Mar 16, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 16
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on March 16, 2021 at a mass vaccination center to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:59)
Morning, everybody. Hey, everybody. Everybody set. All good. Well, good morning, everybody. This is a exciting day. Happy St. Patrick’s day, a day early. This is… What we’re seeing today has certainly taken a lot of work by a number of people. I want to first thank Cleveland State, President Harlan Sands for his great work and for hosting us. I’m joined also by Cuyahoga County Administrator, Armond Budish, who’s certainly been a great partner on this as well as FEMA region acting administrator, Kevin Sligh. Kevin and I have talked, the administrator and I have talked quite a bit on the phone. First time we’ve had a chance to meet today. So all of us will be speaking today. Also, want to certainly thank the United States Army from Fort Campbell, as well as the National Guard, primarily from Brook Park. We had the opportunity just a moment ago. I know many of you toured the site yesterday.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (05:04)
We had the chance to actually go out on the floor, spend about a half an hour just talking to people who were coming in and people who had already got their shot. And I think the universal reaction was one of relief and happiness. This is a great day. I want to just mention, the last huge event took place. One of the events that took place, it took a lot of preparation. For example, was the national convention. That took over a year to plan. And I just, again, want to thank everyone. We’re planning this eight week mass vaccination site. This is state, local, federal teams all really came together and came together in about a two week period of time. So it’s gone very, very well. We’re going to start ramping up. Approximately 1500 people today will get vaccinated. We hope in a few days, four or five days, to be up to 6,000 per day.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (06:15)
We are starting off with the Pfizer for the first six weeks. The first three weeks will be first doses and then that will repeat with the people who got their first doses will come back for their second doses. The seventh week and the eighth week, it’s our plan to have Johnson & Johnson. So those obviously will be a one shot and done situation. Vaccination team will be putting shot in arm seven days a week, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. We will be able to vaccinate a total, with this particular help of this FEMA site, this national FEMA site, this partnership between the state and the federal government, 210,000 people. So I want to thank FEMA. I want thank the president, President Biden, for making this site available for us. These doses are on top of the other doses that we have received. So we’re very, very, very happy about that. And again, 210,000 people will be able to be vaccinated because of this site and because of these extra doses.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:36)
A big focus for Ohio and for the White House has been equity. Ensuring that all Ohioans no matter where they live can get vaccinated if they choose to do so. This is part of why the Wolstein Center was chosen for the clinic. We thought about this. We talked to a lot of different people and made the decision needed to be in Northeast Ohio, and then came to the conclusion that really the Wolstein Center on Cleveland State campus was the best place to do it. Cuyahoga County alone is home to more than 1.2 million people. Within six miles of this site alone, there are more than 100 neighborhoods with higher than average social vulnerability. With the help of more than 300 local community partners who are going into neighborhoods, giving citizens information about the vaccines and helping them register. And I’m just going to name a few of them, but they’re, as I said, over 300 local partners. They include the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, the NAACP, the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, Global Cleveland, The Hispanic Roundtable, faith based groups, and many, many, many more.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:02)
This is really an example of Ohioans coming together to make a difference. Fran and I have had the opportunity to travel all over the state in the last 10 days. And what we have seen in community after community is volunteers coming together, Ohioans in the individual county rallying together. And as we’ve looked at the different sites, frankly, we’ve seen every type of site. We’ve seen the National Guard into high rise senior citizens, housing. We’ve seen fairgrounds used for drive-through in Marysville, for example. And just the common denominator every single place is people coming together, Ohioans coming together to really, really make a difference. We had the opportunity just a moment ago to talk to some of the translators. We have translators here for, I think, six different languages onsite to accommodate those who speak different languages so that every Ohioan vaccinated here has the best experience possible if people have questions. Our partners are offering also free transportation to, and from the Wolstein Center for those who need that transportation. Where we’ve also are working on plans to bring vaccinations directly into the neighborhoods. And we’ll have more about that in the next few weeks.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (10:31)
More announcements about that. Besides this site, there’s another 150 sites in Cuyahoga County alone where people can get the vaccination. Right now, those who are aged 50 and older plus those with certain medical conditions can sign up for an appointment here in Cleveland or any of Ohio’s 1300 vaccine providers throughout the state. So that’s the number we are up to statewide. As I said, again, 150 of those locations right here in Cuyahoga County. So very, very exciting. Let me talk for a moment about where we are. Today, we will… When the data comes out today, it will show over 2.4 million Ohioans have received their first dose. One fifth, better than one fifth now of all Ohioans. That’s not adults Ohioans, and that’s all Ohioans. Over one fifth of Ohioans have received their first dose. And very happily, we are now crossed over two thirds of those 70 years of age and older. And that number, we hope, will continue. But that is our most vulnerable population. So two thirds of those now have been vaccinated with at least their first dose.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (11:55)
