Jan 28, 2021

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 28

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 28
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsOhio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 28

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on January 28, 2021 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.

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Gov. DeWine: (04:52)
Good afternoon, everyone. We continue today to vaccinate those 75 years of age and older throughout Ohio. Next week, we’ll go to 70. The week after that, we’ll go to 65. We have with us today… We’re going to go first to Kroger’s in Cincinnati, where pharmacist Rob Hayes is administering vaccines. Dr. Hayes, how are things going today?

Dr. Hayes: (05:22)
Things are going great.

Gov. DeWine: (05:25)
And how do people make an appointment if they want to get vaccinated at a Kroger pharmacy, how do they go about doing that?

Dr. Hayes: (05:33)
Go to kroger.com/ohiocovidvaccine.

Gov. DeWine: (05:40)
Very good. Mr. Hahn, how are you doing?

Mr. Hahn: (05:44)
I’m doing just fine. I’m happy to be here.

Gov. DeWine: (05:47)
Well, we’re happy you’re going to get a shot today. How do you feel about this? You excited?

Mr. Hahn: (05:54)
I feel very good about it. I think this is a great opportunity. I thought about the opportunity to get vaccination and I started my career teaching civics in high school at Elder High School. One of the books was called The Common Good and getting vaccinated is not only good for me, but it’s good for the common good as well.

Gov. DeWine: (06:20)
Well, that’s great. That is great. How many years did you teach?

Mr. Hahn: (06:24)
I taught for two and then I went to work for the Kroger Company for 38 years, retired in 2007.

Gov. DeWine: (06:32)
Very good. Well, we’re going to watch you get a shot.

Mr. Hahn: (06:36)
All right.

Gov. DeWine: (06:37)
All right. Mr. Hahn, you doing okay there?

Mr. Hahn: (07:03)
Feel great. Didn’t feel a thing, painless.

Gov. DeWine: (07:07)
You both have a good day. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Mr. Hahn: (07:09)
Your welcome.

Dr. Hayes: (07:10)
Thank you, Mr. Governor.

Mr. Hahn: (07:10)
Have a good day.

Gov. DeWine: (07:11)
Thank you. We’re going to go across the state, the Mahoning Valley, Giant Eagle. Pharmacist Rebecca Clark is administering vaccines to Ohioans today and in the Austintown Giant Eagle. Dr. Clark, how are you doing today?

Dr. Clark: (07:30)
I’m doing well. How are you?

Gov. DeWine: (07:32)
Your day going okay?

Dr. Clark: (07:34)
It’s going great.

Gov. DeWine: (07:37)
Very good. Mr. Johnson, how are you doing?

Mr. Johnson: (07:41)
Very good, sir.

Gov. DeWine: (07:43)
You ready to get the shot, Mr. Johnson?

Mr. Johnson: (07:47)
Oh yeah. I’ve been ready for a couple of weeks.

Gov. DeWine: (07:52)
You probably been ready more than that, haven’t you? Probably been looking forward to today, I imagine.

Mr. Johnson: (08:00)
I sure have been.

Gov. DeWine: (08:02)
That’s great. Well, we’re going to watch you get the shot then.

Gov. DeWine: (08:24)
Mr. Johnson, you doing okay?

Mr. Johnson: (08:26)
Oh, yeah. Very good.

Gov. DeWine: (08:30)
Well, that is great. We want to thank both of you and hope you all have a great day. Appreciate it very much.

Mr. Johnson: (08:37)
Thank you very much.

Dr. Clark: (08:38)
Thank you.

Gov. DeWine: (08:42)
Thank you. Again, this week, Ohioans 75 years of age and older are eligible to be vaccinated. We’re also vaccinating this week, people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and who have also certain medical conditions. These individuals are being contacted directly in regard to getting the shots.

Gov. DeWine: (09:06)
Monday, February 1st, we’ll go to Ohioans 70 and older, and a week from there, we’ll be at 65, and then we will hold it at 65.

Gov. DeWine: (09:22)
Let me talk now about schools and maybe give you an update on where we are. This is the most recent slide. And remember we looked at this, I think two, maybe three weeks ago now. And then we had about a third of our kids in school full-time, about a third of them totally remote and another third that were hybrid, remote part of the week and in-person part of the week. You’ll see that, I think in anticipation of the vaccinations, you’re starting to see these numbers change. So this is the percentage of students. So full in-person, 376 districts, and that constitutes almost 46% of the population of our students. Go down full remote, down here. That that is now down to 17.6%. So it was about 33%. And then partial in-person, 36%. So we’re seeing a movement away from the fully remote to either partial, the hybrid, or to more in-person. That’s a good sign.

Gov. DeWine: (10:38)
Let me talk about how the vaccination is going to take place. We’ve had a couple of schools that have already started, but we’re really going to get started on this next week, about 500 different schools, public and private parochial schools, charter schools, public charter schools, will be getting vaccinated. Their faculty and personnel will be getting vaccinated next week. Our goal, as we have said, is to try to get every child back in school by March 1. And if you look at our public schools, every public school is now signed except one. So, we’re happy with that. They’ve all agreed to go back in school, March 1. Some of them have been in-person. Some of them have been in and out based upon the situation in the community, but they’ve all signed that the goal is to go back March 1, all except one district.

