Feb 9, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 9
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on February 9, 2021 to provide coronavirus updates. He encouraged schools to create plans to support kids who have fallen behind due to the pandemic. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Mike DeWine: (00:00)
… for developmental disabilities and specific medical conditions are eligible this week to be vaccinated. We’re going to go first to Canton, Marc’s Pharmacy in Canton where Rodney and Charlotte Walker are going to be vaccinated. With them, we have pharmacist, Andy Laymon. Laymon, how are you doing today?
Andy Laymon: (00:20)
Hey, doing well. How are you doing?
Mike DeWine: (00:24)
Thank you very much. Everything going okay?
Andy Laymon: (00:27)
Yeah. We’re really in the full swing of things here doing Moderna vaccinations, and we’re doing anywhere between 20 and 40 per location a day, so we just wrapped up our third week last week, and we’ve administered at this point, just over 10,000 immunizations in Northeast Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (00:49)
So if someone wants to sign up at one of your locations, one of Marc’s locations, how would they go about doing that?
Andy Laymon: (00:58)
The way to do it is to go to the marcs.com website, and when you get on there, it’s front center. It’s on the main page. It can direct you to put in the ZIP code, choose how wide of an area you’d be willing to travel, and it will be … One of the things we’re we’re talking to patients about is once you get on and check it out, it could show that there’s there’s limited availability, but we say just keep checking, because there are appointments that’ll get made, and then maybe that get backed out for various reasons. We’re always opening new appointments as we get vaccine, so keep checking.
Mike DeWine: (01:44)
And if someone wants to use the phone, can they do that? Can they call one of your pharmacies, or how’s that work?
Andy Laymon: (01:51)
At this point, the way that we’re we’re managing the scheduling is through the website. We could handle a case by case, obviously if there’s certain scenarios that it is completely not manageable, but for the most part, we’re really encouraging folks to go to the marcs.com website rather than calling the store.
Mike DeWine: (02:13)
So let’s go to the vaccination. Mr. and Mrs. Walker, how are you doing?
Charlotte Walker: (02:19)
We’re doing great. Thank you. How are you doing?
Mike DeWine: (02:22)
Well, I’m good. I’m good. Are you ready to get the vaccination?
Charlotte Walker: (02:27)
Yes, we’re more than ready.
Mike DeWine: (02:29)
All right, well, who’s going to go first?
Charlotte Walker: (02:34)
I believe I am.
Mike DeWine: (02:35)
All right. We’ll watch you. That’s great.
Andy Laymon: (02:40)
All right, [inaudible 00:02:40]. I’m going to go right in. Now in. That’s it. You okay?
Charlotte Walker: (02:57)
Andy Laymon: (03:00)
All right. Nice job. She did a nice job.
Charlotte Walker: (03:03)
It was quick and painless.
Mike DeWine: (03:04)
All right, that’s good. That’s good. Mr. Walker, are we going to watch you?
Rodney Walker: (03:10)
Okay, Mr. Governor.
Speaker 1: (03:11)
Okay. [inaudible 00:03:12]. Okay, how was that?
Rodney Walker: (03:37)
Okay, that was good. I didn’t feel anything.
Speaker 1: (03:40)
All right. Great.
Mike DeWine: (03:42)
Well, Mr. and Mrs. Walker, thank you very much for being with us today. We hope you have a good day.
Charlotte Walker: (03:48)
Rodney Walker: (03:49)
Thank you, Governor.
Andy Laymon: (03:49)
Thank you, governor.
Mike DeWine: (03:49)
Charlotte Walker: (03:49)
Andy Laymon: (03:49)
Mike DeWine: (03:55)
We’re going to go now to Westerville, the Kroger there. Erin Latta is administering vaccines today. Doctor, how are you?
Erin Latta: (04:06)
I’m good. How are you?
Mike DeWine: (04:07)
I’m well. I’m good, good to see you. How are things going today?
Erin Latta: (04:11)
Pretty good. We’re getting about 20 today. Usually we get anywhere from like 20 to 40 shots a day, so it’s kind of a slow day for us, but good day.
Mike DeWine: (04:20)
Okay. Very good. Mr. Hughes, how are you doing?
Mr. Hughes: (04:26)
I’m doing fine. How are you, Governor?
Mike DeWine: (04:28)
You’ve been looking forward to today.
Mr. Hughes: (04:31)
Yes, I am.
Mike DeWine: (04:33)
Well, I got mine last week. I was looking forward to it as well.
Mr. Hughes: (04:35)
Yeah. I can’t wait to take off the mask.
Erin Latta: (04:35)
Hopefully. Hopefully, soon.
Mike DeWine: (04:35)
Well, we’ll watch you get the vac vaccination then.
Erin Latta: (04:47)
Mr. Hughes: (04:48)
Erin Latta: (04:59)
All right, you ready? That’s it. That’s it.
Mr. Hughes: (05:11)
Quick. Yep, painless.
Erin Latta: (05:11)
Mike DeWine: (05:12)
All right. Well, we thank both of you very much, and we hope you have a great day to day. Appreciate it.
Erin Latta: (05:17)
Thank you. Thanks.
Mike DeWine: (05:19)
Thank you very much. I’d like to now talk about our children and the importance of getting all of them back to in-person learning. We’ve set the goal of March 1st to do that, and we’re moving along. We know that the pandemic has really been disruptive in some way for all the children, just as it’s been disruptive for all adults in Ohio. In the spring, all Ohio children were out of school, and during this academic year, some kids have been entirely remote, some have been entirely in the classroom, and some have been a combination of the two, and some have lost some days because of quarantines.
Mike DeWine: (06:13)
And just as adults have felt the strain of this pandemic, so certainly have our children. It’s been a strain, even for the kids who have been totally in the classroom for the whole academic year. Their lives have been changed as well. We are making great progress in our goal to have every child back in school by March 1st. I made it a priority to vaccinate teachers and school personnel, and sometimes people say, “Well, why are we doing that?” We’re doing it so that we can get our children back in school. It’s priority. I based that on conversations I’ve had for a number of months with parents, with educators, just the really, I think the urgent necessity to get our children back in school.
Mike DeWine: (07:14)
We started, in regard to the vaccination, last week. We are now in our second week. The vaccine roll out looks different across the state. From Kroger’s doing 2,000 staff members a day at a large clinic in Franklin County to up in Allen County, the Public Health Department traveling to individual school districts to administer the shots. In one week, 566 schools have had teachers and staff vaccinated. And at the end of this week, more than 1,300 schools will have had teachers and staff vaccinated. These are public schools, these are private school, parochial schools, charter public schools as well.
Mike DeWine: (08:10)
We are already really seeing a change. We’re seeing a movement from remote learning to being back in the classroom. Just as an example, in December, 45% of Ohio students were in fully remote schools. Today, that number is less than 15%. The number of districts that are fully remote has moved from 219 in the first week of January to only 35 this week, and let’s look at the charts. This is where we were. This is where we were on January 7th. And I would point out, just to look at the fully remote, the fully remote are the dark blue color. This is where we were February 4th, and as you can see, quite a significant change, so we’re happy for that movement.
Mike DeWine: (09:09)
This week, we learned more about how our children are doing when the Ohio Department of Education released its fall 2020 enrollment and assessment data, and it confirms what we suspected, that some of our kids are not doing as well as we would like them to be doing. Joining us today is superintendent of public instruction, Paolo de Maria, to talk about this. Mr. Superintendent, thanks for joining us, and tell us a little bit about the report that you issued.
