Jan 5, 2021

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 5

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 5
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsOhio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript January 5

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on January 5 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.

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Governor Michael DeWine: (08:42)
Good afternoon, everybody. Want to start off today by kind of giving you an update in regard to the vaccines, but also going through again, because I know there’s been some confusion or not fully understanding exactly what we’re doing. And I think it’s very, very important that every Ohioan understand how we are prioritizing the vaccine. We don’t have enough, as it comes in every week, obviously, to vaccine everybody in the state. So, there has to be a priority set, and that’s what we’ve done.

Governor Michael DeWine: (09:27)
Let me start with the nursing homes. And we made nursing homes a priority because over half of our deaths in the state of Ohio have occurred in nursing homes. And our goal is to get as many people in nursing homes, residents, as well as those who work in nursing homes, the opportunity to take the shots just as quickly as we can.

Governor Michael DeWine: (09:49)
We have good news. As of Sunday, 61% of our nursing homes had received their first visit for the shots, which means that one of our pharmacy partners came in, spent the day there usually, sometimes two days. And everyone who wanted to get the shot was able to get it. So, 61% as of Sunday. Obviously, yesterday, they were doing it. They’re continuing to do it today. We’re going to actually see a couple nursing homes and see some of the people who are getting shots and talking to some of the individuals who are giving the shots about that today.

Governor Michael DeWine: (10:25)
So, 61%. That’s the good news. We’re moving forward. By the end of the week, we expect to be about 80%, and in another week to have most of them done for the first shot.

Governor Michael DeWine: (10:40)
The bad news is, I’ve mentioned before, we’re only running, we think, about 40% of the staff that is taking the shot the first time around. We’re doing certainly better with the residents. That number is somewhere between 75 and 80%. And we just would, again, encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get this shot.

Governor Michael DeWine: (11:07)
What’s going to happen on Friday is that will be the first day that we will be seeing some nursing homes being visited the second time for the second shot. So, when they come through the second time to the nursing home, again, number one goal is to administer the second shot to everybody who got it the first time. Secondary goal will be to administer a shot to anybody else for the first time who wants it. They will come back one more time. And that will be to administer a second shot to those who got it at the second visit.

Governor Michael DeWine: (11:43)
So, for those who work in nursing homes or if you have a loved one in a nursing home, once you start the second round, that really… I’m not going to say it’s the last time to get it because it won’t be the last time, but it could be awhile. So, it’s really important for everyone who wants to get that shot, and we would certainly urge everyone if you have a loved one in a nursing home, we would urge you to urge them to get that shot. If you have a loved one who’s working in a nursing home, we would do the same thing, encourage that as well.

Governor Michael DeWine: (12:20)
Let’s go now to Fairborn. We’re going to see a couple of shots be administered at Wright Rehabilitation Healthcare Center in Fairborn. First up is resident, Darrell Holt. Darrell, how you doing today?

Darrell Holt: (12:36)
Fine.

Governor Michael DeWine: (12:38)
Very good. Well, I got a chance to talk to you a minute before, and before we were on the air. We’re going to watch you get a shot in just a minute. How do you feel about that?

Darrell Holt: (12:50)
I feel great. I’m so excited to get it.

Governor Michael DeWine: (12:53)
Good. No, that is great.

Governor Michael DeWine: (12:57)
Meran Ritter, pharmacist from PharmScript. We’ve had the chance to talk before. How you doing today?

Meran Ritter: (13:04)
I’m doing fantastic, Governor. How are you?

Governor Michael DeWine: (13:07)
I’m well. So, how’s it going in Fairborn today and vaccinating at Wright Rehab?

Meran Ritter: (13:14)
It’s going perfectly. Absolutely no hiccups. Everyone’s doing real well.

Governor Michael DeWine: (13:19)
Okay. Well, that is great. We appreciate both of you being on. We’ll just watch you do what you do, okay?

Meran Ritter: (13:26)
All right. Let’s get this started. Thank you. [inaudible 00:13:46]. Thank you. [inaudible 00:13:50].

Governor Michael DeWine: (14:12)
That’s pretty quick, Darrell.

Darrell Holt: (14:14)
It didn’t hurt a bit. It’s like a little [inaudible 00:14:21] you know, that’s it. That was really good.

Governor Michael DeWine: (14:25)
Well, that’s great. That’s great.

Darrell Holt: (14:27)
Thank you very much.

Governor Michael DeWine: (14:29)
They’ll be coming back and seeing you in a few more weeks to get that second shot then.

Darrell Holt: (14:33)
Yes.

Governor Michael DeWine: (14:34)
Well, thank you, Darrell, very, very much.

Governor Michael DeWine: (14:38)
We now have Sean Veasley, dietary director at Wright Rehab and Healthcare. Sean, how you doing?

Sean Veasley: (14:48)
How you doing, doctor?

Governor Michael DeWine: (14:50)
I’m well. So, you’re the dietary director. Does that mean you make sure everybody’s fed okay, fed well?

Sean Veasley: (14:57)
Absolutely. I try my best.

Governor Michael DeWine: (15:01)
That is good. That is good. How long you been there?

Sean Veasley: (15:05)
I’ve been here about three years now.

Governor Michael DeWine: (15:08)
Have you?

Sean Veasley: (15:11)
Yes, sir.

Governor Michael DeWine: (15:11)
You ready to get this shot?

Sean Veasley: (15:13)
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Governor Michael DeWine: (15:16)
All right. We’re going to watch this take place. And thanks for doing it on TV. We appreciate that very much.

Sean Veasley: (15:24)
Thank you.

Meran Ritter: (15:24)
Okay. [inaudible 00:15:32]. All done.

Governor Michael DeWine: (15:55)
Sean, that’s pretty quick.

Sean Veasley: (15:58)
Yes, sir. No pain.

Governor Michael DeWine: (16:02)
All right. No problem?

Sean Veasley: (16:06)
No problem. Thank you.

Governor Michael DeWine: (16:06)
Well, we hope you both have a good day. How many people do you think you all have vaccinated today? Do you have any idea?

Speaker 1: (16:13)
[inaudible 00:16:15].

Meran Ritter: (16:15)
Yeah. Just about 70 to 80.

Governor Michael DeWine: (16:18)
Okay. Well, that’s great. That’s great. We can’t wait until everybody in every nursing home has got the vaccine. We’re excited about it. And right now, across the state, people like you are doing this vaccination all over the state. So, we’re excited about it. And every day that goes on, we have more people who are getting that protection. So, well, thanks to both of you. We appreciate it.

Meran Ritter: (16:45)
Thank you.

Sean Veasley: (16:46)
Thank you, Governor.

Meran Ritter: (16:46)
Thank you so much.

Sean Veasley: (16:46)
We appreciate it.

Governor Michael DeWine: (16:47)
Have a great day.

Meran Ritter: (16:48)
Bye.

Sean Veasley: (16:49)
[crosstalk 00:16:49] bye.

Governor Michael DeWine: (16:51)
Fairborn, of course, is pretty close to Cedarville. So, I was kidding them, I said, we’re not too far apart, just a few miles.

Governor Michael DeWine: (16:58)
We’re going to go a little further to Chillicothe down in Ross County. And this is ProMedica’s Heartland of Chillicothe. And let’s talk first to infection preventionist, Hailey Stoltz. Hailey, how are you doing?

Hailey Stoltz: (17:16)
Fine, how are you?

Governor Michael DeWine: (17:18)
Well, I’m good. I’m good. You ready to do this?

Hailey Stoltz: (17:24)
I sure am.

Governor Michael DeWine: (17:27)
Tell us why you decided to get the shot.

Speaker 2: (17:30)
[inaudible 00:17:29].

