Mar 1, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 1
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on March 1, 2021 to provide coronavirus updates. He provided updates on vaccine distribution, with the state moving into phase 1c of vaccinations. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Governor DeWine: (06:31)
Good afternoon, everyone. We have good news today, I think a number of things that are particularly good. Let’s start off by saying, happy birthday to Ohio 1803, the state legislature met for the first time in Chillicothe. So this is our 218th birthday and happy birthday, Ohio. Next item. This is March 1st and we said that on March 1st, we wanted to have every school back in session, either in session completely during the week or at least part during the week. I’m very happy to report that we’ve made some real, real great progress in regard to this. We told every school that we would vaccinate your school personnel, if the school would agree to go back into session by March 1. We have now vaccinated about 200,000 school personnel, K through 12. It was done in a four-week period of time. And I thank all our partners who helped us get this done, all the school personnel who made this happen as well. So that has been accomplished.
Governor DeWine: (07:58)
If you look at where we were back at the beginning of January. In January, 50% of our public school students were not in-person. They went to schools that were not offering in-person learning at all, 50%. Today, that number is less than 10% of the school population. If you break it down by school districts, we have 609 public school districts in the State of Ohio. As of today, there are only eight of those that are not back in session. Of those eight, seven will within the next few weeks come back into session. So this has been a very successful program. We’re very, very happy about it. We want to thank our teachers. We want to thank all our students, all school personnel. And it’s a very good thing. I’m very happy about that.
Governor DeWine: (09:01)
We have another piece of good news. I’m going to let the Lieutenant Governor talk about this or ask him if he would talk about it. But Site Selection magazine today announced that Ohio ranked number one, number one in its Governor’s Cup 2020, state economic and business attraction ranking. Lieutenant Governor, you want to talk a little bit about that?
Lieutenant Governor: (09:23)
Yeah, Governor. It’s great news. With 2020, we didn’t know what the economic development impact would be in our state, around the country, but we stay aggressive. We stayed aggressive with our partner, JobsOhio. And really tried to focus on continuing to do deals, trying to get things moving forward, focusing on the fact that we were going to come out of this and what state did you want to be. And we kept saying, “Look, Ohio is very competitive as being a great pro-business environment, but also a great pro-worker environment.” And we were developing talent and continuing to create a state with a very diverse economy.
Lieutenant Governor: (10:09)
And what Site Selection magazine did is they do this assessment and it’s based on new business projects with significant impact, including headquarters, manufacturing, R&D operations, logistics sites and others. And they ranked Ohio number one in per capita deals done. They even put you Governor there. A picture of you driving a car that they had showing that we were leading the country and it’s great news.
Lieutenant Governor: (10:43)
Now, we know that we’ve had a lot of big things that we’ve done with innovation districts and retention of headquarters like Sherwin-Williams in Cleveland. But I found this also interesting that as far as our regions, Toledo tied for number one for total projects in areas with populations between 200,000 and a million. These are metro areas. Additionally, Dayton, Kettering ranked number five and Akron tied for number 10.
Lieutenant Governor: (11:11)
So it wasn’t just in the big areas of the state, it was in our medium-sized cities and it was in our rural communities that we got deals done and were able to get the number one ranking and earned the Governor’s Cup, which has been done in the past in Ohio. But this was welcome news coming out of the pandemic because we didn’t know what was going to happen in 2020. And it’s nice to see that when you measured it with where businesses were investing, Ohio was number one. So congratulations, Governor and good news for Ohio and for the people of our state, because that should mean with these capital investments that come in 2021, the jobs will eventually follow.
Governor DeWine: (11:59)
Well, it is great news, Lieutenant Governor and we’re very happy about that. We need to celebrate that as well. It is great news for the people in the State of Ohio.
Governor DeWine: (12:10)
More good news. I talked about being on offense against this virus, and what puts us on offense really is having the vaccine. We have more vaccine coming in the State of Ohio today, tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday. As everyone has heard, Johnson & Johnson is now starting to ship, and we’re very excited about that. Ohio will get 96,100 doses, 96,100 doses in the first week. So we’re very happy about that. If you look at the total number of doses that we are receiving this week in Ohio, again for the next spread over three or four days, that number is 448,000. 448,390, to be exact, doses coming into the State of Ohio. This is by far the most doses, more doses than we received in any other week. We’re very excited about this.
Governor DeWine: (13:10)
The Johnson & Johnson, we are sending the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to over 200 independent pharmacies around the state. Most of these pharmacies have not received any vaccine. So if you live close to an independent pharmacy, this will be an opportunity to stop in there or call them and make that appointment to get that vaccine from your local independent pharmacy. We’re also sending these Johnson & Johnson vaccines to our local health departments, to our hospitals, as well as to some of our chain pharmacies. So it’s going out, as I said, 96,100 doses, that’s going out around the State of Ohio. Let’s take a look at our map. This map represents where people are able to get the vaccine today. And we have expanded dramatically the number of actual locations where people can get this vaccine. So we are over 1,200 locations in the State of Ohio now. As you can see, there not only in every county, but just everywhere throughout the state. So more vaccine and a lot more locations.
Governor DeWine: (14:41)
I want to take a moment to talk about this map. When we first started making plans for a vaccine distribution, one of our goals was to make it as easy as humanly possible for people to get it and to be close at home, close to your home. We placed, at that time, vaccine in all 88 counties so that Ohioans would not have to travel a long way to get a shot. Just a few months ago, we started. We had about 750 providers. This week, we’ve increased that number, as I said, to more than 1,200 providers. That number includes local health departments, hospitals, federally qualified health centers, independent pharmacies, as well as chain pharmacies.