Paolo DeMaria: (09:41)
Governor, it’s great to be with you. I very much appreciate this opportunity to share some of this data that really reflects the status of our students and the education system reflecting the early part of the new academic school year. I first wanted to say thank you to all the educators and school leaders across our great state just for demonstrating incredible dedication and creativity, commitment, compassion, resilience, care, and love for students and all the work they do and in particular over this past year. It’s been hard, but it would have been much harder without the steadfast commitment of our students and our schools and our teachers and everyone rallying together in the interest of our students. I really appreciate the fact that you prioritized teachers for the vaccination, because it’s really going to make a difference.
Paolo DeMaria: (10:23)
As you said, last week, we released some data and analysis based on our early collection of enrollment data and our fall assessments, and as you said, the bottom line is there’s really not too many surprises here. It’s pretty much what we expected to see. It gives us some insights into the impact of the school building closure that took place last spring.
Paolo DeMaria: (10:43)
So let’s start with enrollment. As you might expect, the data showed that at the beginning of the school year, there was an overall decrease in enrollment of about 3%, and the greatest concentration of that really is in the preschool and kindergarten arenas, which suggest what you might think, that some parents and some families opted to hold off on starting their children in school during the pandemic. The other factor that we suspect is at play is in the upper grades, and while we don’t and really won’t have exact numbers, we likely have seen more high school students dropping out for the time being, maybe to get a job to support a struggling family, maybe to take care of siblings or other adults, things that have taken place in their lives that require them to respond.
Paolo DeMaria: (11:27)
So let’s talk a little bit about the assessments. The data that we released also includes data around our kindergarten readiness assessments. And these are assessments that are administered right at the beginning of the year to gauge a student’s readiness for kindergarten as they enter kindergarten, and the other assessment is our third grade English language arts assessment, which is an early snapshot for where students are in respect to the third grade reading guarantee that we have in Ohio.
Paolo DeMaria: (11:55)
First, I like to think about participation. I think it’s really amazing that we had such great participation in the assessments in the fall, because it shows that around 80% of students participated compared to about 90% to 95% that would participate in a traditional year. One of the reasons we think the numbers are lower, of course, is that we promoted a safety first mentality, so no one was forced to take the assessments or to bring students to school if they didn’t feel it was safe for them to do so, and we emphasized that we did not want to compromise safety. But in fact, I was expecting the participation rates to be even lower, so I think it’s a real tribute to the fact that even in this disrupted environment, we can administer assessments safely and it can happen fairly smoothly without much difficulty.
Paolo DeMaria: (12:39)
So what do the numbers show in terms of student performance? Again, as we expected because of the disruption, scores were lower. There’s no surprise there. Lower scores are particularly notable among minority students and disadvantaged students. Let’s start with kindergarten. What we saw was about an eight percentage point increase in those students who scored not on track, so more students were not on track as they were entering kindergarten. At the same time, there was only a slight increase in the percentage of children who were really scoring at the lowest performance level. That’s called emerging readiness, and there was only about 1.2 percentage points more students in that lowest category.
Paolo DeMaria: (13:20)
On the third grade test, we saw that there was about eight percentage points lower scoring proficiency or better. That’s about 37% this past fall as compared to 45% scoring proficient or better in the fall of 2019. Almost all the districts, about 87% had a decrease in their percentage of third grade students scoring proficient or better between 2019 and 2020. Now, while this data is really helpful for all of us to understand what’s going on, I caution people not to extrapolate from the average. Every student is different. Every student’s circumstances are different, and each student really merits an individual understanding of where they are academically and socially and what they really need to succeed.
Paolo DeMaria: (14:04)
One of the things we did was we also looked at the data in relation to instructional delivery and how that is taking place in the current year, and what we saw was that in fully remote districts, that those third grade proficiency rates decreased a little more substantially by about 12 percentage points as compared to about an eight percentage point drop in districts that were using primarily a five-day in person model. Of course, these tests really reflect more what happened at the end of last school year rather than what happened this year, but it’s important to understand those differentiations as we go forward. This was the first statewide assessment data that we’ve had since the start of the pandemic, and it really emphasizes the importance of getting students fully back to school in that way, then identifying how best to help them resume their academic journey, helping them prepare, be prepared for success for the rest of this school year, and then leading up into the next school year.
Paolo DeMaria: (14:57)
The challenge that we all face in the education community is really how do we identify the students, what their greatest needs are, and then what we do to support them in order to help them continue to move forward. As I said, a lot of this is not really surprising to anyone. In fact, I think schools and districts that understood these realities already have been making plans to take action, to support those students and help them continue to accelerate, and it’s important that we really are deliberate in planning for extended learning time and other responses to meeting students’ needs. Governor, I want to thank you for your budget recommendations. I know you’re going to talk about those a little bit more here, as well as to the federal government for all the infusion of financial resources that has taken place. Those resources and that commitment is going to help schools and educators position themselves to support our students through this pandemic and beyond, addressing the realities and the impacts of the disruption that they’ve experienced. Governor, you always make your priorities clear: the importance of education, the importance of taking care of students who are our future, and we really appreciate that. Thanks so much for all you do.
Mike DeWine: (16:04)
Well, Mr. Superintendent, thank you very much. I mean, you make a lot of very interesting points, but I think your caution that all of us look at each individual student and that’s so very, very important as we look to see what we can do in the future to close some of these gaps, which you point out we’re seeing the biggest gaps with minority students and disadvantaged students, but what we can do to close those individual gaps. We do have to focus on that particular child, because every child is different, every child has learns different, and every child is in a different situation. So we thank you for those cautions, and we thank you for your good work. Thank you very much.
Mike DeWine: (16:52)
This once in a hundred-year pandemic has truly impacted all of us, and so it should be no surprise that it has impacted our children, but we should not panic, nor should we be surprised by the numbers that the state superintendent just discussed. Instead, I believe we should do what Ohioans have always done when facing a challenge: stay calm, roll up our sleeves and work to solve the problem, and that’s what we intend to do. Let’s talk about what we do. Let’s talk first about our Student Wellness and Success programs. In my budget two years ago, we put a significant amount of money in our budget for wraparound student wellness, and thanks to the Ohio General Assembly, they increased it even more, and I remain grateful for that investment and for their higher General Assembly support. These dollars are available to schools today, and they’re spending them. They’re being used by schools right now.
Mike DeWine: (18:04)
Now, teachers have told us for years that we have to do a better job addressing all the needs of our children, both academic and the non-academic challenges. Too many Ohio children are living in situations, certainly at no fault of their own, that impact their success in the classroom and ultimately in life, whether that is living with a parent or parents who are addicted to drugs, or because the child does not have enough to eat, or because the child has experienced some form of trauma. So in our executive budget that we just announced this past week, we are expanding our investment in the Student Wellness and Success programs and the wraparound services that they provide and raising that amount to $1.1 billion.
Mike DeWine: (18:56)
A study released in December by the Ohio Department of Education found that schools and districts have used Student Wellness and Success funds to start more than 3,000 separate initiatives from building onsite health clinics, counseling, after school programs, all of these 3,000 initiatives serving over a million Ohio children. With this flexible funding schools make decisions about what their students need the most. So far, more than one in four, the initiatives have been focused on mental health services. Almost one in seven initiatives are focused on physical health services.
Mike DeWine: (19:42)
For example, Fort Frye local schools in Washington County. They used their Student Wellness and Success funds to expand school-based mental health services through a partnership with two community-based mental health providers and their local board of public health, five full-time mental health professionals have provide onsite, individual as well as group counseling services. While students learned remotely at the end of last year, counselors continued to meet with students to address their mental health and their behavioral needs.
