Jan 26, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 26
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on January 26, 2021 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:42)
Good afternoon, everyone. Our granddaughter, Izzy, gave me this mask. You can see the dog, Dolly is on here, so kind of fun. We’re going to start off today by going to three different locations in Ohio. And first start off, we’re partnering with PrimaryOne, a community health center in Columbus for a drive through vaccination clinic, with vaccines being administered by our own Ohio National Guard. This is effort to help underserved folks in underserved areas get access to vaccines. And joining us from today’s clinic is a Jangus Whitner, who is PrimaryOne Health’s clinic pharmacist. How are you doing today?
Jangus Whitner: (02:35)
Good, good. How are you doing?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (02:38)
It’s a little cold out there?
Jangus Whitner: (02:42)
Yeah. It’s all right, but that’s the Ohio weather that we signed up for, so that’s good.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (02:43)
We signed up for it. We did indeed. So, how’s the vaccine program going today?
Jangus Whitner: (02:51)
Today’s been a very steady and I think a lot of people out here are just anxious and excited and ready to get their shots. So it’s been great.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:00)
So are we looking at basically a kind of a drive through program here, or how’s it work?
Jangus Whitner: (03:06)
Yeah, we got a few lanes going at the same time and we have an extra lane for those that may have extra concerns or questions that need to talk through. And that’s staffed by our clinical pharmacist staff that are there and helping out answer those questions.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:20)
Okay. And you’re going to do another one of these clinics, I think on Thursday. Can you tell people how they can get vaccinated that day?
Jangus Whitner: (03:29)
Yeah, definitely. So there should be a number at the bottom of the screen you can text the word vaccine to. And also the Ohio Department of Health has a flyer that has our website on there that you can go on and schedule for Thursday’s clinic.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:44)
Okay. And will Thursday’s clinic be the same place?
Jangus Whitner: (03:47)
Same place, yep.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:49)
And tell us exactly where you are now.
Jangus Whitner: (03:52)
We’re at 3433 Agler Rd, right at Northeast of Columbus, Ohio.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:59)
I think you have Ms. Winnie Taylor there, [crosstalk 00:04:02] who is ready to get vaccinated. Ms. Taylor, how are you doing today?
Jangus Whitner: (04:08)
He asked how you’re doing. A little bit hard to hear. So we talked to her earlier, she’s doing well. She’s excited.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (04:15)
All right. Well, we’re going to watch you, Ms. Taylor, get your vaccine. So we can go ahead and do it. We’ll watch y’all.
Jangus Whitner: (04:23)
Awesome. As you know, governor, we’re doing this in partnership with the Ohio National Guard. So we have Krista here ready to give the vaccine.
[inaudible 00:04:32]. You’ll feel a cold wipe, okay? [inaudible 00:04:41].
Winnie Taylor: (04:35)
All right, honey, little poke here, okay? 1, 2, 3. Wonderful. [inaudible 00:04:57] All right.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (05:02)
Ms. Taylor, we want to thank you very much. We thank you. We appreciate it very much. And want to thank the Ohio National Guard for doing this. The guard will be doing a number of other sites around the state, as we move forward. They’ve been a tremendous help during this whole pandemic. And we want to thank PrimaryOne Health for doing this and we’ll see some people back Thursday.
Jangus Whitner: (05:31)
Thank you, Governor. Yes. Thank you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (05:32)
Thank you. We’re going to go to Mansfield now, where David Finley is going to be vaccinated. With us is Brian [inaudible 00:05:41], chief pharmacist of Mansfield Discount Drug Mart. Brian, your location, I think, is one of 76 Discount Drug Mart locations in Ohio taking appointments. How do people sign up to get an appointment from y’all?
That is correct, Governor. Hey and good afternoon to you. To sign up for the vaccine, basically just go to our website, which is a discount-drugmart.com/covid. If they are having any trouble whatsoever with the website, they can always call any of our locations, and our hardworking staff will be more than happy to assist anyone who’s interested in registering.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (06:21)
And I think you’ve got Mr. Finley. Is that right, Mr. Finley?
David Finley: (06:25)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (06:26)
Well, thank you very, very much for coming. Are you ready to get your vaccine today?
David Finley: (06:32)
I’m all set.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (06:33)
You’re all set. All right. We’ll watch you, if that’s okay.
David Finley: (06:37)
David Finley: (06:51)
That was fast.
You doing okay, Mr. Finley?
David Finley: (06:54)
Yeah, no big deal.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (06:59)
Okay. Well, we want to thank both of you very, very much and have a great day. We appreciate it.
Thank you, Governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:09)
Thank you. We’re now going to Dayton, where Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services partnering with a local pharmacy partner, and that is ZIKS Family Pharmacy. And also partnering with Mt. Enon Missionary Baptist Church to vaccinate people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and certain medical conditions in a large clinic. We have superintendent Pamela Combs, who is with us. Superintendent, how are you doing?
Pamela Combs: (07:40)
I’m doing great today, Governor. It’s an honor to be with you from Dayton.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:45)
Well, you have a good partnership going. Tell us a little bit about the players in that partnership and how this is working.
Pamela Combs: (07:51)
Yes, our Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities is partnering with ZIKS Family Pharmacy to provide those much needed vaccinations to those that we serve in Montgomery County. We serve over 5,000 people with developmental disabilities, and as you know, they’re among the most vulnerable. And we’re here today at Mt. Enon Missionary Baptist Church, and they’ve opened up their church home for us so that we can just have an inviting place for those that we serve to come to.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (08:25)
Well, we appreciate them doing that very, very much. That makes a big difference. I know pharmacist, Gregory Greylock is ready to administer the vaccine.
Pamela Combs: (08:35)
Yes. And Governor, I just really quick want to thank you for I’m thinking of those with developmental disabilities and our director, Jeff Davis at DODD. We just appreciate all the collaboration with the Department of Health and our local Board of Health to get all of this done. Thank you so much.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (08:54)
Well, thank you very much. And we have Kevin Davis. Mr. Davis, how are you doing?
Kevin Davis: (08:58)
Good. How are you doing?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:01)
I am well. I understand you’re a student at Wright State. Is that correct?
Kevin Davis: (09:05)
Yes, that is correct.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:07)
And what’s your major? What area are you studying?
Kevin Davis: (09:10)
I am majoring accountancy.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:13)
Very good. You ready for the vaccine?
Kevin Davis: (09:16)
Yes, I am ready.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:17)
All right. Well, we’re going to watch you then, that’s okay. [crosstalk 00:09:21].
Kevin Davis: (09:23)
All right. Here we go.
Gregory Greylock: (09:30)
Okay, here you go. Okay. You’re all set.
Kevin Davis: (09:30)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:48)
How are you doing Kevin?
Kevin Davis: (09:50)
I’m doing good.
Gregory Greylock: (09:50)
That wasn’t too bad, was it?
Kevin Davis: (09:50)
No, it wasn’t.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:55)
Well, we appreciate you all being on here. Today going okay? Everything going all right today? [crosstalk 00:10:02]. Well, we like the partnership. Thank you. Thanks for doing this for everybody doing it. Appreciate the church doing it, and all of you doing it, ZIKS Pharmacy. Thank you. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. [crosstalk 00:10:18].