Governor DeWine: (15:29)
If you want to take a look and see the list, you can find that on coronavirus.ohio.gov. That’s coronavirus.ohio.gov. You can search by county, you can search by zip code. It will show you where you can go online with the website, particularly pharmacy, the phone number as well as the location. And I said pharmacy, I meant actually providers, any of the providers can show you that. What we’re saying is that there still a significant demand for the vaccine, but we’re seeing some space in there. We’re seeing some openings and some opportunities. We talked about this on Friday, and I said, now is the time, if you’ve not been able to get a vaccine, now is the time, if you qualify, you should be able to get that vaccine. We looked this morning just at a few kind of randomly at a few places, we checked Giant Eagle, we checked Kroger, Walmart, Discount Drug Mart, and a few other places. And just to give you an example. In Norwood, there were 34 provider locations with vaccine within 10 miles. Zip code 45337 Maumee, We checked today 33 provider locations who had vaccine within 10 miles. And if you look at tomorrow for Mercy, Toledo, and Lucas County vaccination site, this big vaccination site in Maumee, 2,000 vaccination appointments are available for tomorrow. 2,000 eligible individuals can schedule for the Lucas County Health Department at lucascountyhealth.com/covidvaccine. That’s again, Lucas County Health, one word, lucascountyhealth.com/covidvaccine. 2,000 there.
Governor DeWine: (17:38)
In Youngstown, we found 23 providers within 10 miles that had vaccine available. Xenia, Ohio, we found eight providers within 10 miles who had vaccine in stock. Lancaster, four provider locations within 10 miles with vaccine in stock. Athens, four provider locations within 25 miles with vaccine in stock. Huber Heights, 28 different providers within 10 miles. And Warrensville Heights, 41 providers within 10 miles. Downtown Columbus, I don’t if I read that, but 34 locations within 10 miles.
Governor DeWine: (18:24)
So again, how do you do this? Obviously, you can go online. You can also, with over 200 new local pharmacies or locally independent pharmacies, you could walk in to those in your community. Local health department, you can always call the local health department. You can also call the area agencies on aging, or you can call 211. Many people are used to dialing 211 for critical services. You can call 211 as well now. Now, because of the additional doses and because of what we’re seeing as far as the uptick, the uptake, and there’s still a significant demand out there. But frankly, we felt, knowing all the new vaccine that is coming in very significant increase and that there is there is available vaccine in a number of sites right now in Ohio, we felt it was time to expand the group that is eligible. So let me start with phase 1C, what we’re calling our 1C vaccination program, phase 1C. Individuals who have additional medical conditions that may increase a person’s risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. That is one group. The next group is those in certain occupations, which I’ll talk about in a moment. Let me talk, and then I’ll-
Governor DeWine: (20:02)
… talk about in a moment. Let me talk, and then I’ll flip it over to Dr. Vanderhoff and he can explain it from a more medical point of view, but what we’re calling phase 1C medical conditions include the following, so we are adding these to the medical conditions that we have already used. Type 1 diabetes. ,Most people develop type 1 diabetes before age 21, and are completely dependent on insulin therapy from day one. In contrast, type 2 diabetes is more common among adults and is largely accounted for by our age based approach to vaccine eligibility. So at this point, at this point, type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, we were requiring that someone had been hospitalized, we no longer require that. So anyone with type 1 diabetes. Next, women who are pregnant. Obviously, the age group does not cover them and we felt that it was the right thing to do to cover them. You have two lives at risk, and Dr. Vanderhoff will kind of explain the medical situation in there. Again, no one’s required to take this, but this is a group that we are making eligible today.
Governor DeWine: (21:33)
The next group, the third group, those who’ve had bone marrow transplants. Now, bone marrow transplant is treatment reserved mostly for people with certain cancers, anemias, and performed at specialized transplant centers. Again, Dr. Vanderhoff will talk a little bit more about that.
Governor DeWine: (21:50)
Finally, we are clarifying that ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a qualifying severe neurological condition, even though it’s age of onset may be quite variable. It was the intent to include ALS, we did not spell that out. We are spelling that out today in response to some questions that I have received. Again, these are medical conditions that increase the risk of severe outcomes or death from COVID-19, but aren’t covered in our age based approach. Doctor, we’ll turn it over to you to talk a little bit about these different groups.
Dr. Vanderhoff : (22:29)
Well, thank you Governor. As you noted, beginning with type 1 diabetes, most people develop type 1 diabetes before they’re adults. And as you also noted, they require injectable insulin therapy right from the start. So if you developed diabetes later in life, or if your doctor first began treating your diabetes with a pill, you probably have the much more common form of diabetes known as type 2. And as the Governor noted, for now, we’re asking type two diabetics to receive vaccination with their age group.
Dr. Vanderhoff : (23:09)
Secondly, pregnancy, although the actual risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 during pregnancy is low, it’s higher than that for non-pregnant people of the same age. You see if you’re pregnant and get sick with COVID-19 you’re at higher risk for being hospitalized in an intensive care unit and for requiring the help of a breathing machine, in turn that places you at higher risk of death. Research also suggests that having COVID-19 during pregnancy might increase the risk for premature delivery or premature birth for your baby. Now, of course, we recommend that if you are pregnant and considering vaccination, you first discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination as you would for any treatment or vaccination with your doctor.
Dr. Vanderhoff : (24:05)
The governor also noted bone marrow transplant. These are sometimes also called hematopoietic stem cell transplants, and these patients, as the governor noted, are undergoing treatment primarily for cancer and certain anemias, and they face an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness. This category, I want to make clear though, does not include the kind of stem cell injections people might receive for the treatment of orthopedic problems, especially for their knees.
Dr. Vanderhoff : (24:40)
And then lastly, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a very serious though very rare condition with gradually increasing weakness and muscle wasting. And that eventually leads to paralysis and early death, it’s a very serious condition of the neurologic system. And as noted, we are clarifying that it is included among our serious neurologic conditions. Thank you, Governor.