Mike DeWine: (20:18)
Columbus City schools. They use their money to hire additional school social workers, and they partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to implement the Signs of Suicide program in all middle and high schools across the district. Social workers connect children to needed mental health services and focus on creating a positive school climate, while the Signs of Suicide program equipped educators and staff with skills to identify signs of distress in children and connect children to needed interventions. There are many other amazing examples of school districts who used their Student Wellness and Success funds to meet the social and emotional needs of students to enhance classroom learning. These programs work, and because the pandemic has increased the need for this kind of help even more, it is vital that we continue to expand these efforts, and as I said, this is part of our budget that we’ve sent to the General Assembly.
Mike DeWine: (21:27)
Now, in addition to the increased funds for student wellness, today we also must begin a discussion, a discussion that will result in some of the most important decisions that we can make for the children in the state of Ohio. This is a discussion about how we help our children, those who are behind, get caught up. How do we get them back on track? And I know that some schools have started working on this, and that’s great, and I know that the legislature is focused on this as well. Had a great conversation this morning with the Senate President Huffman, Speaker Cupp about this very subject. They have the same concerns that I do. How do we help the kids who have fallen further behind because of the pandemic? I know they are committed as I am to finding solutions.
Mike DeWine: (22:34)
Now, our Ohio school communities know their students, and they know what it will take to keep students advancing and make up for any learning that may have been lost or delayed because of this pandemic. And so I’m asking them today, each school district in the state, to formulate a specific plan aimed at the individual needs of each of their students.
Mike DeWine: (23:01)
… each of their students, masking each school district to start working on this plan. I know many of them have already worked on it. I also want to speak to every parent and I would ask you to communicate to your local school where you see the needs are with your child and what ideas that you have, as far as how we can catch back up. Again, this pandemic has impacted children differently. Superintendent [DeMaria 00:00:43] made that very, very clear I think, when he talked about that each child is in fact different. But I’m asking the parents to be a part of this and to work with their local schools. We need to be bold in our ideas and we need to work with the Ohio General Assembly to make the changes necessary for our schools to implement their plans.
Mike DeWine: (24:09)
Some schools could decide that extended learning meets their needs. That means days could be added to the beginning or the end of the school year. A school may decide the school day should be longer, or that summer classes will help their students. Other districts may decide that tutoring, summer program enrichment or remote options are the way to move forward. But regardless of the individual plan, we have to move and we have to move quickly. Our kids get one chance to grow up, so we cannot delay. And so I’m asking the public schools to make their plans public for their citizens and for the General Assembly, no later than April one. So I’m asking for a public dialogue in each school district, a conversation. And just as we start this conversation in each one of our school districts, we also start it statewide. And the General Assembly will be working, talking about this, and I know they’re very interested and I am very interested in the ideas coming out of each school district.
Mike DeWine: (25:25)
Now let’s talk about this, how this can be paid for, because I’m sure people are thinking, “Okay, that sounds great, but how do we pay for it?” Well fortunately, there are dollars available to accomplish this. In December, Congress passed a bill, signed into law by the president, that provides $2 billion, $2 billion in additional dollars for Ohio schools. And I want to thank the members of the Ohio congressional delegation for their work on that bill. The new federal funding is a tool for schools to start helping kids get back on track. While schools can use this funding for many purposes over the next two years, the priority should be helping close the academic and wellness gaps caused by the disruption of this pandemic. That’s why we will work with Superintendent DeMaria and the General Assembly to assist schools in using this funding to execute their plans.
Mike DeWine: (26:34)
The bottom line is this, the future of our state depends on how we help our children today. We simply cannot fail these children. Each child in Ohio, each child deserves the opportunity to live up to his or her full God given potential. And we can not allow this pandemic to get in the way for their ability to flourish and to thrive. After what has been an extremely challenging time in Ohio, we now have the ability to do something that matters, that will make a difference and will impact both lives and the future of our state for many, many years to come.
Mike DeWine: (27:19)
So I’m asking for that public discussion to start, to involve parents, to involve citizens, to both school boards, superintendents, teachers, about what else we can be doing. And as I say this, I want to thank our teachers, I want to thank our parents, who despite great challenges, have done a very good job during this past year. It has certainly not been easy for them, but we thank you. We thank you for what you’ve been doing, and we thank our young people as well. Now let me turn to Lieutenant Governor of Houston for some additional comments on this issue.
Jon Husted: (28:05)
Thank you, Governor, well said by you and superintendent DeMaria. I want to add some perspective on the economic consequences of the educational success or failure of these initiatives. There was a report that was issued recently, there was an article written about it that mentioned, I want to highlight some of the aspects of it. The US economy could take a 14 to $28 trillion dollar, that’s trillion dollar blow in the long run due to COVID, coronavirus induced learning loss, according to economists projections. And the longer the pandemic keeps kids out of the classroom, the higher that number will climb. Which by the way, perspective on that, that’s why I thank you Governor for making the decision to get schools vaccinated, make sure they’re open for in-person learning so that the kids can start. We can get an early start on what a lot of other States are doing in this area.
Jon Husted: (29:13)
The report, it also discussed the fact that on average, American students from kindergarten to fifth grade, have missed out on 20% of the reading and 33% of the math skills they would have learned during normal times. And that was according to a McKinsey report, looking at the diagnostic test scores across the country. And then finally, there was a quote from Eric Hanushek, a Stanford economist who is part of the OECD report on the economic impact of this, and he said, “Nobody’s paying attention to this. Nobody’s paying attention to this absolutely stunningly large economic cost that just keeps piling up.” Well, that’s the only aspect that I disagree with because we are paying attention to it. What you outlined, what the superintendent outlined, our evidence that this has been on our radar, we are planning for our recovery. And what you outlined as prioritized both in our economic recovery package that we discussed last week and the education plan and the budget, is a plan to prioritize this, to help the trajectory of the students across Ohio move toward a more prosperous, hopeful future.
Jon Husted: (30:31)
I want to highlight three areas in that recovery package, in the budget. First let’s discuss career technical education. As never before, we are going to champion career technical and vocational education and training to help tens of thousands more Ohioans a year, find quality, good paying jobs, without the high cost of a college education. In the Governor’s executive budget proposal, there is $50 million, $ 25 million a year targeted at this. $8 million a year will go toward providing access to free credential assessments for students, with the goal of 70,000 students a year in our high schools, earning a career credential so that they’re ready to go to work right out of high school. Why does this money matter? I’ll tell you why it matters. I’ve learned this on many of my visits to career centers across the state. They say that we educate a student, but at the end of the year, they have to take the assessment test to get to credential. Sometimes those tests are expensive, hundreds of dollars in some cases, to take the test.
Jon Husted: (31:42)
Families can’t afford it, students decide maybe this isn’t what I’m going to do in the future, I don’t want to put that money out now. They don’t end up earning the credential and as a result, they don’t have that credential when it’s time to go to work in the future. We want to help correct that problem, helping them take the test, getting them credentialed so they can go into a career opportunity. And then another 12 and a half million dollars a year will be focused on the innovative workforce incentive program. And this will provide incentive payments to schools for each in demand credential earned by a student. We’re going to create incentives to help students earn credentials that we know are in demand in the economy, that employers are telling us, “We can’t find enough people.” This works great because we know the students have a career opportunity because it’s aligned with the needs of the workforce. The goal, again, 70,000 students out of our high school next year with career credentials.