Governor Michael DeWine: (17:36)
Yeah. I said, tell us why you decided to get the shot.

Hailey Stoltz: (17:40)
Well, as a healthcare provider, I’d seen how COVID-19 has just devastated our community. It’s affected so many people that I personally know, but then as well as my patients. And I just feel that the vaccine is just one step closer in the right direction. So, with that, I’m going to get the vaccine to protect myself, my family, my patients, and people in my community.

Governor Michael DeWine: (18:08)
That’s great.

Governor Michael DeWine: (18:09)
Chase, how you doing today?

Chase: (18:11)
I’m doing well, Governor. Thank you.

Governor Michael DeWine: (18:14)
Well, good to see you again. Have any idea how many people are being vaccinated there today?

Chase: (18:22)
We’re right at about 100, as of right now. So, we’re moving along pretty well.

Governor Michael DeWine: (18:26)
Good. Good. Okay. Well, let’s do it.

Chase: (18:30)
You ready? All right. Ready?

Governor Michael DeWine: (18:35)
If Hailey’s ready, I’m ready. I’m just watching.

Chase: (18:40)
Okay. Quick and easy, just like you said. There we go. That’s it.

Governor Michael DeWine: (18:58)
Hailey, how was it?

Hailey Stoltz: (19:01)
It was painless.

Governor Michael DeWine: (19:04)
I’m not sure I quite believe that, but close to painless anyway.

Hailey Stoltz: (19:07)
I didn’t feel [inaudible 00:19:08].

Chase: (19:12)
That’s what we’re going for here.

Governor Michael DeWine: (19:13)
Well, good luck to both of you today. Thank you very much for joining us and being on TV. We appreciate it.

Chase: (19:20)
Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you.

Governor Michael DeWine: (19:22)
We’re going to go now to our Director of Aging, Ursel McElroy, who has been working with some of the providers and working with the nursing homes and also has been working with the nursing homes on education component for some of the residents and for the healthcare workers. So, Ursel, how are things going?

Ursel McElroy: (19:47)
Well, good to see you, Governor. Good to see you, as always. We’re moving right along.

Ursel McElroy: (19:54)
As you know, Ohio’s long-term care staff and residents have the opportunity to be some of the first in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. And this is because many of our facilities have been hit the hardest in what’s arguably the largest public health emergency much of us will experience in our lifetimes.

Ursel McElroy: (20:12)
Our pharmacy partners, we’ve worked really closely with them. I think I’ve heard you earlier mention that they’ll make three trips on average to their assigned facilities to administer first and second-round doses of the vaccine. They began with the skilled nursing facilities on December 18th. And as of this weekend, we were at 61% of the first dose out. And that’s been within two weeks.

Ursel McElroy: (20:36)
As we’ve learned from the early data, the acceptance of the vaccine by the residents is encouragingly high, while the staff participation still remains low. Anecdotally, this seems to be true in Ohio and in other states. And we’re reasonably concerned that given any refusal or delay of vaccination reduces our goal of widespread compliance, and it compromises our ability to eradicate this virus.

Ursel McElroy: (21:04)
So, we’re hoping to see the numbers climb, but we also acknowledge that different people have different reasons for why they are hesitant, and understanding these reasons has helped us target our efforts and resources effectively. So, some of the commonly cited reasons for the hesitancy have been side effects. People believe it’s too new, so they have safety and effectiveness concerns. Some believe the risk of COVID have been exaggerated. There’s just a general mistrust by some of vaccines and mistrust within the healthcare system. Some people are worried about receiving or obtaining COVID-19, I should say, from the vaccine. And then there are others who just don’t believe they’re at risk of getting the virus.

Ursel McElroy: (21:48)
So, while we understand the concerns, we also know that saving lives is the focus. And we know the lives of our residents, staff and their families, and early protection is necessary to avoid illness, and worse, death. So, staff are on the front lines. We know they may be exposed to COVID each day. And we know that every staff member is critical to their facility. And so, we are putting forth a lot of great efforts to try to address some of their concerns.

Governor Michael DeWine: (22:16)
And just real quickly, Ursel, what kind of things are we doing, working with our partners in the nursing homes?

Ursel McElroy: (22:24)
Absolutely. So, right now, we recognize we have a critical window of opportunity to vaccinate during this initial wave, and so what we do in these days and weeks ahead can be pivotal. So, we know that people are hesitant, but we’re hoping that their hesitancy is temporary and we can replace it with confidence, confidence that it’s safe to get the vaccine.

Ursel McElroy: (22:44)
And so, to help with people’s understanding, we’re hosting a series of live discussions with medical experts that include public health commissioners, doctors and nurses, all of different ages, genders and races and from urban and rural areas of Ohio. And during these sessions, which are limited to the staff within these facilities, we explain the science and facts of the vaccine, and then we answer any questions they have.

Ursel McElroy: (23:10)
And Governor, I just hopped off of one of these sessions to join you. And right now, there are more than 400 people on that call. And so, we’re really thankful for our amazing experts who have joined to share their experience and knowledge, and have these honest conversations.

Ursel McElroy: (23:24)
I will tell you, from this morning’s round table, what we learned is that the science used to develop these vaccines has been around for some time, that we still need to keep wearing masks because the vaccine will keep you from getting severely ill, but you could still spread the virus to others. And they’re asking the important questions that many of us have like, “Is the vaccine safe? Will I get COVID from taking the vaccine? I’ve had COVID. Do I still need to get the vaccine?” And, again, we’re fortunate we have great medical experts who are able to answer the questions. And we hope that these discussions will give the workforce the confidence they need to get the vaccine.

Governor Michael DeWine: (24:01)
Great. Well, we’ll let you get back to that. Thank you…

Ursel McElroy: (24:03)
… to get the vaccine.

Governor Michael DeWine: (24:03)
Great. Well, we’ll let you get back to that. Thank you very much. Education, as in most things in life, is really so very, very important. And these folks will, whether they live there or whether they work there, they’re all getting a second chance as that group goes through the second time. And so your conferences and your calls and things are certainly very timely. Director, thank you.

Ursel McElroy: (24:28)
[crosstalk 00:00:28].

Governor Michael DeWine: (24:28)
Appreciate it very, very much. Let me go back and talk a little bit about some of the questions that we get about the sequence. Maybe to recap just a little bit, I think it’s important to look at what our overall goals are. Our overall goals are several. One is to save lives, to protect people, to protect the most vulnerable. So as you look at what we’re doing in 1A and 1B, there’s a great, great focus on protecting the most vulnerable of our citizens in the state of Ohio.

Governor Michael DeWine: (25:09)
Second, we want to work to protect those who protect us in the healthcare field, those people who continue day after day to be in with COVID patients, so we’ve devoted a significant number of the early vaccines to them as well as to the nursing homes. And the third big group that we will hit as we move forward in 1B is the whole goal is to get kids back in school. And our goal, as we’ve said, is get every child back in school by March 1st. That’s what our aspirational goal is. So those are the real… Kind of the pillars. Those are the things that our goals are for 1A and 1B. And now, let me go through these just a little bit. Let me start with 1A. Again, nursing homes, other congruent care settings where people live, our medical personnel…

Governor Michael DeWine: (26:10)
We also are distributing some through our health departments. They are out vaccinating people like EMS, people who are working every day and many times are coming in contact with people with COVID. Medical personnel, and also the local health departments are doing some congruent care settings. So the vaccines are going out to the nursing homes through our pharmacy company partners, the four of them. A lot of it’s going out through the hospitals to medical personnel, and then the third big group is going out through the health department. So those are the three major groups of providers who are out there working right now to get this 1A group covered. Just to give people an idea of size, there is roughly a million people in 1A, roughly a million people in 1A group. It doesn’t mean they all get, it doesn’t mean they all want it, but there’s a million people in that group.