As I said, Fran and I have been really traveling around the state and it is an amazing thing to see all the volunteers who are coming together to see what the local health departments are doing and all the other partners in every single community. So I want to publicly thank all the volunteers, not just here, not just the people who are working in the Wolstein Center, but people from throughout the state of Ohio who really are making a difference. Now, before we get to the other speakers, I want to talk for a moment about where we are going from here in Ohio. The question that I get asked, of course, every day is when will my group be able to open up? When will I be able to get a vaccination? So, Fran and I spent the weekend talking to different health departments, actually visiting where sites were taking place.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (12:51)
Also, this morning I had the opportunity, as I do once a week, to talk to all 113 health departments in the state on a conference call and tried to ascertain exactly where we are as far as the vaccinations. My question to them this morning was, are you filling up? How fast are you filling up? Have you had to cancel any clinics? Just exactly where you are. And the answer that we got back was certainly mixed. In some parts of the state, there is more demand, frankly, geographically, than in other parts of the state. But the consensus from talking to the health departments who really have their best view of what is going on. The consensus, at least, was that we need to open up vaccinations even further. We’ve always had two goals.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:52)
One law, one main goal. The main goal is to save lives. And we do that in several ways. One is by focusing on the most vulnerable, and that’s why we started in our nursing homes, that’s why we started with people 80 and above. And we’ve continued to add medically fragile groups and move forward on that. So we try to target what we’re doing and that, I think, has worked very, very well. But at the same time, there is an imperative that shots not sit any place. That we get them taken up as quickly as possible. Fran and I have a friend and I shared this with some of you before. But Fran and I have a friend. I talked to him one day, he was getting his shot the next day, his first shot. The next thing I heard a few weeks later, he had died.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (14:49)
So he did not get the shot early enough. If he’d got it a week before, two weeks before, maybe that would have blocked him from getting the COVID. So there’s just an imperative that we move as quickly as we can. This vaccine is still, excuse me, this virus is still very, very, very much out there. Fran and I were walking this morning through the Cleveland clinic and the red is still up and indicating exactly where we are as a state. So a moral imperative to get this out just as quickly as we could. Let me talk about supply. We are running this week about 400,000 coming into the state of Ohio. That is very significant. That’s gone up as you know. Continues to go up. Next week, we don’t know the exact number, we’ll be given that exact number later today, but we think it’s going to be in the neighborhood of 400,000 doses. The week of March 29th. We’ve had every indication from the federal government and the Biden administration that we will see a rather significant increase-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (16:02)
… duration that we will see a rather significant increase for the week of March 29th. So this is all background, as far as what I’m going to announce. So today we’re going to extend eligibility. The extension of this eligibility will start on Friday morning, this coming Friday morning. So I’m announcing that this Friday, we will open eligibility to individuals who have one of five specialized medical conditions that may increase their risk of severe illness and death from COVID. This is in addition to the other medical conditions that we’ve already announced. This offers protection to these high risk individuals who are not already eligible through our age based approach to vaccines. Eligible individuals can receive a vaccine from the provider, of course, of their choice.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (16:56)
We are calling this 1E. This is what we’re calling 1E. This includes individuals with at least one of the following medical conditions. They are as follows. Cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, heart disease, and obesity. So again, those are cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and obesity. This group we estimate is approximately 766,000 Ohioans, who would not be otherwise eligible by age or other qualifying condition. These are individuals who would be under the age of 40, which brings me to the next phase.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:51)
Second, what we’re calling phase 2C, will also begin on Friday, March 19th. Phase 2C will extend eligibility to all Ohioans who are 40 years of age and older, 40 years of age and older. This eligibility is about 818,000 Ohioans between the age of 40 and 49. So if you look at those two, again, eligibility for Ohioans 40 and above, 40 to 49, that adds 818,000. If you look at the five chronic disease conditions that we’ve listed today, those are individuals who are under the age of 40, and that is 766,000 Ohioans who are added. So between these two eligibility groups is about 1.6 million new Ohioans who will now be eligible.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:57)
So that everyone can plan, we are also announcing today that beginning on March 29th, every Ohioan will be eligible. That’s all Ohioans, age 16 years of age and older. So again, I’m announcing that on March 29th, eligibility will open up in Ohio for every Ohioan who is 16 years of age and older. It’s important to note that teenagers who are 16, 17, 18 will only be eligible to get the Pfizer… Excuse me, 16 and 17, will only be able to get the Pfizer vaccine. The FDA emergency use authorization for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines only covers individuals age 18 and older. So just one little caveat there.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (19:52)
I want to thank everyone who’s made today possible. And I want to talk for a moment about what’s going on just in Cuyahoga County and the surrounding area. Although the mass vaccination clinic here at the Wolstein Center is certainly the biggest site in Ohio, it’s not the only site. Now it is the only FEMA site, it’s the only federal government partnership with the state. And again, I want to thank the Biden administration and thank FEMA. You’re going to hear from the acting administrator of this region in just a moment, Mr. Sligh. They’ve been great, very great to work with. He has been great to work with, and we’re very grateful for that. Eligible individuals can receive a vaccine from the provider of their choice. And as I said, Ohio has 1300 providers statewide. We’re also offering the vaccine at local health departments, pop up clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, and other sites. This includes a number of providers, of course, right here in the Cleveland area. It has been remarkable to watch the Cleveland community, Cuyahoga County community, rally around the single purpose, to vaccinate residents just as quickly as humanly possible. Just a few I want to mention and thank them for the great work. The City of Cleveland, Mayor Frank Jackson, has held vaccination events at neighborhood resource and recreation centers and school buildings located in areas where the most vulnerable residents have lived. City officials also partnered with local hospitals and local and state agencies to create mobile pods to vaccinate individuals residing and living in targeted congregate living facilities, including disabled residents and those living in recovery housing.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:36)