Gov. DeWine: (11:43)
To help schools return safely to in-person education, we prioritize vaccinating the K through 12 school employees. And the goal doing this, the reason that we’re doing this, is to get kids back in school. This vaccination is available to teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, anyone who’s really in that school building. Schools who have access to vaccines week one have already been notified and we put that list out. Tomorrow, we will notify all other schools, which week of the four weeks, which week they will actually get the vaccination. Most of them will be able to complete that in a week. Some of our larger counties, the county will not be able to totally get done in a week and it will take two weeks.

Gov. DeWine: (12:39)
The plan that we’ll be announcing tomorrow has been created with several important factors in mind. I know people have been texting me and saying, “How come these other schools started? How come we haven’t started?” Look, I understand. But what I just say is that the schools and school personnel are really being put at the front of the line for the sole purpose of getting kids back in school, keeping kids in school, for all the reasons that we have talked about and how very, very important this is. So the school personnel are really, will be in front of 11 or so million of their fellow Ohioans. I know everyone wants to start next Monday, next week, we simply do not have the supplies to do that. We don’t have enough vaccine to do that. We have to spread this out over that period of time.

Gov. DeWine: (13:38)
We’ve done all we can to make this simple for K through 12 staff to get vaccinated. They will be contacted by their local school district. This plan that we have will allow most of the K through 12 staff in a county to be vaccinated within seven days. The goal is to make the logistics of this as easy as possible locally to maximize the capacity of local vaccination partners, those people who are doing the vaccinations. We have a limited supply of the vaccine. We pulled vaccine from our statewide allocation specifically for vaccinating our K through 12 staff. There just isn’t enough to do every school in the first week. It’s simply impossible. And we want to be able to continue to vaccinate throughout the month of February those who are older Ohioans.

Gov. DeWine: (14:32)
And so we’re on several different tracks here. Those are the two biggest tracks we’re trying to do these two things at once. Roughly, we hope to have about 100,000 vaccines available for people who are the older population every week. At the same time, we’ll be having about 55,000 that will go to our schools. Those are generally rough numbers.

Gov. DeWine: (15:03)
This is, it’s a logistical issue as you can imagine. We created the plan in this way to ensure that counties can vaccinate the maximum number of people, as I said, in the shortest amount of time. Local educational service centers are working with local health departments and retail pharmacies to facilitate vaccinations that are convenient for school staff. So we’re trying to get this easy for school staff to be able to do this. For example, there will be an onsite vaccination clinic, is just one example. There’ll be an onsite vaccination clinic at Hilliard Davidson High School. So in some cases, they will go right to the school. In others, there will be a place where a number of different schools will be going to. But the idea is to separate older Ohioans who are getting it on this one track and separate those from the people in school. So they will not be directly competing against each other.

Gov. DeWine: (16:03)
… from the people in school. So they will not be directly competing against each other, frankly, for space and they will be going to different places. So again, this is how we’re going to unfold this.

Gov. DeWine: (16:14)
I want to go now to Director Lori Criss. We know that for some of our students, not being in school personally has been tough in a number of ways, not just academically, but sometimes emotionally, socially, mental health point of view. So I asked the director of Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services director, Lori Criss, to talk to us a little bit about what kind of resources are out there, maybe for those families that are struggling. Director, thank you very much for joining us.

Director Lori Criss: (16:50)
Absolutely. Governor, thank you so much for inviting me to talk about youth mental health, which is a top priority for your administration. And we’ve been working hard, as you know, to promote mental health throughout this pandemic. We’re building out ways for kids and families to get support through programs like Be Present and the Ohio Care Line. We’re working in communities with youth groups and coalitions, faith congregation, schools and providers to promote mental health, prevent substance use, prevent suicide, and provide in-person and tele-health counseling to families when they need it. We’re monitoring data to inform our efforts and listening to local experiences. And in a communities across the state youth, are presenting with more acute mental health symptoms during the pandemic the normally experienced.

Director Lori Criss: (17:37)
School is community for kids. It benefits them beyond their academic content. It’s the social and emotional connections that kids feel with friends, classmates, extracurriculars, teachers, and more. Mrs. Diorio taught me in the seventh grade, and decades later, I still value the relationship that she forged with me beyond the formal lessons in her classroom. But it wasn’t just her. It was our school secretary, Mrs. Mall, and our nurse Mrs. Anderson. And I saw that in my own kids’ experience and how they connected with the whole staff, from preschool to high school. Ms. Barra, the cook and Mr. Moon, who managed the facilities. All of these adults build up our children’s mental health and notice and support them when things don’t seem to be going well. They give a smile, a quiet place to sit, a silly joke, a snack. They help extend healthy connections outside of the home and they often fill in for safety and predictability at times when home is struggling.

Director Lori Criss: (18:37)
When kids aren’t in school, there are many reasons to be concerned about their mental health. The change of routine and constant uncertainty of the pandemic produces anxiety. Disconnection from learning, emotional and social supports can lead to depression. Missed significant events like graduations, proms, arts performances, science fairs, sports, and more can result in grief. Families and friends should reach out for help if a young person is talking about feeling hopeless, worrying about being a burden, feeling like there’s no reason to live, using drugs, alcohol, or engaging in other risky behaviors, struggling with school, or disconnecting from family and friends. You can call the Ohio Care Line at +1-800-720-9616 to talk with a trained counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can help with a crisis, provide guidance, or connect you to help in the community.

Director Lori Criss: (19:33)
Governor, again, thanks for giving me the time to talk today about the importance of mental health for Ohio’s youth.