Governor DeWine: (25:14)
Doctor, thank you very much. In addition, we’re going to talk about several different occupations that we are adding today, again, as part of 1C. Law enforcement officers, as well as correction officers, this group will include sworn law enforcement officers and peace officers who have first responder or direct supervisory responsibilities. These individuals must be active duty, working a regular minimum of 20 hours a week, they don’t include retired, special or reserve officers. Examples of individuals that are included are, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, Ohio State Highway Patrol Troopers, other state or federal officers such as Ohio Department of Natural Resource Enforcement Staff, pharmacy board investigators, BCI agents, state fire marshal employees, federal transportation security officers, and other federal law enforcement officers who do not have access to vaccination from federal sources. Some do apparently, and some don’t. We want to cover all those federal officers and make sure that they have a vaccination.
Governor DeWine: (26:27)
This group also includes correction staff. That means probation, parole staff who provide direct services to an adult or a juvenile inmate or court supervised individual. Basically it’s those who are dealing with those who were incarcerated. This group will also include individuals who have a valid acting firefighting certificate in the state of Ohio who are active employees of a recognized fire department. This does not include retired, Ameritas or reserve individuals, and it does include volunteer fire departments as well.
Governor DeWine: (27:09)
Our next group, childcare. This includes lead and assistant teachers and substitutes who are enrolled in Ohio’s professional registry, who are currently working in open childcare and pre-kindergarten programs. This will also include licensing specialists employed by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services or county job and family service agencies. This phase does not include parent volunteers, board members, or owners, administrators that don’t provide in-classroom support. We expect about 40,400 Ohioans to fall into this category. Also funeral services. This group will include embalmers, morticians, funeral home directors, crematory operators, and apprentices. We estimate this to be about 3,600 individuals.
Governor DeWine: (28:09)
The grand total of those individuals who are eligible, who are eligible under this expanded, this 1C is approximately 246,000 individuals. And let me just conclude that, that will go into effect Thursday. This will go into effect Thursday. So any of these individuals who I’ve just named in 1C will be eligible beginning Thursday morning. Also Thursday, March 4th, we will go to phase two. Phase two of our program will begin and will include those 60 years of age and over, 60 years of age and over. So we’re lowering the eligibility to 60, anybody above 60 is eligible. And again, this will go into effect on Thursday.
Governor DeWine: (29:16)
93% of our deaths are those 60 and above, 93% of our deaths. So the age numbers are just very, very critical. Two thirds of our hospitalizations have occurred with those 60 years of age and over. We look forward to making more announcements as we move forward. We had stayed on 65 for almost a month or close to a month based upon all the facts that I talked about, the additional vaccine coming in and the openings that we were seeing, reservations for vaccinations, we felt it was time to make this expansion.
Governor DeWine: (30:09)
Phase two has 695,000 individuals potentially eligible. So if you put the two together, you’ll see we’re slightly over 900,000 in the groups that we’re opening up today. I want to recognize all the volunteers out there. This morning as I was talking to the different health departments, a number of them just remarked at the amazing volunteers who it’s taken to get this job of vaccination done, both the medical personnel and nonmedical. People who have stepped up, donated their time to help their fellow citizens. We are very, very grateful for everything that they’re doing.
Governor DeWine: (30:56)
Eric let’s go and look at some of the numbers really quickly. Cases continue to be a lot less than they were a few weeks ago. Sadly, our deaths just continue, 49 reporting this day. Hospitalizations, 103, that’s a little bit under the 21 day rolling average. And our ICU admissions are right at what the 21 day average is. Eric, let’s look at the next slide, please. This is all 88 counties ranked by highest incidence. What you’ll see down in the bottom right-hand corner is more of the counties that are in white, and those are the counties that are now below the case number that the CDC considers high incidence. So the rest of them are above high incidence, these counties are now below. So very happy to see that. Eric, we’ll look at the next one.
Governor DeWine: (32:01)
Jefferson, Morgan, Athens, those are now our highest counties. About three times what the CDC says is a high instance. So again, these numbers are coming down, but if you look at the top 20, these are still very high numbers as far as spread is concerned. Eric, let’s look at the next one.
Governor DeWine: (32:26)
You’ll see hospital emissions continue to generally go down, although if you look at the number reported from yesterday’s hospital census, you’ll see that that is actually up by 20. But the trend line, the general trend line has continued and is good, certainly going in the right direction, Eric.
Governor DeWine: (32:55)
Well today we have an announcement in regard to Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Director Kimberly Henderson. Kim was married recently, congratulations, Kim. She and her husband are relocating to North Carolina this spring. In order to help create a smooth transition she will remain in the director’s role until next Monday, March 8th. At that time, our current director of administrative services, Matt Damschroder will move in as interim director at Jobs and Family Services. Director Henderson will become a senior advisor to him until her last day on April 30th. We will begin a nationwide search for Director Henderson’s permanent replacement. Until that search is completed, Matt Damschroder will provide steady leadership. At DAS, Matt’s current assistant director, Matt Whatley will become interim director.
Governor DeWine: (33:55)
Director, thank you very much for joining with us. Again, congratulations on your marriage and your relocation. So we’ll turn it over to you, thank you.
Director Kimberly Henderson: (34:09)
Thank you, Governor. I know ODJFS will be in great hands under Director Damschroder’s leadership. It’s truly been an honor to serve on your cabinet and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to lead such a talented and committed team at ODJFS. They are serving a record breaking three million Ohioans right now, and I’m so proud of their work. I’m also thankful for the partnership of the 150 plus local agencies that help administer our workforce and health and human services programs. I’m deeply grateful for the encouragement and support of my husband, Eric and my family and friends at home, my friends on cabinet and on the governor and lieutenant governor’s executive team. I’m headed to North Carolina in May, but Ohio will always be my home. Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (35:03)
Well Director, good luck to you.
Director Kimberly Henderson: (35:05)
Governor DeWine: (35:05)
Thank you very much for your service, we’re very grateful. The Director worked with me for a time when I was the attorney general. So we appreciate all your service and our very best wishes to you.