Gov. Mike DeWine: (10:24)
Well, this week, starting yesterday, we’re vaccinating people 75 years of age or older. And also a small group who we’ve defined this group before, but so it’s a relatively small group who have congenital early onset or inherited medical conditions. And, for the next several weeks, the and is important or people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. Local boards are now reaching out to those individuals. So you don’t have to call local boards. We’ll be reaching out and have already started to reach out to those individuals. So these are the groups that we’re vaccinating this week.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (11:13)
I have some good news, as far as the number of shots this week, the number of doses of vaccine that will be available to our older Ohioans. And if you recall, we’ve talked about this, that at least as far as we can see out, it’s going to run roughly 100,000 a week that we’re going to be able to designate and devote for those Ohioans who are older Ohioans. Again, this week, it’s 75 and older, and next week, it’ll be 70 and older, and the week after that, 65 and older, and then we’ll hold right there at 65, because we know that that is a very large group from 65 up. And it’s going to take a number of weeks to be able to cover everyone in that age group that wants it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (12:04)
But I want to talk a little bit about how we have some extra doses this week, more than 100,000. We have been averaging about, and it does vary some. And there’s no guarantee from week to week where it’s going to be, but we’ve been averaging about 146,000 doses split evenly between Moderna and Pfizer that are coming in, as far as first doses, that are coming into Ohio every week. We won’t talk about the second doses. It just confuses it. But the second doses are following up, and we’ve seen no problem with that, but 146,000.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (12:42)
In past, for example, last week, we had more go to the 1A group. This is one B. But we’re starting to finish up the 1A group, and some counties have totally finished up the 1A group. So what that means is that of that 146,000, more than 100,000 this week, and next week, we’ll be able to devote to the older Ohioans and Ohioans who fall into that category.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:16)
Now it will vary somewhere between 100, 110, 120,000; the weeks will be different, but that’s how it will vary. So you’ll have an uptick from that 100, 000 for that, because we’re simply getting more, we’re able to put more focus on those who are older Ohioans, who we know bear the gravest risks, the most important risk, because we’re finishing up the 1A.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:50)
When we get very far into it, another week though, we’re going to start drawing down. And some of it’s going to have to be devoted to people who teach in our schools, who work in our schools. So, this is a kind of a one week uptick there. We have a two week uptick though, that’s also significant. And I want to talk briefly about how this really came about.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (14:15)
At the beginning of this whole process, the federal government required us, if we wanted to be in the program, to really focus on nursing homes. And we did, and I’ll talk about that a little later, why that was so very, very important. What they required us to do, is really set aside effectively 353,000 vaccines that would eventually go in to these congregate care settings, and they were just set aside. And as we go week to week, our pharmacy partners who are going into our nursing homes, who are going into care settings, draw that down. It’s like a bank, they draw this down. But we’re required to put that in that bank at the very, very beginning.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (15:04)
Well, as we went on, it’s become clear that not everybody in the nursing homes is going to take the vaccine, not every staff member. And we really knew that, of course, going in. We didn’t know what those numbers were going to be or how that was going to play out. So I got to thinking last week, what the federal government had said was, “When the whole pharmacy program was over, when you’re done with all your congregate care settings, we’ll give you back what we haven’t used.” And that was supposed to be at the end of March. And so I got thinking last week, we urgently need these.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (15:42)
So I went to General [inaudible 00:15:44] on the phone and said, “Look, we know we’re not drawing down these. We’re not going to draw the entire number down because we’re only running a 45% or so 50% at the most, of our staff that’s taking these.” And yet we’d set enough aside, because they required us to, for 100% of that and 100% of the residents. So I said, “Look, can’t we draw some of these back now? Why do we have to wait until the end of end of March? And so they said, yes.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (16:12)
And so that’s really excellent news for us as we move forward. So, we’re going to have another 77,000 spread over two weeks. So very happy about that. 38,500, this week, 38,500 next week. And those, we will be able to devote and have already devoted and will devote next week, that extra 38,500 to our order Ohioans. Just very, very important that we move as quickly in that area as we can. But I just wanted to take a minute to explain how these numbers work and how we were able to pull this number down when frankly, we didn’t think we were going to get these back until the end of March. So happy to be able, happy that they were flexible and happy to be able to get these back.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:02)
Let me talk for a moment about our congregate care settings and why we have set these up as such a priority. The reason is this, as we said, this is where we’ve seen the most deaths. Over 50% of the deaths in Ohio have come out of our nursing homes. And why is that? Why in congregate care settings are people so vulnerable? Number one, you have the individuals who are there generally have a medical problem. And they certainly, almost always, not always, but almost always, are over 65 years of age and they have a medical problem. Also, they’re living in a congregate care setting. They’re living in close proximity to each other. And we know the nature of this virus is that it spreads very, very, very quickly.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:51)
So, we really put a focus on these nursing homes. We have 953 nursing homes in the state of Ohio. First dose, as I said, pretty much done. Second, we are actually second in the nation for number of people vaccinated in nursing homes. We have a lot of people in nursing homes. We’ve really concentrated on it. We’re now in the process of going back for the second dose, so we’re happy that to be able to have those done. Assisted living, we started on assisted living, another congregate care setting where the risk is high. We’re well into those as well.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:36)
But let me mention several others I don’t think we’ve really talked about. And decided we want to do these early on again, because of the grave risk that these individuals have. State-run developmental centers, our state-run developmental centers. We’re very happy 89% of the residents there have taken the shots; the first vaccine. 89%, we’re very happy about that. 531 people that constitutes. Our state-run psychiatric hospitals, 73% of long-term patients have now been vaccinated. So we’ve gone through all of these state-run psychiatric hospitals. Our state-run veterans homes. I did mention this before. 92% at our two veterans homes in Sandusky and Georgetown. 92% of our veterans who are residents there took the vaccine. Again, another group.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (19:38)
And our final group I’d like to talk about people with developmental disabilities who are not in state-run facilities, they’re just out in the community, living in communities. Again, we have been able to vaccinate so far, 5,500 vaccinated so far. We continue to work on these individuals, as far as getting them vaccinated and reaching them. And this is the effort that’s being made primarily where our local health departments. And our local health departments are really doing a very good job in this area.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:10)
Butler County, for example, covered all of those individuals in their county with developmental disabilities, as well as mental health. And actually, Butler County, if you can believe this, covered 250 separate locations. So hats off to Butler County. Thank you very, very much. Muskingum County has done a great job in this as well. A smaller county, but they’ve covered 50 separate developmental disability facilities in Muskingum County.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:46)
Let me update everyone now, in regard to vaccines in our schools. A couple things to keep in mind. One, we continue to have the scarcity of the vaccines. That’s not going away, at least in the immediate future. We hope eventually it goes away. And so what we have to do as we go forward, is we balance the group we’ve been talking about, our order Ohioans. As we know, that they’re gravely at risk.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:16)
At the same time, we want to allot enough of these vaccines to get all our kids in school by March 1. We want every kid back in Ohio, back in school by March 1. Why? Because we know that some kids don’t do very well remotely. We have some children in the state of Ohio who have been remote since March. So it’s been basically a whole year. Some have been remote for the great bulk of that time period. We want to give every school that opportunity to go back in.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:47)