Gov. DeWine: (19:39)
Director, want to thank you very much. You want to give that Ohio Care Line again for us please?

Director Lori Criss: (19:44)
Absolutely. It’s +1-800-720-9616.

Gov. DeWine: (19:51)
Thanks Director. Appreciate it very much. Eric, let’s go to the data slide first. As you can see, numbers today as far as cases are down in the 5,000 range. Still a very high number, but certainly a lot better than what we’ve been seeing. So we’ve had a downturn in the last week or so. So again, that is below this 21 day average. Our deaths sadly at 75, which is about where we’ve been. Same way with hospitalization. It’s about the 21 day average in the same way with our ICU admissions.

Gov. DeWine: (20:32)
Eric, let’s look at the next one. This is our alert map. This is our alert map. You’ll just see one change. And that is Hamilton County is no longer purple. It looks similar to last week’s, but that is the real change that we see here. Eric, let’s look at the hospitalization numbers if we could.

Gov. DeWine: (20:53)
We continue to see a downward trend. This is the number of people who have COVID, who are in our hospitals. So it’s a very lagging indicator. Comes up very late. But it is obviously a hard number. No one goes into a hospital with COVID because they want to. So these are good numbers. And if you’ll recall, we set up a guideline that I announced on Tuesday. And so that is we put it below 3,500 for seven days, what we said that we would do is to go to an 11 o’clock curfew. So beginning tonight, the curfew will be 11 o’clock. Beginning tonight, the curfew will be 11 o’clock.

Gov. DeWine: (21:49)
We will look at this again in two weeks and we will see where we are. If this trend continues, we may be able to go to midnight. And if it really continues to get fewer and fewer people, and we get down to seven days below 2,500, then we would be able to go with no curfew. So again, to recap, tonight we start the 11 o’clock curfew because of the progress that we’ve made with the number of people in the hospitals, those numbers going down. We have seven days below 3,500. We’ll take a look at this two weeks from today and we’ll see exactly where we are. And we hope if it continues, we’ll be either to go to a midnight curfew or to eliminate the curfew completely. Lieutenant Governor.

Jon Husted: (22:42)
Thanks Governor. I know that I do a weekly discussion with the restaurant association and they are excited about the curfew changes and the strategy going forward so I know they expressed gratitude about that. And since we only have an hour today, I’m going to just stick on the topic of restaurants and the hospitality industry. In addition to those conversations I’ve had with the restaurant association, they and all the other small businesses, value the $8 billion dividend rebates that we’ve been able to get from the BWC. They were also celebrating the $125 million for small businesses and the $38 million for liquor control and liquor payments, $2500 payments for situations where businesses, a restaurant, a bar, a bowling alley has a liquor permit.

Jon Husted: (23:45)
And one of the things the restaurant association has been emphasizing is their dine safe effort. They’re really making an effort to try to make their customers feel safe and provide a variety of options to serve their customers, whether that’s safely inside, with carry out, or delivery.

Jon Husted: (24:04)
And one of the things that they mentioned that I want to highlight today is how we all can look out for their employees. The people who are struggling to make ends meet during these difficult times. And the restaurant association, many of the pizza shops around the state have announced an initiative called … It is having to do with 120 pizza shops around Ohio participating in what’s called Pizza With A Purpose. Pizza With A Purpose. They want to donate a dollar for every pepperoni pizza that’s been sold this week to the Ohio restaurant employee relief fund. And I highlight this one. It’s important. But there are a number of businesses are doing these kinds of things for their employees, to look out for them, to help them during difficult times because they want to keep them. They want to keep them in the industry so that when things pick up.

Jon Husted: (25:02)
So if you want to help out in your community and you want to know the restaurants that are participating in this, go to Ohiorestaurantsrelief.org. There are a number of things going on in your community where restaurants are donating a portion of their proceeds to help with restaurant employee relief. So I want to highlight those things. It is something that I know that the restaurants are excited to do. They’re excited with the expanded hours with the curfew. And I know they will want me to remind that they want to get that number below 2,500. And they know that we now have a goal that if everybody is safe, if we wear our masks and get our vaccines and do the things that we need to do to keep reducing the number of hospitalizations that that day could come sooner. And so all of us need to pitch in, or we’ve been saying this from the very beginning that we’re all in it together, and this is just another way you can help. So thanks, Governor.

Gov. DeWine: (25:59)
Lieutenant Governor, thank you very much. And we’ll go to questions.

Speaker 1: (26:03)
Governor, the first question today is from Jim Provance with the Toledo Blade.

Gov. DeWine: (26:07)
Hey Jim.

Jim Provance: (26:08)
Hi Governor. Thanks again for doing this. Next week the state begins vaccinating those 70 and older, and that group includes you and the first lady. Do you plan to go through the same appointment process that we’re asking all other Ohioans to go through? And do you still plan to be vaccinated live during one of your briefings?

Gov. DeWine: (26:27)
Well, I hope to. Fran and I hope to. Our provider is Dr. Sharod, who is with the Kettering Health Network and that’s where we’d be getting vaccinated. That’s how we’ll be doing it.

Speaker 1: (26:42)
Next question’s from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.

Adrienne Robbins: (26:47)
Hi Governor. Thank you for doing this. I understand that several groups have been lobbying your office to be part of the vaccine plan. One of them recently has been funeral workers who look at the surrounding states where they were included with healthcare workers. Why wasn’t these death care workers included? Is it an oversight by the state? And in this same vein, I know we’re going to hold at 65 years and older. When will we get an idea of the additional groups after that could be coming up in this vaccine pool?