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health. I want to thank both the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the City Board of Health, both doing a great job. Cuyahoga County Board of Health vaccinated 350 people in East Cleveland, just as another example, in partnership with the Salvation Army. Many local community and faith groups, EMA, local media, Metro Health, and our federally qualified health clinics. County Board of Health has also been vaccinating people at the Word Church in Warrensville Heights. During the most recent clinic, they vaccinated about 1600 people. They’re adding additional days and have worked with the local senior center and local agencies to reach the most vulnerable people in the community. In addition to the work that they do every day serving the underserved in their communities, the federally qualified health centers are doing a phenomenal job throughout the region by partnering with local and state agencies, with hospitals and community and faith leaders, so that the at-risk in their communities have easier access to the vaccines.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (22:36)
Metro Health has been vaccinating in homeless shelters in Cleveland. Working in partnership with both local health departments, Metro Health got Johnson & Johnson vaccines, have started using them to vaccinate individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Metro Health also has operated several vaccination clinics in neighborhoods with large underserved populations, including Bedford, Cleveland Heights, and their Broadway Clinic. They’ve been calling people, calling them on the phone to sign up for vaccinations with special emphasis on reaching communities of color, people of color.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:12)
University Hospitals is one of the health systems in the state that has stepped up to deliver vaccines to their patients, to the public. Since Friday, UH has administered… Altogether, UHS has administered 32,000 vaccinations to Ohioans. Cleveland Clinic has provided at least one dose of vaccine to more than a hundred thousand individuals, including their caregivers, patients, and community members. Last week, they have opened community vaccination sites at Langston Hughes Health and Education Center on the East Side of Cleveland. And next week will open a vaccination site at Independence. Cleveland Clinic has also reached into their community and vaccinated 800 home bound individuals, going out to people’s homes in the Cuyahoga County. In addition, the regional rapid response assistance program and partnership through the Ohio Department of Aging, Ohio National Guard has provided vaccinations to over a thousand older adults in 17 affordable housing properties in the past several weeks in Cuyahoga County, and more to do. We’re grateful for the partnership with the Cleveland Department of Public Health, Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging. That program continues and will get more sites as we move forward. We’re also grateful to all these groups for their ongoing partnerships as we move forward.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (24:37)
I also want to mention this week, we’re also launching mass vaccination sites, pop-up clinics in Columbus and Cincinnati. And in just a few weeks, at the end of this month, we believe 15 regional mass vaccination clinics are opening throughout the state. Again, these clinics would not be happening without the help of all the local providers and local support. Before I turn to Administer Sligh, I want to say, thanks again to FEMA. I’d also like to thank some of our other partners who helped us launch this mass vaccination site today. The City of Cleveland, Mayor Frank Jackson. Cuyahoga County, you’ll hear from Armand in a moment. Cleveland State University, the Department of Defense, as well as the Cleveland Clinic, Metro Health, University Hospitals, and all of our public health partners throughout the Northeast Ohio region. Also want to thank the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and the Ohio National Guard, have been really instrumental in this.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (25:37)
As a reminder, you must have an appointment to get vaccinated here, although they are also taking walk-ins, not to get vaccinated that day, but usually people who walk in can register as well for future days. So to reserve a time, anyone can go to gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. That’s gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. We opened up a week’s worth of appointments yesterday. They’re filling very rapidly. And also, as we move forward, if if there are appointments that are canceled, we will in turn open those up as well. We’re working very, very closely with our community partners and allotting slots for them. If they have not used up their total 48 hours before, as I announced on Sunday, we will open those up as well. With that, let me hand it over to FEMA Acting Regional Administrator, Kevin Sligh. Kevin, thank you very, very much. Mr. Administrator, we appreciate your good work. And I know this has been a real rush and things coming together for everybody this last week. We appreciate you coming in from Chicago. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Sligh: (27:00)
Mr. Sligh: (27:00)
Good morning. And thank you for joining us as we announce the official opening of the Wolstein Center Vaccination Site, to further expand equitable vaccine access across the Cleveland area. Expanding and expediting vaccine availability is a whole of government effort. I want to first recognize the support of President Biden and his administration, and thank Governor DeWine, Ohio’s EMA Director, Sima Meric, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, along with our many federal partners at HHS, the CDC, DOD, and others who have come together to bring Northeast Ohio such a critical resource to help in this pandemic. I would also like to thank Cleveland State University and its President Harlan Sands for the generous use of their space and ongoing collaboration to ensure we could make this day happen.