Governor Michael DeWine: (27:17)
Now, let me turn to 1B that we announced last week. Where our deaths have been the greatest, of course, are among our older members of Ohio society. And Eric, if you can put that up, please. And again, you start at the bottom here. Plus 80 is 53% of the deaths. So 53% of the deaths, 80 plus. 75-79 is 14% of the deaths, age 70-74 is 11.9, almost 12. 65-69 is 8, 60-64 is 5, and on. So we’ve had people died almost every age, but if you look at the statistics, most vulnerable individuals obviously are the older that they get.

Governor Michael DeWine: (28:16)
So again, that I think gives us a pretty good indication of why in 1B, we’re going to start with older people. And we hope in approximately two weeks from now to be starting in… A lot of this depends on how much we’re getting in from the federal government, et cetera, but we hope in about two weeks to be starting in on this 1B group. Just again to give you some numbers, above 85 is about 220,000 people. 75-84 is about 580, 000 people, and 65-74 is a million people.

Governor Michael DeWine: (29:06)
We also have announced that in the 1B group, we will have approximately 75,000 people who are the most at risk because of a medical condition or situation who are under the age of 65, and that comes, as I said, to about 75,000 people. We also have another group that potentially is as large as 300,000. That is people who work in our schools K through 12. So we’ll be announcing in the next few days how we’re going to phase those in, but those are the groups that will be coming up after 1A. Now, to clarify it, some of 1A will be finishing up next week, some the next week after, but some of 1A will continue on for some time. For example, assisted living, our pharmacy partners will go to assisted living as soon as they get done with the nursing homes.

Governor Michael DeWine: (30:12)
But then by the time you get that second shot for people in assisted living, we’re down the road a few more weeks. So 1A will continue to some extent down here at the same time we start up 1B and go that way. So hope that brings a little clarity to what we’re doing, but again, the goals are clear. Number one, most important thing is to protect lives. Number two, protect our healthcare workers who are protecting us every day, and three is get our kids in school. Those are the goals. That’s what drives everything we’re doing. Eric, let’s look at the slides. This is our normal slides. We’re kind of sitting here around 7,500 new cases per day. Again, it’s been up and down, but it’s sort of plateaued out for some time.

Governor Michael DeWine: (31:03)
The good news is it’s not going up appreciably. The bad news is it’s not going down, and it’s at a very, very, very high rate deaths, sadly 104. Hospitalization, 538. You’ll see that that’s way above the 21 day average, and the ICU admissions are above that as well. And we’re already starting to see, and Bruce will tell you in a minute, about one place in Ohio where we’re starting to see some things particularly in regard to the emergency rooms. We’ll talk a little bit about that. Let’s go to the next slide, Eric. This is our standard slide of where we’re seeing the most cases, 1 to 88. Eric, let’s go to the next one. This is 1 to 20. You see, Pickaway County is unfortunately first, and they’re running about almost 11 times the high incidence level down to the 20th one, Jackson County, which is about 8 times the high incidence level.

Governor Michael DeWine: (32:06)
So again, what it means… I had a conversation with some superintendents yesterday, and I won’t go into what county they were from, but I said, “Look, the spread is everywhere. We’re at a high rate everywhere. Even the lowest county in the state’s three times the high incident level rate. So the spread just continues to remain very, very, very high.” Today, we have Dr. Vanderhoff discuss hospital capacity to explain a little bit maybe about the mutation of the virus. I know we’ve heard about this coming from UK. And so Bruce, if you could give us a little clarification there, that would be great.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (32:44)
Perfect. Thank you, Governor. Well, as I think people may know, January and February are always very busy months for our hospitals. Now, that’s partly due to flu in a normal year. Thankfully, this year we’re seeing very little flu at all, but we, as the governor noted, continue to ride a very high wave of COVID-19. Now, there were some concerning signs of increased COVID activity over the last few days. First, our testing positivity is climbing again. Secondly, our hospitalizations across the state, which had dropped from about 4,400 on Christmas Eve to around 4,000 on New Year’s Day, have now leapt back up above 4,400 in just a few days. Just to put all of this in perspective, our COVID hospitalizations November 1st were around 1500, and just 650 October 1st. So we’re three times the hospitalizations we saw in November, and almost seven times where we were in October. And our ICUs are also very busy.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (33:57)
In fact, our ICUs are caring for over 1000 patients, and more than a quarter of our ICU beds are filled with COVID care. Now, when our hospitals are confronted with this kind of volume, we’ve long had mechanisms in place to ensure that every patient gets the care they need when they need it, even if a given hospital is strained. For example, last night, our Columbus hospitals initiated a citywide emergency patient diversion. That means the hospitals needed to take special measures to balance care across the city. As a result, all the hospitals, EMS, police, and fire in Columbus are working together to balance care and make sure that patients get to an emergency room and hospital that is best able to take new patients. Now, it’s important to note that this impacts how our ambulances coordinate their hospital runs, not an individual’s access to emergency care.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (35:05)
If Sally [inaudible 00:35:07] drives to an emergency room, even one that is on diversion, she’ll get appropriate emergency care. However, if she needs to be admitted, she might very well be transferred to another hospital. All of this illustrates that our hospitals are extremely busy coming out of the holidays, and we’ve not even begun to see whether there will be an additional impact from our holiday week. Even as we press forward vaccinations, we need to remember we have a lot of road ahead, and we can’t forget COVID safety. Wear our masks, keep our distance, wash our hands. Now, in terms of the UK virus variant that I’m sure many have seen news reports about, when we think about any virus, we have to remember that it is usual for viruses to change over time through a process called mutation. Now, most of these virus variants aren’t really very important, because they don’t actually change the behavior of the virus, and many of them just disappear.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (36:16)
The new UK variant of the virus, referred to as B117, a variant that’s been in many news reports, is notable because it appears to be more contagious than other variants. However, it doesn’t appear to be more severe. It doesn’t appear to affect people who are already immune. Nevertheless, a more contagious virus worries us because it could lead to more people getting sick, more people getting hospitalized, ultimately more people dying. This new variant has in fact reached the United States, and will undoubtedly soon reach Ohio too. Its appearance reinforces the importance of our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID, our safety measures and our vaccines, the safety measures we’ve emphasized today. Wearing masks, staying at least six feet apart, avoiding crowds, and frequent hand-washing, they all work against this new variant.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (37:19)
And of course, vaccination, which we remain confident will cover this strain very nicely, is also very important. The bottom line is this new variant doesn’t change what we have to do. It just underlines the importance of what we have asked every Ohioan. Wear your mask, stay six feet apart, avoid crowds, wash your hands. And when it’s your turn, get vaccinated. Thank you, Governor.

Governor Michael DeWine: (37:50)
Doctor, thank you very much. Lieutenant Governor.

Lt. Governor Husted: (37:54)
Thank you very much, Governor. I wanted to start out before getting into some of the economic information just to say some words of support for the prioritization process that you outlined earlier. I know that when the holiday weekend or holiday week came to an end and Sunday and Monday started coming along, I got all kinds of calls and text messages from a variety of groups who are all certainly worthy of receiving a vaccine. Because look, we want everybody to receive the vaccine at some point in time, but right now, we have supply and demand limitations. That is very clear. In the immediate future, and I say this is estimated because we never know until the week before exactly how many vaccines we’re going to get, it’s estimated that we’ll receive between 100,000 and 175,000 first doses for the state of Ohio.