Gov. DeWine: (27:18)
Well, people who do embalming I think make a very strong case and we’re actually reviewing that right now. We don’t have anything to announce. The challenge as you know is we really have not gone by a definition of essential workers. In regard to schools, we’ve made that decision to get kids in school. We want our kids back in school. And so we’re vaccinating our teachers and other school personnel, and we’re happy to be able to protect them. The ultimate goal was to get kids back in school.

Gov. DeWine: (27:57)
We have based what decisions we have made with the very limited amount of the vaccine that we have on how we can save the most live as quick as we can. We started with our nursing homes and we’ve made real progress in regard to our nursing homes. Over 900 of them now we’ve gone through once, now into a second phase going through there. We’ve got specialized individuals who medically or particularly vulnerable, and that has started to occur or it has been occurring as well. So we’ve really not looked at this as these are the essential workers to keep the economy going or these the essential workers. Certainly keeping the funerals, tragically, keeping that moving forward obviously is very important. So we are looking at this and we’re reviewing it and we’ll see what the experts say. And we’ll get back to you on that as far as our funeral directors. But we hear them. Taking a look at it.

Speaker 1: (29:07)
Next question is from Alex Ebert of Bloomberg.

Alex Ebert: (29:11)
Good afternoon, Governor.

Gov. DeWine: (29:13)
Alex.

Alex Ebert: (29:13)
What is the state doing to target vaccinations for individual elderly folk that are living on their own at home? I know you had mentioned that the state is creating teams that are going to go to living centers to help get folks in these age brackets vaccinated, but is the state doing anything to target folks that might not be congregated and might be a little bit more isolated? Thank you.

Gov. DeWine: (29:36)
Sure, sure. We are. We’re working through the area agency on aging groups, number one. We’re also working through the local health departments. Had a conversation today, one of our cities in regard to the local health departments, they know where a lot of these people are. So it is trying to target these individuals at the same time that we get vaccine in as many arms as we can. So it’s not perfect. As I said, we announced it Tuesday, one of the things that we’re going to be doing. And these are people who sometimes they’re in high rises, sometimes they’re not so high rise, but these are people who have their own apartments and who basically live by themselves. But your question takes it even one step further, someone who is more remote living by themselves. And so we’ll continue to work on that and continue to refine that. And frankly, working with our local health departments on that.

Speaker 1: (30:43)
Next question is from Patrick O’Donnell at the74million.org.

Patrick O’Donnell: (30:48)
Hi. So I’ve got what kind of one question with a couple parts to it. How strictly are you going to hold schools to the March 1 reopening date? Can they delay because of community infection rates or other local safety factors? And we’ve got some districts who are wanting to wait until staff receive both vaccine doses before reopening, which we know really can’t happen for most by March 1. Is there any flexibility here?

Gov. DeWine: (31:14)
Well, this is a matter of good faith, quite candidly. Each school signed a document, every school but one signed a document and said we’ll be back on March 1. Now for some of them, that’s not a heavy lift because they’ve already done it. They’re already in. Other ones are going back. Some are hybrid. So we’ve given some leeway in regard to you can be five days a week or you can be hybrid. We’d like for them to be five days a week, but we wanted to create some leeway for them to be able to do that. A lot of schools, the personnel will have been vaccinated the second time. A number of them will not. And we will be finishing that up in the first early weeks of March. So our goal is to have everybody back March 1.

Gov. DeWine: (31:57)
And again, we’ve talked about this before. Dr. Vanderhoff may have something-

Gov. DeWine: (32:03)
We talked about this before. Dr. Vanderhoff may have something to add to this, but we’ve learned so much more as we’ve been through this school year. We know a lot more than we knew to begin with. We even know a lot more than we knew two months ago, three months ago. We first started seeing it where principals and school superintendents were telling me, “Look, we’re not getting spread in class. We’re just not getting spread. We have Mary over here. She had COVID, and nobody got it in that classroom. They quarantined, but nobody ended up getting it.” So then, as we told you, we ran a study. We actually studied it, and the study clearly shows it’s not happening.

Gov. DeWine: (32:40)
So I think that piece of information, plus national studies that have been done show that a teacher can feel pretty confident if you go into that classroom and everyone’s wearing a mask and schools are doing this and the teachers and everybody in the school building’s wearing a mask that the spread is really low in that building. You add to that that everyone will have had the first shot, and I’ll leave it to Dr. Vanderhoff just to take it here for a moment and talk about the value of that first shot, because there is real value. Doctor?

Dr. Vanderhoff: (33:17)
Yes. Thank you very much, Governor. I think you said it very well first in terms of the safety of the environment. Schools now have become our second clear example of the impact, of the power of masking and distancing. We saw that first, of course, with healthcare, where we were able to create a very safe environment using masking and distancing. In terms of vaccination, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we develop a very robust immunity as a result of our first shot. It’s not complete. We do need that second shot, that booster shot to assure that we have then that long-lasting immunity that is going to be so important for our fight against COVID. So I don’t want anyone to think that for these vaccines, a single shot is enough. It’s not. But I also want people to recognize that within weeks of receiving that first shot, our bodies are mounting very substantial immunity.

Moderator: (34:22)
Next question is from Nathan Hart at WCPO in Cincinnati.