Mr. Sligh: (28:07)
FEMA and our federal family, the state of Ohio, Cuyahoga County and the city of Cleveland have partnered to establish this community vaccination site at the Wolstein Center to increase COVID-19 vaccine access to individuals most in need across the metropolitan area. The goal of establishing these joint federal pilot centers is to continue expanding the rate of vaccinations in an efficient, effective, and equitable manner, with an explicit focus on communities with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure and infection. Those include the black and brown communities and medically underserved hit hardest by the pandemic. The federal government is committed to the equitable distribution of vaccines.
Mr. Sligh: (29:02)
The decision for where to locate this site included local input and public health data such as the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index and other census data, and localized considerations such as the existing deployment of resources, and feedback from state public health experts. The Wolstein Center does not only provide the necessary space and structure to administer up to 6,000 doses a day, but it is uniquely situated to support medically underserved areas in the city while accessible using numerous transportation methods. Of the more than 25,000 Ohioans who live within one mile of the Wolstein Center, more than 65% represent historically marginalized communities and nearly 45% live below the poverty level.
Mr. Sligh: (30:01)
In addition, our local partners are working hard, hard to ensure access to this site via a variety of transportation options, including free bus passes and subsidized rideshare services, as well as free parking on site. FEMA will be providing federal personnel, financial assistance, equipment and supplies for the site at a 100% federal cost share. In addition, vaccines for this center are being provided to the state above and beyond the regular allocations and will not affect supply of ongoing vaccine distribution efforts in Ohio. This is a true reflection of federally supported, state managed, and locally executed emergency management. FEMA and the entire federal family is committed to supporting Ohio’s efforts to expand vaccine access and to help ensure anyone who wants a vaccine can get one.
Mr. Sligh: (31:05)
Now I want to add a little bit beyond my prepared remarks and put a little bit of a personal touch on this. As an African-American with at least three comorbidities, I decided to take the shot. It was not an easy decision for me, but it was one that I knew I had to take. My grandmother, my mother, my uncle, a cousin, and my twin sister got COVID 19 back in March of last year. And I was extremely, extremely scared for their outcome. They all survived. This is the number one priority for people of color and all Ohioans. I encourage each of you to get the shot. It is imperative that you all get the shot, especially those communities that have been…
Mr. Sligh: (32:03)
… all get the shot, especially those communities that have been hit the hardest and hit the most with COVID-19. So with that, I’ll say thank you. And now I’ll turn it over to Cuyahoga County executive Armond Budish to make a few remarks. Thank you.
Armond Budish: (32:23)
Hello everybody. It’s great to be here. You know, if we can just vaccinate the people that the governor thanked, that should cover about half of Cuyahoga County. But seriously, I want to thank the governor for his great, great partnership here with us in Cuyahoga County and for the people that you’re saving. Thank you very much.
Armond Budish: (32:46)
Today is a very big day. Today we’re launching a major attack on the virus with more than 210,000 people getting vaccinated. With this effort, we can finally end this pandemic. It’s a huge effort, and I want to thank President Biden, FEMA, the governor, the city, Cleveland state, our own County team, and so many others who have worked in a very short time to make sure that this vaccination clinic located right here in Cuyahoga County is as effective as possible.
Armond Budish: (33:21)
This battle has been going on for what seems like forever. It’s been almost a year to the day from when we distributed our first batch of PPE out into the community. Since then, we’ve allocated and distributed over 16 million units of PPE. That includes masks and gloves and sanitizer. 16 million. It’s hard to believe. The PPE has been on the frontline of our defense against the virus. Now we’re going on the offense. We’ve been fighting this virus and its effects every day. The virus takes its toll on people’s lives and on their health. And we know that this has impacted black and brown people more severely than others. This inequity prompted us at the county to declare racism as a public health crisis this past summer. This clinic is located here at CSU because it’s in close proximity to many minority residents.
Armond Budish: (34:27)
We want to get as many residents as possible vaccinated because that’s the only way that we’ll get our lives back to normal. We all need to get the shot when it’s our turn. And thanks to your recent announcement today, there’s going to be many more of us having our turn.