Lt. Governor Husted: (38:49)
And as you mentioned earlier, there are over 2 million people in group 1B alone. So you can see from that it’s going to take a while, and we’re all going to have to the patient. We don’t control the production of the vaccine, but we can set the priorities for its distribution. And as far as vaccine distribution, we have chosen to prioritize the people who are most likely to die without it, and categories 1A and 1B represent nearly 90% of the lives that we have lost due to COVID-19. That’s the nursing homes, that’s the people 65 and over. And I support what we’re trying to do here, and I think the governor’s right on in terms of prioritizing those people as well as getting our kids back in school. Because every dose of vaccine that we divert somewhere else is taking away from one of those very worthy people that we know represent the place where most of the deaths have occurred.

Lt. Governor Husted: (39:59)
And I also want to emphasize, because I’ve had a lot of conversations with school leaders and folks who are interested in education, that school personnel are among the next priorities, group 1B, but school personnel will only be prioritized for vaccinations if the school will reopen for in-person education. So understand that. That’s what we want to happen with this. We want schools to be open, so I reiterate that schools should not sign onto the vaccination program unless they plan to open for in-person education. Let me transition, if I could, to some economic issues. Restaurant and bar program, we have an assistance fund where they’re eligible for up to $2,500 if you’re a liquor permit holder. Right now, only 70% of the liquor permit holders have taken advantage of this. There’s over 15,000, slightly. Almost 11,000 have taken advantage of it.

Lt. Governor Husted: (40:59)
So we have 4,600 eligible permit holders who have not, and we’re going to extend that deadline to January the 31st so that we can hopefully serve the rest of those liquor permit holders. Remember, that’s not just a bar or restaurant. It could be a movie theater, a bowling alley, a sports or concert venue, even as we’ve seen some hair salons that have liquor permits. All of those folks are eligible. We want them to go get that money, because we know this is a group of people who’ve been hurt by the virus in terms of their businesses. They can go to businesshelp.ohio.gov. It’s easy. All you do is enter your liquor permit number and your federal tax information, and they’ll send you the check. It’s not competitive. You can use this for almost anything. Pay employees, pay bills, supplies. We want you to take advantage of it.

Lt. Governor Husted: (41:57)
Additionally, we know the economic consequences are real for many people during the pandemic. You have a great resource in ohiomeansjobs.com. There are over 144,000 jobs available there. 72,000 of those jobs pay $50,000 a year or more. And you may say, “Well, I don’t have the right tech skills,” or you maybe an employer who says, “Hey, I might have to lay some people off if they don’t have the right kind of training.” Well, we have resources for that, the TechCred program. Techcred.ohio.gov is open for another round of funding of up to $2,000 for an individual to get an industry-recognized credential. So far, we’ve had 966 businesses take advantage of it. That will lead to over 15,000 tech-related industry credentials. You may think, “I’m not a tech person.” Tech is not as hard as you think. You can get these skills.

Lt. Governor Husted: (42:58)
This is something that anybody is capable of doing. You should go to techcred.ohio.gov and check it out, because these are jobs we know employers are hiring for to help get you ready here in the new year. And then one final bit of information, Governor. Last year, I get calls every day, almost, from business owners who unexpectedly got a BWC dividend check and who are talking about how it literally is saving their business, it’s helping keep employees hired. Well, the BWC recently announced that public employers will pay less in premiums in this upcoming year. A 10% rate reduction went into effect on January 1. That means that 3,700 counties, cities, public schools, and other public taxing districts will pay an average of 10% less for premiums compared to the previous calendar year.

Lt. Governor Husted: (43:55)
And this is the 12th BWC rate reduction since 2009. People say, ” Well, how is this possible?” Well, it’s because our workplaces are safer. We’ve seen injury trends decline and lower medical inflation costs. All of those things are good news. Every little bit of this helps. It matters. We’re trying to hang in through the vaccine phase. We talked about that. We’re going to have to be patient. I know 2021 is a year of recovery, and we’re going to recover. We’re going to recover from a health point of view, an education and job training point of view, which we’ve talked about, and an economic point of view, getting more people back to working and helping support these businesses. So here’s a few ways that we can help, and Governor, I’ll turn it back over to you. Thanks.

Governor Michael DeWine: (44:41)
Great. Lieutenant Governor, thank you. We’re ready for questions.

Ursel McElroy: (44:44)
Governor, first question today is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.

Alex Ebert: (44:49)
Hey, Governor, happy New Year.

Governor Michael DeWine: (44:51)
Happy New Year.

Alex Ebert: (44:52)
Can you walk us through why you decided to change your mind and sign Ohio’s stand your ground law? I know you’ve said in the past that there was ambiguity in the duty to retreat, but we’ve had lots of common law over the decades actually analyzing that. You yourself are a prosecutor, and that’s a test that prosecutors frequently and commonly go through, so it’s not something that we’ve had difficulty kind of analyzing over the decades in Ohio. So can you walk us through that, and why you decided to change your mind? Thank you.

Governor Michael DeWine: (45:20)
Yeah. Look, I made a commitment when I ran for governor that I would sign a bill similar to that bill, and I made that commitment. It puts us in the majority of states, not the minority of states, that have something very similar to that. But as I pointed out yesterday, I want to see the state legislature do some things that I’ve asked them to do, that will not in any way infringe upon the Second Amendment, but I know absolutely will guarantee it will save lives. It will make our communities safer. This has to do with taking guns out of the hands of violent criminals, punishing them more, violent criminals, when they are found in possession of a gun, which they’re not allowed to have, giving a very tough sentence for those individuals, and fixing our data system and requiring that when someone is charged and there’s an outstanding warrant for someone for a violent offense, that that must be placed in the state database, and that that must be placed in the national database.

Governor Michael DeWine: (46:33)
I think most people watching this right now would assume, “Oh, that automatically goes in.” It does not. The only people that can assure that that will happen is for the state legislature to require that and to change the law. So these are things that need to happen. We presented a bill to the legislature a year ago. One thing I’ve learned in doing government for over four decades is that the most important quality someone can have who wants to get something done is to be persistent and to be stubborn. And so I’m not giving up, far from it, far from it.

Governor Michael DeWine: (47:23)
I’m coming back to the legislature again, and I would just ask any member of the legislature who just listened to what I just said, if anybody’s watching it, who could be against those things? Who can be against it? This is not about guns and taking guns away from citizens. This is about taking away from people who aren’t supposed to have it anyway, and that’s violent offenders. And it’s about making sure that when a police officer in Ohio pulls over someone on the road, figures out who they are and walks up to that car, that they know that person has an outstanding warrant instead of, say, in many cases-

Governor Michael DeWine: (48:03)
Car that they know that person has an outstanding warrant instead of in many cases, having no clue. Whereas the person in the car knows that he is running from the law, but the police officer has no idea. That is a dangerous situation for that police officer. That has to be changed. So I am persistent. I am stubborn. I’m back to my friends in the legislature and say, we can do this. I’m confident it’s going to get done.

Lt. Governor Husted: (48:28)
Governor, can I add something to that that you should know. We are already building this database, Alex. We are in the process of building a database that will make it easy and free for the local governments that have to enter this information to do it. Now we need the legislature to make it mandatory. So we’re doing all of the back work on this. It’s going to be free. It’s going to be easy. We just need the legislature to require it. And free is a mandatory, you’ll hear us say that many, many times, but we’re ready to go on this. I actually had a gun store owner reach out to me yesterday and said, “Hey, why didn’t the legislature include this?” And I reiterated to him that we’re going to stay on it. We’re going to get these things done. There’s no opposition to these things from even gun rights groups, they support what they call fixed Knicks. And, and we just need to get the legislature to do what even gun store owners are asking them to do.