98% of our public schools. And we’re not only talking about vaccines for public schools, we’re talking about our charter schools, which of course are public schools. But also our parochial schools, other private schools. We’re treating them all of course, the same as we should.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (22:07)
So is where we are. We will start vaccinating. Actually, we gave you the date of February 1. We’re going to move that up a little bit. We’re starting in Cincinnati, in the latter part of this week, I think on Thursday, we will start there, and we will continue to go through. Not every school will be able to be started on February 1. We do not have enough vaccine. We have to take it as we get it in week after week. But we have plans for everybody in any school in Ohio, who works there, who wants a shot, our goal is for them to be able to get the first shot in the month of February. We will see some of those individuals and some of those schools who will be able to get the second shot in February as well. So it’s kind of a rolling, it’s.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:03)
… [Inaudible 00:23:01] in February as well. So, it’s going to be a rolling start. The schools that will start next week, the schools will start have already been told they will start now. So, they should know that and should have been notified by now. The rest of the schools, the rest of you who are wondering when you will start, you should know by Friday. We will indicate to you by Friday when your time… what your week will be for your personnel to be able to get vaccinated.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:38)
Each school, as we’ve announced before, will have a vaccine provider. It might be a health department, might be a pharmacy, might be an urgent care, I think, in a couple of cases. We will make sure that everybody has a partner by this Friday. Some of you have picked your partners and that’s fine. Some of you didn’t pick a partner, and we will be able to assign that partner to you. Again, the goal, every kid back in school by March one. Every school personnel will be able to get their first vaccine, our goal is, first vaccine this month. Some of you will be able to get your second vaccine this month as well.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (24:25)
Eric, let’s go to our data slide. And we’ll, first of all, start with our regular slide. And we’ve seen something very, very good in the last week or so. And I know, those of you who watch these numbers, have been watching it. We’ll start with our cases. 4,262. We’ve seen these cases come down. Now, that’s still high. That’s still a very high number. And the different points of this pandemic, we would have said, “Oh, that’s horrible.” Everything is relative. When we were looking at 8,000, and now we’re looking at 4,200, obviously that’s much better. And you can see the graph here, it’s gone down some. The deaths, 88 above the 21 day average. Same way with hospitalizations and same way with ICU admission. So, all of those are lagging indicators and they are higher than what it’s been. But, on cases at least, this number has been a pretty good number.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (25:26)
Let’s go to our hospital situation, Eric, if you have that slide yet. This is something we look at every single day. And we do it in cooperation with the Ohio Hospital Association and every hospital in the state of Ohio. And what we look at is how many patients are in the hospital who are COVID patients every single day. And what we have seen is a pretty decent drop in the last week or so. And today, as you can see, we get an additional drop. We went up a little bit yesterday, and then down again today. But the trend line is certainly in the right direction. 2,964 Ohioans, as of yesterday, who have COVID are in the hospital.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (26:20)
That brings me to a discussion about the curfew. Many have asked when the curfew comes off. And many have said, ” If you just would give us a way to measure, give us a goal. Tell us at what point we will be able to take the curfew off in the state of Ohio.” And so, we’re going to do that today. As I said, again, we’ve seen cases come down, which is good. That’s a good indicator that we’re headed, at least for a while, in the right direction. Eric, let’s look at the other slide again, if we could.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:03)
Again, this is a better number. Now, it’s still high. And Dr. Vanderhoff will tell you that’s significantly higher than what flu would be, three or four times what flu would be. But, compared to where we have been, it’s a better number. And it would appear to be an improving number. Again, I want to, before I announce what we’re going to do with the curfew, I want to caution. The one thing we’ve learned about this virus is it’s extremely unpredictable. We don’t know where it’s going to go. We do have the new variant, the Ohio variant or the Midwest variant, that Dr Vanderhoff has talked about. And one of the things that we are concerned about is if it does become the dominant strain in Ohio. The U.K. strain took, I guess, about two months to become the dominant strain. The strain has been in Ohio a little while. If it becomes the dominant strain, the grave concern is that it appears to be much more contagious than what we’re dealing with today. So, again, a caution.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (28:11)
Another caution, we have to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re improving things. We’re improving them because of what you’re doing and what you’re not doing. This didn’t happen just by chance. This has happened because we have better than 90% of people who are wearing masks in retail establishments every single day across Ohio. And we have inspectors out. We know what the numbers are. So, those numbers remain high. I think people are being more careful. And we’re seeing our cases come down. But we have to continue to do that. We have to continue to play ball. We have to continue to stay focused on it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (28:48)
So, with these cautions, here’s what we’re going to do. If we have seven straight days where our hospitalization number from COVID is below 3, 500, as you can see, I think we’ve had now five days, one, two, three, four, five, six days. We’re in our sixth day. So, this should continue. We hope this is going to continue. And so, we should be able to announce on Thursday. And the way we’ve mapped this out, seven days, straight days below 3,500, we’ll go to 11:00 P.M. curfew. And our plan will be at least to keep that curfew for two weeks. If we go for seven straight days below 3,000, to get this number down there to 3,000, if we keep that for two weeks and seven days below 2,500, there’ll be no curfew. Now, I’m going to go to after Vanderhoff. I want to make sure I’ve got this right, make sure my notes are right, doctor. And you can kind of tell us how you came up with this plan and, again, make any corrections in this. I wrote this down pretty quick after you and I had been talking about this for a few days. But I’ll turn it over to you, and you can correct me on the numbers if they’re wrong.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (30:23)
Thank you very much, governor. Well, as we’ve indicated in the past, hospital utilization across our state really is one of our most reliable indicators of how severe COVID is at that time. When people are sick enough with COVID to be in the hospital in high numbers, we know we are facing a very serious situation. So, as we consider easing our current curfew, it just made sense to look at our daily report of concurrent hospital utilization by COVID patients.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (30:59)
Now, when our COVID hospitalizations, as the governor noted, are above 2,500, now, remember that’s three times our peak census during a typical flu season, our hospitals are facing volumes that really strain their ability to deliver other care, especially things like routine diagnostic and procedural care. They do it, but it’s under a lot of strain. When they get above 3,500, which, as the governor indicated, we were at just several days ago, we know they face very high demand in responses like local and regional diversions and the need for more transfers become much more common.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (31:44)
Therefore, we’re confident that, if our hospital utilization across the state drops below 3,500 for seven consecutive days, which, as the governor pointed out, it’s done now for several days, we believe we can safely shorten our curfew for the following two weeks to the 11:00 P.M. time that he noted. If hospital utilization were to subsequently drop even further below 3,000 for seven consecutive days, it appears that we could safely move to a midnight curfew for a two week period. And, if it drops below 2,500, again, that’s about three times the volume that we would see at the peak of a typical flu season, if it drops below that for seven days, we feel confident that we could lift that curfew.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (32:42)
Now, it’s important to remember that, as the governor noted, hospitalizations are a bit of a lagging indicator, which means that, if they go back up, we would likely have to respond quickly to re-institute the appropriate level of measure, because it would be telling us we were already in that circumstance. This is not a predictive measure. It’s a lagging measure. So, we just have to bear that in mind. Governor, I’ll turn it back to you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (33:12)
Well, Dr. Vanderhoff, we’ll keep it with you for a minute because I’m going to throw it right back to you. Let’s talk for a moment. One of the happy surprises has been that, with Pfizer, we have seen nurses, people who are given the shots sometimes have been able to get six doses out of what we thought was going to be five.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (33:34)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (33:35)