Jon Husted: (32:41)
I also want to highlight on a second piece, new pathways from high school to college to career, that are in this budget. Our budget creates a pilot program designed to allow students to complete both a high school diploma and an associates degree within six years at no cost to them. The students in the program are connected with technology companies that offer them internships and job opportunities as students. And let’s face it, when you’re talking about things like cybersecurity and coding, high school students can be as technically qualified as people twice their age, maybe even better in some circumstances, but we have to get them connected with employers and we’re doing that.
Jon Husted: (33:23)
And this private public partnership model is aimed at providing these high school students, many of them from under served backgrounds, with the skills and credentials they need for in demand STEM jobs. We believe that this is the future of what high school and technology and careers and college are going to look like and we are aligning this aggressively through this pilot program. And then finally, Governor, I want to mention a commitment that we are making to computer science. We know that anything that requires a computer science skill, is the fastest growing sector of an economy right now, the economy. That includes many of the highest paying careers in the vast field of computer science. And according to a state of computer science report by code.org, only 42% of high schools in Ohio, currently offer computer science.
Jon Husted: (34:22)
This means that 58% do not offer computer science, unless you are able to take a college class through college credit plus. And we know that this is important, we recently convened through cyber Ohio, that’s chaired by Helen Patton CISO at Ohio State University and included representatives of Battelle, code.org, HER Academy and Project Lead The Way, and others, how important this is to preparing students for careers in the modern economy. And we are putting their recommendations to work and Governor DeWine and I, I know we’ve discussed this, but we believe those 58% of the students who don’t have that opportunity, deserve that opportunity. And in the budget, we are proposing a guarantee for access to computer science classes, so that everybody in our high schools have access to computer science classes, and in this budget, it gives them a right to that computer science class, through a statutory right, that they can either get through their school or another provider of the student’s choice.
Jon Husted: (35:34)
We will work with the schools to make sure that we can implement this properly, working with the Ohio Department of Education. And that guarantee in the 2022, ’23 school year, will be for all 11th and 12th graders and then in 2023 and 2024, ninth and 10th graders will be involved. And then the following academic year of ’24 and ’25, we’ll have computer science, grade appropriate computer science opportunities for K through eight. We’re doing many more things in this, I wanted to highlight these three because they’re so important. These are real efforts, intentional efforts to help students be prepared for a career, for college, and that they can leave high school with tangible, valuable skills in the workplace.
Jon Husted: (36:21)
I just want to conclude Governor, by saying this, I’ve been through many of these budget cycles, every budget cycle presents an opportunity to distinguish ourselves as a state. Coming out of a pandemic, the stakes are higher and the impact more consequential than we usually get during these opportunities. And I believe what you’ve outlined is a rise to that challenge. We are rising to that challenge this year and beyond, to commit to the work we will need to lead to that educational recovery, that educational recovery, which will echo economically for a generation. So Governor, thank you for laying out the pathway to achieve this, to committing to the students, because it is about the students, it’s not about the adults or the institutions, it’s about making sure that those individual students have the tools that they need to succeed in life and I appreciate your leadership on this. Thanks Governor.
Mike DeWine: (37:18)
Lieutenant Governor, thank you very much. A couple other items, start with rent assistance. Several weeks ago, we worked with the General Assembly to request the State Controlling Board to approve a hundred million dollars in federal funding to help low income Ohioans who do not own their own home, pay their rent, their water, sewer, wastewater, electric, gas, oil, or trash removal bills. The Ohio Developmental Services Agency is distributing this funding among Ohio’s 47 community action agencies. Eligible Ohioans may contact their local community action agency for assistance with outstanding balances, dating back to March 13th, 2020.
Mike DeWine: (38:01)
Ohioans may receive assistance for future rent, utility payments, once back bills have been made current. In addition, Ohioans may receive assistance for future rent and utility assistance for three months at a time. Eligible Ohio households must, one, be at or below 80% of their Counties area median income, this varies by County and by size of a household. Two, have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19. Three, demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Ohioans can apply for assistance through their local community action agency, a list of agencies can be found at businesshelp.ohio.gov, under home relief grants.
Mike DeWine: (38:54)
Talk for a moment about our nursing homes. Since the pandemic began, individuals in long-term care settings, such as nursing homes, assisted living, have been at a great risk. In fact, over 50% of our deaths in Ohio have come from these homes. This is why we prioritize this. We have completed dose one, dose two in our nursing homes, and most of our assisted living centers. We are now preparing for what happens next. We’re preparing for when these vaccinations are done and nursing homes, of course, still are taking in new residents, they may be adding additional staff and both of these groups will need to be vaccinated if they have not already been vaccinated. In addition to that, we want to offer to any employee who did not want to take the vaccine the first two times around, we will give them the opportunity to be vaccinated. And why are we doing this? It’s just very, very important for us to stay right on top of this so that staff members have the opportunity to get vaccinated, but most important is that the residents have the opportunity, the new residents that are coming in, have the opportunity to be vaccinated if they’ve not already been vaccinated before. So how is this going to work? And we’ll actually be announcing the details of this next week, but we’ve been in contact with our nursing homes, assisted living, we have this plan that will ensure residents and staff within nursing homes and assisted living facilities, have continuing access to this life saving vaccine. The state’s maintenance COVID-19 vaccine program for nursing homes and assisted living, will leverage existing relationships between the nursing, home assisted living facilities and the pharmacies that regularly provide them with prescription drugs. So we’ll be working through the pharmacies that the nursing home normally are working with. And again, as I said, we’ll share these details next week.
Mike DeWine: (41:17)
But for this week, what we would advise and ask is for administrators of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, to find out this week, if their facility already has a pharmacy provider that is capable of administering the vaccine. So they should contact their pharmacy, current pharmacy provider and find out from that pharmacy provider, that if they’re not currently a COVID vaccine provider, do they intend to become one? And we would ask also for any of the pharmacy providers that have not signed up, that want to sign up, to start doing that. Our commitment remains the same and that is to ensure that Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens have access to COVID-19 vaccine as we move forward.
Mike DeWine: (42:13)
Eric, let’s quickly to go some slides, and then we’ll go to questions. Numbers continued to be lower than the 21 day average, 3,200 today, new cases, 3,207 new cases today. Deaths, sadly are higher than the 21 day average, 98 are hospital admissions, are a little bit lower than the 21 day average. And down here, I see new admissions are about the same. Eric, let’s go to the next slide. Again, what you’re seeing, all of our counties, 88 Counties are higher than the high incidence level of the CDC. Although you’re seeing it, even that these numbers are coming down as well.
Mike DeWine: (43:04)
Next slide. This is our top ones, and we talk with Brown County, Clinton County. As you can see there, let’s take Brown County for example, over seven times the high incidence level. So it’s very high, very high, but not as high as our top County was a few weeks ago. Let’s go to the next slide, Eric. We have a hospital slide? We’ll get a hospital slide. And this is the hospital slide, and again, we’re seeing a drop. This is great news. We’re seeing a drop in the number of patients, COVID patients in our hospitals. So the number we’re showing today is 1974, which is very, very good news. We will go to our questions.
Speaker 2: (43:56)
Governor, first question today is from Dan DeRoos, WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRoos: (44:00)
Good afternoon, Governor.
Mike DeWine: (44:01)
Dan DeRoos: (44:03)
Sir. I’ve often referred to on air here in Cleveland, that all of this, whether it’s testing or now the vaccine, as a logistical ballet and everything has to go just right. How are you guaranteeing that now, especially that we’ve invited 750 different actors in our ballet, as in providers who are giving the vaccine, we’re now starting to get to that point to where those 750 are going to be calling people back in for their second shot. What is it specifically, so that people feel comfortable and are assured that their second dose is going to be there. Is the box marked second dose only? What’s to keep a pharmacy from getting a box of what are supposed to be second doses, opening it up and saying, “Oh, we have a hundred new doses. Let’s call in a hundred new people.” And not screwing up that those were supposed to be second doses. What specifically is going to keep that from happening?
