Jan 21, 2021

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 21

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 21
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsOhio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 21

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on January 21 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.

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Gov. Mike Dewine: (01:23)
Sadly, I was notified this morning of the death of one of our Ohio State Troopers, Trooper Bradley Huffman. The Piqua District’s Commercial Standards Unit was admitted to the hospital around two weeks ago, just a few days after testing positive for the Coronavirus. Trooper Huffman was described by his fellow members of the patrol “as a rock for everyone to lean on” and someone who would “drop what he was doing to help his coworkers, friends, family, and the community that he served.” Trooper Huffman was a U.S. Army veteran. He served with the highway patrol for 23 years. Fran and I extend our deepest sympathy to his family, his three children, Cody, Taylor, and Dylan, to his grandchildren, and to his fellow troopers at the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (02:25)
This week, Ohioans aged 80 and older continue to receive the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Next week, beginning on January 25th, Ohioans age 75 and older will join this eligible group. I want to remind everyone that, when a new age group begins, the previous group continues on. So, they are still eligible. So, beginning next week, people 75 years of age or older are eligible for the vaccine. As we all know, it’s going to take a number of weeks to distribute enough vaccines for each particular group. Someone who is 80 or older will still be able to be vaccinated next week at the same time that a younger group becomes eligible. Our information from the federal government remains basically the same. We’re going to have next week about the same amount available as far as vaccine is concerned.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (03:38)
Let me now go, and we’re going to talk to some people who are getting vaccinated today. First, we’ll go to Akron. How are y’all doing?

Ms. Hill: (03:53)
Good. Good.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (03:54)
Well, good to see you. I’m going to see if I can get the names right. Ms. Hill, are you here?

Ms. Hill: (04:01)
Here I am.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (04:03)
Ms. Hill, how are you doing?

Ms. Hill: (04:06)
I’m doing very well, thank you.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (04:09)
Are you ready to go today?

Ms. Hill: (04:11)
Yes.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (04:12)
All right. Very good. Ms. Walker, is that you there?

Evelyn Walker: (04:16)
Yes.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (04:18)
How about you?

Evelyn Walker: (04:18)
I’m good.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (04:21)
All right. Well, very, very, very good. We have Summit County Public Health. So, let me see who’s going to give the shots? I’m sorry. Who’s giving the shots?

Dr. Erika Sobolewski: (04:35)
I am the medical [inaudible 00:04:38].

Gov. Mike Dewine: (04:39)
Well, thank you very much for doing it.

Dr. Erika Sobolewski: (04:41)
[inaudible 00:00:04:44].

Gov. Mike Dewine: (04:43)
How are things going?

Dr. Erika Sobolewski: (04:51)
It’s going [inaudible 00:04:50].

Gov. Mike Dewine: (04:52)
All right. Well, very good. Well, why don’t you go ahead and we’ll watch you get the shots. That’s great.

Dr. Erika Sobolewski: (05:12)
[inaudible 00:05:12] All done. We’re all done.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (05:18)
How are you doing? Okay?

Ms. Hill: (05:20)
Very well. Yes. Thank you.

Dr. Erika Sobolewski: (05:21)
Number two.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (05:40)
All right. So, I wonder if I could ask both of you. Maybe start Ms. Hill, why you decided to get the vaccine?

Ms. Hill: (05:52)
I have never turned down a shot. Some of that’s for the good of [inaudible 00:05:56] and I have a lot of confidence in this one, and especially since I see you [inaudible 00:05:58] and that’s the truth.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (06:05)
Good. Ms. Walker, how about you?

Evelyn Walker: (06:08)
Yes. I wanted to get the shot to protect myself and others.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (06:15)
All right. Well, very good. Thank you all very, very much. I hear you all are maybe doing some drive-through? Is that right? You’re doing some drive-through?

Dr. Erika Sobolewski: (06:22)
Yes, we are. We have several people doing drive-through monitoring.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (06:27)
And how is that working?

Dr. Erika Sobolewski: (06:28)
It’s working very well. We’re able to get [inaudible 00:06:32] immunized faster that way.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (06:34)
Okay. Very good. Well, thank you all. We appreciate it. Thank you very much. We’ll go now to Cincinnati where 81-year-old Beverly Norris is going to be vaccinated by the City of Cincinnati Public Health Department director of nursing, Virginia Scott. How are y’all doing?

Virginia Scott: (06:59)
How are you doing? We’re great.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (07:03)
Very good. Ms. Norris, how are you today?

Beverly Norris: (07:08)
I’m fine, thank you.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (07:13)
You anxious to get the shot?

Beverly Norris: (07:15)
Yes.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (07:16)
All right. Well, we’re going to watch you on TV get the shot then.

Virginia Scott: (07:37)
One, two, three.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (07:53)
All good?