Director Kimberly Henderson: (35:22)
Governor DeWine: (35:23)
Lieutenant Governor: (35:26)
Thank you, Governor. I wanted to just touch base a little bit and make Ohioans aware of what’s happening with the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that passed through the US House of Representatives in recent days. There’s no doubt that the plan provides significant additional relief funding for state and local governments. However, there’s a provision in here that I want to raise an issue with. And that’s the fact that the relief bill, which provides $350 billion to state and local governments uses a formula that incorporates the state unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of calendar year 2020, instead of using the straight population-based formula that is traditional in most bills of this nature, and was certainly used in the previous CARES Act.
Lieutenant Governor: (36:28)
And in doing this, it really puts Ohio and a lot of States at a disadvantage in terms of the funding that comes from this. Ohio would disproportionately and negatively be impacted by our numbers that they’re using this on, basically it goes all the way back to December of 2020, where we had a 5.5% unemployment rate, which would rank us 21st in terms of funding. If it were based purely on population, we’d be ranked seventh in terms of funding. To put this in perspective, this proposal, because of this formula that’s being used based on unemployment, Ohio would lose over $800 million, $800 million as compared to an equitable population-based formula, which has been used in the past. And I want to highlight the fact that Governor DeWine and governors from across the country signed a letter releasing a joint statement opposing the new standard for the federal stimulus bill and how it would be allocated for the States.
Lieutenant Governor: (37:43)
I want to say this about it, it really punishes States who’ve been trying to do this right. The States that have tried to find a balance between protecting the health of its people from the pandemic and also protecting people’s economic health, trying to get them back to work where it was safe and manage this pandemic in a thoughtful way that finds that balance. And doing things that put people back to work actually are going to cost us relief dollars that the people who aren’t back to work actually need, and we don’t feel that this is a fair way to do this.
Lieutenant Governor: (38:31)
And I also might add this, that in this country right now, all 50 States are experiencing a tremendous amount of attempts at fraud, which has been going on throughout this process. And I also believe that that unemployment number is an unreliable number also for that fact. So for those two reasons, I just want to raise the issue, know that we will be wanting to make sure that our US senators knew, Senator Brown and Senator Portman. And we ask that the Senate and our senators help fix this legislation that came from the House that would punish Ohioans, frankly, for going back to work, and we need their help. So Governor, I just wanted to highlight that point and turn it back over to you now.
Governor DeWine: (39:16)
Right, I signed that letter and I think it’s not fair, and we hope that the Senate will take care of this problem. So thank you very much. I guess we’re ready to go to questions.
Speaker 1: (39:35)
Governor, our first question is from Jim Otte, WHIO in Dayton.
Governor DeWine: (39:39)
Jim Otte: (39:39)
Governor, thank you. Hey, correct me if I’m wrong, this is the single largest group that you have green-lighted for the vaccine, given the fact that there’s some people with medical conditions, some people, depending on their occupation, now this new age group, do we have the capacity to avoid another frustrating log jam that we’ve seen in previous groups? How do you plan to handle this, especially since we don’t have the extra large mass…
Jim Otte: (40:03)
… especially since we don’t have the extra large mass vaccination sites that are doing the 5,000 and 10,000 at sports stadiums yet. We just aren’t there yet. Can you do this?
Governor DeWine: (40:11)
Well, Jim, we’re going to be announcing shortly additional locations. As far as mass vaccination sites, that will not come for a while, but it’s not too far off. We have had big groups before. 80 years of age and older is a big group in the state of Ohio. We think that this is the time to do this because of the great increase in the amount of the vaccine coming into the state of Ohio. This is the largest amount that we’ve ever received. It is a big jump from what we’ve seen before. And we’re also seeing, while some people are still having some trouble getting the vaccine, we’re also seeing a large number of opportunities for people to get the vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (41:02)
We have now over 1,200 locations in the state of Ohio. That’s up 500 from what we started with. And in addition to that, well over 400,000 doses coming into the state of Ohio. It’s always a tough question because what you don’t want is vaccine leftover. You don’t want vaccine wasted. We know that this is a race against time. We know that there’s a great potential out there that this virus may get a lot more contagious very quickly. By some estimates, by the end of the month of March.
Governor DeWine: (41:50)
So every single day that goes by, it’s imperative that we get as many shots in people’s arms as we can. And so we have to expand that group of people who are eligible in order to make sure that all that vaccine gets taken up after it comes into the state of Ohio. Because to let it sit is just not a good thing. To waste it’s horrible. And to let it sit and be slow and getting it out simply means that there are lives out there that could be saved. And those lives are not being saved, not being protected because we would be slow in the uptake. So that’s what we’re doing. We made this decision. It was not an easy decision, but I’m confident that it’s the right decision.
Speaker 2: (42:42)
Next question is from Tom Jackson at the Sandusky Register.
Governor DeWine: (42:46)
Tom Jackson: (42:48)
Hi, governor. Thanks for taking my question. Governor, I think probably like many people, I’ve been obsessed with the vaccination scoreboard that you have at coronavirus. gov. And I’m wondering how you’re going to update that now that you have single dose vaccines and how quickly you’re going switch over your score-keeping system.
Governor DeWine: (43:14)
Yeah, look, Tom. I’m sorry You don’t like the system, but we think it’s accurate. It shows the first doses and it shows second doses. And obviously now that we have a vaccine where it’s only one dose, which is a good thing, we’re going to have first dose at the same time. That is actually going to be the ultimate dose. And so our report will show that and people will be able to understand what is going on, but we we’ve been continuing to report first doses and second doses. We report them separately. We report the demographic separately and you’ll see when we come out when the switch is made over, so that we’re starting to see in the next couple of days when we’re starting to see those one vaccine come into play, we’ll be able to demonstrate that on that scoreboard.
Tom Jackson: (44:09)
Governor, just to clarify, I like the scoreboard just fine. I don’t have a problem with it. I was just asking when you’re going to clarify it, because obviously you have a new kind of vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (44:20)
Yeah. And we’ll be putting something out in all likelihood tomorrow before that first number hits there. So we’ll be… In fact, Tom, this is a question I asked our team this morning and I didn’t have a chance to get an answer back before I walked in here today. But we’ll have an answer tomorrow before those numbers start accumulating on there.