Speaker 3: (49:36)
Next question is from Jess Harden at Mahoningmatters.com.

Jess Harden: (49:42)
Hi governor.

Governor Michael DeWine: (49:43)
Hi, Jess.

Jess Harden: (49:46)
I have a question about the 1B group. So we’ve seen the rollout of vaccines to this group of older Americans be kind of a logistical nightmare in other places. We’ve been hearing reports about issues in Florida with this first come first serve situation and folks lining up overnight to receive the vaccine and putting burdens on health departments that are already overloaded. I’m wondering what your plan is for rolling this out logistically, and also if you plan to use the National Guard to do so? And if not, why would you choose to use them for testing help, but not with help for vaccination?

Governor Michael DeWine: (50:30)
We certainly will, Jess, use the National Guard, Joe Harris and I have talked about that, they will be used. We are working on a plan that we hope avoids some of the long lines. We will have, we think, based on the information we’re getting now, the first week, about a hundred thousand doses. A hundred thousand doses that have not already been set aside for nursing homes. A hundred thousand doses that we will be able to use for this 1B group. So as you can see, it’s a big group. We’ve not decided exactly what we’ve said is 65 and up will be in the 1B we have not said how we’re going to phase that in. We will start with an older group subset in that, and then move down until we get to 65.

Governor Michael DeWine: (51:37)
But with a hundred thousand, you can tell those are certainly not going to cover that group. And it’s going to take a number of weeks to do that. But we’re going to have a plan. We should hope in the next few days to be able to announce an exact date of kickoff, we hope to be able then to also announce how we are going to do it. And it’s going to, in all likelihood, be a combination of people being able to go to the primary care doctors, in some cases. Some cases, they make appointments. In other places, they may be a fairgrounds or somewhere like that where they don’t have to make an appointment. So there’s going to be a kind of a combination. We want to make this as user-friendly as we can, but we know that we have an imperative. And the imperative, you’re trying to do two things at once. One is you’re trying to make it as convenient as you can for people, but on the other hand, you want to get them out just as fast as you can. So, the fairground type is going to be probably faster, but we also know that there’s some people that will not work for, and we want them to be able to set an appointment to be able to do that. But it’s imperative to get these shots in people’s arms just as fast as we can.

Lt. Governor Husted: (53:04)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.

Kevin Landers: (53:08)
Hello, governor. Happy new year.

Lt. Governor Husted: (53:09)
Happy new year, Kevin.

Kevin Landers: (53:11)
Governor, we have a question from several viewers who wanted to know why nursing homes are getting the vaccine first, while those in assisted living have to wait? What is that distinction? And on that same topic of vaccines, how much of the vaccine is being wasted when healthcare workers are opting out not to take the vaccine and the pharmacies are getting those vaccines returned and not able to use them and then they expire?

Governor Michael DeWine: (53:36)
Yeah. As far as the wasting of those, we’re sorry to see people not take them, but they’re not going to be wasted. They’re not wasted. We did have one situation and I’ll talk about in just a minute, pull my notes up. We had one situation where a nursing home gave a much higher number. And when they got down to the nursing home, they did everything they could, they got everybody who would take a shot, but they had some leftover, a lot leftover and then were able to scramble and get those into people’s arms. But there were some that were wasted. Now, that was the first time that that’s occurred to our knowledge in Ohio. I’m not happy about it, and we’re asking our nursing homes, I got notes here I’ll read here in a minute. But we’re asking our nursing homes to really be careful about their estimates of the number of people who are going to get that vaccine.

Governor Michael DeWine: (54:37)
It can be off a little bit. They’re always going to be off a little bit, but we want them to hit it as close. And it brings home, I think the difficulty of this. Once you thaw it out, the clock is running. And so that’s what you have to worry about. As far as the assisted living, medical community told us that by and large, people who are in high skilled nursing home settings are more fragile than people in assisted living. But if you have someone in assisted living or if you’re watching this and you live in assisted living, just as soon as these four pharmacy companies have gotten or done with the nursing homes, they’re rolling right into assisted living. And it won’t be long until they’re already starting to set the dates and actually schedule that.

Lt. Governor Husted: (55:39)
Next question is from Marty Sladen at the Ohio Capital Journal.

Marty Sladen: (55:43)
Governor, so far you’re saying that you’re not going to require nursing home employees to get the vaccine. We’ve got a low rate of participation, presumably some part of those 25% of residents who aren’t getting the vaccine, aren’t getting it because for medical reasons. Isn’t the whole point of prioritizing that population first place is to protect them? So what’s the sense of not creating such a requirement? And secondly, do you think it’s a good idea to make CVS and Walgreens and the hospitals and health departments keep track of how many people are refusing the vaccine so that that’s a metric you can use in making policy.

Governor Michael DeWine: (56:32)
Look, we’re doing everything we can to get pretty close numbers to how many are refusing them, and we’re giving those to you. Are they exact? No. But I will tell you that every single time we add one more requirement on somebody who is putting shots in someone’s arm, we are slowing that process down and that’s what I’ve got to weigh. And trying to figure out how people are … let’s take a nursing home. It’s going to be very difficult for CVS to determine that. They go into a nursing home and they don’t know what shifts are there, what shifts are off. They don’t know how many people have actually said no. How many people that couldn’t have been reached. They don’t know any of that. And so we’re going to give you …

Governor Michael DeWine: (57:20)
I want to know. Keep in mind that the first information about 40% came from us. That’s because we went out and we asked nursing homes and we asked the CVS and we said, “What do you get?” And we got all that back from them. So we’re going to give you data that’s as close as we can to what the facts are without burdening and slowing down the process. As far as requiring people to get shots, there is a broad consensus in this state, not to require people to get shots. Now, if a nursing home wants to require an employee to get a shot, far as I know, they can do that.

Governor Michael DeWine: (58:06)
I know of no reason they can’t do that. I haven’t looked the law up, but they have every ability to do that. But what we are hoping is that persuading people to do it, educating people like Director McElroy was talking about, is the right way to go about this. And we’re not going to really know the full numbers until we go through the second time. And I think what’s going to happen is you’re going to see more residents take that. And that 80% number, we think is going to go up. We think that the number, as far as the workers is going to go up as well.

Lt. Governor Husted: (58:48)
Next question is from Jack Windsor at WMFD in Mansfield.

Governor Michael DeWine: (58:52)
Hey Jack.

Jack Windsor: (58:53)
Hi governor. I previously asked during one of these pressers, if the vaccine dashboard would contain adverse reactions, injuries, and deaths that result from the COVID vaccinations. And you said that you’d make that available. However, a later message was relayed that the federal government has an adverse events webpage, where people can pull information, but at this time there are no plans to add this to the vaccine dashboard. But you mentioned last week that 60% of Ohio nursing home workers refused the shot. So a two-part question, could it be that the lack of data regarding negative outcomes is causing many people to be concerned that the government is whitewashing the data to encourage adoption? And do you know how many adverse reactions, injuries and deaths have occurred to date in Ohio due to the Pfizer and maternal vaccines? Thank you.