Virginia Scott: (07:55)
Yes.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (07:58)
Well, thank you both. Thank you all very, very much. Now, we’re going to go down the Southern part of the state, furthest South, Lawrence County, where Nurse Debbie Fisher is preparing to vaccinate 84-year-old Ann Freeman. Ms. Freeman, how are you doing today?

Ann Freeman: (08:17)
Doing fine.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (08:19)
All right. Tell us, Nurse Fisher, what’s going on in the background. We see a lot of activity back there.

Debbie Fisher: (08:27)
We have a clinic going on today. We’re in what used to be a high school. It’s now the South point Board Office and we have a clinic for 80-year-olds and up. Ann agreed to come and be with me.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (08:43)
How are things going?

Debbie Fisher: (08:45)
They’re going very well. We gave 400 yesterday. I’m not quite sure how many we’ve given today, but we’ve given a lot.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (08:50)
Great. So, for those who are not familiar with the geography, we are pretty much at the Southern point of Ohio, right?

Debbie Fisher: (08:57)
We are. Where Ohio comes to the little point, that’s where we’re at.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (09:03)
Well, if you guys are ready, we’ll go ahead and watch you do it.

Debbie Fisher: (09:06)
We’re ready. [inaudible 00:09:27]. Okay.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (09:29)
All right. Well, Ms. Freeman, you doing okay there?

Ann Freeman: (09:33)
Yes, I’m doing really good.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (09:35)
And how’d you decide to get your vaccination?

Ann Freeman: (09:41)
Well, I work with children. I still work and to be on the safe side for myself and them.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (09:49)
Okay. That’s a great idea. Well, great. Thanks for letting us watch you both today. We appreciate it. Say hi to everybody in South Point. Orange County.

Debbie Fisher: (09:59)
Thank you.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (09:59)
Thank you all very much.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (10:05)
Today, we are announcing a new partnership involving Abbott and eMed with the goal to bring rapid, reliable testing into the home where the result is delivered in minutes. The state of Ohio has agreed to purchase at least two million at-home BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid antigen tests that can be self-administered and individuals can get results in about 15 minutes. Through an agreement with eMed to provide telehealth services, an individual who uses one of these tests can be guided by a proctor and will get the results in minutes without having to visit a testing location. During this pandemic, we’ve used testing as a tool to identify individuals who are sick, who had the COVID, we’ve used it to limit the spread of COVID, and ultimately, we’ve used it to keep our communities open.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (11:11)
To achieve these goals, local health departments have been asking for rapid tests to be broadly available in their communities, and this is something that our local health department partners have told us if we could get some more of these rapid tests so that we could decide to deploy them in the community, we think that this would be very, very helpful to slowing the spread of the virus. If we get a hotspot somewhere, if they’re getting outbreak in a factory, we could be able to move in just very, very quickly. So, with this agreement, we’re making these available to our local health departments around the state. So, this agreement is making that a reality, allowing communities to more aggressively test for COVID-19 than any other time during this pandemic. So, as we’re going on offense, and as we’re focusing on the vaccine, we have to continue to do the testing. This is going to give us a new tool. It’s going to give our local communities a new tool.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (12:14)
This is a $50 million investment. We have used CARES Act dollars, and this will make testing more broadly available. We’ve given local health departments some broad guidelines. We’ve asked them to make the test widely available in their communities, but we have given them flexibility. We’ve given them the ability to use them for community-specific priorities. We’ve suggested, for example, they might use them for first responders to be able to take advantage of this type of testing. We’ve heard that some communities will use them in their schools. Bottom line is though that local health departments, by using these, the testing will be more accessible than ever whenever and wherever it is actually needed.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (13:01)
So, this is fulfilling a need and a request that we received for a long time. We now have the ability to do that. So, I want to bring in by Zoom, Dr. Patricia Harris, former president of the American Medical Association and CEO of eMed. Doctor, we’re excited to have you on here and tell us a little bit about what your company does and what role you play when one of our local health departments deploys this and somebody is actually using it. How do you all come in?

Dr. Patricia Harris: (13:37)
Well, good afternoon, Governor.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (13:39)
Afternoon.

Dr. Patricia Harris: (13:39)
And first of all, let me say a big thank you to you for your leadership during this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. As you note, I had the wonderful privilege of serving as president of the American Medical Association early on during the pandemic. Of course, my role here today is totally separate from my leadership at the AMA, but we are so proud. eMed is so proud to partner with you and the state of Ohio. eMed is a digital health company. The platform we developed provides for screened, virtually guided, and that’s live virtual guidance, for these COVID-19 tests at home, entirely at home, with the results in 15 minutes. And through this very important partnership, we will be able to, as you note, bring reliable, rapid COVID tests to the residents of Ohio based on your platform. We believe this is a model for innovative testing, a great place, a tool in the toolbox, to mitigate spread and get the state of Ohio back to school, work, and play. So, again, thank you so much for this opportunity.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (14:56)
So, is this contact usually done by phone? Is this contact done by Skype? How’s it normally done?