Tom Jackson: (44:41)
Governor DeWine: (44:42)
You’re right on it. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (44:45)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at cleveland.com.
Governor DeWine: (44:48)
Laura Hancock: (44:50)
Hi, governor. I have a question also about unemployment. Since you brought in some private sector experts to help with the system, specifically what changes have you guys made?
Governor DeWine: (45:03)
Yeah, we’re going to have a report in the next few days and from the people from the private sector who have come in and I’m going to let them talk to you about it because they can certainly talk more in depth. And so we’ll have that information for you within the next few days. That was a very good question.
Speaker 2: (45:24)
Next question is from Clay Gordon at WBNS in Columbus.
Clay Gordon: (45:32)
Hey, governor. Are you there?
Governor DeWine: (45:33)
I’m here. Hi, Clay.
Speaker 2: (45:35)
Good afternoon, obviously major expansion news today with those eligible, but I got to ask what’s the next benchmark your office is looking at the hit for maybe expanding for new occupations and new age groups?
Governor DeWine: (45:50)
Age is going to continue to be our dominant indicator. We know that when we get down to 50, we’re going to be 97% or 98% of all the deaths have been people over 50. So age is really the best indicator. We’re balancing these things and trying to assess where the risk is. We’re trying to make sure we understand the best we can where the risk is. And so, as you saw what we did today, we lowered the age down to 60. And at the same time, we put several groups in there. And so, it’s a balance. And what we intend to do after 60 is to go to 55. And after 55, we intend to go to 50. And whether we add additional occupations, we have not frankly decided, but the age will continue.
Governor DeWine: (46:43)
The age will continue to be the key indicator. So we’re going to take it down as soon as we can to 55 and then to 50, but we’ve got to see the uptake here. And we sat on 65 for close to a month, and we think that was about the right period of time. I certainly do not anticipate that we’re going to be at 60 for a month, but we’re going to see what the uptake is along with the other groups that we just added.
Speaker 2: (47:13)
Next question is from Marty [Slayton 00:47:15] at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Governor DeWine: (47:16)
Marty Slayton: (47:18)
Good afternoon, governor.
Governor DeWine: (47:19)
Marty Slayton: (47:21)
So among the people eligible now are people who work in the prisons, but it doesn’t appear that inmates are. Is that right? And why not, if so?
Governor DeWine: (47:35)
We have followed, Marty, with prisoners and the attitude has been anybody in Ohio on age. So anybody over 65 up until this Thursday, whether they’re in prison, not in prison, whoever they are, they were eligible. We’ll go down on Thursday to age 60. In addition to that, we have people in our prisons who are in the equivalent of a nursing home. And so when we got to that point, they were included.
Governor DeWine: (48:11)
Same thing with the medical groups. Medical groups that we had in place before the anybody in prison was eligible if they had that medical group. So that’s what we’re following. But you’re correct, besides that, what I just described, we are not vaccinating prisoners beyond that at this point, although we have certainly vaccinated prisoners who’ve fallen under those other categories. One of the things that I would point out, and one of the arguments certainly for doing this is that the virus comes into the prison by people who work there or people who are delivering something. And that’s the only way it can come in. Prisoners aren’t leaving. So by vaccinating these individuals, that also lessens the chance that the prisoners themselves will get it.
Speaker 2: (49:15)
Next question is from Dan DeRose at WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRose: (49:19)
Good afternoon, governor.
Governor DeWine: (49:21)
Dan DeRose: (49:22)
Another question about logistical [inaudible 00:49:25] here. One of the biggest complaints we get that is when we add another group, these major pharmacies, and I can’t say that I blame them because they’re trying to run pharmacies all over the country. They have a problem updating their websites so that, hey, now I’m eligible, but I keep going to their website. It keeps kicking me out. Is there anything you can do to put pressure on the pharmacies to, hey, this Thursday, you better be ready and it better be up and rolling.
Governor DeWine: (49:54)
Yes. They better be ready. We’ve told them that. And part of the decision-making in regard to announcing it today, but it going into effect on Thursday was how long is it going to take them to update that? And we went around to the different chain pharmacies, and we were satisfied that they could update it by Thursday morning. So that was… You’re absolutely right. That’s a concern. It’s a consideration. And it’s one of the things that we discussed yesterday in putting the final touches on this is how long it would take for them to update so that if someone had that medical condition and they went in, that system would be ready for them.
Speaker 2: (50:42)
Next question is from Andrew Wells Huggins at the Associated Press.
Andrew Wells Huggins: (50:46)
Hi governor, can you hear me okay?
Governor DeWine: (50:48)
Andrew Wells Huggins: (50:49)
Yeah. Thanks for doing this as always. I had a question on the numbers on the school personnel vaccinations. I think you said it was around 200,000 K-12. I’m wondering if, do we have a breakdown of teachers versus other school personnel? Do we know what that figure is related to the total number of personnel? And depending on that answer, are there plans to, similar with the nursing home employees who were a little reluctant to get it, what’s the strategy for continuing to encourage vaccination of school employees?
Governor DeWine: (51:24)
Andrew, my guess is… We’ll check on this. My guess is we do not have a differentiation between a teacher and a bus driver or any other school personnel. What we can tell you is the total that was reported to us, and that was over 300,000, would be eligible. We can tell you what the pharmacy partners estimated after talking the schools, what they estimated the uptake would be. And we’re still waiting for final numbers to come in, in regard to the number of people who actually took it.
Governor DeWine: (52:03)
But our best guess at this point is it’s about 200,000, but I don’t believe we can break it down by occupation within the school. But we certainly will check on that. As far as our nursing homes, we have now started the maintenance program for vaccinations in our nursing homes. We had the first vaccines going to some of the nursing homes late last week, more than this week and more than the next week. It’s our goal to have every one of these nursing homes enrolled because all nursing homes continue to get a new employees. They all continue to get new residents. And so every new employee, every new resident should be offered and will be offered the opportunity to have a vaccination.