Mike DeWine: (45:02)
Every pharmacy, every hospital, every health department, every community clinic, they know that they’re going to be administering a second dose. That second dose is controlled at the manufacturing level. And when the shipment of the first dose comes in, there’s a timing mechanism that goes into place, and so that second dose follows automatically and so every place knows that that’s what their responsibility is. Now, as far as the details or the marked second dose, I’ll ask my team if there’s anyone, I don’t know whether Bruce, you know that answer, or if anybody on our team has anything else to add to that. And Dan, we’ll get back to you sometime this press conference or we’ll get back to you later today.
Governor, [crosstalk 00:45:53], one of the things I …
Mike DeWine: (45:56)
Go ahead, Bruce.
Yes. Sorry. One of the things I can offer is that this was actually part of our intentionality-
… that this was actually part of our intentionality around the selection of the providers that we lead with here in Ohio. Not only were we aiming to assure that our vaccines would be equitably distributed in communities so that none of our communities would be left behind, but we work with providers who are experienced at providing followup care, whether it’s local health departments, pharmacies, or our health systems. These are providers who have that as part of their DNA, part of their engineering. They’re well-aware of the importance of this, and they have the kinds of experience and internal controls that give us a lot of confidence.
Mike DeWine: (46:44)
Now, let me just say, also, Dan, you talked about calling them back, many, many places, when you get that first vaccination, they give you a time. They give you an appointment. They give you a card. Now, not in every place. Some do it just differently, but many places give you a card and tells you, “Here’s the time,” and you’ll come back in.
Mike DeWine: (47:07)
Look, with this, with over a million people so far, are there going to be some people who forget, are there going to be some people where there’s some mix-up? Sure. This is something that will have to get worked out, but we’re dealing with human beings here on both sides of this. Certainly, there will be some mistakes made, but we believe the system is a good system. Dr. Van Hoff said, “We believe we’re dealing with people who are used to doing things like this, giving vaccinations, and we have confidence in them.”
Speaker 3: (47:44)
Next question is from Jon Reed at Gongwer News Service.
Jon Reed: (47:47)
Good afternoon, governor.
Mike DeWine: (47:48)
Jon Reed: (47:49)
The $2 billion from the federal government, is that going directly to school districts? Is that managed by the state, kind of like the Coronavirus Relief Fund dollar’s from, and what limitations are on that money?
Mike DeWine: (48:01)
Yeah, it’s basically the formula is a Title I formula. That’s what the federal government decided to do. That’s what was written into the law when they passed this. It would be administered by our Department of Education, but the school districts already know or certainly available to them how much money they will be getting. What has to be worked out is this public discussion that I asked for to start today, and some communities, it’s already started, which is great, but a public discussion about how should this money be spent, and it could be that the legislature will weigh in on that as well. Legislature may have ideas. Legislature is… We’re all interested, I think, in what the local community sees, and that’s why I’ve asked for parents to be involved, citizens to be involved, school boards, have these discussions about what is really needed.
Mike DeWine: (49:12)
We’re kicking that discussion off today. Some places have already kicked it off, but kicking it off at least today as far as the state is concerned. It’s an ongoing discussion, and we want it to be a discussion though that brings about some specific things. Obviously, before this, the actual budget itself will be adopted in the latter part of June, so this may be put into another bill, but the discussion has to start now, and we have to work on this because there may be things that much of this will be delivered, one would assume, this summer, and decisions have to be made.
Speaker 3: (50:02)
Next question is from Zach Shrivers at WTAP in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Zach Shrivers: (50:08)
Hi, governor. I had a question about high school seniors. As the state works to catch up other students, I’m wondering, is there something we can do for the students who are in their last year of school but are probably still going to graduate but who’ve also missed out on a lot from the last year. Has the state thought about anything for those students? Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (50:30)
Yes. Very good point. Absolutely correct. I mean, some of these students will be going… There are different pathways: some to college, some to two-year school, some other pathways, and so that should be part of the discussion as well, how do we help all the students in our schools.
Speaker 3: (50:52)
Next question is from Marty Schladen at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Marty Schladen: (50:58)
Mike DeWine: (50:58)
Marty Schladen: (50:59)
Mike DeWine: (50:59)
Marty Schladen: (51:02)
Last week, Senator Portman tweeted out a CNBC story about the CDC director saying schools can safely reopen without vaccinating teachers, and Senator Portman wrote, “The science is clear. It’s time to safely reopen our schools and get our kids back in the classroom.” What’s your reaction to that?
Mike DeWine: (51:24)
Well, I agree with what he tweeted out. I mean, I think that’s correct. We can get them back. What I have said is that we’ve got a couple of things going here. Remember, one of the reasons, the main reason that we’re vaccinating teachers is because of a concern expressed by teachers and others who work in the school building that they would not be safe. You have a couple of things coming together that I think should make them feel safe.
Mike DeWine: (51:57)
One, we know more today than we do, they did when this all started. We know [inaudible 00:52:05]. We know that when every child is wearing a mask in a classroom, there is not much spread, dramatically cut, very, very, very little spread in the classroom. We didn’t know that before. We didn’t know that beginning of the year. We know that today.
Mike DeWine: (52:21)
We also know that students will wear a mask, and they’ll keep them on, and teachers do the same thing, and so the compliance has been phenomenally high in our schools. Third thing, we now have the vaccine, and we’re offering the vaccine to anyone who interfaces with children in the school, anybody who’s in that school building. All those things coming together, it seems to me, should give people confidence, should give teachers confidence, should give bus drivers confidence, should give any employee of that school confidence that they can go into that school as long as we’re careful, as long as people wear mask. We’re doing the other things that schools have been doing, we have good environment.
Laura Hancock: (53:07)
Next question is from Andy Chow, Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Mike DeWine: (53:18)
Andy Chow: (53:18)
[crosstalk 00:53:18]. Governor, I wanted to ask you about visitations at nursing homes and assisted living centers, especially the fact that they have now been vaccinated in those facilities. Under the current state regulations and state orders, can nursing homes allow unrestricted visitations, especially for maybe a designated primary caretaker?
Mike DeWine: (53:44)
Andy, I’ll have to get back with you on that. We do have a procedure. I will tell you that because we’re going through this vaccination process, because we’re seeing cases go dramatically down in our nursing homes… I think they went down to about fourth of what they were… that this is something we are looking at, in fact, we’re talking about on our morning call this morning. We will get back with more information on that, but that is something we’ve been working on. I know Director McElroy has specifically been working on that, and she and I were talking about this this morning. We’ll have more in the future on that. We know it’s a concern. We know that people want to be able to visit. I’ll get you a more detailed answer in a few days.
Speaker 3: (54:34)
Next question is from Chelsea Sick at WKEF in Dayton.
Chelsea Sick: (54:39)
Hi, there, Governor DeWine.
Mike DeWine: (54:42)
Chelsea Sick: (54:43)
We saw your executive budget plan for 2022 and 2023 includes a proposed $10 million grant to help law enforcement fund body cameras. We just had a deadly officer-involved shooting on here in Trotwood in which police tell us officers weren’t wearing body cameras. When could agencies start receiving money to fund these cameras, and how would it be distributed?