Armond Budish: (34:46)
But there’s a problem. The state has been tracking the registration data for the Wolstein Center appointments, and they’re seeing that people of color, specifically black and brown people, are registering at much lower rate than white people. That has to change. It comes down to a matter of life and death. There are a couple of reasons. First are the barriers to getting to the site. It’s close to highways and public transit, but for some that’s not enough. Finances, lack of a car, work and family responsibilities may make it tough to get downtown. That’s why the county is providing free transportation to the Wolstein Center. You can call United Way’s 211 line to get help registering for the vaccine and to learn how to connect with our free transportation options. We’re also working with community partners to bring vaccines out into the neighborhoods with mobile vans. I’ll be able to announce more on that during our regular media briefing with the board of health on Friday.
Armond Budish: (35:54)
But getting to a vaccination site isn’t the only problem. The second is trust. Lots of people, particularly black and brown people, don’t trust the government and they don’t trust the vaccines. To overcome that, we’re supporting the work of a variety of community partners to talk to their folks, to explain the safety and importance of getting vaccines. Many underserved communities rely on these community partners, such as churches and trusted organizations like the Urban League and NAACP. They rely on those people to deliver healthcare information. We’re working closely with local pastors to help bring their congregants and local residents to the clinic because they are trusted. That’s the key. Working together at the community level, I know we can reverse these disturbing trends and get people vaccinated.
Armond Budish: (36:58)
Again, I want to thank governor DeWine and FEMA for bringing this center to Cuyahoga County. I want to thank all of our community partners for working tirelessly to combat this virus. Together, we can get all Ohioans vaccinated. Together, we can defeat the virus. And it’s my pleasure now to introduce my friends, Cleveland State President Harlan Sands. And speaking of defeat and fighting, go Vikings.
Harlan Sands: (37:37)
Thank you, Armond. And thank you, Governor, for your strong words. We all know in this business, that success starts with good leadership. And I can tell you nothing makes me prouder to be an Ohioan than to stand here beside our governor and listen to the sensibility and the plans that we have rolled out as part of fighting this pandemic. I want to add a thank you obviously to our friends at the federal government and the rest of state government and the county and the city. I also want to thank the head of our air national guard, Brigadier General Becky O’Connor. She’s the power behind this operation here at Wolstein Center. And we’re privileged to have her on our campus.
Harlan Sands: (38:21)
After weeks of hard work and planning by our team and key partners at the state and federal level, we’re here to probably announce today and welcome our community the opening of Ohio’s first mass vaccination clinic. It’s an exciting and very hopeful time for all of us. As President of Cleveland State, I am privileged to represent our faculty, staff and students working together to attack this public health crisis. This is mission critical for who we are at Cleveland State. It caps off a great week for us, Armond, as you mentioned. We announced commencement, our first large event at Progressive Field coming up in May. We have an NCAA game at the end of the week. And today, this critical fight against this pandemic. One more thank you to our team at Cleveland State led by Senior Vice President for research and innovation. Also a retired Navy Admiral, Vice Admiral [inaudible 00:39:14] for his tremendous support in helping put this fantastic operation forward. So with that, I’ll turn it over to Governor DeWine to answer your questions. Governor, thank you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (39:27)
Any question for any of us?
Speaker 1: (39:29)
Yeah, Governor. At the end of the day, there might be some vaccines left sitting on the table. What are you going to do with that? Are people going to be allowed to be coming off the street and get the shot?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (39:43)
Let me talk to someone who’s in operations. You want to take that? I told the general happy St. Patrick’s Day too, so to have to O’Connor doing this is a great thing. So go ahead, General.
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (40:02)
Yes, no waste is our priority here at the vaccination center. We are working with the Ohio Department of Health and they are going through wait lists. So they have a wait list and connections with the different departments of health to make sure if we have any vaccinations leftover at the end of the day, or we have a high no-show rate that we can call in those people or open up some appointments so that we can reach our goals for that day, ultimately being 6,000 vaccinations.
Speaker 1: (40:30)
General, before you go, there is a temperature requirement of 120 below.
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (40:34)
Speaker 1: (40:37)
The people who’ve come in so far, has anybody been turned away because of [inaudible 00:40:40]?
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (40:40)
Not that I’m aware of, but I haven’t asked for today.
Speaker 2: (40:43)
General, do you know how people got on that wait list for the [inaudible 00:40:48]?
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (40:49)
I’m sorry. I don’t know how that works. No. Okay.
Speaker 1: (41:01)
[inaudible 00:41:01] So again you mentioned March 29th that everyone who’s 18 [inaudible 00:41:15].
Gov. Mike DeWine: (41:17)
Well, let me maybe clarify a little bit on the numbers. This is the number that was given to us by the federal government. It’s been consistent. Basically what they said from the beginning, what FEMA said, what the Biden Administration said. So you’ve got 210,000 additional people are going to get vaccinated because of this site. What we have said is as possible that some of these vaccinations will go out into neighborhoods. That’s still very, very, very open for discussion.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (41:51)
We looked at what other states, when FEMA had come in and we’ve seen some experience now in these mass vaccination sites, and the experience and the lesson was roll it out and build it up. So 1500 today, that’s what we planned on. We’ll see how it goes and move it up over the next few days. And assuming that everything is working fine, we will be in four or five days, we’ll be at 6,000 per day. And that will level off at 6,000 per day. Sure.