Governor DeWine: (52:54)
In addition to that, we are urging our nursing homes, if they had people who were employees or residents who the first time and the second time around said, no, I don’t want it. If they’ve changed their mind, we would love to have them vaccinated. So this is a program we’re proud of. It’s not into full force yet, but it’s moving towards that. And these nursing homes will get those drugs. They’ll get that vaccine through their pharmacy group that normally supplies them with the drugs. And we will be filtering these vaccines through those different groups. And we think it’s a program that’s going to work very well.
Speaker 2: (53:41)
Next question is from Spencer Hickey at Hanna News Service.
Spencer Hickey: (53:45)
Thank you. Governor, the director of the CDC this morning made a comment that rolling back public health restrictions too quickly could cause the nation to “completely lose the hard- earned ground we’ve gained.” I was wondering if you could comment on that as far as what Ohio will do.
Governor DeWine: (54:06)
Yeah, I totally agree. It’s very important as we talk about the spring and the summer to continue to do what we have to do. We’ve got two things going for us, two big things, and one is the vaccine and we must continue to vaccinate as many people who can as quickly as we can, but two is we have to continue to wear a mask. We now know that masks are extremely effective. We’ve seen what it’s done in schools. When all kids are wearing masks, we’ve seen virtually no spread in the classroom itself.
Governor DeWine: (54:40)
And so as we talk about fairs the summer, as we talk about baseball games, as we talk about any number of different things, we can do them is the good news, but we have to have masks and we have to have compliance. And this has been something that we have stressed with every group that we have talked to, when we talk about what is the summer going to look like? So you will not see us letting up in regard to the mask wearing and distancing until we get to the point where we have that herd immunity that we’re all longing for. And so, we can do a lot of things this summer, but we’ve got to be very careful. So I agree. Absolutely agree with that statement.
Speaker 2: (55:23)
The next question is from Jo Ingles at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Jo Ingles: (55:28)
Hello, governor, thank you for doing this. I have a question about these extra shots that are being… We’re still hearing people say that shots are being wasted. Is there any way that you are tracking that to see how many is wasted? And can we get updates on where those are being wasted, if that is the case? We’re also reading that Walmart and CVS are saying, if they have extra shots and they can’t find someone immediately in the eligible group to take them, that they’re going to give them to their employees. Do you have a problem with that? And how do you think these extra shots should be handled? Should there be a waiting list, an on call list, or something that everyone can pull from? I mean, it just seems like everyone’s handling it differently.
Governor DeWine: (56:24)
Jo, we’ve made it so clear to people. I’ll do this again. We now have an additional 500 providers out there. So when you have a 1,205 providers, I’m sure someone is not always listening, but we think the providers by and large get it, understand. We’ve made it very clear. What we have said is that, first of all, you should try to estimate the best you can. Second, if you have something left over and you cannot keep it, follow the regulations, you obviously have to follow the regulations. What we’re saying to them is you should have, when you start that day, a list of people you’re going to go to.
Governor DeWine: (57:07)
And I know that a number of them do have a list and we’ve asked them to get that list from people who are in the eligible group. So that’s a pretty broad group. Beginning on Thursday, it’ll be anybody over 60 as well as other occupations. So they really shouldn’t have trouble being able to go to those groups that are eligible groups. But we have said in the rare case where that does not happen or can’t happen, no, we do not want one wasted. And so, giving them to their employees under those circumstances would be fine. The last thing we want to see is those waster.
Governor DeWine: (57:49)
And look, there’s a lot of stuff on the internet about stories, but we have published, we have told you about a couple cases, very, very sad cases where it expired. There was a reason that that happened. It wasn’t good, but we report anything that we know in regard to that. Lieutenant governor?
Lieutenant Governor: (58:15)
Yeah, governor. Again, I’ve referenced this, this form. Every provider has had the guidance about how they’re supposed to handle this. They know that they need to put a waiting list together with people who are eligible by age group, by qualification group so that they can call them at the end of the day if they think they’re going to have extras. I know, look, when there are over 700, now we’re over 1,200 providers as the governor mentioned, that we’re going to have some people that won’t do it the way we’ve asked them to and clearly defined how they’re supposed to do it.
Lieutenant Governor: (58:53)
But I asked this question, Jo, when I go to visit these places when I was in Mansfield, at the Health Department, or last week when I was at Hopewell and Chillicothe, and I say, “Hey, do you have your emergency list available?” And they’re like, “Oh yeah, yeah, we have it.” And it’s filled out. And on occasions where people don’t show up for appointments or we have extra doses, because we were able to get more out of the vials or whatever it might be, they call their lists. And every provider that I’ve talked to has built this list and works through it when the time comes.
Speaker 2: (59:27)
Next question is from Jessie [inaudible 00:59:29] to the Cincinnati Inquirer.
Governor DeWine: (59:32)
I imagine every time you have a list, you have people excited to be on it and people frustrated not to be on it. But if you could maybe explain why certain conditions like cancer, kidney disease, aren’t on it, or certain professions like restaurant workers or grocery workers, who presumably have a lot of contact with the public as well.
Governor DeWine: (59:52)
Sure. Dr. Vanderhoff, I’ll refer to him on the medical side of that. We believe that age is still the best indicator.
Governor DeWine: (01:00:03)
We believe that age is still the best indicator. We made some exceptions when we thought there was a compelling case that an individual was at very significant risk and we made exceptions for those. Dr. Vanderhoff?
Dr. Vanderhoff : (01:00:18)
Yes Governor, that’s absolutely right. Our effort is to do the most good for the most people with the limited resource that’s available and age really is our best guide to identifying people in Ohio who are at risk for dying from COVID-19. There really is no measure, no way of identifying one’s risk of severe illness or death that’s better than age. Many of the medical conditions that not currently are listed medical conditions are ones that are much more common as we get older and while it is not possible to account for every person who might have some of those other medical conditions when we are using an age-based cutoff, we know that we are accounting for most of those people in many circumstances so very simply put age really does allow us to best capture risk as evidenced by the fact, the governor has shared this before that at 65+, we were accounting for 87% of the risk of death and when we get down as we are approaching age 50, we’ll be at around 97 or 98% accounting for the risk of death.