Mike DeWine: (55:08)
It will be distributed through our Department of Public Safety. Money’s not going to be available until after the budget has passed and signed into law, so that would normally be the latter part of June, but this is something that is very important. I think it’s significant as we look at what we need to do to protect police and protect the public and be transparent, so we’re asking every department to adopt the state protocol as far as the use of body cameras, when they’re turned on, when they can be turned off, how they are to be used.
Mike DeWine: (55:58)
We are providing in this budget, if agreed to by the General Assembly, with a very significant amount of money that’s going to allow departments to apply for a grant to get body cameras. We believe this will pay for the vast, vast majority of departments in the state who want body cameras, and we urge them to do that. The thing that we hear all the time from particularly smaller departments, and we have close to a thousand police departments in the state, and most of them are small, is that they can’t afford it, and so we’re taking away that issue and providing the money so that they can, in fact, buy the body cameras.
Speaker 3: (56:52)
Next question is from Nathan Hart at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Nathan Hart: (56:56)
Hi, governor. Looking at Ohio’s weekly vaccination charts, it looks like there’s a significant dip in vaccinations on Sunday, specifically, and we’re generally on weekends. Is the state aware of this dip, and will there be an effort to vaccinate more people on weekends?
Mike DeWine: (57:12)
Yeah. Nathan, what we ask the providers… and understand that many providers are only getting 100, 200 doses. What we’re asking them to do is to complete that vaccination within seven days. We monitor it. They don’t always hit it, but the numbers have been pretty good, certainly in the last month. We’re better than 90% take-up during that seven-day period of time. The vaccine comes out on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. You would expect the take-up to be building as the week goes on, and then at some point start going back down again.
Mike DeWine: (58:02)
I think if you actually looked at this Sunday’s, or at least what we reported on Monday, I think it was a pretty decent number. I don’t remember exactly what that number was, but by the time you get to Monday, that probably is the lowest day of the week, Sunday, Monday, because many of them have had all week to get rid of it. That’s why I’m always surprised when I see on national TV someone is saying, “Oh, we ran out of the vaccine.” Well, that’s the goal. I mean, if you only have a little bit of vaccine, the goal is to put it in people’s arms just as quickly as you can. That’s the cycle that we’re in, but again, I emphasize we would like for it to be out in five days, but we’re telling the providers absolutely get it out within seven days, and by and large, they’re, in fact, doing that.
Speaker 3: (59:05)
Next question is from Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.
Mike DeWine: (59:09)
I would just add, I know specifically of clinics that are running on Sunday. I mean, when we started this, we didn’t have that. We’re now getting into a pretty good rhythm and pretty much a seven-day-a-week operation. Not every place because some places have already run out by the time they reach that day.
Speaker 3: (59:34)
Next question is from Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.
Mike DeWine: (59:37)
Geoff Redick: (59:38)
[inaudible 00:59:38], governor. Building on that, I guess, we’ve continued to hear about scheduling issues from people not able to get through providers. You’ve mentioned that centralized system to help with scheduling the shots. Is there a date for that to launch? More importantly, what all will it include? Is it just a list of links? Is it actually going to be where you can schedule the shot? How will that work, and when can we see it?
Mike DeWine: (01:00:01)
Yeah, we should be seeing it, the date we had set… I didn’t check this morning and see if we’re still on track. We were aiming around Valentine’s day, which is coming up, so we’re not too far off, but I’ll get back, and on Thursday, we’ll give you a better idea of the date. My understanding, I’m probably the least tech person around here, but my understanding of how this will work is you’ll have a portal, you go in. It’s a statewide portal. You’ll put your zip code in, or you put your county in, and it will direct you to anybody who has signed up to be part of the system.
Mike DeWine: (01:00:39)
Providers have to sign up. We’ve asked our providers to sign up. You will then be able to navigate that, and you should be able to see what places have vaccine. You will be able to go in there and then schedule directly… The goal is to be able to schedule directly into that site. Now, we’ve been told by the hospitals they don’t want to do that. They don’t want to have… They have their own system, but there will be a way you can link into that. Then you go actually into their system and schedule into their system. Again, it alleviates that challenge.
Mike DeWine: (01:01:20)
Now, it does not alleviate the challenge for someone who does not know how to navigate the internet, does not have a computer. Again, that is something that we have a concern about. We know that a number of our providers, we’ve asked them to provide a phone number. I know a number of them are working with people on the phone, but this still remains a concern of ours.
Speaker 3: (01:01:45)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at cleveland.com.
Laura Hancock: (01:01:48)
Governor DeWine, as the Biden administration works with you and other states to set up mass vaccination clinics, have you or has anyone on your team talked to the people in the Browns and Bengals stadiums about potentially using their space? Then also, related to that, there seems to be good success vaccinating in groups, teachers and school personnel at centralized locations, so wouldn’t that be an argument more for making Ohio’s overall approach more centralized by establishing these centers?
Mike DeWine: (01:02:24)
First of all, we’ve identified a hundred places that we [inaudible 01:02:28] more mass vaccination. We have always felt that we would have, at some point, mass vaccination, but when we started this off, where we are now, we wanted to make sure that this was in every county. Let me just say, I’ve seen some comments in regard to the… Had one conversation with someone that the rural counties are favored. Then we had a conversation, someone else said the urban counties were favored. Let me just say there is a formula, some math. It is a based-on population. 90% population. There’s a 10%, which basically would have some extra doses for disadvantaged areas, but that is only a 10%.
Mike DeWine: (01:03:12)
Basically, it is based on population. What we spread out across the state every single week is based upon the population of that particular county. We did not want to see, initially, when there wasn’t much vaccine, people only have an option to travel a long distance and to queue up and to get their vaccine, but all along, we had thought as the vaccine numbers go up, we will have mass vaccination sites, and we will employ them because there are certainly as a role for them.
Mike DeWine: (01:03:52)
We are also going to where people are. You’re going to see on Thursday, we’re going to different locations in Ohio on Thursday directly into senior housing and set up shop literally in that lobby or some room in that building. We’re taking that directly. We’re looking at all kinds of different ways. We’re trying to get the vaccine out as quickly as we can, make it as close to people as we can, and also make sure that our underserved populations are being served. Those are the goals that we have.
Speaker 3: (01:04:32)
Next question is from Molly Martinez at Spectrum News.
Molly Martinez: (01:04:35)
Hi, governor. Good to see you. My question today, I know that right now in Phase 1B, we have teachers, and we have those over 65, and we’re going to hold there for a while, but do we have any idea of who’s going to be in the next group, and will that include the prison population [inaudible 01:04:54] correctional officers?
Mike DeWine: (01:04:57)
Good question. We are working on that right now. Those are all very legitimate questions. It will certainly include a drop in age, and it may include some specific groups as well. Again, the determination that we’re looking at, what we’re looking at is who are the most vulnerable people, who are the people that we need to cover as quickly as we can. That’s what we’re looking at. We’ll have that at some point in the future, but at least for now we know where it’ll be sitting at 65 for a few weeks anyway, and because we know it’s going to take a while for that group from 65 years of age and older for that group to be able to get to the point where no longer do we have situations where people can’t get the vaccine, and the age is still by far the best predictor of vulnerability ages.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:04)
Now, next week, and we’ll talk more about this on Thursday, but next week, as you know, we’re going to expand out for another 200,000 people who are medically fragile, people who have medical conditions who are not 65 yet, so they don’t qualify on age, but they qualify because that data shows that if they got COVID, they’re particularly vulnerable, someone with Down’s syndrome, for example, we’ve talked about, but there are many, many others. We’ll be announcing that, talking more about that on Thursday. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (01:06:45)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (01:06:50)
Good afternoon, governor. Thanks for taking the time.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:52)
Kevin Landers: (01:06:53)
Governor, you’ve emphasized the importance of kids to get caught up who’ve fallen behind. Wouldn’t a call to incentivize more people to become teachers help in this endeavor? Would you consider using the $50 million you’ve set aside to promote Ohio for this effort? Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (01:07:09)
Well, Kevin, we’re always encouraging people to be teachers as I think I may have told you. That’s what I thought I was going to do when I went to college. I was a social studies comprehensive major and taught at Princeton High School [inaudible 01:07:28] taught Princeton High School, but [inaudible 01:07:29] never taught. I have a son who’s a teacher, daughter-in-law who’s a teacher. We’re always looking for good teachers, and we want to encourage people to go into the profession. Anything that we can do in this area, we want to do.