Nathan Hart: (34:29)
Hi, Governor. I have a question from a viewer who is a special needs educator. Their students are unable to wear masks or social distance due to their disabilities, which puts the educators at a higher risk of getting sick. This viewer feels that they should be among the first people to get vaccinated because of the risk they face. When making decisions about vaccine distribution, has the state considered situations like these, where some educators are at a higher risk than others?

Gov. DeWine: (34:53)
I don’t think we have, but that’s a very good point, and we’ll look at that. We’ll see if there’s a way we can do that. That’s a good point.

Moderator: (35:01)
The next question is from Tom Jackson at the Sandusky Register.

Gov. DeWine: (35:05)
Hi, Tom.

Tom Jackson: (35:06)
Hi, Governor. Thank you for taking my question. I appreciate it. Governor, I asked you about Ohio’s vaccination pace about two weeks ago, and you pointed out that we’re seventh in population and we’re seventh in the amount of shots that we’ve given. Governor, I double-checked, and we’re now ninth among the states in the number of shots that we’ve given. Other statistics suggest that we’re not keeping up with the neighboring states. For example, Michigan has a smaller population than we do, but they’ve given more shots. Have you and your team looked at this, and do you still think we’re doing well in comparison to other states?

Gov. DeWine: (35:46)
Well, we’re never doing well enough, as far as I’m concerned. Tom, I haven’t looked at the numbers. I’ll look at those numbers. I look at them every week, as far as exactly where we are with in regard to other states. I think we’ve done a very good job in targeting and targeting where we can get the most results. By that, I mean it’s quite amazing when you compare Michigan and Ohio with nursing homes. We have phenomenally more nursing home beds than Michigan does. So that has been a real target and a real priority. It’s one of the reasons that, as I said, over half of our deaths have come out of nursing homes. We have a huge number of nursing homes. I think we’re maybe second or third in the nation per capita in regard to the nursing homes themselves.

Gov. DeWine: (36:40)
So that process is ongoing. I think we’ve targeted correctly in regard to other congregate care settings, where our health departments are going out. We have actually identified over 5,000 congregate care settings that we’ve asked our local health departments to go after. So sometimes that is a little slower, because it takes a while to go do that.

Gov. DeWine: (37:06)
Look, the easiest way to get all the numbers up on the board would be to open up seven sites around the state and just go. But we don’t think that’s the way that we protect the most vulnerable people. So I’ll look at those numbers. I’ll come back, and I’ll have a little analysis next week in regard to that. You and I can talk again about that. But it’s a good question, and am I satisfied? No, I’m never satisfied. We want to get these shots out just as quickly as we can. So [inaudible 00:37:39] back with you. John?

Jon Husted: (37:41)
If I could add to that, and look, I just want to emphasize, the governor in the team are trying to get shots out as fast as they can. We’re targeting at the people that we think are most vulnerable. We all look at different data that people publish. The report we have this morning shows Ohio as having vaccinated 28,000 more people than Michigan. We’ve even vaccinated more people than Illinois, which has a larger population. But that doesn’t mean we’re satisfied with that. I think every state shares that same feeling that you can’t go fast enough. The team is out there, trying to get these out to people in a geographically balanced way that target every population and try to be fair about it. When you consider all of those factors, these numbers are never where we want them to be, but they do compare quite favorably to some of the surrounding states.

Moderator: (38:45)
Next question is from Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.

Gov. DeWine: (38:49)
Hi, Geoff.

Geoff Redick: (38:51)
Hello, Governor. Two quick questions we continue to receive from people in the elderly community. One, they are worried that as you continue to add people to the eligible population for vaccines, that now the 70-plus-year-olds and the 65-plus-year-olds will be crowded out of getting enough vaccine. That’s one concern. The other question about when widespread resuming of visitors at long-term care centers might occur, now that they’re getting into their second round of shots.

Gov. DeWine: (39:22)
Well, I’ll take the second one first. We opened up in July, visitation. So this really lies with the nursing home, assisted living place, because we opened this up. We had guidelines. Now, we’re going to look at this again. We are looking at this again in regard to what advice to give to them based upon vaccinations, with people getting vaccinated. So we’ll be giving some advice in regard to that. But the nursing homes have the authority to do this and to set this up however they want to do it. We took off that prohibition months and months ago.

Gov. DeWine: (40:21)
But we also know there’s a change in circumstances with people now having been vaccinated in nursing homes. Again, it’s why we continue to urge people who work in nursing homes and people who live in nursing homes, people who are residents in nursing homes, please get your shot. The more people that get a shot, the safer it’s going to be in that nursing home. So I don’t know if, Dr. Vanderhoff, you want to add anything to that or not, but we’re looking at that.

Dr. Vanderhoff: (40:52)
I agree. Thank you, Governor. I agree with your statement, and I would just reinforce that we are actively looking at this question in terms of additional guidance that might be appropriate for us to offer them in partnership with people who practice in the specialty of geriatrics and nursing home care. But we have to remember that we are still in the process of completing the vaccinations across the state for that group and that there is even a little bit of time after we complete that that we would want their immune systems to have a chance to be fully prepared. So there’s a little time here yet.

Gov. DeWine: (41:40)
Dr. Vanderhoff, while you’re mentioning that, what’s the time period after the second shot until we think that whatever the full immunity level is, that it kicks in?

Dr. Vanderhoff: (41:50)
So generally speaking, when we’re thinking about that second shot, we look for a week to two weeks after that second shot for the immune system to have really had that booster effect.

