So for example, with the older adult population, one of the things is we’ve asked people to reach out to their local area agency on aging. We know that the area agencies on aging can connect you with transportation. They also can connect you with information about the vaccine, essentially, any barriers that would keep you from accessing the vaccine. I think, Governor, the thing that’s important to know, and I want to be certain that we don’t just gloss over this point, communication in this is so key. We understood and [inaudible 00:37:40] that during the testing, how roll out and processed, and we appreciate that also during the vaccine process.
Michelle McElroy: (37:45)
And that is why you heard the Governor earlier mention, that, in fact, we have surrounded ourselves most with experts and individuals and organizations within different communities, diverse communities, to help us appreciate the best manner in which to get the information out. It’s really important for people to be able to make informed decisions and also have information about where to access the vaccine. So any opportunity we have to take down a barrier, provide good information, and make those connection points, we will do that. Now, what we’re rolling out with the affordable housing is just one example of many that you’ll see as we continue to move throughout this process.
Governor Mike DeWine: (38:24)
And this is a work in progress. Every state faces this challenge, if you read national stories about it. We’ve been very transparent from the beginning. We have put race up right on there. You can look every single day, and you can see already that the number of vaccinated African-Americans is falling significantly below our white citizens. In our African-American citizens, there’s a gap. And so we see it every day, and we’re living with it every day. And it motivates us to do more and to continue to do everything that we can. We’re asking all our providers who are vaccinating people to make sure that they ask them, get the identified race, because that’s the only way we can tell, frankly, how well we’re doing. And so we’re seeing, frankly, too many that are not… That box is not checked, or that box is not filled out.
Governor Mike DeWine: (39:24)
And I understand people maybe don’t want to do that. But again, for us to try to understand, how are we doing? We look at the other metrics. We look at county metrics. Everyday I look at what percentage of people in one county, I go one to 88, and where we’re doing well and where we’re not doing well. And if it works out over a month or two, that’s fine. But if you start seeing one county really lagging in the percentage of their population, no matter where that is, whether it’s in Appalachia or whether it’s an urban, if we see that, then we know we have a problem. So we’re looking at that data every single day, because it’s about race, equality, but it’s also about equality in regard to income. It’s equality in regard to geography. And so we’re looking at this and it’s a work in progress. We’re not there yet. We got a ways to go, but we’re working on it.
Speaker 3: (40:27)
Next question is from Dan de Rosa, WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan de Rosa: (40:31)
Good afternoon, Governor. Before I ask about the five facilities that are here in Northeast Ohio, I trust the arm feels okay?
Governor Mike DeWine: (40:39)
Arm is good. Arm is good.
Dan de Rosa: (40:40)
Governor Mike DeWine: (40:42)
I did get my left. I wouldn’t want to mess up my pitching arm. So I did get my left. Yeah. But it’s okay so far.
Dan de Rosa: (40:49)
I want to ask about a little more detail in the problems that we had at the five facilities since they are in Northeast Ohio. Can you give us a little more specific about the temperature. Was it they weren’t transported? Where they left out too long, at an inoperate temperature? And then perhaps for Dr. Vanderhoff, how do we know that these individuals are going to be okay, that there’s no adverse effect? If I leave a sandwich out too long and I eat that, that’s going to be a problem. So how do we know that’s not the case with the vaccine?
Governor Mike DeWine: (41:22)
Yeah, I’ll start off. Again, please understand we just found out about this late this morning, and we’ve been trying to get best information we could, make sure we knew what was going on, make sure things were being taken care of. The problem did not arise at the nursing home is my understanding. My understanding is this problem arose someplace else whenever they were getting the doses. Now, at least that’s my understanding. Dr. Vanderhoff, I don’t know whether you have any more data on that or not, but I’ve pretty much exhausted what I know about it.
Governor Mike DeWine: (42:02)
When I talked to the people from Walgreen, they went through that it’s a temperature. It got out of compliance. My understanding is they have very, very strict rules. And if you go out of compliance, they treat it as if it does not work. Is that a layman’s way of explaining that, Bruce? Once you’re out of compliance, the assumption is it does not work, and they have to act as if that vaccine is no good. And that’s what they did. They followed the protocol as laid down by the manufacturer. So Dr. Vanderhoff, if you could add any more color to this or any more explanation.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (42:53)
Yeah, I’d be happy to know. No, I think you answered the temperature question very, very well, Governor. We have to be, with these vaccines, so very careful with maintaining that ultra cold temperature at all times. And there was some question about that with some of these vaccines. I think the appropriate step, from a quality control perspective, is to identify that and raise those concerns to the CDC and manufacturer as Walgreens has done. So we’re going to have to simply wait, I think, to see what guidance, further guidance they receive from the CDC and manufacturer on next steps. But to your second question, the worst case scenario here in this particular situation, clinically, would appear to be that some individuals would need to get another shot. The concern that you raised about, “Well, could this be like a sandwich going bad,” with the known circumstances that we’ve been made aware of really should not be part of what we’re worried about. This is more a matter of being absolutely confident that any vaccine we’re providing is going to work exactly as designed.