And, in some rare cases, they got seven. So, obviously, we want everyone out there to do everything they can to maximize this. And, as you’re drawing this out, what should be five or at least what was labeled, we thought was five, if you can get six, we want you to get six. And I want to have Dr. Vanderhoff kind of talk a little bit about maybe what’s involved here, whether it’s a technique or how do we up those? I mean, obviously, doctor, if we get six out instead of five, we’re up 20%, at least with the Pfizer. So, we’re pretty happy about that, but we want to make sure everybody who is putting that vaccine out is mindful of that. So, I’ll turn it back to you.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (34:20)
Certainly, governor. Thank you. Well, as he pointed out, it’s clearly important to get every available dose of these COVID vaccines into the arms of willing recipients in Ohio. And, as you noted, in many instances, we know that a vial of that Pfizer vaccine can in fact provide not five but six vaccine doses. And some vaccine providers have been very successful with this. And they’ve been able to extract a sixth dose as much as 90% of the time. But getting that sixth dose of vaccine isn’t just a matter of technique. That’s certainly important. But it’s also a matter of having the right supplies. And these supplies have been in very limited availability nationally.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (35:12)
Now, the key to getting that sixth dose is having access to syringes with low or zero dead volume, zero wasted volume. And, when clinically appropriate, matching those with a one inch vaccine needle. Now, that’s fairly technical, but providers know what I’m talking about. The good news is that Ohio vaccine providers have been leading the way in finding ways to maximize these Pfizer vaccine doses. And we’ve surveyed the best practices across our state and determined that it is possible to reliably get that sixth dose using a hybrid model which uses traditional syringes for three or four of the doses and the less readily available low dead volume or a low waisted space syringes for the remaining two to three doses. And this approach conserves limited special syringe supply and gets the job done.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (36:20)
So, we also learned some good news today. We learned that our federal partners have made similar observations and will be moving in concert with us to support this approach. So, armed with all of this new knowledge, we will be working, governor, with vaccine providers across the state to share this information and to provide them with further guidance so that they can be successful with getting that sixth dose out.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (36:52)
Great. So, we’ll be sending something out. We’ll be posting something in the next few days. And again, for everybody who is putting those shots in arms out there, when you’ve got Pfizer, if you can get that up to six, it will make a huge, huge difference. And I know even in some cases somebody has told me they got seven. But, Dr. Van Hoff, if people can 90% of the time get six, that’s a big boost when we’re dealing with a very scarce commodity. So, we can save lives by doing this. So, thank you very much. Throughout this vaccination process, our goal will be to make sure every Ohioan has access. We know there’s not enough. We know that everybody who is trying to get it this week is not going to get it, everyone who is 75 and over. But we’re going to continue to do what we can to get more vaccine out. At the same time, we have an obligation to make sure we get underserved populations, and that there is equity, that there is fairness in regard to this. And so, this is an ongoing process.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (38:07)
We will start February 8th. We’ll be taking the vaccines directly into affordable senior housing locations. And this is just one of the things that we’re planning on doing, but I wanted to announce it today. We picked that date because that’s the first date that 65 year olds and older can get it, down to that group. And we want to be able to go into these settings and have the majority of people, at least, be able to be eligible to get the vaccine. If we went in today, we’d have a lot of people who would not be able to get it. So, we just thought it made sense to aim for that date to start that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (38:48)
This type of senior housing is home to thousands, thousands of our fellow Ohioans across the state. These homes are often residential clusters, apartment buildings ranging in units from 20, to 100, 200, 300, and even more. The threat of serious illness and death from COVID is high in affordable senior housing settings due to the age of the residence, the ease of spread in clustered housing complexes, the isolation of many residents who may not have access to information about how to get the vaccine, and potential barriers to accessing the vaccine. Our team is concentrating efforts to get these residents vaccinated and is working with local partners to offer assistance through onsite clinics. These clinics will help ease the burden for many seniors having trouble navigating the registration process and arranging transportation. In advance of a clinic day, we’ll provide an onsite clinic resource guide with materials to educate residents about the vaccine, advertise the clinic day, sign the individual up for appointments for that clinic.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (39:53)
In addition to these upcoming senior housing clinics, we have intentionally distributed vaccine to providers in every county in Ohio. So, every Ohioan will have the opportunity to get vaccinated close to home. Again, we’ve started with over 700. As we get more vaccines, that could go up to as high as 2,200, because we’ve had 2,200 that have signed up. And we have a variety of communication and education strategies aimed at minority communities, including upcoming town halls, paid and earned media, and a toolkit for our community partners to address vaccine hesitancy in their networks.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (40:32)
We anticipate the National Guard is going to be involved, certainly, in some of this. We also, as we saw today, look forward to partnerships with churches as another way to reach out and make sure that we’re covering everyone in the state of Ohio, and that, no matter where you live, no matter who you are, you’re going to have access. So, it’s an ongoing effort. We’re not there yet, but it is what we’re going to strive for, what we continue to strive for. And I just wanted to mention a couple of these things that we will be doing starting in a couple of weeks. Lieutenant governor.
John Husted: (41:13)
Thank you, governor. I know that, during our news conferences, I like to highlight what Ohio businesses are doing to help us win the fight against COVID. And you might see here I have gloves on today. It’s not because, through cost cutting measures, I’ve turned the heat off in my office. It’s because we’re highlighting Stirling Ultracold freezers. Okay? You see this one sitting right here. These are made in Athens, Ohio. These are a vital component of the vaccine supply chain. They keep the vaccine super cold. They’ve been part of the UPS model, the models of healthcare that Walgreens and other types of pharmacies are using. These are portable storage for both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. They’re cold enough to serve both. This freezer can hold 1,400 vials of Pfizer, which is up to 8,400 doses or more, as you highlighted earlier. And then, it can hold 540 vials of Moderna, up to 5,400 doses.
John Husted: (42:24)
And this freezer right here is at negative 71 degrees Celsius. That’s negative 95.8 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why I have the gloves, because I’m going to open it up and show you what it looks like. So, you open the lid here. And then, you have this styrofoam insulation pack. And then, the case that holds the vaccine vials. And it’s turned around here. It’s a little easier to reach this way. These hold them. I’ll set them down here. They hold these individual vials. These are not full. They’re examples. But this is super cold. I can feel it all the way through these gloves right now that I have on. But this is made in Athens, Ohio, and has been an incredibly important part of the vaccine supply chain.
John Husted: (43:25)
The company is running six days a week, ten hours a day shifts to keep up with production. Their employee base has grown 30% in the last three months alone, now employing over 200 Ohioans. Jobs Ohio and the Ohio Development Services Agency are partners in helping them ramp up this production. They’ve also been big users of TechCred, which I’ll mention here in a minute. They’ve funded 24 industry credentials to help them train and staff up. I find this… they make everything from the central repositories that UPS uses to these portable models.
John Husted: (44:06)
And I do want to say that I found this pretty amazing. With all of these freezers that they’ve used, Stirling Ultracold is protecting nearly, presently, 140 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 155 countries and all 50 states. And this is an Athens, Ohio company, employing Ohioans and doing some great things as part of the global supply chain for protecting these vaccine doses.
John Husted: (44:36)
And I mentioned TechCred. They already have used the program to help provide 24 industry credentials. We’re in another round of funding on this, which ends January 29th. So, we encourage people who want to get involved in that program to go to techcred.ohio.gov. And Stirling Ultracold has already applied for 26 more credentials, because they just have people that need to be trained to be able to keep up with production and supply. So, thanks to Stirling Ultracold, all the people who work there, and the team effort that we see from businesses all across the state who are helping to fight the battle against COVID-19 and ultimately help us win. Thanks, governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:21)
That’s a great Ohio story. Thank you, John, very much. We’re ready for questions.