Governor Michael DeWine: (59:39)
Okay. I don’t know. I don’t know what that is. I don’t know whether Dr. Vanderhoff’s got any data on that.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (59:52)
What I can say is somewhat of a reiteration of what I shared before is that the standard approach for every vaccine that we have in the country is that when someone observes patient following the reception of a vaccine, up to a matter of days, as something with their health occurred that they think could be vaccine that’s reported to through the VAERS system. And this is a group of experts who have a high degree of independence. They’re actually highly motivated to accurately identify adverse reactions to any vaccine, because their job then is to change the guidance regarding vaccine. And those folks are highly trained to come in and make the determination, was what was observed part of the patient’s underlying condition? And as you can imagine, particularly with this vaccine, many of the patients who are receiving it have many other underlying health conditions. Or was it in fact directly related to having received the vaccine? And thus far, the reports that we’re getting nationally are that this vaccine appears to be very safe.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (01:01:09)
You can turn to VAERS and look at their reporting and the information that’s available through the CDC regarding that. But that’s the right way to go about it. It’s the way that we’ve always done it with vaccines. And I understand the concern about making things opaque. That’s not what’s going on here. What is going on is an attempt with a brand new vaccine to assure that our assessments are accurate and correct, because the last thing we want to do is inaccurately assess a reaction that gives the wrong message about the safety of the vaccine in either direction. So VAERS is the way to go.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:01:54)
Bruce, you broke up at least on my screen. So if there is an adverse reaction, or if there is someone who thinks that there has been an adverse reaction, who do they report that to?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (01:02:07)
So there’s a requirement that, that be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event … goodness, I’m forgetting what the R stands for, Reporting System. Yes. The VAERS. It is an arm of the CDC, but a relatively independent one. And they, along with some experts from the CDC, then take responsibility for the assessment of the event.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:02:34)
Okay. So that would be their responsibility. That would be report directly to them?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (01:02:39)
That’s correct. It is their responsibility. Now, there have been times when administrators may have had questions or confusion about that, and Ohio Department of Health has assisted them with completing the process in accordance with the requirement.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:02:55)
Okay. Thank you.

Lt. Governor Husted: (01:02:58)
Next question is from Tom Gallach a Gungor News Service.

Tom Gallach: (01:03:02)
Hi governor.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:03:03)
Hi Tom.

Tom Gallach: (01:03:05)
I wonder, especially as we’re moving into the general population for vaccinations, and you’re relying on people to go get the vaccination, as opposed to bringing it to them. How is the state going to kind of keep track of and try to ensure that people are getting that necessary second dose?

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:03:23)
I’ll refer to Bruce on that one. There’s a system set up. But go ahead, Bruce.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (01:03:28)
Yes, that’s correct. So each person, when they receive their vaccine are entered into a system that then provides a notification back. First of all, they’re given a reminder. And then in these nursing home situations, when they return to that nursing home, that vaccine administrator is able to say, “Okay, the following people are on the list for repeat.”

Lt. Governor Husted: (01:03:59)
Next question Is from Tom Jackson at the Sandusky Register.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:04:04)
Hey Tom.

Tom Jackson: (01:04:12)
[inaudible 01:04:12] 400 doses on their first week. And they immediately held a clinic the next day that lasted 12 hours and vaccinated everybody. That’s why I mention this detail governor is that the next [inaudible 01:04:31].

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:04:31)
Yeah. I’m missing you, Tom. Can you start again?

Tom Jackson: (01:04:38)
Yes, governor. [inaudible 01:04:42] department got 400 doses of the vaccine in the first week. And then the very next day, they did a 12 hour clinic and used all 400 doses. The week after that, they asked for 400 doses and they only got 200. And then this week they asked for a thousand doses and they only got 250. Governor concerned that the health departments is trying to carry out a policy of vaccinating people as quickly as possible, could please consider stepping [inaudible 01:05:14] Sandusky of vaccines.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:05:17)
I couldn’t hear that, Tom. I couldn’t get the last part, but I think I got basically the question. What happens every week is on Tuesday, we’re notified what the dosage we will get beginning of the next Monday. On Thursday, we allocate that to the different departments. We continue to stay in touch with the departments in regard to what their needs are. So we’re asking every department, don’t go outside 1A, stay within your lane, stay within 1A. But continue to tell us where you are in vaccinating that group of people. So what I think I heard you say is they got 400 out quickly. God bless them. That’s a great, great thing. That’s very, very important. And this is a scarce commodity, and we are trying to get through the hospitals, through the health departments and through our pharmacy company partners, getting these vaccines out for the 1A group. But the assignment and in the allocation every week, we can only give out what we have.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:06:34)
And as long as everybody stays, the course stays on, stays focused on 1A and one of the things that we’re doing constantly is trying to figure out, well, when are they going to finish 1A? And so, as we look, for example, to two weeks from now, what we hope is two weeks from now, when we can start beginning, at least to move to 1B, part of that, of course depends on how much we have. And part of that analysis depends on how each county is doing. So, that’s kind of how we do it.

Lt. Governor Husted: (01:07:12)
Next question is from Dan de Rosa at WOIO in Cleveland.

Dan de Rosa: (01:07:16)
Good afternoon, governor. Ohio, and even more so, Cleveland are in a good spot to be in, I guess, but with a negative impact. You have the Browns making the playoffs Sunday night, you’ve got the Buckeyes then on Monday night, both games start roughly 8:30, which means bars and people who rely on tips and the bar owners themselves have reached out to me. Why or why not would you consider a variance? Understandably, the variances that we’ve seen for stadiums that’s outside, you can distance a lot more. Is there no way you could consider a variance for these two huge games for the state in bar situations?

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:08:00)
Eric, you want to put the first slide back up please? Or the second one I guess it was. Look, there’s nothing more than I would like to do is just say, “Look, let’s have no restrictions, no restrictions on bars. Everybody go back to normal.” But we’re not back to normal. I can’t look at these numbers and say that we should expand the time when people can be together, crowd together in a bar or in a restaurant, because in a bar and a restaurant by definition, you cannot wear a mask when you’re drinking, you cannot wear a mask when you’re eating.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:08:40)
So I understand that we have people hurting, and I understand that we have great for people to go to a bar and root on the Buckeyes, or root on the Browns. But that would simply add to the spread that we already have, because you can’t do those activities. And look, let me say this to my friends in bars and restaurants. It is not your fault that you have a business that you cannot wear a mask at, but that’s the reality. I can’t change that reality. And so while others were completely shutting restaurants down and completely shutting bars down, while we had doctors from the White House urge us to do this, we compromised and said, ” Let’s shut off at 10 o’clock.” And frankly, that was a compromise. And what we’ve tried to do is balance people’s need to make a living with public safety.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:09:48)
I need the original slide data for today. Well, this is why we can’t do it. Last week, 7,500 cases, we had 104 deaths, 538 hospitalizations, 44 ICU admissions. We’re seeing our numbers in our hospitals starting to go back up. I’d love to do it. We can’t do it. We just can’t do it. We cannot add to the problem.

Lt. Governor Husted: (01:10:20)
Next question is from Andrew Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.

Andy Chow: (01:10:24)
Hi governor.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:10:26)
Andy.

Andy Chow: (01:10:26)
Wanted to talk to you more about stand your ground. You’ve mentioned today that the priority, the goal of COVID-19 is to protect lives. What do you tell opponents of the stand your ground law who say that stand your ground through studies have shown, have seen escalated violence in states that adopt these laws, especially escalated violence against black people and people of color?

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:10:52)
Look, there’s studies on both sides of this, and there are people on both sides of this issue. The majority of states in the union are consistent with what Ohio did. I’ve talked to people on both sides of this issue. There are people who feel adamantly about this, both sides. I understand that. I get it. This is a commitment that I made several years ago, and the legislature delivered a bill that did that. Now it did not do all the other things I wanted to do. And I’ve made my case, I think today pretty strongly. And I’ve made my case in my public statement yesterday about what needs to be done. Those are examples where there is no debate. There is no debate that you will save lives. We’re seeing kids killed in our cities. We can’t go weekend, it doesn’t seem that there isn’t some child who is killed by shooting in our cities. And it’s usually by a person who is a violent repeat offender who’s not supposed to have a gun anyway. And so if the legislature, this is a way to save a-

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:12:03)
… and so if the legislature, this is a way to save a lot of lives in Ohio, we focus on the repeat violent offenders and remove them from our communities. That’s what we have to do.