Governor Mike DeWine: (44:22)
To state the obvious, you would not want to be the patient who got the vaccine, who there was some doubt, any doubt, about whether it would work or not. And that’s really the situation. So my understanding of the remedy is that they go back, they determine exactly who got those shots, based on that lot. And those individuals then will be given another shot. And there was… I believe, I was told, again, I was told by Walgreens this morning that there is a lapse of time before that next shot takes place. I don’t think it’s too long, but there’s some, prescribed from the manufacturer, lapse of time before that dose is given again.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (45:13)
That’s right. And Governor, what I’d add is, and I was assured this literally as I was signing onto the press conference, they are working directly with guidance from the CDC, regarding who that will be needed for. And so people can rest assured that that guidance will be coming through Walgreens on the basis of their communication with national authorities.
Speaker 3: (45:46)
Next question is from Mike Livingston at Gongwer News Service.
Mike Livingston: (45:50)
Hi, Governor. The Biden administration announced today a couple of moves and intends to increase vaccine allocations to States by about 5%, and also will soon begin providing vaccines directly to some retail pharmacies. I just wondered your thoughts on those moves, how that might impact what we’re doing in the days ahead. Thanks.
Governor Mike DeWine: (46:09)
Well, we’re very happy about that. Five more percent is 5%. We’re very happy about that. So we’re happy to see that go up. They also, as you said, announced, I think, as I recall, I was on the call this morning, I think about one million doses nationwide will go directly out to pharmacies, and we have identified those pharmacies in Ohio. So we are basically about 3% of the national population. So you can take roughly 3% of that. We don’t have the exact allocations. And I don’t want to give a figure. But we’ll get our share of those. It’s done based on population. And we’re very happy to have those. The demand is very, very much there, which we knew it would be. And we’re finding, particularly with our older Ohioans, that they very, very, very much want to get this vaccine.
Speaker 3: (47:05)
Next question is from Molly Martinez with Spectrum News.
Molly Martinez: (47:09)
Hey, Governor. Fewer than 5% of Ohioans who have received a vaccine are Black, even though Black Ohioans account for nearly 20% of hospitalizations and 12% of state deaths. Today, you outlined how you’re going to prioritize at-risk communities, but the organizers of places that deal with health inequality that I’ve spoken to say that they have not been included in the plans that affect their communities. How do you plan on bringing more people into the fold to vaccinate these communities at more equitable rates?
Governor Mike DeWine: (47:41)
Molly, we continue to bring people in. We can’t bring everybody in all at the same time. We know that if we really want to be effective, that we have to involve the communities and the leaders in the communities that we’re trying to impact. We’re talking to African-American ministers. We’re looking at the possibilities of doing these vaccinations directly in churches. So it’s a work in progress. We have not brought everybody in because we can’t bring everybody in, but we’re going to continue to bring people in as we move forward. So we’re not satisfied where we are. I don’t think any state is satisfied with where they are. But going into the communities and talking with leaders of the community and then listening to their advice is clearly the most important thing that we can do. We’re doing that, but we’re going to do more of it.
Jon Husted: (48:35)
Governor, if I… I was just going to add to that, that I think all underrepresented populations, that every chance we can do a better job collectively in our society at educating people on the safety of the vaccine, the importance of the vaccine, for underrepresented populations and people who have any hesitancy about it. Because, look, the data is clear, it is safe. Look, the Governor of the state of Ohio got a vaccine today. The First Lady of the state of Ohio got a vaccine today. It is safe and effective. And we have a plan where we have distribution sites, I would say, in Ohio, as well-represented as any state in the country. And we just got to continue to refine that and get better, bring people in, identify those locations. And I think what the Governor and Director McElroy outline today is another positive step in that direction.
Speaker 3: (49:38)
Next question is from Jess Harden at mahoningmatters.com.
Jess Harden: (49:45)
Governor Mike DeWine: (49:46)
Jess Harden: (49:48)
In January, Ohio providers administered about 10,000 fewer COVID-19 tests per day than in December. We spoke with the Youngstown city Health Commissioner who put it plainly. Basically, they don’t have the resources to do both testing and vaccinations as rigorously as they’d like to. What is the impact of this drop-off in testing? And given the trend, are state case numbers representative of the state of the pandemic in Ohio, especially as we begin to see these more contagious strains?