Speaker 1: (42:29)
[inaudible 00:42:29] just one time. Is there a possibility, are there conversations that you may get more of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? And by that time, perhaps that number [inaudible 00:42:41]?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (42:44)
We don’t know the number of Johnson & Johnson. I talked to my team this morning about it. They don’t know yet. We basically know when we’re told. We assume that there’s going to be more Johnson & Johnson. We think we’re going to have more on the week of the 29th. It begins the 29th. Our goal is to use some of that Johnson & Johnson for other sites, other mass vaccination sites. We talked about 15. It’s really 11 then four mobile sites, but we talked about using that Johnson & Johnson for that. So that’s what we would intend.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (43:20)
So this site is the only federal site. We should look at it as a unit that will vaccinate 210,000 people, but we hope that more Johnson & Johnson beyond that and that that will go out to other sites around the state.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (43:39)
So look, we’re looking at the week of the 29th, we’re going to know. Every week we know more. At 11 o’clock this morning, I can get on the call with the White House, we’ll know about next week. They’ll tell us exactly next week. What they’ve told us is you can kind of guarantee it a certain level. So we’re looking at, we think the week we’re in now, 400,000. Next week, 400,000. It could be a little more. We don’t know. We’ll find out in an hour or less than an hour now. And then the week of the 29th, and one of the reasons we picked to open it up for everyone on the 29th is we believe from what the White House has been telling us that we should get more that week. We don’t know exactly how much more. So a work in progress as, as all this is. Yes?
Speaker 1: (44:22)
Governor DeWine, early on in the vaccination process, the strategy here in the state to have smaller pods or locations distributing the vaccine. Here we are a couple months later, and we have this mass vaccination. Earlier on, you weren’t necessarily in favor of mass vaccination sites that other states did.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (44:41)
Speaker 1: (44:41)
So my question is [inaudible 00:44:44]. What’s changed between then and now and what do you tell people who say why didn’t this happen earlier [inaudible 00:44:51]?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (44:53)
Thank you for the question. Nothing has changed and my opinion has not changed. We have built this system carefully. We started off with 700 locations. We ramped that up to 1200, then 1250, now over 1300 locations. We did it because we did not want a situation where Ohioans would have to drive 100 miles to get a vaccination. The easiest thing in the world would have been opened up eight sites around the state and just let it go. But we didn’t want that. We wanted people in the smaller counties, we wanted people in every community to have the ability to get a vaccination within their community. We have done that. But our plan all along has been to build from there, just like you’re building a house, and to build up to mass vaccination sites that would complement, but not replace, what is going on.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:46)
So we’re going to continue to push out the vaccine to all these locations and all these communities. We’re now layering on top of it. Why are we doing it now? The answer is we have more vaccine. If you look at what we started back in January 1, in December when we started, it was a lot less vaccine. The vaccine has continued to go up and as it goes up, we now are filling out, we’re building the rest of the house out. And we will continue. We will continue to do that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (46:17)
What is occurring though all throughout this, I want to make this very, very clear. And this is something we’ve discussed with our health directors all over the state. The thing we have to understand is this is Ohio does it Ohio’s way, and the way we’re doing it as local. The thing that impressed Fran and I as we traveled around the state and we’ve seen 10 or so different locations is how different each community sort of does it, but how well they’re doing it. The communities are just rallying together and doing it well.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (46:51)
Now, as we get more vaccine and we continue to vaccinate people at a high rate, what Armond Budish was talking about is absolutely essential. And that is that we do everything we can to reach those who we have not reached. I went through and read all the different things that are occurring in Cuyahoga County. There are things that are occurring across the state to try to reach underserved populations. Cuyahoga County and the city are doing a very, very good job and all the nonprofits and all the different groups are doing a phenomenal job. But that may include going out and having mobile units. We’ve already announced four we’re going to do, but we may do more. Whatever it takes. It may be going into communities and having no appointments. Not to replace what we’re doing, but rather to add on to what we’re doing. And when you have more vaccine, you then have the ability to do that. And so I’m looking at a lot of numbers every day. I’m looking at numbers of people who, by age, and I’m happy we’re now at two thirds of those over the age-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:03)
… by age, and I’m happy we’re now at two-thirds of those over the age of 70. But we want to see that go up. But we’re also looking at county, and even by zip code. And what we’re seeing, what we’re now providing to the metro areas, metro counties, is by zip code.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:18)
So, they can look and see where we’re not doing as well. And so, the equity piece of this, the opportunity for every Ohioan to have a vaccination is equally as important as getting this out fast. So, we’re doing two things at once. So, we’re building this and we’re layering it up. And what you’re going to see layered on now is even more effort to reach those who have not been vaccinated, and to make sure it’s available for them.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:46)
Sorry for the long answer, but that’s what we’re doing. Yeah.