Dr. Patricia Harris: (15:03)
It-

Gov. Mike Dewine: (15:03)
… by Skype, how is it normally done?

Dr. Patricia Harris: (15:03)
It will be through our platform, which is as similar to Skype. The in user will log on to our platform and be connected to one of our live guides. And they will guide them through the process. You know governor, I’m a psychiatrist by training and I know that folks are anxious. And I know that folks and they’ve told me, both family, friends and patients, that if we do these tests at home, they are perfectly willing and glad to have this opportunity to do these tests at home, so that they don’t have to go anywhere to take the test. But they want to make sure that they are performing the test correctly. And so, once they log on, they will be connected with one of our live guides who will guide them through the process from the beginning to the end, and again, with results available in 15 minutes.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (15:57)
Well, that’s great doctor. Thank you for being on today. Anything else you want to tell us about how this is going to work? We’re happy to have you here. Thank you.

Dr. Patricia Harris: (16:07)
Well, I just, note, as I think we all note, and by the way, my condolences to the family of the state trooper that you lost. Yesterday, we lost again over 4,000 lives and we’ve lost over 400,000 lives. And so now is the time to go big and go bold. And that is what this partnership is doing. We need to make sure that we get tests in the hands of folks around this country so that they can make sure they’re safe, their family members are safe and their communities are safe.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (16:41)
Well, we appreciate it. We look forward to seeing how this works and we’re confident that it’s going to work well. So doctor, thank you. Thanks for being with us. Thank

Dr. Patricia Harris: (16:51)
Thank you for having me and thank you for the partnership.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (16:54)
We appreciate it. Thank you. Eric, let’s go to our data. What we’ve got today? Numbers for today are a little bit up where they’ve been, 7,271 cases. You can kind of see how it’s been moving. It actually had been moving down for a few days and now, it’s starting to trend a little bit back up. Our deaths, they’re sadly 109 in the last 24 hours, versus a 74 average that we’ve been running now for 21 days. Average hospitalizations up a little bit and ICU admissions are up a little bit as well. Let’s look at the next slide, Eric. These are our numbers. And again, this is how you look to see how much spread you have in the local community in the last two weeks, not historical document, but just literally the last two weeks. And we’re starting, some of the numbers, the worst counties are a little bit lower than they have been in the past.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (18:01)
So, that is a good thing. I’m looking down here at the bottom and Holmes County, again, it’s a little bit lower, but it’s still a little over two times, which is our lowest County, a little over two times what the CDC says is a high incidence. So these numbers have come down a little bit, but they’re still historically very, very high. Eric, we’ll go to the next slide. This is our health advisory system, our alert map. As we’ve seen recently, our cases seem to be flattening out. It was still much higher than where we want to be and still much higher than where we’ve been most of this pandemic. But thankfully, no County has seen their status worsen. Good news. We have 83 counties at red, four counties at orange and one county’s still at purple. Let’s shift now Eric to the key measures map.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (18:54)
And we’ll take a look at this. The first map on the left shows how counties are doing in cases per population, similar to what we saw with the 188 map. We’re down slightly for the statewide average. We are averaging statewide 620 new cases per 100,000 this week. So again, the statewide average is six times what the CDC says is a high incidence. But that is less than it was last week. Last week, it was 740. So, that’s downward trend, but 620 is still very, very high. Looking at it another way, out of any 200 Ohioans, if you look at the state as a whole and with any 200 Ohioans, at least one has tested positive for COVID during the past two weeks. So, that’s what we’re looking at. As you can see, when you look at it that way, it’s a high incidence level. As far as our ICUs, we’re one out four patients now.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (19:53)
So that’s gotten over time a little better, but one out of four patients in ICU in the state of Ohio is there because of COVID. I want to add before we go to the Lieutenant, governor, ask her data team to pull up information from the Ohio department of education. And I want to share this with you. As you recall, I think maybe 10 days ago, we were talking about how many children were in school, in person, how many remote, how many hybrid? And at that time, the last time I think we talked about it, it was a third, a third, a third. So we had a third totally in person. We had a third hybrid in person part of the time. And then we had a third that were totally remote.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (20:42)
As we move towards the anticipated beginning of the vaccination of those school personnel, teachers, and others who want a task as we begin to look forward to starting that on February one, not every school will start February one, but we’ll start this process on February one. As we do that, we’re starting to see a shift, which is good. So today, if you look at the student population, these numbers are student population. We have now 42% and a half of our students in school, five days a week. So, that’s going up almost 25 percentage points. We’re very happy about that. Hybrid’s about the same by the third. And the fully remote has gone down. So we’ve seen the fully remote go down to 23.8. In-person five days a week has gone up to 42.5. So, just a little benchmark as we look forward to getting all our kids back in school by March 1st. And that remains our goal. Let me go now to Lieutenant Governor.