Gov. DeWine: (42:04)
The second question, as far as the crowding out, I understand that. What I can say is we’re going to hold at 65, and when you talk about people crowding them out, we resist every day calls for more groups to be added and come in that will get in front of our 65-year-olds or our 70 or 75 or our 80-year-olds. So on the one hand, we’re getting these questions. “Why don’t you include our group?” We’re pushing back, and we’re resisting. The reason we’re resisting is the data is still the same. 87% of the people in Ohio who have died of COVID have been 65 years of age or older.

Gov. DeWine: (42:48)
The other thing that we’re seeing some providers do is they had their own list, and they have a wait list. They started with 80-year-olds, and they started that first week. Some places are still working down on that list. So in that case, they would get those 80-year-olds. But I understand the challenge. We want to open it up. We want to be able to continue to put out vaccines and have them taken up very, very quickly, which is the other part of the equation of what we have to do. Some states just opened it up to 65. We said, “No, we’re going to phase it in over a matter of few weeks.” So it’s a compromise. I don’t know if there’s any perfect way to do it. This is how we came down. We think it’s, for Ohio, the right way. But I understand anybody that doesn’t think that we should have done it that way.

Moderator: (43:41)
Next question is from Spencer Hickey at Hannah News Service.

Spencer Hickey: (43:45)
Thank you. Governor, I was just wondering what your thoughts are on President Biden’s plan to increase the amount of vaccines going to states each week and what that means for Ohioans.

Gov. DeWine: (44:00)
Well, we welcome any new doses. So the announcement they’re going to increase it by 16%, we welcome that, and we would welcome any more. In my letter to the president, I said, “We can figure out the rest of this, while we appreciate the help on the logistics. Any kind of help is great, but we can figure it out. What we really can’t do is produce these ourselves. So if you can in any way increase production and increase shipping, we’d love it. This is gold. This is saving people’s lives, and we can’t get it fast enough.”

Moderator: (44:41)
Next question is from Andy Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.

Gov. DeWine: (44:44)
Hi, Andy.

Andy Chow: (44:46)
Hi, Governor. Just talking about the K through 12 schools and vaccinating teachers and staff there, we’re hearing about some districts that are getting a certain amount of vaccine, but actually need more than what they are getting, and then other districts that have a sort of a first come, first serve online registration program. Will every teacher and staff who wants to get the vaccine, will they be able to get a vaccine, or is that supply also scarce?

Gov. DeWine: (45:15)
No, they will be able to get it. It’s going to be important for them to get it during that week, because sometimes we’ve got traveling groups that are coming in and doing the vaccinating. So very, very important for them to get it during that window. But we have calculated based upon data that we’ve received from the schools how much they will need. What we don’t know for sure, because we never know, is what the uptake will be. What percentage of the school personnel will actually want to take it? But our goal is to vaccinate anybody in that school who’s in that school building with students. Anybody in that school should be able to get vaccinated.

Moderator: (46:05)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.

Laura Hancock: (46:10)
Governor, the FBI has found Ohio connections to the insurrection at the US Capitol. Accused militants organized what they called basic training outside of Columbus in early January. Ohio seems to have become a breeding ground for this extremism … to kill Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan had a meeting in Dublin. Were you guys aware of the Columbus basic training? Now that there’s a Homeland Security alert about these domestic terrorists, does the state change who and what activities it looks for, and what do you think about Ohio kind of becoming a breeding ground for domestic terrorism?

Gov. DeWine: (46:50)
One thing I’ve talked at this press conference before about the fact that we have domestic terrorists in Ohio, and I’m very concerned about it. As far as the actual training, I’m not sure I knew that. But we have known for some time that we have some extremists in Ohio and we have some dangerous people in Ohio. The recent arrests that were were made certainly confirmed that. So you were breaking up, Laura. I couldn’t hear all of your question. Was there any more of your question that I didn’t answer?

Laura Hancock: (47:26)
Does it change how Ohio investigates and looks at this picture now that … some alert?

Gov. DeWine: (47:36)
Sure. I think everyone … If you look at what the FBI put out this week, what was put out, briefings that our team has received, yes, we’re concerned. But I think every state, frankly, is on a much higher level of concern. But yes, we are.

Moderator: (48:03)
Next-

Gov. DeWine: (48:03)
But yes, we are.

Speaker 2: (48:03)
Next question is from Chelsea Sick at WKF in Dayton.

Chelsea Sick: (48:08)
Hi, Governor. Thanks so much for taking my question. We’ve received 50 calls and texts from our viewers in less than 24 hours about unemployment concerns, many frustrated they can’t get through to Job and Family Services with their questions. What should they do if they can’t get through or can’t get the questions answered? And now that system updates will be complete on January 31st, when can people expect their money?

Gov. DeWine: (48:31)
Yeah, I don’t know the answer to the last question, but what we are doing very actively now, and I announced this at the last press conference, is it is abundantly clear that the state government cannot fix this the way I want it fixed. And so we’re going out into the private sector. We’ve already had several meetings. We’ll have something to announce shortly. We’re going to bring some people in from the private sector, quite candidly, to run the unemployment section.

Gov. DeWine: (48:58)
I can make all the excuses in the world. I could stand here, but that doesn’t do anybody any good who’s not getting a check. I mean, there’s reasons for this, but we got to get it fixed and we’re going to do it.

Speaker 2: (49:12)
Next question is from Jessie Balmert at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Jessie Balmert: (49:17)
Hello, Governor.