Speaker 3: (48:58)
You reported on difficulty new groups have had getting appointments as they become eligible. So now that you’re kind of opening those flood gates, so to speak, how concerned are you about [crosstalk 00:49:00].
Gov. Mike DeWine: (49:01)
Yeah, if you look at the last group we opened up, once you take out, we announced today, 1.6 million Ohioans, 40 and over, but also the medical groups. If you take all those medical groups, and then you look at what is below 40, I don’t have it in front of me, but it is not a huge number.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (49:18)
So the last opening will not be any bigger than some of the other openings have been, because we’ve covered all the people with those medical conditions. So, I’ll tell you what some of the health directors told us today, and this was kind of the common thing, we fill out, when you open up a new age group, it takes usually a couple weeks for people generally … not everybody … Some people have a more difficult time.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (49:47)
But generally, for most of those people to fill out and be able to do that. Now that we’re moving out and we’re getting more vaccine, we think that that’s going to work. So again, it’s a tension of how do you make sure that there’s no vaccine sitting there unused, where it could save someone’s life. At the same time though, allowing people to be able to get in. And that’s why we’ve done the roll-out, how we’ve done it. Look, it’s not an exact science, it’s an art. And you could have reasonably come up with a different date.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:20)
We just looked at everything and said, “Okay, we think now we want to open up.” And so, you can … We will be able, for example, to go into any community. This is not the only reason, but it’s one. You’ll be able to go into, if you have a mobile site, you’ll be able to go into any community, and as long as you’ve … You got Pfizer, for example, you’ll be able to go down from 16, up to any age.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:43)
So basically, anyone walking up will be able to get it two weeks from now.
Speaker 4: (50:50)
Governor, I have a clarification and a question. With the people in the medical group, is that any age? Or just 40 and up?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:57)
No, any age.
Speaker 4: (50:58)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:58)
Yeah, thank you for asking. It’s any age. And that’s what we’ve done throughout. What we’ve tried to do as we went down on the age … You got the age coming down here. The same time, we have said, “Okay, but what about the people who are under that age, who are not eligible, but may have a medical condition that will open that up?”
Gov. Mike DeWine: (51:18)
Now, the medical conditions we announced today, many, many of them are obviously over 40. But what the purpose of announcing it today is, if there’s someone 39, there’s someone 21 and they’ve got cancer or they come under any of these other areas, we want to include them as well. So thank you for the clarification question.
Speaker 4: (51:39)
Okay, just, I have another question.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (51:40)
Speaker 4: (51:44)
On the obesity part of it, is that going to be based on BMI? How are you going to regulate that? What BMI is …
Gov. Mike DeWine: (51:47)
Look, we have never, to my knowledge, and we’ve instructed the providers that not to turn people away. If they say they have, someone says they’re obese, if someone says they have cancer or someone says they have asthma, other states have decided to have a doctor’s certificate.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (52:09)
We made the decision that Ohioans are honest. Ohioans have good faith, and we don’t want to create a second, another barrier for someone to get it. And if you require them to go in and get a doctor’s certificate, then that would be one more barrier or one more thing that they’ve got to jump over, hurdle they’ve got to jump over.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (52:31)
So, we’re treating it just like we’ve treated every other area, and it’s basically, you identify that way, and we’re going to take you. And again, two weeks from now, we’re open to everybody.
Speaker 5: (52:44)
Governor, is this a one and done? Or have you asked [inaudible 00:52:47] for another site to get additional …
Gov. Mike DeWine: (52:49)
Well, we’re not going to … I was on the phone call with some of my governors the other day who were rather jealous that Ohio was in. So I’m not going to be a pig about this. You know, we’ll get through this one and we’ll see where we are. But we’re very happy to have this site. Yeah, clear in the back.