Lieutenant Governor: (22:00)
Thanks Governor. I want to start out today with some thank yous. We have relied on the Ohio business community throughout the pandemic to help us with a variety of things, including production and distribution of PPE. And we have continued to receive generous donations of PPE. We got another large donation of 250,000 disposable masks this week from Home Depot. I want to thank them. In addition, we had a donation of 800 adult masks and 201,000 youth masks from the [inaudible 00:22:43] Family Foundation. two million adult masks from Ford, which we announced, as well as 100s of 1000s from General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. So they have stepped up and helped support companies like Apple, Lowe’s, Meyer, Shell have also donated face masks and shields.

Lieutenant Governor: (23:03)
And then hand sanitizer, a lot of that coming from Anheuser-Busch, GOJO Industries, a great Ohio headquartered company, Procter & Gamble as well, and they’ve donated a hand sanitizer. So we appreciate that. Tomorrow, I’m going to go see one of those production facilities down in Jackson, Ohio, where they make medical grade masks. This is part of our new PPE production that we’re reshoring to America, we’re reshoring to Ohio and hope to create an ongoing industry in the State. Now, I want to turn to answering the question that we received the other day regarding the public unemployment system, our unemployment system, and the number of fraudulent claims that have been attempted. I emphasize attempted during this period.

Lieutenant Governor: (23:58)
There were 44,000 traditional unemployment claims so far out of a total 1.7 million that were flagged for potential fraud, but in the P-way, the pandemic unemployment assistance, this is the one that the federal government established to fund people who are 1099, or otherwise, ineligible for traditional unemployment. There were 1.4 million claims, but 796,000 of those had had to be flagged for potential fraud. So there’s a process to go through to make sure that we don’t pay out these. The federal government in December established a new process, which has improved that. And we’re in the process of preparing to continue to refine how that occurs. I know the most important information though, if you got a notice that somebody had filed something in your name, like I did, you need to go to unemployment.ohio.gov.

Lieutenant Governor: (25:08)
And when you go there, you’ll see a tab that will ask you to report your identity theft and in the process of doing that, it’s a big red button. It’s easy to see. It says, “Report identity theft,” and then it says, “Identity theft: what to do.” So there’s full instructions as to what you need to do if something like this is in filed in your name, because if they filed something in your name, they probably have information about your identity that may impact other aspects of life. So, you’re going to want to follow through on this to make sure that you’re protected. And all of this, as I mentioned, has been made a little bit more difficult over time. As the folks at ODJFS try to update their computer systems, which won’t be done until 2022, as I understand. But on the good news side, we did implement early on in this administration, I should say, our duplicate payment tool where we track this now inside state government, and anytime there’s a payment to make sure that there isn’t a duplicate page. And in our most recent report, we found 72 more of them, 168,000 worth of claims that we’re refunding now. And we have saved Ohio, it’s about $1.4 million out of that. I bring this up because I want to emphasize, again, like I talked about cybersecurity the other day, our technology upgrades are essential to being able to fix what ails us in many of our systems inside government, in the private sector, as more and more cyber threats and cyber crimes are out there. And these are the things that you need to do. And we are doing to try to protect against it. So governor, I’ll turn it back to you.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (26:56)
Thank you, Lieutenant Governor. I think we’re ready for questions.

Speaker 1: (27:05)
Governor, your first question is from Jeff Radich at ABC-6.

Jeff Radich: (27:10)
Hi Governor.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (27:11)
Hi Jeff.

Jeff Radich: (27:13)
You have [inaudible 00:27:14] a curfew at 10:00 PM that runs out on the 23rd, that’s coming up in a few days. Does it stay or does it go and why?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (27:25)
Well, unfortunately, it’s going to have to stay. You see where the numbers are. We have down ticked for a few days, but we’re still at a very, very high level. So we’re at a very high level. And so, we’re going to have to continue that on. We’re trying try to manage this, look. We would love to get rid of it. Next step will probably be to take it maybe to 11 o’clock, but we’re not there. If you heard from Dr. Van Hoff two days ago, he talked about this new variant, this new strain, and again, that is a concern that that will become more dominant in Ohio and become more contagious. So we’re still in a very difficult time where we’re trying to balance letting people make a living and people do what they want to do. But at the same time, not let this get out of control.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (28:28)
So it’s a management question, how we’re trying to manage it. I know people are anxious. I understand that people who run bars, people who run restaurants, people who want to go there, I get it. I fully understand what they’re thinking, they’ve expressed it to me and I get it. But we’re not there yet. And as Governor, I have to try to keep this virus down at the same time, we’re getting the vaccines out just as quickly as we can. So the way out of this, in the end, will be the vaccine, faster we can get the vaccine in and that’s our goal. But we’re going to watch these other numbers. If these other numbers will go down appreciably, then we’ll be able to pull off that, but not yet.