Mike DeWine: (01:07:48)
I don’t think it’s a… It’s not a quick fix. We should be looking at what we do as a society to value education, value teachers, hold them up, and encourage more people to become teachers, but that is more of a long-term thing. I’m not sure it solves our short-term challenge. I think what made sense is to try to get our experienced teachers, regular teachers back into the classroom, provide them with the assurance, best assurance that we could give them, that they would be safe and they’ve got the right protocols that are being followed. We now give them the vaccine. We think that this will enable people to feel more comfortable when they go back in to teach.
Speaker 3: (01:08:39)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:08:43)
Hi, governor. Thank you for doing this today. We at NBC4 have received really an overwhelming amount of messages from people who can’t get an appointment to get the vaccine or they’re being told that they can’t get an appointment for another month or two. They’re obviously very frustrated that then this week we’re only adding more people with those 65 years and older [inaudible 01:09:03]-
Adrienne Robbins: (01:09:02)
… adding more people with those 65 years and older being added to that vaccine list. I understand that the state can’t necessarily control how many vaccines come in, but do you think the state maybe bit off more than it can chew when it comes to the amount of people we’re allowing into the vaccine market with this very limited supply? And looking back, do you think the parameters should have been a little stricter?
Mike DeWine: (01:09:24)
Well, that’s a good question. And I’ve kind of joked and said, the next pandemic we won’t make the same mistakes, or at least I’ll know what’s coming. But there’s different ways of doing this. Some states literally opened it up for 65 and above, and just said, “Everybody come on.” And we decided not to do that. We decided to start edging that down and starting at 80. And I think it’s worked pretty well, but we know people are frustrated and I’m frustrated. We don’t control at all the vault, the amount that we get. We don’t control what is coming into Ohio. Now it is going up some, but certainly not as fast as we would want it to go up. And so we know that people are frustrated. We know they’re upset. And I will just say that I’m sorry, we only have so much vaccine.
Mike DeWine: (01:10:24)
And we just ask you to be persistent. We’re going to hang here at 65 until we are to the position when, we’re have a pretty good idea that people who want this have been able to get it. So it’s going to be a while. There’s about two million people who will be eligible in the 65 years of age and older. And we’re watching the numbers every day as we saw our people 80 and over, I think went beyond 55% today of the total population. So we’re happy to see that number moving and we expected to see it continue to move. So, we could have done it a lot of different ways, but this is the way we came down. This is what we decided, because we wanted to make sure that we were not in a situation where we weren’t getting all the vaccine out every week.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:22)
So you got to balance two things and some sweet spot in there. And one is you get all the vaccine out fast as you can get it because days matter. And statistically, certain percentage of people are going to end up with COVID if they don’t get the vaccine. So we want to get the vaccine out today rather than tomorrow and tomorrow rather than four days from that. So keeping that tension in regard to that supply and demand up is important, but it also means that we have people who were very frustrated every day.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:54)
So we’re going to sit at 65. Next week it’ll be 65, the week after 65. We’re going to watch the numbers. We’re going to continue to try to find different ways to make it possible for people to get the vaccine. People who don’t navigate the internet, people who are at home, people who are not already tied into a healthcare system. So we’re doing that some and we’re making some progress in that area, but it is a work in progress. We’re working with the county commissioners. We’re working with the mayors, had a call yesterday with county commissioners. They’re going to give us some recommendations from the bigger counties. We’ve been talking to different mayors. So it is a work in progress, but I cannot change the one fact, and the one fact is we do not have enough vaccine.
Jon Husted: (01:12:47)
Governor, can I add to this? Your answer, Adrienne, to Adrienne’s question. It’s the conversation that we’ve had over the course of months and months on this particular topic. And I would just like to say, though, prioritizing toward the most vulnerable is working because in hitting the nursing homes and getting them vaccinated and targeting 80 and over, we have seen that impact because look, 54% of all the deaths were in nursing homes, but this is also the population that was making up the bulk of our hospitalizations. And you’re seeing the hospitalizations drop, which has great value throughout our healthcare system in our society. And so the prioritization is working. The supply hopefully will increase and we’ll be able to hit everybody who wants it. But in deploying the vaccine where it would have the most impact is bearing out to be a successful strategy in the numbers that we’re seeing as hospitalizations go down. I just wanted to add that assessment.
Next question is from Randy Ludlow at the Columbus Dispatch.
Mike DeWine: (01:14:12)
Randy Ludlow: (01:14:16)
Good afternoon, Governor. Of the $2 billion in federal funding made available to Ohio for schools, how much of that are you proposing be spent on student academic recovery?
Mike DeWine: (01:14:36)
Well, Randy, this is going to be a joint decision. Not just my decision, it’s going to be legislature, it’s going to be the schools and how they want to spend it and all of us kind of working together and coming up with a plan. But I think that there should be a consensus that this money is really extra money. Schools have been getting some money as you know, significant money. We’ve announced before, money that Congress has provided before, to help them with sanitation barriers and those things. So we would hope that this money is directly targeted at young people and that this money … and there’s many, many ways, as we talked about that this money can be spent from you spent. Can be spent on mentors, it can be spent on summer school. It can be spent on anything that helps that child progress academically.
Mike DeWine: (01:15:41)
Anything that helps that child progress in regard to mental health in other areas. So this should be focused on kids. This is what really this is about. We talk a lot about, and I make the same mistake. I do this sometimes I talk about school districts and I talk about this, but really it’s just about kids. And it’s about how we help our kids. And all kids have been hurt, whether they’ve been remote, whether they’ve been hybrid, whether they’ve been in person, all kids have felt something because of this pandemic. All kids have been impacted. And so this is, we need to look at each child. That’s why I said I think it’s very important that parents be part of this, that parents weigh in. What does my child need? Because ultimately it comes down to one, really one child at a time.
Next question is from Justin Dennis at mahoningmatters.com.
Justin Dennis: (01:16:46)
Hi, Governor, thanks for briefing us today.
Mike DeWine: (01:16:48)
Justin Dennis: (01:16:49)
In regards to Ohio’s curfew, several other states are now relaxing business restrictions, including rescinding mask mandates and reopening indoor dining, despite the White House urging against that, can we still expect Ohio’s curfew be lifted soon? And if so, why do you feel it’s the right choice for Ohio? What do you feel the state’s doing differently than those other states to make this the right, safe move?
Mike DeWine: (01:17:11)
Look, Justin, every state does things differently. They’re all looking at different things. I mean, I laid out a plan and I laid out some benchmarks. Legislature had asked us for benchmarks. Other people have asked us … Benchmark’s probably the wrong word. They’ve asked us for different points. when can this come off? When can that come off? And we decided that the best thing to look at, Dr. Vanderhoof actually, it was his idea. He said, the best thing we can look at is hospitalization of COVID. And so we said that if we drop below 2,500, we would be able to take the curfew off. And those numbers have continued as you’ve seen to go down. Now, as I said at the beginning, and just as a caution, these numbers start going back up, we may have to put the curfew back on.