Speaker 4: (01:12:16)
Next question is from Jackie Borcher at The Cincinnati Inquirer.

Jackie Borcher: (01:12:20)
Good afternoon and happy birthday, governor.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:12:23)
Thank you, Jackie.

Jackie Borcher: (01:12:25)
So I’ve heard from several readers asking why there have been so few details about this next stage of the rollout. Today, you said you’re working on a plan. To be Frank, how are we still working on a plan for distribution for this next stage when have known for months at this time would come?

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:12:43)
Well, Jackie, we’re running a train and we’re putting fuel in it, and we’re building the train at the same time. I’m not trying to be a smart aleck here today. But look, there’s a lot going on. We have an obligation to put something out that doesn’t cause people massive inconvenience, there’ll be inconvenience, but also get the vaccine out as fast as we can.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:13:10)
So I took 15 or 20 minutes today of your time and everyone else’s time to tell what groups we’re doing, why we’re doing it. What I can say is in the next few days, we will make it very clear where people will be able to get a vaccine. So we’re pushing this forward. We’re telling people where we’re going to be in two weeks, we’re going to tell them where we’re going to be in three weeks, where are we going to be in four weeks. The details about how they’re going to get that. We will be supplying that information. And we understand that people need to know where it’s going to be.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:13:49)
But what I’m trying to explain today is with only a hundred thousand in that first week, and maybe the second week, and maybe the third week, it’s going to be a while before people in those groups, even in those groups are able to get the vaccine. Now, some, we hope that first week, a lot of people are going to get it, but it’s still going to be a lot of people who are not getting it. We are going to be utilizing many places where you can get it, and we have already had over 1600 providers sign up as potential places to do this.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:14:28)
We’re going to use some drive-through, we’re going to use some fairgrounds, but we also know that a lot of people want to get it through their individual health care system, and we’re going to provide that as well. The challenge, if you think about it, is how do you make sure that none of it’s wasted, that you get just the right amount to all 88 counties, and you’ve got to continue to repeat that and do that every week. So you’d like for it to be on every corner, but you obviously can’t do that. So you have to decide what that right number is. And we’re going to roll that out and we’re going to make it clear. But what I’ve been trying to do in the last two weeks is tell people, this is where we’re going and this is the rationale behind what we’re doing.

Jackie Borcher: (01:15:23)
To be clear, you expect that a hundred thousand in the first week, but that’s going to ramp up? Because at that rate, it would take several months for that second group to get [inaudible 01:15:32]

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:15:32)
That’s correct, Jackie, that’s absolutely correct. Look, I wish I had a million. I wish I had 2 million. I wish there was coming in here a lot faster. And this is what I want everyone to understand. It would appear, we don’t control this, but it would appear that roughly a hundred thousand that first week that we will have, that will be available. Still understanding that we’re doing some in congregate care settings, some of it’s going into congregate care settings. But we think about a hundred thousand, yes. Unless that speeds up, we’re going to be a long time going through 1A and then 1B. And I don’t like it. I don’t like it. And I’m anxious to move forward, but we play with the hand that we’re dealt.

Speaker 4: (01:16:26)
Next question is from Andrew Welch-Huggins at the Associated Press.

Andrew Welch-Huggins: (01:16:29)
Hello, governor, and happy birthday to you.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:16:33)
Thank you, sir.

Andrew Welch-Huggins: (01:16:33)
I wanted to ask you quickly, actually about the kinship care provider measure and executive order that you signed late last month. Some of the advocates of that I’ve spoken to, they’re still concerned that the amount of money in the new plan isn’t enough. They’re concerned it’s time limited. I think many of them were hoping for a parallel system that would basically put them on par with traditional foster parents in terms of the amount of money. And a lot of them, I think, don’t want to become foster parents, which I think the new system would require them to do. Anyway, I was wondering if you could just maybe respond to that and talk briefly about your thinking in putting that particular approach in place.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:17:21)
Well, let me get back with you on that. I’ll take a look at that. I’ll look at the amount of money and I’ll get back to you either Thursday or Tuesday. Happy to do that. Thank you.

Speaker 4: (01:17:35)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.

Laura Hancock: (01:17:39)
Good afternoon, governor. I have two kind of show your work questions. The first is a request. Can health departments post a tally each day on the vaccine test dashboard about how many vaccines have been received in Ohio, separate from the numbers of vaccines that actually been administered. The second is we’re hearing from leaders and regular Ohioans who are frustrated. They say they’ve been left in the dark about how the coronavirus is going to get into people’s arms. They say there’s no direction, no plan, no answers, only that it’s being worked on. So what have you been doing in the last six months to build the infrastructure and logistics for this distribution? What specifically have you been doing to get people vaccinated besides announcing 1A, 1B, et cetera?

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:18:23)
I think that’s the same question we just got a minute ago. Was that different? Did I hear it differently? I’m serious.

Laura Hancock: (01:18:31)
Oh, you’ve had six months. What have you done?

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:18:35)
Oh we’ve been doing nothing, nothing at all during that six month period of time.

Laura Hancock: (01:18:39)
Well, we’ve been told time and again, that the light at the tunnel was going to come.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:18:45)
This system will be in place. The best system we can put forward will be in place and we will be announcing it when it is time for people to activate and to do it. Look, we are focused. We’re trying to do a lot of things at once and we are doing a lot of things at once. Big concern is to make sure that we get vaccines in people’s arms. That our health departments, 113 health departments, and they’re doing a phenomenal job out there, but they’re trying to balance how many vial do I have? Where do I put that? And we have to manage that as well. But the goal is the same: to save lives and it’s to get kids back in school and to provide a system that will be usable by the people of the state of Ohio in a way that is convenient for them, but a way also that does not slow the vaccination down.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:19:50)
So the only thing I’m not announcing today is exactly what location you can go if you live in Hamilton County, what location you can go if you live at Greene County. I will announce that with plenty of time for people to be able to make their plans and make their decisions about going forward. But the caution, and the reason I’ve laid this out very carefully today, the caution in regard to the number of vaccines is it’s only going to be roughly a hundred thousand for that week, and we’ve got a large group here. We’re still finishing 1A and in B, you’ve got over 2 million people in B. So what we hope happens is that we see more and more, and that we see the stream coming into Ohio go out, but we’re in the same boat with every other state. Every state wants more vaccine and that we can not control. What we hope is that more vaccines come on the market that are approved and that will increase the number of ones that going into the state of Ohio.

Speaker 4: (01:21:04)
Next question is from Spencer Hickey at Hanna News Service.

Spencer Hickey: (01:21:08)
Thank you. Governor, can you discuss what the federal aid package from the end of December means for Ohioans? And are there areas where do you see further action is needed?

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:21:21)
Our budget people, Kim Marnix, continues to look at that and try to calculate that, but we’re happy with the bill. I’m sure there’s other things that could take place, but we’re glad we had the bill or glad the president signed it. We’re glad our delegation supported it. And it’s money that’s very essential, particularly for local health departments, for example, because they are really being hit hard, as you know. So they’re doing a lot. So we’re happy with the bill, but I’ll be making it known to our legislators or members of Congress exactly what the additional needs are as we go forward and I’ll share those with you.

Speaker 4: (01:22:09)
Next question is from Molly Martinez at spectrum news.

Molly Martinez: (01:22:12)
Hi, governor, happy birthday.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:22:16)
Thank you.