Speaker 1: (45:28)
Governor, first question today is from Randy Ludlow at the Columbus Dispatch.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:38)
Randy Ludlow: (45:38)
Good afternoon, governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:38)
Randy Ludlow: (45:40)
There are reports that the Biden White House is contacting governors this afternoon and telling them they will have an additional 16% more doses beginning next week than perhaps they expected? Have you received that news yet? And can you confirm that number?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:57)
I cannot confirm that number. You better wait for the White House to do that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (46:01)
The White House to do that.
Speaker 2: (46:05)
Next question is from Jim Otte at WHIO in Dayton.
Jim Otte: (46:09)
Governor, could you talk about a backup list? Some people are worried that some of the vaccine may go to waste when they get to the end of a shift or maybe the end of the day at a vaccination clinic, and not everyone has shown up. Is there a backup list readily available so people can step up within minutes and say, “I’m ready. I qualify. I can be there to take it”? What’s being done to protect that?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (46:30)
Every hospital in Ohio, every pharmacy, anyone who is administering these vaccines understands how precious they are and that they are lifesavers. We can not waste one dose. What we are telling everyone is to have a backup list. When you start vaccinating that day, you need to have your backup list. You need to know how to get hold of people. If in fact you have some no-shows, people who do not show up, you need to be able to know where you’re going.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (47:04)
Now it shouldn’t be too hard because we’ve asked them to keep this to 1A or 1B. They might have EMS responders. They might have anyone over the age of 65 and older. These would be the likely people that they could go to, but anybody in 1A or 1B. We would like for them to have that list as they start, so they know exactly where they’re going if in fact somebody is a no-show.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (47:34)
With a great demand that we have out here, I know most of the providers have a on-call list, people who are waiting to be called. Being able to pull these people in during the day is certainly something that makes a lot of sense. In an emergency where they cannot find anybody in 1A or 1B… In those two categories, that’s three million people in Ohio. If for some reason they can’t find anybody in those categories, they can certainly put this shot into anyone’s arm, any adult’s arm, and we would not be wasting it. We want to target these as much as we can. They are precious. They are lifesavers, and we can’t lose any.
Speaker 2: (48:27)
Next question is from Jessie Balmert at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Jessie Balmert: (48:32)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:33)
Jessie Balmert: (48:34)
My question is, who is deciding which schools go first, and how are they making those decisions?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:42)
This is, by and large, a scheduling issue that I’ve left up to our team to schedule. We did have a request from Cincinnati schools. We have to keep in mind what our goal is, and our goal has been to get kids in school. They had a very specific request: Can we start a little bit? Can we start a little bit? We worked it out so they could start a few days earlier. We’re happy to get started on this. Our goal was to start February 1. We’re going to have a large number of schools throughout the state that will be in that first week, and more in the second week, and on and on. We’re going to continue to do everything we can to get these schools finished, everybody in the school who may want the vaccine.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (49:47)
It does not include students. Any adults in the building… That would include office personnel. It would include custodian. It might include somebody who’s fixing the food. Certainly include the teachers. That’s what the goal is. We’re juggling. I mean, I’ll be very honest. We’re juggling, trying to get enough to do that at the same time that we’re moving forward on our older Ohio citizens. We’re trying to do two things at once. If we had more vaccine, we wouldn’t be juggling quite as much, but it is what it is.
Speaker 2: (50:26)
Next question is from Dan DeRose at WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRose: (50:31)
Good afternoon, governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:32)
Dan DeRose: (50:34)
I want a clarification on this curfew process. Some of the numbers got a little jumbled in there. You said that it could even-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:41)
Dan DeRose: (50:41)
No, that’s all right. Hey, totally understandable. That by this Thursday, that we could see a possible 11:00 as long as we stay under that 3,500 for seven straight-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:50)
Eric, let’s put the other slide back up.
Dan DeRose: (50:52)
For seven straight days, but then you said that it has to stick for two weeks. Is that the case, that it has to be 11:00-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (51:01)
Dan DeRose: (51:01)
For two weeks or… I mean, as of today, we’re at 2,964.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (51:05)
Dan DeRose: (51:06)
We’re already under the 3,000.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (51:08)
Right. I mean, frankly, we made this decision… Latter part, Friday, Saturday, we were talking about it. This has continued to drop, which is good. I mean, we’re happy. We’re happy about it. We also are mindful that people have to plan. The bar owners have to plan, and restaurants have to plan, and other people have to plan. We don’t want to be jerking them around with no notice. The goal is to do it two weeks. In two weeks, we look at it again. Now look, we may jump a whole section in two weeks, if this thing continues. I’m an optimist. Let’s hope this thing continues to keep going down.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (51:53)
Look at it this way. You’re going to take a snapshot of it. Basically on Thursday, two weeks from this Thursday, we’ll snapshot it again, look at it, and see what we’re seeing. We hope it’s going to continue. We will be able to go to midnight. I suppose it’s even possible it drops so much that we’ll get seven days in that it goes completely off. That’s how we’re going to do it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (52:16)
Now I want to make it clear, it can work the other way too. If at some point, in a month or whenever, we’re going back up, we’ll do it basically the same. We’re going to do it the same way. We’re going to look at it, and we will have to move quick then. Let’s hope we don’t have that. Look, this vaccine… I mean, excuse me. This virus, we don’t know where we’re going to be in March, or April, or May. I mean, we just don’t know. Thanks for asking the question.
Speaker 2: (52:50)
Next question is from Ashley Kirkland at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Ashley Kirkland: (52:55)
Hi, governor. When it comes to age groups, this process to register for the 65-and-older group has been a little confusing. A lot of people have called and emailed us for individuals to register. Is the state considering setting up a more structured process to vaccinate individuals like it did with nursing homes and will do with schools?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (53:16)
I’m not sure I understand your question. Could you tell me that again?
Ashley Kirkland: (53:21)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (53:23)
Ashley Kirkland: (53:24)
Is there something the state is considering to register people in groups that they associate with rather than their individual status based on age?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (53:34)
No, no. Age is by far the best indicator. I mean, our whole goal is to save lives. If tomorrow, we had everybody 65 and above vaccinated, which we obviously are not going to do, that represents 87% of the deaths so far, have been 65 and older. It is by far the best predictor, bar none. That’s why we’ve done some things with other vulnerable groups where the medical professionals have told us they are very, very, very vulnerable, at a high, high level of vulnerability, but those have been relatively small number of groups.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (54:18)
Now, we’re going back in school, not for that reason. We’re vaccinating people in schools, quite candidly, to make sure that by March 1, we have every kid back in school. At least that’s our goal. That’s a different purpose, but it’s a purpose that we think is very, very, very important. The other group we have that we did by group is our medical professionals, but not every medical professional. We tried to focus, and ask our hospitals to focus, and everyone, just on people who are really vulnerable, who are out there dealing with a lot of patients and people who are dealing with COVID patients.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (54:54)
Those two kind groups are kind of where we did go by group. The best predictor in where we’re going to do the vast majority of people is based upon age. We’ve set that at 65. We’re going to, as we say, work our way down. In a couple of weeks, we’ll beat everyone who is 65 and older and will be eligible. We’ll just keep doing those just as fast as we can do them, as much vaccine as we can get in.
Speaker 2: (55:25)
Next question is from Marty Schladen at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Marty Schladen: (55:28)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (55:30)
Marty Schladen: (55:32)
Earlier this week, Marty Makary… He’s a Johns Hopkins professor. Wrote a column in the Washington Post arguing that we should not be vaccinating people who’ve already gotten COVID and recovered. He said, “Reinfections are very rare. The immunity appears to be pretty durable and with such scarcity of vaccines… Doesn’t it make sense to get them into the arms of people who have no immunity?”