Mike DeWine: (01:18:11)
We’re going to continue to monitor this. If you ask me what I worry about, I worry about the variant. I worry about this, a change, that may becoming that you have reported on, and that you’re seeing other people report on. And so we very well could be by a March into a very, very difficult and very different situation in Ohio. And if that’s true, we’ll have to do what we have to do to slow this down, but we’re moving, clearly moving, in the right direction right now. And we’ll take action accordingly. But if we start moving, if we’re going the other way, we’ll take action accordingly as well.
The next question is from John London at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Mike DeWine: (01:19:03)
John London: (01:19:05)
Hi, Governor. You talked a little bit about how pharmacies are ensuring second doses. I wanted to ask you the federal goal, it was a hundred million doses a month. New shipments arriving soon at CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, Rite Aid, the other pharmacies, how many doses are guaranteed each week, do you know? And what should Ohioans know about signing up, and then will pharmacies need help from say the National Guard to keep up with what is going to be an accelerating demand?
Mike DeWine: (01:19:34)
Yeah, I’m going to ask my team to give me the numbers. I just looked at today’s numbers and I forgot them exactly. We get notified, John, on Tuesday, what’s coming in for the coming week. And so we can give you what that number will be, maybe the numbers for this week as well, Michael, if you can get those. As far as the deployment of the guard, absolutely. The guard has been great. What we hope is that in the not too distant future, our biggest challenge is figuring out how to get all the vaccine out. And so we’ll bring, the guard will be involved in that. We’ll go to bigger sites. We have over 2200 providers, who’ve already signed up. We’re only using 750 or so of the providers.
Mike DeWine: (01:20:22)
So we have a lot of different ways that we could get this out and we will get this out. And what we’ll try to do, we’ll have some places where you don’t have to make an appointment. Where you just show up, we’ll try to all mix that up with all kinds of different things. But the number that we have today and with the fact that we are having significant vaccine used every week for these four weeks that goes to schools, we really are not in a position to go out to the vast sites or to do a lot of different things. Although you are seeing us, as I said on Thursday, I think we’re going to six, I think it’s six different different senior housing facilities. And we’re going to continue to do things where we focus on underserved populations.
Next question is from Jim Province of the Toledo Blade.
Jim Province: (01:21:20)
Hi Governor, thanks again for these briefings. The vaccine, this is probably a question that’s better for Dr. Vanderhoof, vaccine companies are already talking about altering their vaccines so that they will be able to better target some of these variants strains that you were talking about. How would the release of these vaccines fit into the current protocol? Are we talking about having to bring people in a third time for a vaccine this year?
Mike DeWine: (01:21:47)
Doctor, you want to take that?
Thank you, Governor. Yeah. So one of the things we have to bear in mind is that the vaccine companies, along with the medical community are learning about the virus as we gain more experience with it. The real question is, are our vaccines still good against the variants? And the short answer is yes. First, we now have multiple studies of our current MRNA vaccines that have shown that they have very good antibody responses when measured in the laboratory. And then secondly, the data that recently was shared by Johnson & Johnson about their vaccine showed in a real life setting, their vaccine, even in South Africa and Brazil, was highly effective. And actually by 49 days, it was a 100% effective at preventing severe disease. That includes hospitalization and deaths.
So the signals are that the vaccines are standing up to these variants in the real world, but very wisely, the companies are not sitting there. They are thinking ahead. What if we were to have a situation where a booster was needed, can we refine that booster so that that booster would be targeted to what we’re seeing happening in the evolution of the virus? So really they’re planning for a potential development that we are not yet seeing. And I think that is prudent. I think that is wise and likely if such a booster was needed, the odds are, it would be targeted to our more vulnerable populations. The populations that currently we’re referring to more as 1A and 1B, but more to come.
Mike DeWine: (01:23:42)
Doctor, thank you very much. Let me give you the numbers for, this is next week, next week and we just were notified by the federal government. Moderna, 114,100 vaccines, 114,100 vaccines. Pfizer, 73, 125. These are first doses. These are first doses, which is what I always talk about. So again, Pfizer is 73,125. Those are the numbers for next week.
Next question is from Jesse Balmert at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Jessie Balmert: (01:24:18)
Mike DeWine: (01:24:18)
Jessie Balmert: (01:24:20)
My question is based off the ODA, Ohio Department of Education data about lower scores for black, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students, is there any requirement that those students be targeted? How will you ensure that they’re able to catch up as well?
Mike DeWine: (01:24:37)
The answer is yes. And that’s because the way the Congress did it, and that is to Title 1, Title 1 formula, which is a poverty related formula. So those school districts that have more poor students will get more money. And so it is a formula. It’s a well-established formula. And that’s what it’s based on. Congress decided to do it through that, using that Title 1 formula.
Governor, the next question is the last question for today and it belongs to Kimberly Kagy of WSAZ in Huntington, West Virginia.
Kimberly Kagy: (01:25:20)
Hi, good afternoon, Governor. How are you today?
Mike DeWine: (01:25:22)
Kimberly Kagy: (01:25:23)
Good. I have a two-folded question for you. So you mentioned earlier, we’re beginning to see the number of active COVID-19 cases decline and still continue to be lower than the 21 day average. So as we continue to roll out the vaccine, do you believe testing will be pushed just as strongly and as rigorous by the state, and then as we see those numbers decline, is this a good representation of the vaccine working in the state of Ohio? Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (01:25:57)
Yes. We’re going to continue to push testing. In fact, we’ve gone out with rapid tests, made those available to all our health departments, can be a real game changer in some communities. We want the local health departments to deploy those in their best judgment. So that’s been a … that was a big, big, big issue in regard to that. And I’m sorry, your second question?
Kimberly Kagy: (01:26:22)
My second question is, as we’ve seen those numbers decline in the active COVID-19 cases, is this a good representation of the vaccine working?
Mike DeWine: (01:26:32)
Well, I think it’s part of it. I think particularly when you look at what’s going on in nursing homes, but there’s a cycle to this virus and it’s not a cycle that I can fully explain, I’m not sure anybody can fully explain it. But so there’s a lot of different things going on, but when you vaccinate a million people, what we have done, at least on the first vaccination, the more people, that is going to impact have an impact. But I think it’s probably a combination of a number of things that is getting that down.
Mike DeWine: (01:27:14)
I think if you look at the hospitals, I think that’s a more direct cause cause and effect, fewer people in our hospitals from COVID because the nursing homes were sending a lot of people to the hospital. You know, we lost over 50% of the people, one would assume over 50% of the people going into the nursing, going into the hospitals, came out of the nursing homes. So when you vaccinate that group and continue to vaccinate that group as we’re dedicated to doing, that’s going to directly impact that. So that drop that we’re seeing there, I think a significant extent, at least is due to the due to that.
Jon Husted: (01:27:52)
Governor, can I add some data to that point?
Mike DeWine: (01:27:56)
Jon Husted: (01:27:56)
One month ago we had 4,180 people in the hospital due to COVID on January the 9th. That’s what our numbers were. And today they’re 1,974. So that’s a substantial drop and evidence cases can fluctuate based on testing. That’s true, but hospitalizations are a very reliable number about what the impact is in the community. And I just wanted to share those numbers.
Mike DeWine: (01:28:26)
Thank you very much. Hope everybody has a good day. We’ll see you back here on Thursday at 2:00. Thank you.