Speaker 6: (53:06)
Governor, when people sign up [inaudible 00:53:10] to get their shot, how is the second shot schedule?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (53:14)
Yeah, General, you want to take that? Most places in Ohio where this is occurring, they get a date before they walk out the door. But I’ll let you …
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (53:25)
So, when customers come to this facility, they will, as they go through the processing and get their shot, they will automatically be scheduled for their second vaccination on the same day, about the same time, three weeks from that point. So, that is already being done. They don’t have to go on a website and schedule that second appointment.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (53:47)
Speaker 1: (53:49)
Governor, I know [inaudible 00:53:50] 16 plus, the eligible starting March 29th [inaudible 00:53:53]. So, what would you want to tell people who are in that younger age range that they should expect, and if they actually get one starting March 29th? Or there could be a wait, because hospitals and other [inaudible 00:54:07]?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (54:07)
Well look, my message to anyone under 40 who we will open up to on March 29th is the same as to every other Ohioan. And that is, this is a life saver. This enables you to live your life. Get your life back. You know, the one thing that we don’t fully know, and I’ll defer to the doctors on this, but my understanding of what is know, at least at this point, is that it makes it less likely not only that you get it, but less likely that you would be able to transmit it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (54:49)
And so again, that is important. You as a young person may come in contact with someone who is older, who is vulnerable. You may or may not be vulnerable. We know that the older you get and the more that you have different medical problems, the more vulnerable you are if you get it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (55:07)
The virus is still out there, and we worry about the virus every single day. We are still at a high level in Ohio. We’ve been moving in the right direction. The last few days have gotten a little dicier. The virus is still very much out there, so this is really, as we look at the variant that’s out there and as it spreads throughout Ohio, this is a race.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (55:29)
And so, I would say to anyone who has, who can get the vaccine, please get the vaccine. You may not get it on your first attempt, but we see enough vaccine coming into the state fast enough that we feel we can open this age to everyone in two weeks from now. Anybody else?
Speaker 1: (55:49)
How many people have signed up so far for this clinic? And how many more appointments are left or available?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (55:54)
I can’t tell you that. I have not looked, and I don’t know if anybody here has that information. They were telling me that we opened it up, as we said we would, on Sunday when we had the press conference, when [Arm 00:56:07] and I had the press conference. We said we were going to open it up for the second week. My understanding is it’s been pretty robust signup for the second week. But I don’t know exactly where that is.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (56:15)
And also, we continue to hold some back. We continue to hold a significant number back, and I don’t want to gloss over the great work that’s being done by our community partners. And they’ve really only kicked in high gear on Friday. So, we would look forward to more churches, more community folks, signing people up. And so, we hope that those numbers will continue to go up. And we will continue throughout this to hold those out.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (56:48)
We’ll release them, as I said, Sunday, 48 hours ahead, because we want to make sure everything is filled. So if you look at next week, for example, there’s slots held every single day for our community providers. And they can continue to slot people in there and sign people up. Anybody else?
Speaker 1: (57:05)
Do you have time for one more question? [inaudible 00:57:05]. That’s why you anticipated 6,000.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (57:05)
Speaker 1: (57:05)
What more, and obviously, specifically to us. Not so much what you have done, or what you’re trying to do, but what can we do to [crosstalk 00:57:24]?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (57:26)
Yeah, yeah. Fran and I talked to a man out there, African American. And he basically said, “I’m going back and tell my family, tell my friends, they need to do this.” And I think that the way life works is, we listen to people who we’re close to. We listen to our family. We listen to our friends. We listen to medical doctors and decisions about this. But there’s nothing more impactful than a family member. Nothing more impactful than a friend that’s saying, “I got it, you need to get it too.”
Gov. Mike DeWine: (58:04)
That’s exactly what he told me. He looked us in the eye and he said, “Yeah,” he said, “I thought about it. I decided I need to get it.” He said, “We’ve had people in our family who’ve got it, who’ve got COVID, who’ve had it, passed.” He says, “We understand the problem.” But he says, “I’m going back to my family and tell them that.”
Gov. Mike DeWine: (58:21)
That’s the most important. Last question, you had a …
Speaker 7: (58:24)
Well, I have a question for General O’Connor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (58:25)
Yep, here we go. General?
Speaker 7: (58:32)
General O’Connor, real quickly.
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (58:32)
Speaker 7: (58:32)
Yesterday, you had a troop of a hundred people come through. This morning, you had people coming through. I know it’s early, but have you learned anything from getting these people through as far as your processing or anything? Tell us [inaudible 00:58:42].
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (58:44)
Absolutely, absolutely. And it’s efficiencies that we’re learning. Where are the places that we’re finding the slow down, because when we reach 6,000, this place is going to be busy. And we need to turn people out very quickly. But the soldiers we have are incredibly smart. They are finding efficiencies, even when we were doing just dry walk throughs, walking through it, they’re finding ways of going, “Hey, perhaps if we position the carts here, or add this onto our supplies,” we’re already finding those efficiencies.
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (59:14)
And I think we’re going to continue to find those efficiencies throughout this first week. And that’s why we’re ramping things up slowly.
Speaker 7: (59:21)
Brigadier General Becky O’Connor: (59:22)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (59:24)
Let me just conclude by saying that this is the most visual site in [inaudible 00:59:26] County. This is where you all are. This is what’s going to get reported today. But just a reminder to everyone, there are a lot of other sites out there. And so, there’s a lot of ways. People can call the Ohio Department of Health Call Center, 833-4-ASKODH. That’s 833-4-ASKODH if they can’t maneuver the internet, they don’t like that, or if they want to use the phone, they certainly can use that. Or they can call, or they can get online if they want to do that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (59:59)
Get the shot. Gettheshot. coronavirus.ohio.gov. Thank you all very much. Administrator, thank you, sir.