Jeff Radich: (29:19)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Laura Hancock: (29:23)
Hi Governor. I have a question about President Biden’s announced plan to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days. I know earlier this week that you did send a letter to him saying, “First and foremost, we need shots in Ohio.” But I was just wondering about logistics. Has anybody contacted you about invoking the Defense Production Act or any companies that you know of that have been contacted to manufacture syringes and other medical supplies? And is Ohio National Guard’s capacity at its full limit right now? Or could there be soldiers and airmen available to open new mass vaccination centers, and-

Laura Hancock: (30:03)
[inaudible 00:30:00] available to open new mass vaccination centers. And then about the mass vaccination centers, would that be easy to do, or would that be logistically difficult for the states?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (30:10)
We’ve already identified, I think about a hundred sites, and I’m sure there’s more, but specifically identified a hundred sites where we could do mass vaccinations. The thrust of my letter, and just to put this in context, I think every governor was asked to make suggestions to the Biden administration. They ask us to make suggestions. And the essence of my letter was that our biggest problem is really simple, it’s lack of vaccine. And I know every other state has the same problem, but I wanted the Biden administration and the president to understand this is the most important thing. We’ll figure out how we get it out. We’ve had contact with them. In fact, we were on the phone this morning… I was on a call this morning with the Biden administration. So we’ve had a lot of contact with them both before taking office and today, yesterday.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (31:10)
So we look forward to that relationship and we look forward to working with them. And I think you’ve seen the letter, so I won’t go through the letter, but we just wanted to outline what the real need was, but I wanted to lead with… The biggest thing we need is more vaccine. And as far as any company being contacted in Ohio, I’m not aware of any, but I would not necessarily know that. They’ve indicated they’re going to invoke the act, but I don’t know who’s been contacted.

Lieutenant Governor: (31:46)
Governor, and I might add to that that we’re using around 730, 750 providers right now. Almost 2,000 have signed up that are willing to provide the services. So we have a [crosstalk 00:32:02] they’re willing to come on.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (32:04)
Our problem, as Jon says, we have over 2000 entities that are willing to be our partners. And we’re only using now 700 and some just because we don’t have enough vaccine. We made the conscious decision to try to get this out. Every part of the state of Ohio to get it out to every part of the state and to do that. But we can move up significantly by creating more mass vaccination sites. We also, frankly, many of our providers have the capacity to expand.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (32:38)
I was on the phone with some of our CEOs from our hospitals today and talking directly to each one and almost to a person, they told me, “We’re not at capacity and we can ramp this up. We can ramp this up significantly. We know the numbers or they can take them. So if we wake up someday and have a whole bunch of more vaccines, we know where to go with them.”

Speaker 2: (33:08)
Next question is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.

Alex Ebert: (33:12)
Thanks for taking the questions, Governor. Governor, last year, you had an issue where you had a false rapid antigen test result. Just wondering, how do you feel about those and why is the state spending 50 million to get 2 million more of them when you had a difficult result there? And why spend our CARES Act money there versus other places? Thank you.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (33:37)
I’m going to let Dr. Vanderhoff give you the medical side of this, but it’s clear to me from talking to experts that rapid tests have a role. They have a place just as PCR tests have a role and you use them strategically differently. But the rapid tests, this has been a request from local health departments who have really said to us, “We need to control some of these. So if we’ve got a hotspot over here, we’ve got a problem here, we can go in and write that date and get people tested and control it ourselves, get the test and get the results, do the contact tracing, do whatever we need to move forward with that.” So it’s really been a long-term desire that we are now able to help our 113 local health departments fulfill that. And Dr. Vanderhoff, I’m going to refer to you in regard to the antigen testing and how they are deployed.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (34:40)
Yes. Thank you, Governor. The only things that I would add to the governor’s very, very good summary would be the following, first, it’s very clear that the more information that we can get into the hands of people, get into the hands of those who may be concerned that they could be positive or maybe in settings where they think they may have had an exposure the better. So getting more information is better.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (35:11)
The second is that these tests have come a long way and we have a very high degree of confidence now in a positive test result for one of these tests. And I think those two facts together really make it prudent for us to get as many tests out into the public, out into people’s hands as we possibly can.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (35:39)
And Dr. Vanderhoff, just to conclude on that, you still could have though, a false negative?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (35:48)
That’s correct. With these tests, the challenge is the possibility of false negative. When an antigen test is positive, statistically speaking, it’s positive. You can have a very high degree of confidence in that. Not so much with a negative result. So I would not, for example, advocate anyone taking an antigen test and giving themselves a clean bill of COVID health. A negative antigen test does not really give you the kind of confident answer a positive test does. But if you have a positive result, then you know what you need to do, you know that it’s important for you to isolate and for you to follow the guidance that we’ve given about those with positive COVID testing.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (36:38)
So Dr. Vanderhoff, my false positive was an oddity, I guess, [crosstalk 00:36:44]

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (36:45)
Your false positive, we now know that kind of event is extremely rare. There are all kinds of reasons that we could speculate for a rare false positive, but the true positive rate on these tests is very high.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (37:03)
Thank you.