Gov. Mike DeWine: (55:59)
Marty Schladen: (55:59)
Have you thought about any of this?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (55:59)
Yes, go ahead.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (55:59)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (56:06)
I’m going to let Dr. Vanderhoff answer that.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (56:09)
Yes. Thank you. We’ve seen arguments like that arise periodically since the advent of the vaccines, but leading authorities, especially leaders in the field of vaccinology, have really not advocated for that kind of approach. The reality is that we have very predictable and very robust immune responses among people who receive the vaccine.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (56:40)
Now, it is true that for a window of time after a person is ill with COVID-19, and that window is thought to be in the neighborhood of about three months, a person does appear to manifest some reliable and pretty robust immunity. Our concern really becomes about a waning of that immunity that we have much more confidence won’t happen among those who receive these vaccines. The CDC and leading health authorities continue to advocate for people to go ahead and get the vaccine when they’re eligible, provided they are outside of their isolation window and that they are fully recovered symptomatically from the illness. They do say if you want to wait until closer to that three-month window, that’s okay. You can do that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (57:43)
Speaker 2: (57:46)
Next question is from Molly Martinez at Spectrum News.
Molly Martinez: (57:50)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (57:51)
Molly Martinez: (57:52)
It’s been a little over a week since you worked with this new administration. I’m curious as to how it’s been from a governor’s point of view and what difference you’ve seen in dealing with the two administrations when it comes to this pandemic.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (58:05)
Well, we had a good relationship with the Trump administration. I think I’ve told you all that we had meetings once a week or so, very regularly, with the vice president. It was an hour and a half, sometimes two hours. You had Dr. Birx who came out here. It was a solid, good relationship with the Trump administration. The Biden administration started reaching out to us before they took office. We established that relationship. It’s been a very good relationship as well, so good relationship, both cases.
Speaker 2: (58:46)
Next question is from Tom Gallick at Gungwer News Service.
Tom Gallick: (58:50)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (58:51)
Tom Gallick: (58:52)
There have been arguments put forward by teachers’ unions in Ohio and nationwide that return to the classroom shouldn’t be pegged any singular date, but pegged towards all employees having their two vaccinations. I wanted to give you a chance to respond to that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (59:06)
Sure. Tom, we know so much more today than we knew in the spring. We know the power of masks. We also know that Ohio children will wear a mask, and the teachers will wear a mask and that school personnel will wear a mask. The compliance has been virtually 100% in our schools. What school superintendents and principals have been reporting to me for months is even when they have a child in class who they find out later has COVID, they are not seeing spread in that classroom. We were cautious and took that anecdotal information, but said, “We need to study it. We need to do some tests.”
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:00:06)
We had, I think, seven schools spread around the state who agreed to be part of the test. We did a test, and we did this through Ohio State University. I’m not the scientist, but basically from a layman’s point of view, here’s what they did. If there was somebody in that classroom who turned out to be positive, they took the people around them who within six feet, where everyone was wearing a mask, and started testing these kids who had been exposed.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:00:40)
At the same time, they did a control group: other kids who had not been exposed. At least we didn’t know they’d been exposed. The results they got back were almost identical as far as what percentage were positive. As I recall, it was 3%. It may not have been exactly three. That’s what I recall. You had a control group, it was 3%. Then you had kids who had directly been exposed, and we knew it had no higher. There’s also been several national studies done that showed the same thing.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:01:20)
What we know is kids who are in school wear a mask. We know that kids will do that. We know that adults will do it. We know that Ohio schools have done it phenomenally well. We have scientific data that shows there’s virtually no spread in that classroom because of that, even when they’re within six feet, less than that six-feet spread, as long as they’re wearing the mask. Combine that with our efforts to vaccinate every person who wants to be in that school. No matter what their position, we want to give them vaccination. We’re going to try to get everybody done in February, that first dose. Some people will get their second dose in February.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:02:10)
I’ll leave it to Dr. Vanderhoff, but he can kind of tell you what one dose means. One dose is not complete, but it does have significance. I think when you layer those protections on top of each other, what we know with the mask, what we know we’ve seen as far as in school, in classroom spread, which has not been much at all… You add on top of that, the whole idea of getting that vaccination. In some cases you’re getting the second vaccination. I think there’s a lot of protection there. I don’t know, Dr. Vanderhoff, if you want to add anything to that.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:02:48)
Governor, I think you said it very well. I think it’s important for people to recognize that masks really do work. Essentially, what the Ohio schools COVID evaluation demonstrated, reinforced, and again, has been further reinforced in school settings in other national literature is that those wearing the masks and those around the people wearing the masks can really have confidence in that approach. Of course, we continue to advocate for maintaining social distance as they can, as well as keeping distance, but the masks really do work.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:03:31)
I’ll also add that the governor is absolutely correct. The first dose of vaccine does have a substantial impact, and we can see that impact evident within weeks. Our second dose remains very important primarily because it’s a booster. It is part of the important step with these two vaccines that we undertake to ensure that that immunity will be long- lasting immunity. That first vaccine does have a substantial impact.
Speaker 2: (01:04:08)
Next question is from Scott Halasz at the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:04:12)
Scott Halasz: (01:04:13)
Hey, governor. How are you today?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:04:15)
I’m well, sir.
Scott Halasz: (01:04:16)
Good. Thanks for taking my question. Correct me if I’m wrong. Early childhood education teachers are not part of the group of teachers that are going to be vaccinated. Has there been any thought to including them in that group?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:04:34)
We have looked at that. They certainly can make a compelling case to be vaccinated as can a number of other groups. We tried to stay focused, as long as we have such a limited amount of vaccine, to the question of how we can save the most lives with this limited amount of vaccine. The other thing that our goal is… We’ve been very clear. That is children, K through 12, getting them back in school. Those have been the two goals that we have had.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:05:08)
Certainly, our early childhood teachers, our early childhood providers, do a great job. We’ll continue to evaluate this situation as we move forward. The scientific decision and the clinical medical decision was made based on the criteria that I just outlined. That’s where we are today. We’ll continue to look at this.
Speaker 2: (01:05:42)
Next question is from Jo Ingles at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:05:46)
Jo Ingles: (01:05:49)
Hi, governor. How are you today?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:05:51)
I’m well. Thank you.
Jo Ingles: (01:05:53)
We’re hearing from people who have tried to get appointments for vaccines for family members who are 80 and above but still can’t get them. The bottom line is there are a lot of at-risk seniors who cannot get scheduled for shots right now. The caretakers are trying to help seniors, but they’re having to call multiple places trying to seek out vaccines. It takes a lot of time, and it’s frustrating. Why hasn’t Ohio done more? Why haven’t you done what some other states have done and provide a more streamlined process for people in this situation?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:06:27)
Well, Jo, as I start kind of from beginning, some states have decided to do a few big sites. We didn’t think that was a good idea. It might’ve been the most efficient in some respects, but it didn’t put a provider in every community, which is what we have done. Now, what that means is, of course, that people are scrambling. There’s a scarcity of this. Early on, we looked at, was there anything on the market that we could buy, a central kind of scheduling that would go in and… Understand there’s no uniformity here. We’ve got a pharmacy here. We’ve got a pharmacy there. We’ve got a hospital there. They all have their own scheduling.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:07:18)
We’re in the process of having developed and are developing… We’re not ready to roll it out yet, but we hope, in the next several weeks, to be able to do this, is to have a central scheduling, a place where people can go online and then put in their zip code or put in their county. It will come up places where you can sign up and then it will take you directly into those locations. That will be a lot easier.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:07:44)
Now, Jo, it doesn’t solve all the problems. It makes it easier to navigate for those who can use a computer, and those who have a computer, and those who are tech savvy, at least enough to do that. We think it will be an improvement, but we know that we also have to reach people who can’t navigate that. Some of the doctors who are doing this, some of the other providers, you can call them. Not all of them, but some of them have a phone number that you can call.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:08:16)
We are also doing outreach as you heard me describe. We have started that, going into churches, basically going into congregate care… Excuse me, not congregate care settings, but elderly housing and places where, again, people are already there where we can go into the lobby, and set something up, and make it more convenient for them to get the vaccination. We’re looking at other things to do as we go forward.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:08:46)
We hope in the next few weeks, we’ll have a central place where you can go. If you use your computer, you can go in and tell where you live, and they’ll tell you, here are the possible places. Then you can go into that webpage directly and…
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:09:03)
Then you can go into that webpage directly and go from there. So that’s coming.