Governor Mike DeWine: (50:22)
Well, we’re still at a decent number in regard to testing. You’re seeing the positivity rate go down, which we’re very happy about that. As far as our local health departments, there is absolutely no doubt that they are really pushed. And we’ve been getting some money out to them, but we know asking them to do the tracing, testing, and at the same time, getting the vaccine out, we know this is very difficult. One of the long-term goals of our administration is to build up our local-
Governor Mike DeWine: (51:03)
… goals of our administration is to build up our local health departments. We’ve ignored public health in this country for too long, and if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we could no longer afford to under fund public health. And that’s going to be one of the main things that, if you look at our budget, we have additional funds in there and we’ve also taken some of the Cares Act dollars and directed them to our public health. So it’s an ongoing challenge. We are happy to see the positivity rate go down. It may go back up as well, but it continues to come down and has come down significantly, frankly, in the last month. The key is the tracing, and we’ve made it very clear to the health departments that if you don’t think that you can do the tracing, we will help you. We will do what we can do. And we have early on in this pandemic, we hired people to be here to do tracing, so they could surge in at a local health department and that local health department has a problem not able to do it. So we continue to monitor this. Lance Hymes, who works with our health departments every day, I’m sure he’s watching this, he will make the call. And I would say this to any of our health departments. If you do not think that you can do the tracing that needs to be done, let us know. We need to know that. We will do whatever we can to make sure, because the tracing continues to be a very essential part of running this down and slowing the virus down.
Speaker 4: (52:47)
Next question is from Marty Slayton at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Marty Slayton: (52:51)
Governor Mike DeWine: (52:53)
Marty Slayton: (52:55)
As you know, we’re redrawing district lines this year, and I think it’s pretty well established that when candidates only have to win a primary in very partisan gerrymandered districts, it can be a rep recipe for extremism like this racist conspiracy theorist who’s coming to Congress from Georgia. As we proceed in this process with our new system in Ohio, do you think they should make it a goal to draw more swing districts where people have to run to the middle and actually, really, work harder to get re-elected?
Governor Mike DeWine: (53:36)
Well, I’m going to refer to the Lieutenant Governor and let the Lieutenant Governor, who’s certainly more of an expert and been through this more than I have. Jon, do you have any comments on that?
Jon Husted: (53:48)
Thanks, Governor, and Marty, as you know, both for legislative districts and congressional districts, we’ll be using a new system this year. The voters of the state of Ohio in this case have changed the Constitution. We have a new system that’s designed to hit the goals of making districts more compact, less gerrymandered, keeping communities of interest together. We think that those are positive enhancements to the system and that it will ultimately lead to a representation that is more consistent of those communities. We will certainly follow all of those rules as we are outlining them. We await the census data so that we begin the process of looking at that. But there is also the challenge in doing that, that you have the contrast between following the rules of keeping districts compact, but also trying to make them representative of the entire state of Ohio.
Jon Husted: (55:01)
A very difficult thing to do as people have moved demographically, I saw something the other night about the number of swing counties in the nation, there are so many fewer of them where a county didn’t go completely towards the Republican candidate or completely towards the Democratic candidate. So as people have moved, it’s made that task more difficult, but we hope this new system that we have will allow us to improve upon the way things have been done in the past.
Governor Mike DeWine: (55:34)
Marty, let me just add, this is a national problem. You’re seeing counties that were Republican, I’ll just talk about Ohio for a moment, counties that were Republican 10 years ago, maybe much more Republican today. In other words, the margins have gone way up, and you’ll see the same thing with Democrat counties. You will also see, we’ve all read the same studies about how many of the 435 Congressional districts in the country are really competitive, and for many of them, the greatest “threat”, perceived threat, at least to the incumbent, is a primary. And so I think that’s what you’re talking about, that causes people more liberal to go further and right more further because what they’re worried about is a primary. And so, look, truly, it is a national problem.
Speaker 4: (56:37)
Next question is from Chelsea Sick, WKEF in Dayton.
Chelsea Sick: (56:41)
Hi, Governor DeWine.
Governor Mike DeWine: (56:43)
Chelsea Sick: (56:44)
I’m just checking in today to see if there are any updates on your talks with the private sector regarding unemployment. What are you hoping the private sector will do to help the unemployment system? What does this mean for Deloitte? And are you able to give us more information about which company or companies you are in talks with?