Speaker 3: (01:01:45)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:01:49)
Governor DeWine: (01:01:50)
Adrienne Robbins: (01:01:50)
Thank you for taking our questions today. When it comes to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, does the state have any plan in place to try to utilize the one shot doses to certain communities and for people who to get an appointment when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is here, should they be hesitant about getting that vaccine versus the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine especially if they’re older?
Governor DeWine: (01:02:16)
Well I’ll let Dr. Vanderhoff take that. I will point out that the White House made it clear they wanted broad through every population grow, or at least every geographical area of the state and we have tried to do that and to follow that. Dr. Vanderhoff, you want to talk about the comparisons of the three?
Dr. Vanderhoff : (01:02:43)
Yes sir, certainly. The news regarding Johnson & Johnson is very, very good indeed. We now have a single dose vaccine that stores very nicely with regular refrigeration and appears to not only be effective but to have a very modest side effect profile. Remember when we think about these vaccines, the end point that matters is do they prevent people from being hospitalized and dying and this vaccine is 100% effective at that endpoint and that’s true not just here in the United States but also in South Africa and Brazil where the highly resistant strains are circulating.
Dr. Vanderhoff : (01:03:27)
So in a nutshell, I look at what we now have available and we’re beginning to develop a menu of options. One of those is Johnson & Johnson, one shot instead of two. A favorable side effect profile, and at the end of the day, we have three vaccines, all of which will keep you out of the hospital, out of the ICU, and out of the morgue.
Governor DeWine: (01:03:56)
Let me just add to that, one of the things we are looking at, are there logical places where one shot makes more sense and we’re still analyzing that and we’ll have more in the days ahead.
Speaker 3: (01:04:16)
Next question is from Scott Halasz at the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Governor DeWine: (01:04:20)
Scott Halasz: (01:04:28)
It would help if I unmuted myself. Can you hear me?
Governor DeWine: (01:04:31)
I can now, Scott. You’re good.
Scott Halasz: (01:04:34)
Sorry about that. So with regards to the folks who have been vaccinated already and this might be a better question for Dr. Vanderhoff, I’ve seen some people on social media and just out and about where people are saying, “Well I’ve had my vaccines, now I’ve had both doses, I’m not going to wear a mask anymore. I’m just going to go out and about, do whatever I want, life back to normal because I’m not at risk of getting COVID.” Is that a smart play or are there still precautions people need to take because they could potentially be carriers and not show any symptoms even though they’ve had the vaccine, they can still pass it on to people?
Governor DeWine: (01:05:09)
Dr. Vanderhoff, it’s all yours.
Dr. Vanderhoff : (01:05:12)
Thank you. I think that your answer is a very, very good one. Let me explain that a little bit further. So our vaccines are very, very good but not any of them are 100%. So until more and more of us get vaccinated, it’s premature for us to talk about putting aside our masks and social distancing. A number of things could happen. One, you could have gotten the vaccine and been one of the few people for whom the vaccine really was not effectively. Secondly, there’s a time period between when you get the vaccine and the vaccine is effective. It’s variable, but it’s a period of weeks for all of these vaccines after you finish your vaccination and then the third issue is that even once we’re fully vaccinated, our immune systems are ready to go, when we’re exposed to any virus, it takes our immune systems a little bit of time to be ready to deal with that and prevent us from spreading it to others. So it all boils down to herd immunity. When we get closer to that, as the governor has noted, we’re going to be able to start talking about moving back away from some of these safeguards that we’re using now but it’s premature.
Speaker 3: (01:06:40)
Next question is from Alexis Moberger at WSYX in Columbus.
Alexis Moberger: (01:06:45)
Hi Governor, can you hear me okay?
Governor DeWine: (01:06:47)
I can indeed Alexis. Thank you.
Alexis Moberger: (01:06:51)
Great. So Dr. Vanderhoff and you just kind of touched on it but with these vaccine clinics, are they going to be the ones to decide how all three vaccines are distributed or will there be guidance on who gets the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Moderna, Pfizer. I guess how do you keep people from getting too picky, deciding which ones they want or don’t want, when they go into a vaccine clinic?
Governor DeWine: (01:07:18)
I think it’s been said very well by a number of the national experts as well as Dr. Vanderhoff, they’ve all said really the same thing, if you can get the vaccine, get it. We’ve seen tragically too many cases where someone got the vaccine and it was too late, they already had the COVID and they died and we see these and that’s why it’s so imperative … Every day matters. Every day matters, so if you have the opportunity to get that vaccine, you need to get it. Dr. Vanderhoff, [inaudible 01:07:54].
Dr. Vanderhoff : (01:07:56)
Yes Governor. I think you said it very, very well. The best vaccine to get is the one that is available. When it’s your turn, get in line and get your vaccine. We are confident that we now have three vaccines that will keep us safe and I think that that’s something that we can all feel good about.
Governor DeWine: (01:08:21)
Let me add one thing, I forgot to mention and this I think is important for scheduling. So not just for the providers, but for everyone out there who is going to try to get the vaccine. We have now authorized the providers to book for the week of March 8 as well as the week of March 15. So this week and the next two weeks, they can now book. We’ve told them to assume 75% of the doses that they’re receiving this week, we hope that they’ll get more, and they very well may get more. That means that those may free up as they get closer in time, but this is going to enable the providers to book for three weeks and it’s going to enable people to get vaccinations booked so it should open up a lot more slots once the providers get that moving in the next few days and I think it’s going to give people some confidence that they have a slot, they have a vaccine time, they have a date. I think that will help as well.
Dr. Vanderhoff : (01:09:34)
Next question is from Justin Dennis at MahoningMatters.com.
Justin Dennis: (01:09:40)
Good afternoon Governor.