Gov. DeWine: (49:19)
Jessie.

Jessie Balmert: (49:20)
I know we’re obviously still working through this 1B group, but when will we know who is next in line and how will your team be making those decisions?

Gov. DeWine: (49:32)
Jesse, our decisions will be made on protecting lives. That’s the most important thing that we can do. We had two things that had to be dealt with besides directly protecting lives. And every time you give anybody a shot, you’re protecting lives, but getting kids in school and protecting our health workers. Those should be behind us by the time we get to this next group.

Gov. DeWine: (50:01)
But I want to remind everybody that group 1B is big. It’s 2.2 million people. So it’s going to take a while to work through to point B, or 2B, and that’s going to take a while, but we’re working on where we go next.

Gov. DeWine: (50:20)
I would just remind everybody that when you talk to the experts and when you look at the numbers, again, the best predictor is age. So the best predictor is age. But it’s going to take us a while to get the 65 years of age older and done, where everybody who wants a vaccine in that age group is able to get it. As I said, it’s about 2.2 million people who are in the 1B group and that’s going to take a awhile.

Gov. DeWine: (50:55)
And we’re still finishing up. As you know, some, as I talked about earlier, some of the congregate care settings, 1A, the local health department’s doing this, they’re doing a good job, but this is a slow process because these are small congruent care settings. They’re not very big, so it’s not very efficient as you go after it to try to vaccinate them. So that is continuing as well.

Speaker 2: (51:18)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.

Kevin Landers: (51:22)
Good afternoon, Governor.

Gov. DeWine: (51:24)
Hey, Kevin.

Kevin Landers: (51:25)
Are teachers who teach 100% from home going to get a shot at the same time those teachers who teach in person? And if so, why? And what is your timetable on when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrive in Ohio? Thank you.

Gov. DeWine: (51:42)
Well, it can’t be soon enough. My timetable was yesterday, but we’re hearing maybe late February, maybe March, but I don’t think anyone knows. I don’t think anyone knows for sure.

Gov. DeWine: (51:58)
As far as the teachers, we’ve really left this up to schools. I mean, the idea, Kevin, the idea is to get kids back in school. Obviously to get kids back in school, you get teachers back in school. So if there’s a teacher who is working from home, but maybe has some medical problems, medical issues, that’s why they’ve been working at home, they’ve been very careful, they’re certainly eligible to be vaccinated and to go back into school. But we’ve really relied… We can’t micromanage this at the school level. We’re relying on the schools to make a good faith effort in regard to who needs to be vaccinated.

Speaker 2: (52:43)
Next questions if from Meredith Stutz with WLWT in Cincinnati.

Meredith Stutz: (52:47)
Good afternoon, Governor.

Gov. DeWine: (52:51)
Afternoon.

Meredith Stutz: (52:52)
Good afternoon. Hey, my question is what is you and your team’s longterm plan to make it easier for people to sign up for their vaccines? Because right now here in the tri-state Cincinnati area, we’re having people potentially wait on the phone for seven hours to get their vaccine. And once we add new groups like the 70 and up and then eventually 65 and up and so on, especially for so many individuals who are responsible for signing up for their vaccine who may not have reliable internet access, what is your team’s plan for a better longterm vaccine signup?

Gov. DeWine: (53:22)
Well, for those people who can access the internet, our goal is to… We’re developing, and we should have this fairly soon, a way that people can go on the internet in one place, one portal, and you will be able then to link in in your county to places and you will be able to register by the internet. So that should speed things up or make life simpler.

Gov. DeWine: (53:48)
It remains a challenge, as you point, out for people who can’t navigate the internet. And what we’re is some doctor’s offices are literally calling people. Some hospitals are doing that. Health departments are doing that. But we’re constantly looking at this and talking with our local health department partners about what else we can do to reach the earlier question, as you heard, people who may live remotely in the county, people who live by themselves, they’re 90 years of age, people who can navigate a phone, they could take a call, but they don’t want to navigate the internet.

Gov. DeWine: (54:35)
So look, it’s a work in progress. It’s not perfect, but we’re working with our local partners to continue to focus on that. We understand it’s a problem.

Gov. DeWine: (54:46)
And look, we’re not going to be satisfied until we get every person over the age of 65, who wants to be vaccinated, or 65 and older who wants to be vaccinated. And we know that this is an imperative. This a moral imperative that we get this done.

Speaker 2: (55:04)
Next question is from Jim Oddie at WHIO in Dayton.

Gov. DeWine: (55:07)
Hey, Jim.

Jim Oddie: (55:08)
Governor, could you talk about the timing of supply? You mentioned earlier the President’s announcement that we’re going to have quite an additional supply of the vaccine at some point in the future, but when might that arrive in Ohio, realistically speaking, and how does that influence your planning here when you start to expand eligibility?

Gov. DeWine: (55:27)
Well, Jim, we can’t get the vaccine soon enough. As we’ve made plain to the Biden administration, we can do a lot of things in Ohio, but what we can’t do is we can’t grow these vaccines. And so we’re depending on the federal government and the drug companies, the pharmaceutical companies to step up the production of the vaccine. So I think every governor’s in the same boat. This is what we’re all looking for. We’re looking for more vaccine.