Speaker 2: (37:06)
Your next question, Governor, is from Ben Schwartz with WCPO.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (37:10)
Ben.

Ben Schwartz: (37:11)
Hi Governor, I have a question here about immunocompromised children. I know kids aren’t approved to receive the vaccine yet, but what about parents with immunocompromised children? Is there any chance that those parents could get bumped up in the process to risk spread to their children? Thank you.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (37:31)
I’ll go to Dr. Vanderhoff in regard to risk level. Let me just say in general, we usually can make… Almost every plea to us has been very well thought out and can make a good case. I’ll let Dr Vanderhoff talk about this, but every time we get someone who come in and they say, ” Why can’t we go forward?” And they make a very good case, the challenge is we’re not making that in a vacuum. It’s not yes or no. It’s yes, if we do you, somebody else is going to get shoved back or another group is going to get shoved back.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (38:13)
Ben, this is just so gut-wrenching and so very frankly, so very difficult because it’s not made in a vacuum. We’re looking at every week now somewhere between a hundred, maybe 120, 130 vaccine that we can put out to people who are elderly. So if we include somebody else right now, you would be crowding those individuals out. But Dr. Vanderhoff, I don’t know if you want to speak to Ben specific question.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (38:47)
Thank you, Governor. Again, Ben, I think the governor gave a very good answer. I’ll add the following, it’s very clear that as we’re dealing with something that is in a very limited resource, something that of course we would like to get in the hands of everyone in Ohio as quickly as possible, but the reality is there’s not enough vaccine for us to make that happen today. So we’re in the very difficult situation of having to say, “Well, who’s at the highest risk? What did the data tell us about who is most likely to die if they contract COVID?” And that answer clearly lines up with age, advancing age is the greatest risk factor there.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (39:38)
So our approach, I think, has been very wise. As I said at a previous press conference, we also recognize that there is a very small group of individuals whose chronologic age and physiologic age may not line up well. And that’s the group that we identified in our 1B list of severe congenital developmental or early onset medical disorders. So our strategy is to focus on the Ohioans at greatest risk of dying. That does not mean that we don’t think that there are other people in Ohio who are very worthy of getting the vaccine.

Speaker 2: (40:25)
Next question is from Corrina Chung at WCMH.

Corrina Chung: (40:30)
Good afternoon, Governor?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (40:30)
Afternoon.

Corrina Chung: (40:31)
You mentioned that there are 2000 entities that want to be part of the vaccination process. Now, how does the state vet vaccine providers after what happened with the wasted doses that we heard about this week?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (40:45)
First of all, that infuriated me. It never should have happened. We’ve referred them to the Pharmacy Board. We obviously are not going to ship them any additional doses. Every group that we work with has experience and we explained to them, they understand the protocol. We go through the protocol with them and we believe that they’re used to using that. What happened in this particular case was most of the nursing homes in the state of Ohio went with the national program where we have four pharmacy companies and they picked a company, worked it out, and that program is working seemingly well, the four pharmacy companies have done a very, very good job.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (41:53)
This was a nursing home. We had a handful or maybe a big handful, 30 or 40, I think, nursing homes in the state who didn’t do that. And they want to go with a different provider. So this particular nursing home went with this provider. They made that decision to do that. And tragically, we saw this huge waste and it’s just not good. These are precious, they’re limited in supply, each one has the capability of saving someone’s life. We never know whose life were being saved, but we know that collectively, these make a huge, huge difference. That’s where we are, but infuriating situation.

Speaker 2: (42:43)
Next question is from Spenser Hickey at Hannah News.

Spenser Hickey : (42:47)
Thank you. Governor, returning to your letter to President Biden, could you discuss some of the other points that were separate from the need for more vaccines, particularly on the national campaign, promoting vaccination and mask wearing as well as the request for more federal flexibility on broadband?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (43:10)
Well, when someone asks you what you want, you can tell them, but we try to look at the things that were connected to this, what COVID has either caused or brought out, the broadband help is certainly one of those things that have been brought home to everyone. Even more so, I think we already knew we had a problem, but when we see young people that are remote and are having difficulty hooking up, difficulty be able to do that virtually, we know that there’s a problem. We also asked for just more flexibility in regard to the money. I guess it’s become an age old request by the states to have more flexibility, but going through this pandemic, we’ve seen the the importance of that. As far as a national campaign, I think there is a need for a national campaign. You saw that we have started our own campaign in Ohio. We’ve done this throughout, had different media campaigns on social media, TV, and radio, and now we’re up talking about the vaccine and the validity of the vaccine. But a national campaign in that area would be very helpful as well. Those are some of the things that were contained in the letter.