Next question is from James Pilcher at WKRC in Cincinnati.
James Pilcher: (01:09:17)
Good afternoon, Governor. What is the state’s efficiency rate when it comes to delivering the vaccine? I.e., How many doses has the state received versus how many it has given out? Kentucky says its rate is 88%. What is Ohio’s efficiency rate for vaccine distribution?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:09:36)
Yeah, these numbers are always difficult to totally tell, and let me just explain why. First of all, as we’ve said, we put a lot into our long-term care facilities because we felt this is where we have the highest deaths. We have more long-term care facilities virtually than any other state in the union. And so we had to set those aside. As I described earlier today, we’re happy we did it, it was the right decision. But those are only drawn down not by us, those are drawn down by the pharmacy partners that we have. Even though they are “credited” to us as we have received them, we haven’t physically received them and we can’t control them. And they’re only drawn down by the pharmacy basically as they need them to go into that nursing home or into that congregate care setting.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:10:33)
If you take those aside, we try to come up with a number on Sunday as a good day. And we use Sunday because shipments are made in here on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We asked people to vaccinate within seven days. We’d love for them to do it in four, but we’ve given them seven to do that as far as scheduling. So if you pick Sunday, it’s easier. You’re not getting that new batch in yet, but you’re really not finished with the previous week’s batch totally. Particularly for those who got it, it might be on Wednesday or Thursday. I believe that the director told me that as of last Sunday, we were at about 85%. So I think that’s where we are. And some of it had not cleared the data that we knew, stuff may have been … It’s a day or two behind lagging on what is the input. But I think it was around 85%.
The next question is from Justin Dennis at MahoningMatters.com.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:11:45)
I think we’re having issue with Justin’s audio. We’ll come back to him and we’ll go to Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:11:57)
Geoff Redick: (01:11:58)
Good afternoon, Governor. I think it was last week that you said the state may have to slow down the vaccine age eligibility because of lack of supply. Does the situation or situations you’ve outlined today, having more vaccines, eliminate that and why or why not?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:12:16)
No, it really doesn’t eliminate. I’ll tell you what we did. We try to listen to people. We went out and talked to doctors. We talked to other people who are providers. And they said, “Look, you’ve outlined that these … The sequence. If you change the sequence, people are going to get more confused.” And they told me, “We’re already having people who are 65 calling and can’t understand why they can’t get an appointment.” So some states, as you know, went directly to 65. We wanted to give our older Ohioans a little headstart, but we understood that all 80-year-olds would not be done … 80 and over would not be done by the first week. Mathematically impossible. So we’ve staggered this, we announced how we were going to stagger it. I think it would cause more confusion for us to change that. So this week we’re at 75. Next week, it’ll be 70 and older. And then the week after that, 65, and then we’d go from there.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:13:17)
Now, there’s nothing to stop any of the providers. I know some of them, for example, during the first week when it was 80 and above, kept a list of those who are 80 and above. There’s nothing to stop them from prioritizing those individuals who are 80 and above. They can certainly continue to do that. I know some of them are doing that just because of the list that they already created.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:13:43)
So there’s no perfect way of doing this. It’s confusing to people. We said, we announced 65 and over is going to be our priority, but we’re going to start at 80. And then some people of course heard 65. So we’ve outlined it. We want to be consistent. We’re going to continue to do that. And we’re going to continue to pump as much as we can into those 65 and older or whatever week that we are on. Eventually in a couple of weeks, we’ll get to 65 and older. So we could have paused it, thought about it, frankly, made the decision after talking to people who said, “No, this is going to cause too much confusion. You need to continue to stay right with what you said you were going to do.” Because we had some providers who are scheduling based upon that. Out a week, two weeks based upon what we’d already announced.
We’ll go back to Justin Dennis at MahoningMatters.com.
Justin Dennis: (01:14:44)
Hi, Governor. Sorry about that. Can you hear me now?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:14:46)
Sure. I can hear you.
Justin Dennis: (01:14:49)
You talk about the scarcity of the vaccine. What happens when a school that is struggling to get the majority of its workers vaccinated because of that scarcity has to close again because of an outbreak? What makes you confident that you can effectively get vaccines for both groups at the same time, and how will you know whether you’re succeeding at both rather than failing at both?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:15:07)
Well, if I understood the question correctly, you can tell me if I got it wrong. My understanding your question is school goes back, everybody gets vaccinated who wants to get vaccinated, then the school has to close for some reason. They’ve got an outbreak and they can’t put enough teachers in the classroom or whatever it is, whatever happens happens. I mean, we hope that doesn’t happen. We hope by vaccinating a number of their professionals, all the people in the building that there’ll be able keep the school open, but we know that that may not happen. And so the school is going to do the best it can do. And we hope that armed with this extra help through the vaccine, that they will be able to keep the school open
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (01:16:01)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:16:02)
Kevin Landers: (01:16:03)
A viewer called in to us who said that he has severe asthma and he tells us he was turned down for the vaccine because he wasn’t hospitalized this year. People are really frustrated by this. And I’d like to know what your response is and how you plan to fix this. And also in terms of schools, if a school district doesn’t get the vaccine by mid February, they wouldn’t be able to open it by March 1st. Is it possible that schools could open if their employees just have one dose? Thank you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:16:30)
Well, sure. Schools … I mean, look, we’ve had a lot of schools who have been open the whole year and they’ve toughed it out. They’ve done it. A large number of schools that have done that. Frankly, our concern is for the schools that have not been in and students. Not for the schools, but the students. I mean, this is all about kids. And my concern is, and shared by mayors across the state, shared by a lot of educators, a lot of parents, really imperative to get kids back in school. That’s our real push is to get kids back in school. And that’s why we’re doing it. In Offering the vaccine, we think …
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:17:14)
Plus, as I said before, knowing what we know today, we just know more than we knew in the spring. We know more than we knew in the fall. And while schools were making decisions at that time about not being in-person, they didn’t know and we didn’t know how powerful mask were. They didn’t know and we didn’t know that kids all would wear mask and the teachers would all wear a mask and everyone would wear a mask. Even down to small kids. They didn’t know that we would do a study and the study would show that there was no spread in the schools, in the classroom itself. So we know much more today, that should give people a lot more confidence to be able to go back in school if they’ve been out all year. Plus we give them plus the vaccine.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:18:01)
Now, you got a second question in regard to severe asthma, and I’m going to go to you, Bruce, I’ll let you take that. But let me just again, say one thing because you ended your question very understandably, “What are you going to do about it?” There are a lot of people that should be vaccinated in the state that can’t get it today because there aren’t enough vaccine. Our job is to try the best we can to make decisions where we can save the most lives, where we can get kids back in school and we can protect our health workers. And we pretty much have done it with the health workers. Not totally, but it’s pretty much done. We’re going to work on the schools the month of February and we’re going to continue, as we do those things, we’re going to continue to focus on saving the most lives. And the best predictor, the best predictor is age. Now, as far as the asthma question, Bruce, I’ll let you answer that and why the requirement in there is to have been hospitalized in the past year. And let me just say, I have asthma. Years ago, I was hospitalized for asthma. I’ve not been hospitalized for many, many, many years. It’s just a fact, and that doesn’t change the answer one way or the other, but I guess it’s a disclosure. And we’ll let Bruce who’s the expert on this and who helped put this together tell us why severe asthma and why it’s defined as hospitalization.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:19:40)
Thank you, Governor. It’s a very, very good question and it is one that the medical experts with whom we worked gave serious consideration to. As we were looking at the list of severe medical conditions, congenital and developmental medical conditions, we were mindful of the CDCs risk of high-risk conditions that also had high levels of evidence around them. And the focus of that was really on severe respiratory disease. That severe respiratory disease can include some people with asthma, but I would describe the much more severe end of the asthmatic disease spectrum. And as we spoke with medical experts around the state to identify the best way to equitably identify those individuals, there was pretty strong consensus that identifying them by virtue of the fact of requiring hospital level care, which is a pretty good indicator for most conditions of very severe illness. We landed on that definition.