Governor DeWine: (01:09:42)
Justin Dennis: (01:09:43)
We’d like to know how the new capacity limits on entertainment and sporting venues affect school musical or theatrical performances. You may remember we asked last month about guidance for school arts. Given the upcoming orders, has any more thought been given to students who choose to participate in arts rather than sports who may still have time to prepare a spring performance and maybe Dr. Vanderhoff could weigh in on how these events are considered riskier than sports.
Governor DeWine: (01:10:09)
Yeah, as a grandfather who’s enjoyed a lot of musicals and plays from my grandchildren at school, this is something that’s certainly near and dear to my heart. We’ve not put out specific guidance on that but where a Broadway play coming into town might not be able to operate with a third, it probably can’t, of an audience or a fraction of an audience, certainly high school drama can occur, high school musicals can occur, and we will in the next week or so give specific guidance in regard to that. So I would think that this would be something that we would be able to see this spring is theater in our high schools, in our colleges.
Speaker 3: (01:11:05)
Next question is from Nathan Hart at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Nathan Hart: (01:11:10)
Hi Governor, we’re still hearing from viewers that they’re having trouble getting their eligible loved ones vaccinated. Is there a risk that with the Phase 1C and Phase 2 that these Ohioans could crowd our previously eligible Ohioans who haven’t been vaccinated yet?
Governor DeWine: (01:11:27)
I got the first part, some people are not able to get their relatives set up for the vaccination but give me the second part because I’m not sure I heard it correctly.
Nathan Hart: (01:11:37)
Yeah, now that we have these two new large groups that are eligible to get vaccinated, is there a risk that these new groups could crowd out the previously eligible Ohioans who maybe haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated yet?
Governor DeWine: (01:11:50)
Well that’s always the fear. That’s always the fear that we have and we have to balance that with the damage that would be done if we get a lot of the vaccine that there’s not the uptake and that we don’t get it in people’s arms so it’s a constant balance. We try to figure out how do you keep enough pressure so you’re getting the vaccine taken up every week and we’ve told our providers you need to have it out in five days, absolutely no later than seven days. Don’t be sitting there with it because we know that time is of the essence, but on the other hand, we also know that we have people who have tried to get it and have not been able to get it.
Governor DeWine: (01:12:28)
What I read just a moment ago was where things were this morning and as of this morning, without adding any groups or without adding any really huge number of providers, there were a lot of places open. We now are allowing the registration for a total of three weeks so the providers can register for three weeks, for that whole week of the 15th, beginning on the 15th. So that’s going to open up a lot more slots and the amount of vaccine that is coming into Ohio, well, well over 400,000 doses, first doses this week is also going to open up a lot of other slots. We will have a further announcement about other locations coming up in the next week so there’s going to be a lot of different slots out there. Will there still be some people that are having difficulty, I’m sure that’s true, I wish it wasn’t true, but we’re just trying to balance these two things.
Speaker 3: (01:13:38)
Next question is from John London at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Governor DeWine: (01:13:42)
John London: (01:13:43)
Hi Governor. So I apologize if I’m a little confused here but I want some clarity from you if you would.
Governor DeWine: (01:13:50)
John London: (01:13:50)
I thought 1C included essential workers at one time, food service and manufacturing or am I wrong about that? Are they not eligible now and what can you say about when they would be eligible?
Governor DeWine: (01:14:08)
John, the CDC, the federal guidance came out and they had different orders. The challenge that we face when we … One of the challenges we face when we look at what the CDC did is they had a huge group. They had huge groups and they didn’t really prioritize. They just dumped everybody in several different groups and so as a governor, we had the responsibility to try to prioritize it, not just say everybody at once. We looked at this from the point of view of how many lives can we save and how is the best way to do this. We came up with what we think the data clearly shows, and that is that age is by far the best predictor. We have made some exceptions as we have moved forward but we remain focused primarily on age. We have picked a couple occupations that are very front-facing in the sense, dealing directly with the public, in the case of law enforcement arresting people physically, so we’ve tried to balance all the risk as well as the liability that that person did in fact get the COVID.
Governor DeWine: (01:15:27)
If you look at most of the things that we have done, they have been based on risk of death if you got the COVID, and if we can get down to 50, if we can get to 50 and we will get to 50, and everybody above 50 that wants to be vaccinated would be vaccinated, the fact is is that’s 97, 98% of all deaths are over 50. So it is just the best indicator and some of these comorbidity things that people very rightly say, “Mike, why don’t you include this? This is a high risk,” when you have the age, you’re including most of those individuals. We’ve also taken with people under 50 who have special medical problems and we’re trying to continue, trying to balance those and come up with what we think is the right approach to save the most lives.
Speaker 3: (01:16:24)
Governor, next question is the last question for today and it belongs to Dustin Ensinger from Gongwer News Service.
Dustin Ensinger: (01:16:31)
Hi Governor. As I am sure you are aware, the Senate has formed a select committee to study the issue of legalizing sports gambling in Ohio with an eye towards possibly including that in the operating budget. Is that something that you would support?
Governor DeWine: (01:16:45)
Sports gaming is already in Ohio. Ohio is just not regulating it and this is something that is I think inevitable and it’s coming to Ohio. So the members of the general assembly are working that process and I will have the opportunity to see what they come up with. I’ll have the opportunity to weigh in at the appropriate time but sports gaming is certainly coming to Ohio.
Governor DeWine: (01:17:14)
I want to thank everybody and this is a special week and I’ll have more to say about this on Thursday but two days from now I believe is the anniversary of the decision that we made in regard to the Arnold Classic along with Mayor Ginther. That was really at least for me the beginning of the pandemic because we made the decision to close the Arnold Classic. So it’s hard to believe it has been an entire year, and so Wednesday will be the anniversary of that. On Thursday I will talk a little bit about that but I’ll talk also about some of the things that we’re going to do to observe this year anniversary and also talk about the future. See you all on Thursday. Thank you very much.