Gov. DeWine: (55:54)
As we get more vaccine… If we had a ton more vaccine tomorrow, we’d just put it right out. We have 750 locations in Ohio that are now giving out vaccine. We have a total of 2200 already signed up who said, “We will give out vaccine if you have it for us.” We also, at that point, would go to some sites around the state that would be drive-through, some sites that would be more mass vaccinating.

Gov. DeWine: (56:22)
We’ve hesitated to do that and have not done that really because we want to make sure that whatever county you live in, whether you’re in Mercer County or in Vinton County, Brown County, wherever you live, that you’ve got in your county locations where there is vaccine. And so we’ve resisted going to this big mass sites, but we are ready to ramp up. We will not have a problem dealing with more vaccine. Our problem is not enough vaccine.

Speaker 2: (56:55)
Next question is from Scott Halasz at the Xenia Daily Gazette.

Scott Halasz: (56:59)
Hey, Governor, how are you?

Gov. DeWine: (57:00)
Hey, Scott.

Scott Halasz: (57:03)
Excuse me or forgive me I guess if this question had already been asked previously, but the pharmacies that are giving the vaccinations, do they have the knowledge to overcome any negative reactions? Are they trained on what to do if an anaphylactic situation occurs down?

Gov. DeWine: (57:18)
Yeah, I’m going to let… Bruce, you want to take that?

Dr. Vanderhoff: (57:22)
Yes, absolutely. The ability to respond to anaphylactic reaction after a vaccine is not at all unique to these vaccines. Clearly it’s an important capability of these vaccines, but administrating sites and our pharmacies around the state provide a large number of vaccines, always have to be prepared with any vaccine administration for the potential of an anaphylactic reaction.

Dr. Vanderhoff: (57:49)
So the short answer is yes, they should be well well-prepared to administer the necessary medications and call for the necessary help.

Speaker 2: (58:01)
Next question is from Randy Ludlow at The Columbus Dispatch.

Gov. DeWine: (58:04)
Hey, Randy.

Randy Ludlow: (58:06)
Good afternoon, Governor. Next Monday, you’re scheduled to roll out your proposed biannual budget. The hit on that state tax take from the virus has not been as bad as anticipated. What can Ohioans expect to see on Monday as far as your budget rollout and the commitments reflected in your suggested allocation of state dollars?

Gov. DeWine: (58:32)
Well, a quick preview, emphasis on the quick, I guess, Randy. Our budget is going to be similar in many respects to our first budget, in that we’re investing in Ohioans. We’re investing in our young people. We have more focus on early childhood education, early childhood development. We’re focusing on mental health, the addiction problem.

Gov. DeWine: (58:59)
We really look at this as our year of recovery. And so we’ve got, although the economy is doing okay, we know we’ve got to crank this up. And it will be a budget I think that will help Ohio move to being the premier place in the Midwest for job creation, the best place in the Midwest to live. We’re already seeing people move into Ohio. It’s kind of interesting statistics out of the last few days that have been in the paper. But it’s going to be a very forward-looking budget investing in our people.

Speaker 2: (59:33)
Governor, next question is the last question for today, and it belongs to James Pilcher from WKRC in Cincinnati.

James Pilcher: (59:41)
Good afternoon, Governor. How are you today?

Gov. DeWine: (59:43)
I’m well.

James Pilcher: (59:45)
Okay, quick question. I’ve got two questions. First, hold on a second. Why was Hamilton County the only county… I mean, I’m sorry, why was Cincinnati public schools the only school in a system in Hamilton County included on the first list and why was Cuyahoga County getting no schools on that first list for vaccinations for teachers?

James Pilcher: (01:00:06)
And my second question, you mentioned the budget. Will it include any possible increases in unemployment taxes given the added burden given the current situation with the economy? Thank you.

Gov. DeWine: (01:00:20)
No, to the second.

Gov. DeWine: (01:00:22)
As far as why Cincinnati? Look, we have to start somewhere. I got a call, frankly, from the Superintendent in Cincinnati who said, “I got to get my kids back in.” Our whole purpose in doing this, in vaccinating schools, personnel, is to get kids in school. So Cincinnati is going to actually roll out over a period of I think three weeks. So they started on Thursday, K through 3, and the idea is to get K through 3 back in quickly. And then their plan is to move beyond that.

Gov. DeWine: (01:00:54)
So the vaccinations that we agreed to are I believe over the next three weeks. And if you look at, just to kind of summarize, if you look at how we’re setting up vaccinations in schools, it comes back to I can’t vaccinate every educator in Ohio in one week. Somebody’s got to be first. Somebody’s got to be last. And it’s the things that I talked about a while ago at this news conference. It’s a scheduling question. We want to do it efficiently. We want to do it quickly. We want to try to do all a county at one time. So what you’ll find is that most counties will get vaccinated, all the schools in that county within a one week period. Some, it’s going to take two weeks.

Gov. DeWine: (01:01:40)
So we’re trying to keep it simple for people and we’re going to try to take the vaccination as close as we can to people, but there’s always going to be… I’ve got emails from, “How come you let somebody go first? How come you let somebody else go?” And look, if you look at the first week or two, you find a lot of schools in Hamilton County. So Cincinnati schools got a a two or three day jump and we were able to do it. It wasn’t our original plan. We were able to do it. And again, we got to keep an eye on the ball. And by keeping our eye on the ball, our goal is to get kids in school, get kids back in school. It’s as simple as that.

Gov. DeWine: (01:02:31)
I want to thank you everybody. We’ll look forward to seeing you next week. And we’ll be back here on Tuesday. Thank you very much.