Dr. Vanderhoff: (01:21:01)
There is no question when we’re talking about medical diagnoses and using medical diagnoses as a basis for getting in line for vaccination, that it is challenging, that there can be subtle differences between patients. But given all the considerations I just described, this seemed to be the most equitable way to approach that question.
Next question is from Chelsea Sick at WRGT in Dayton,
Chelsea Sick: (01:21:38)
Hi there, Governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:21:38)
Chelsea Sick: (01:21:39)
So we are also receiving several calls and messages from our viewers concerned about the unemployment backlog. They say they haven’t received the benefits since the end of December. The first of the month, we know is less than a week away. Some of these messages are saying people would rather be in jail or dead than dealing with the system. They say they reached out to Department of Job and Family Services and just aren’t getting the answers they need. We know a target [inaudible 01:22:02] for some of these benefits is expected to be January 31st, but that’s not guaranteed. What is your message to them? What is your team doing to work on this program and help make sure people get their money?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:22:14)
Well, Chelsea, we’ve talked about the things that we’ve done before, but I’ve said very clearly, if I’m unemployed and I don’t get my check and state doesn’t get it processed, there’s no excuse that matters to me. So for anyone who is having that trouble, I apologize to them. It has not been what I wanted to see at all. It’s not been what the directors wanted to see. We can talk about not being in the cloud, we can talk about going from 400 people to, I think we’re going to be at like 2,500 and 3,000 by March. So a lot more people have been put on. But again, that doesn’t solve the problem.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:23:00)
It’s not a question, as you know, under the federal law and the state law. It’s not just a question of somebody applies, you write a check and it just continues on and we go on. There has to be a checking in every week, there’s a check that has to take place every week. The initial analysis have to be done. We’ve also been hit very hard in regard to fraud, as we pointed out. Fran and I both, and I think Lieutenant Governor as well got a notice that we’d applied for unemployment. So kind of crazy. We obviously had not applied for unemployment. But it is clear to me, this is a huge department and I think candidly state government needs some help from the private sector. We need help from private business and we hope to have an announcement within the next few days about that help.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:24:05)
So we are reaching out and we’ll have something to announce very shortly. Again, that does not help if you’re not getting your check, but you asked what we’re doing. And I’ve looked at this and really came to the conclusion that this is a massive job. We have to have someone from the private sector to come in to handle that, to take that portion of a very, very large department, to take that portion over and to really oversee that and bring in that kind of expertise.
The next question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.
Laura Hancock: (01:24:44)
Hi, Governor. I wanted to touch on something you said last week when asked about why second doses aren’t reflected on the vaccine dashboard. You said it would be soon. It’s still not there. So I was wondering about that. And then I was also wondering, the CDC this morning has data … Well, they have it every day. But this morning, I checked and it shows that Ohio’s vaccine rate per 100,000 residents is the lowest compared to all five surrounding states. Why do you think that is, and what can we do to get better?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:25:15)
Well, I kind of been over this before and I know it’s very difficult and I don’t explain it maybe very well. We are number two in the nation in vaccinating people who are in our nursing homes. We’re very proud of that because that’s where we lost 54% of our deaths. We are a state that has per capita, I think the third highest nursing home number in the nation. So we’re having a bunch of some nursing homes and a bunch of beds. So when I looked at this at the beginning, I said, “What we’ve got to do is go after those nursing homes.” We have to do it. This is where it’s been agonizing, despite testing and doing many different things and great efforts by nursing homes. We’ve seen 54% of our deaths come out of nursing homes, so we made the decision to go with nursing homes.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:26:17)
The federal government says, “Okay, you can do that, but you got to bank all these.” And a good number of them are still banked. So they show us as getting them, but we have not got them, and the only time they’re pulled down by pharmacy companies. So until we’re … And as I outlined also further, we’re not only doing nursing homes, we’re not only doing assisted living. We made a decision, and I don’t think most states have, to go deep into our congregate care settings because we knew these are the most vulnerable people. And we knew that these individuals live in a setting where it was a high rate of spread. We have given the local health departments 5,000 these locations in the state.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:27:05)
But anyway, getting back to the pharmacy program. So we had 350,000 roughly set aside, and most of them still out there and we’re slowly drawing them down. So those all count against us, but it does not count towards the vaccination. So we are working very hard, as we said, at the beginning. Frankly, we had some providers that were not moving fast enough. I’ve got one or two more to call today. Our goal is to kind of get out of every place that has extra vaccines that they’re not putting in people’s arms, we need to get them in people’s arms. And so we’re going to continue to do this.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:27:58)
We’re in this for the long haul. Our goal is to vaccinate the most vulnerable people as we can to pinpoint that vaccination and to move forward. So we can look at all kinds of numbers. I think the ultimate number is how many lives are we going to save. And as I look at the numbers, I can guarantee you that I look at them every day and we look to see where we can get better, and we’re going to continue to do that.
Governor, the last question for today will be from Danny Eldridge at Hannah News Service.
Danny Eldridge: (01:28:34)
Hello, Governor. So you said nursing home staff is only about 45% or 50% getting the vaccine. How responsible is it for the state or for nursing homes to allow so many people to refuse the vaccine when they’re around the most vulnerable citizens?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:28:53)
Well, we have not imposed and I don’t know any state, maybe some states have. I’m not aware of any state that has required vaccines. That’s a big step, if we take that step. We are running about what other states are running, as I talked to fellow governors around the country. So nursing homes have the ability to continue to try to educate their staff. We will come back and we will vaccinate new residents who come in, new hires who come in, and we’ll even … Old hires, if they want to be vaccinated. So we’re going to continue to work to get those numbers up. It’s very important. The most important thing is to make sure that the people who are the most vulnerable, and that is the residents, get the vaccine. And so we’re going to continue to push there and we’re going to continue to push in regard to those who work there. I think we’re out of time and we’ll see you on Thursday. Thank you very much.