Molly Martinez: (01:22:17)
I have another question about stand your ground. You’ve said in the previous questions that this will save lives and get guns out of the hands of violent offenders, but removing duty to retreat is a different issue that historically and disproportionately affects communities of color, as Andy Chow said. I’m just confused as to how this is a win for gun reform.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:22:40)
Well, I think that I may have said it wrong. What I said was that while I’ve asked the legislature to do that, they have not done. And in my statement, if you go to my statement yesterday and what I said today, what I’ve said is that those are things that we know will save lives. Those are things that we know will protect people.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:23:04)
There is a huge debate about stand your ground. I’ve talked to people who are adamantly against it, and I fully respect them. I’ve talked to people who are adamantly for it, and I fully respect them. There is a great division in this country over that issue and reasonable people, good people, can be on both sides of this issue. And we should not in any way pune their motives, they all are good thinking people. But the majority of States, majority of States have a law similar to the one that I signed yesterday. But what I was talking about when I was talking about, here’s how we save lives. I was talking about that the outstanding warrants. I was talking about weapons under disability. These are things that you’ve heard me from this very podium about probably 20 or 25 times. My only point was I’m pretty stubborn and I’m coming back to the legislature and I think at some point we’re going to get this done.

Speaker 4: (01:24:05)
Next question is from Tom Bosco at WSYX in Columbus.

Tom Bosco: (01:24:10)
Hi governor. A couple of questions on who will be in the next groups, or actually more specifically why aren’t these groups in the next to be vaccinated. These come from viewers of mine on Twitter. They want to know about police officers, about childcare workers, and certainly this would increase the number of people to get vaccinated exponentially, but parents of those students that you say you want to see classrooms by March 1st.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:24:42)
Yeah. Well, let me start with students. We’re not changing anything. Parents still have every right to keep their child at home. They have every right to have that child go remote. Schools have every right to stay remote. Schools have every right to be hybrid. We’re not telling them what to do, but what we’ve heard from educators is if we could vaccinate our employees, we can vaccinate the teachers, the custodians, the bus drivers, then we would be in a position to open up. We happen to think that being into school in person is, for most kids, probably better. So that’s the situation with schools.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:25:21)
I would love, just as an example, I would love to today have every police officer in the state vaccinated. I started as a County prosecutor, worked with local police, I worked with Sheriff’s, worked all throughout my career. There are no finer people that we have in our society. They are risking their lives every day in many, many ways. And I would love to be able to vaccinate them. But as you saw, and the reason I meticulously went through this at the beginning, if I was to say today, or if the health department says, “Okay, every officer police officer in the state could be vaccinated.” That simply means that they are going to the front of the line and they will push back the 80 year old.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:26:04)
So a 35 year old police officer, who has many reasons to get vaccinated and we would love to get vaccinated, that police officer will be taking the place of his 85 year old grandmother. And I cannot morally justify that when I know that the risk to the 85 year old grandmother is so much more than the risk it is the police officer, even though I understand the police officer is facing a lot of different situations every day and coming in contact with a lot of different people.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:26:32)
Very meritorious that the police should be vaccinated, but we have limited amount and I have to do with what we have. And I’ll go back to our basics. We got to keep our eye on the ball. What’s our primary objective? To save lives. Second objective is to keep our healthcare workers working and to protect them when they’re dealing with COVID patients. And third is to open our schools up. And the opening of the schools up is not about saving lives. Opening schools up is because I have heard time and time again from parents and others who say the mental health of my child has suffered. This has suffered. My child was further behind. And so that as a matter of public policy to say, we’ll take those 300 individuals, 300,000, excuse me, individuals, and however many of them want to get shot will be able. So we are moving them to a higher up on the line. There’s no doubt about it. But if you move that police officer up, or if you move any other person up, they are taking someone’s place.

Speaker 4: (01:27:40)
Next question is from Randy Ludlow with the Columbus Dispatch.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:27:44)
Hi, Randy.

Randy Ludlow: (01:27:50)
Good afternoon, governor. The figures released today by department of health show that of the vaccine drawn down by your pharmacy partners, working in the skilled care nursing homes, that they’ve only administered about 20% of the doses they dropped down. Does that percentage worry you? I know you say 61%, at least skilled care, have been offered shots, but only 20% of their doses have been administered.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:28:22)
The way it works, Randy, and it is complex and I’ve struggled with it. The federal government has required us basically to bank these. If we’re going to do congregate care settings, under what they call the pharmacy program, we’re required, and we’re required from the beginning, to bank them. Now we’re not holding them, but they’re being banked back at the manufacturer or banked someplace else. So that is the problem. If you look at the total, you see why I write notes on here. We’ve administered about 175,408 as of last night. We have received 331,000. That’s a 53% of that. But we think we’re working with some of the hospitals and others. We think some of the data’s not getting in. So that 53% certainly is higher than that.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:29:29)
And you’re always going to have, you can’t expect everything to get out the day it gets in state. It’s just not the way life works, but my commitment to everybody is that I am pushing everybody from the pharmacy companies, to the hospitals, to our health departments, to get these vaccines in people’s arms just as quick as they can, because we know it does no good sitting on the shelf. And we also know that waiting two or three days, five days, whatever, someone could have been vaccinated and been protected during that period of time. So there’s a moral imperative that we push this as hard as we can and whatever the numbers are every day, they’re never good enough for me. They’re never good enough and they’re not going to be good enough, but we’re going to continue to push. Our people are trying, they’re working hard. They can’t work miracles, but we’re pushing them and we’re pushing them hard.

Speaker 4: (01:30:28)
Governor, next question is the last question for today and it belongs to John London from WLWT in Cincinnati.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:30:34)
Hey John.

John London: (01:30:35)
Hi governor. Along the lines of pushing, the numbers you’re giving, a hundred thousand in that first week, et cetera, and we’re at about half of what the doses sent have been given. At the rate Ohio is going, and I know you have no control over this, but it’s hard to envision that next group getting fully vaccinated by the end of summer. You’ve got two weeks left in the current administration, and I know they’re a little preoccupied right now. What’s being done to try to speed up delivery to Ohio, and what outreach has been made to the incoming administration to ensure that there’s no lag time for delivery?

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:31:14)
Yeah. Look, I’ve talked directly to the president-elect myself and I was asked to be on a group of governors, all the governors were on, but four of us were asked to do presentations. I made a presentation. So we have communication with both the current administration and the incoming administration. And look, we’ve made it very, very clear, as I know other States have, and other governors have, that we want this faster, but I truly believe that everyone is trying the hardest they can to get us these vaccines as fast as they can. So I don’t think it’s for lack of trying, but we continue. Communication is very important and we’re going to continue to communicate with the Trump administration and then the Biden administration, because we’re the ones who are on the front line getting it out, but they’re the ones who we depend on, frankly, to get it to us.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:32:13)
And what we hope is that we will see additional drug companies, their vaccine approved. And we hope to see that the flow coming in is going to increase. And the other thing is we’ve had to bank all this, these vaccines, once that bank is full, then we don’t have to bank it anymore. They’re drawing it out to do, again we don’t physically have it, but they’re drawing it out to do the congregate care settings. Once that bank has filled, which it pretty much is, then you’re going to see ours is will go up more as we go out.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:32:49)
The hundred thousand figure is just a figure my team gave me today. It could be 150. It could be 75. We don’t know until we see exactly what is sent to us. And we won’t know until we see exactly what our local health departments are doing, but it’s a guess. And I gave you that number because I wanted to indicate to everyone, this is not going to happen overnight, as much as I would like for it to, this is going to happen and it’s going to take longer than I want it to take.

Governor Michael DeWine: (01:33:16)
So we’ll be back. Eric is telling me my time is up. Good to be with everyone, happy new year. And we’ll see you all on Thursday.