Speaker 2: (44:30)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WPNS.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (44:34)
Hey Kevin.

Kevin Landers: (44:37)
Hello Governor? Governor, the emails we’re getting at our station indicate that Ohio’s unemployment office is a mess. It’s says, understaffed, people can’t get their questions asked, [inaudible 00:44:46] are slow to reach those who need them the most. What concerns do you have about the issues and the leadership in charge to solve them? Yesterday, the director said the computers aren’t on the cloud, an issue that was raised nearly a year ago. I heard today the Lieutenant Governor said perhaps it won’t be updated until 2022.

Kevin Landers: (45:03)
… I heard today, the Lieutenant Governor said, perhaps it won’t be updated until 2022. Why is it taking so long?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (45:05)
Yeah. Well, first of all, Kevin, to everyone, who’s had trouble anyone who’s watching who’s had trouble we’re very sorry. We apologize. And so what is follows from here does not take away your anguish or your irritation or anything else. But as far as an explanation, when we took office it was clear we had to get on the cloud and that process was started. And that process, I’m told by our team will finish, but it will not finish till the end of this year. So, that’s been a work in progress.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (45:48)
The tragedy of the COVID and the blooming of the unemployment in Ohio occurred during that attempt to get on the cloud or that work that has been progressing. We’ve ramped up the number of people. I believe when this started, we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 400, 430 something people working. I don’t have the exact figures. The Lieutenant Governor may have those, but I think we’re around 1800 now. We intend to be at about 2,500 by March. So, these are process answers, doesn’t make anybody feel any better. But this is not… As you know, unemployment, we have to follow federal law and we have to do what the federal government says. And of course it is a constant back and forth that people have to continue to be verified, they have to continue to have contact with the state of Ohio. It’s an on ongoing process. And Jon, I don’t know if you want to add anything to that or not? I know you’ve done some work in this area.

Lieutenant Governor: (47:00)
Yeah. Look, I don’t blame people for being frustrated because when you’re in a difficult situation and you’re not being served at the speed that you need the help, frustration builds. And I think that’s happening with unemployment comp, it’s with vaccines when we wish we had more vaccines. But we deal with the world and the resources that we have. I think that there are some legitimate reasons, from a technology point of view, that this has been harder for Ohio. But we have to continue to create the sense of urgency.

Lieutenant Governor: (47:37)
The Governor and I have continued to try to create that sense of urgency at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. I believe they understand that and are working to try to resolve those issues. The one challenge that I think all states are having that do not have a cloud based computer system is that they were asked by the federal government to start a brand new program called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. And we did not have the technology backbone to do that.

Lieutenant Governor: (48:10)
That’s why, one of the reasons I created Innovate Ohio, and have been trying to do this with lots of aspects of… That’s why the Governor and I said, very, very first part of this administration, “We need to upgrade our technology.” But there are some things that are large, the system that ODJFS is very large and it will take time to do.

Lieutenant Governor: (48:31)
But that new pandemic unemployment system that had to be established is the source of the major problems. And your question, and you can probably feel from the Governor’s and my response that we have a great deal of… We’re trying to create a great deal of urgency so that they’re improving the way we’re serving our customers, that we’re avoiding the fraud and trying to deliver these services in an improved manner.

Moderator: (49:04)
Next question is from Chelsea Sick at Fox 45 in Dayton.

Chelsea Sick: (49:09)
Hi Governor. So I’ve been talking to bars and restaurant owners who tell me they just don’t understand the 10:00 curfew. They say they can do the same social distancing protocols at 1:30 AM that they’re currently doing at 9:30 in the evening. Is there any proof that this curfew is working to slow the spread of COVID-19? And what would be your message to those owners who are feeling discouraged by this announcement today?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (49:34)
Look, my message would be this, I fully understand where you’re coming from. I know that this is difficult. I know this has hit your ability to operate. We base this on the science and the science is this, when we hit the winter months, we have more spread inside. No longer can your patrons be outside in a patio, they’re inside. It spreads more inside, it spreads more in the winter.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (50:11)
Your business is a business that unfortunately people cannot wear a mask at the same time that they’re eating, at the same time they’re drinking. And so you do a good job, this is not your fault, but the nature of your business is that there is not the ability to wear a mask. What we have learned since this began, we’ve learned a lot. What the scientists have learned is the power of the mask.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (50:46)
An example is schools. We don’t see spread in schools themselves, not happening. Might happen outside of school peripherally, but in the classroom we’re seeing virtually no spread that is occurring. Why? People are wearing masks. Teachers where a mask, the students are all wearing masks. You can’t do that in a restaurant. You cannot do that in a bar.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (51:13)
Now, let’s talk about the time. Understandably spread at 9:30 versus 10:30, there’s probably not much difference in the spread. We did this as a compromise. Some of the best experts that we talked to said close bars, close restaurants. We’ve had state after state that have done that at various times during this pandemic. We had Dr. Birx who was in a few months ago, who said, “You really need to close your bars.” Dr. Birx from the Trump White House, “You really need to close your bars. You really need to close your restaurants.”