Governor Mike DeWine: (57:01)
We’ll have more information Thursday. We’ll have an announcement on Thursday. Maybe just to give you a little more information today, this is a question really of companies being willing to loan us some of their executives, some of their experts to come in, and be of help to us. No one’s going to work any miracle. This was an avalanche that hit along with the pandemic, so many Ohioans, and the system was simply not built for this. We’ve expanded dramatically the number of employees. Speaking of employees, let me just say, we’ve got some people who are working very, very hard, long days, trying very, very hard, but that does not alleviate the problem as far as if you’re not getting your check and you should be getting your check, you don’t care about that and what you care about is whether you’re getting your check or not. And I don’t blame someone. So we understand the huge problem. We can’t fix this overnight, but we’ve reached out to the private sector to bring in people and we’ll have more about that to announce on Thursday.
Speaker 4: (58:20)
Next Question is from Geoff Reddick at WSYX in Columbus.
Geoff Reddick: (58:26)
Speaker 4: (58:27)
Geoff Reddick: (58:28)
You received a vaccine, of course, today, just a day after your age group opened up. We’re continuing to hear each of the other eligible groups having trouble getting signed up for a shot. So you and Fran only two doses out of thousands, of course, but can you describe the sign up process that you and First Lady DeWine went through, whether you are at all aware if you were somehow moved to the front of the line, and when that state website can be up to streamline this process?
Governor Mike DeWine: (58:54)
Yeah, registration was done online. We signed up and we went in today. I mean, this was the doctor that we normally go to in the health system that when we’re home here that we work with or provides us with care. So it was a normal registration. It was a normal process. But I fully understand that everybody who wants to sign up this week isn’t getting in and that weighs very heavily on me, and it weighs very heavily on I think Fran and I both that there are people out there every week who want to get vaccinated, who are not getting vaccinated. And we understand, we thought it was right to wait our turn, follow the system. But I know that there are a lot of people this week who are not going to be able to get vaccinated.
Governor Mike DeWine: (59:51)
And that’s of grave concern. I was happy to see what the White House announcement was, a small increase coming in next week. But we know, and I’ve used these figures before, we’ve got about two million people 65 years of age and older, and those are our prime candidates. Now, we’ve got a lot of them in nursing homes we’ve done, a lot of them in assisted living, other congruent care settings. We’re going after 5,000 congregate care settings in the state of Ohio, beyond the nursing homes and beyond the assisted living. So this is a process to reach the most vulnerable individuals that we have, but it will take a while. We hope that the vaccine coming in from Johnson & Johnson, we hope that comes in. We hope it gets approved, and we hope that they come in with some robust numbers. And we certainly hope that they come in with a single shot and that the single shot is what’s approved, because that will be of help to us as well.
Speaker 4: (01:00:54)
Governor, next question is the last question for today and it belongs to Jackie Borchardt at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:00:59)
Jackie Borchardt: (01:01:00)
Hi, Governor. Following up on what you’ve mentioned earlier, your Minority Health Strike Force last year in their report recommended access to testing and vaccines through trusted neighborhood based locations, including mobile units, federally qualified health centers, churches, community centers, et cetera. So my question is, since we knew this last year, why wasn’t this plan in place several weeks ago?
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:01:28)
It was, it was. The federally qualified health centers have been getting it. The plan was all along for them to get it. So yes, exactly. A lot of the information that we got for this and the guidance we got came out of that document. So I don’t know whether, Director McElroy, you want to add anything or if you’re even still on there or not. But we followed that. And also, look, we didn’t decide to have five big locations in the state and let everybody go fight there. We decided to go out into every county, and every Ohioan is close to a site. Now, that doesn’t mean they can get it at that site this week, but every Ohioan is close to a site. Director, you were involved in that report. I don’t know if you want to add anything.
Michelle McElroy: (01:02:22)
No. Absolutely, everything you’re saying is correct, sir. Again, if you look at our plan and our approach, within the broader approach, we have very targeted efforts. So, for example, if you had a chance to listen to what the Governor has said, we are in many different locations. We selected a variety of different channels so that we could reach communities of color so that we could reach communities that perhaps would be otherwise a little more difficult to access. So our plan in the amount of providers, where they’re located, the different opportunities are very much inclusive and thoughtful and deliberate so that we could reach communities of color.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:03:11)
Thank you, very much.
Jon Husted: (01:03:14)
Governor, if I could add to that also. Look, we weighed very heavily this issue of efficiency of delivery versus equality of service, and this system was designed for equality of service, including the federal qualified health clinics. And reiterating what the Governor said, we didn’t have big vaccination sites that were away from the communities where people are underserved. We went right into those communities where people are underserved and they can go get them now.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:03:46)
The simplest thing in the world for our team to have done, for me as Governor to have done, is simply set up seven or eight sites around the state and rock and roll and let it go. That would not have been the responsible thing for Ohio. That’s not the way Ohioans do things. We do it locally, and this has been very locally focused and it’s going to continue. Doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but we’re going to continue to fight to make it better. Thank you all very much.