Gov. Mike Dewine: (51:55)
We didn’t do that. What we did is a compromise, and the compromise is 10:00. We cut off some of the time when there can be contact, we cut off some of the time when people had been drinking longer and they’re not as inhibited. And we did that as a compromise. There’s nothing magical about 10:00. But what is magical, or what is based in science, is cutting down the contact time. And when you cut down the contact time, you cut down opportunity for that spread. So those few hours after 10:00 cuts down on that.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (52:32)
We put this into effect at the same time, roughly the same time, that we started enforcing the mask in retail establishments. Those two things came together and when they came together, we saw what had been going up like a rocket, as far as cases. We saw it even out. And so we believe the evidence is pretty clear that those two actions combined had this result. So with the new variant and the possibility that we’re going to see a much more contagious virus in the near future, and the fact that we’re not seeing appreciable drop in cases, they’re still at a very, very high rate. We simply can not change, at this point, the curfew much as I would love to do that.

Moderator: (53:22)
Next question is Jim Provance at the Toledo Blade.

Jim Provance: (53:26)
Hi Governor, thanks again for this. Can you give us an idea of how many tests, these home tests, the $50 million will buy? And will those results, even though they’re being conducted at home, be reported like every other test that is conducted in the state?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (53:44)
Yes. There’s provision… And I’m sorry, I missed the first part. But I got the second part of your question. There’s provision, every test that’s done is reported in Ohio. I can’t tell you exactly how that will be done, but I know that that’s the protocol. And I missed, Jim, I missed the first part of your question.

Jim Provance: (54:01)
How many tests does $50 million buy?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (54:06)
These tests are, I believe, $25 a test. And so we are bearing the entire cost, the State is, to give the local jurisdictions that tool. And again, I just will stress it’s a tool that they’ve requested for a long time, and we’ve not been able to give them. But now the technology is there and we have the ability and it’s available on the market. So we have the ability to give them those tests.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (54:35)
And again, many, many times throughout this health departments have said, “Look, we just had this spike up and if we just had the ability to move in very, very quickly, like that, get people tested, figure out who’s who? We would be able to slow that breakout in this meat packing factory or in this other type of business.” And it wasn’t always businesses, sometimes it was other things. But, using that as an aggressive tool.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (55:04)
So this is part of our effort to really go on offense as we now have the vaccines. Not enough, but we got them. We’re putting them out, at the same time we’ve got more testing now, and we’re going to become much more aggressive with that testing.

Moderator: (55:22)
Governor, your last question for the day is from Sara Arthurs with Ogden News.

Sara Arthurs: (55:28)
Thank you, Governor. I’m wondering if you could speak further to the State’s efforts with regard to education and outreach towards Ohioans who may be reluctant to get the vaccine? What types of messages are you trying to get out there? And also, how confident are you of getting them out there?

Gov. Mike Dewine: (55:45)
Well, I think it’s a work in progress. You know, as I said earlier, we’ve asked the Trump administration to… Excuse me, the Biden administration to do that and to weigh in. We have an ad that just started running, I don’t know if you’ve seen it? We will follow that ad, it’s a pretty wide… It’s a pretty big buy. It should be in every market in the State of Ohio. And we’re going to follow that in a few days with a second ad.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (56:11)
So we’ll have those two ads running. But look, it’s a work in progress and it’s something that we have asked each county… You remember, a few months ago we asked each county to put together a working group and we’ve asked these working groups to really focus on how you get the message out. I mean, my experience in life is that who do we rely on? We rely on our family and our friends for information, particularly for experiences.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (56:42)
And so I think the more people who get the shot, the more people think it’s okay and they tell their friends and they tell their relatives then I think by word of mouth, it will spread. But it is a work in progress. And we know that, and we know it’s very, very important. We also have a focus, which we’ll talk about. I’ll talk about when we have more time, maybe next time, in regard to our minority communities.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (57:10)
And let me just conclude, I know getting back to the unemployment, we are very, very sorry about that. I know from talking many, many times to the director, Director Henderson, about how deeply she feels about this. And how urgent she feels it is to fix these problems. She’s there, she’s dealing with it. As I said, she has increased the staff by five fold that is working on this and we continue to work to get this on the cloud.

Gov. Mike Dewine: (57:49)
I know that she is feeling this as well, and if she was here she would express that. So, I have confidence in her. She’s working very hard, her team is working hard. It’s not meant as an excuse, and it’s not meant to make anybody feel better. Because if I was watching this I’d say, “Well, you just need to fix it.” And we’re doing everything we can to do that. We’ll see you all next week. Thank you, very much.