Mar 18, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 18
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on March 18, 2021 to provide updates on coronavirus and vaccine distribution. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Mike DeWine: (03:28)
… Fran. I just had the opportunity to look at the mass vaccination site and it’s just an amazing operation. Kroger is running it along with the health departments and we just appreciate Xavier’s hospitality so very, very much. I want to introduce to start off with, Reverend president, Mr. President Michael Graham, who’s been Xavier’s longest serving president, and he did announce his retirement, but he has promised me that he will not leave Xavier until the pandemic is in our rear view mirror. Mr. President, thank you. Thank you very, very much. Right over there, Mr. President, I think.
Rev. Michael G.: (04:18)
Thank you very much. Governor, it’s such a pleasure to have you here today. A big hearty welcome. Likewise, I want to give a shout out for our friends at Kroger because they have such an incredible [inaudible 00:04:31] expertise in this that the flawless clockwork operation going on upstairs is a real tribute to them. So it’s good to have here. Over the course of the past year or so, as I’ve been talking to friends of mine around the country, I’ve been asked often enough to describe my take on the response of the state of Ohio to the pandemic in which we find ourselves. I use words like tempered and balanced and thoughtful and patient, informed, and the level of communication has been superb. This is like 150, something like that, of these press conferences. You would all know that much better than I. And all of that, governor, is attribute to you, every single bit of it.
Rev. Michael G.: (05:15)
So the fact that Ohio’s response has been what Ohio’s response has been is because of your foresight, your imagination all the way through. I have never been prouder to be a citizen of the state of Ohio than I have been in this past year. And thank you very much for your leadership.
Mike DeWine: (05:33)
Mr. President, that’s very generous of you, and we appreciate your leadership at Xavier and the community for three decades now, end of three decades, and we wish you all the best. But seriously, you can’t leave until this thing’s behind us.
Rev. Michael G.: (05:46)
Thank you very much, governor.
Mike DeWine: (05:48)
Thanks for hosting us.
Rev. Michael G.: (05:49)
Mike DeWine: (05:50)
This is just great. The Cintas Center is usually reserved of course for Xavier’s games, but was selected for this mass vax clinic due to its central location, its accessibility to high-risk and underserved populations and its proximity to mass transit options. All the doses for the clinic were initially reserved for the Federal Long Term Care Program. Those that were not used, we are using now for this clinic today, tomorrow and Saturday. Today’s clinic is operating in partnership, as I said, with Kroger. We’re really happy with the great job that Kroger has done, also Cincinnati Public Health, Hamilton County Public Health Department and Health Collaborative. This community, the Cincinnati-Hamilton County community has really, really come together and is doing just an absolutely phenomenal job. They told me today they’re expecting to administer about 3,200 doses.
Mike DeWine: (06:55)
Over a three-day period, it will be 10,000 doses. And Fran and I, as we talked to people, people were just so very happy to have this virus beginning to get at least in the rear view mirror and be able to be on offense and taking that vaccination. Another 2,500 doses will be distributed to Kroger stores in the Cincinnati area that primarily serve high risk population. So again, out of this group, 2,500 will go for that purpose. The goal is to ensure easier access to those who would otherwise face barriers to accessing the vaccine. Pfizer is what they’re administering today, a two dose regimen. The process will repeat beginning three weeks from now. So the same people will have the opportunity to come back and get their second shot. I’m going to introduce now, Erin Rolfes, corporate affiliate, head of corporate affairs, manager for Kroger. And she and I have had a chance, and Fran, to talk a little bit and tour their facility. And so Erin, thank you very, very much for the good work that Kroger is doing. And just, how’s it going down there from your point of view?
Erin Rolfes: (08:12)
Yeah. Well, thank you both for coming to visit today. It’s been an honor to host you here. So today’s been going really well. We spoke to a few folks who were leaving the facility and they said that they experienced military like precision when it came to getting their vaccines, so that’s definitely what we like to hear.
Mike DeWine: (08:27)
Well, that’s great. Tell us a little bit. You have been a real partner for the state, you’ve been a partner for local health departments. One of the things that we’re very proud that you did is you played a major role, Kroger played a major role in vaccinating teachers, and if you could just talk for a moment about that. I know teachers were very happy to get that and you guys made it easy.
Erin Rolfes: (08:49)
Yeah. We were really proud to be able to help kiddos get back into schools faster. So we did host about eight weeks of clinics in schools and we’re wrapping that up this week.
Mike DeWine: (08:58)
And finally, every Kroger store that has a pharmacy, has a clinic there, the vaccine is available, is that right?
Erin Rolfes: (09:09)
Yeah, that’s right. So that’s 81 pharmacies here in the greater Cincinnati area and then 200 across the state.
Mike DeWine: (09:15)
And my wife, Fran, who keeps checking these things out to see where… Even though we have our shots, she’s trying to see exactly what’s going on. She says yours is very easy to use.
Erin Rolfes: (09:24)
Well, that’s great to hear. I appreciate that. Our Kroger technology team has been working really hard to make that as easy as possible for folks to navigate. So it’s the best way to find a vaccination if you’re trying to get vaccinated with Kroger, is to just log online and look for an appointment.
Mike DeWine: (09:38)
Yeah. And it’s amazing how often there are some vacancies.
Erin Rolfes: (09:43)
Yeah, that’s right. Usually later in the week, as we get more vaccine in hand, we’ll start to open up those appointments. So I appreciate everyone’s patience as we’ve been kind of getting through this low amount and now very excited to see the high quantities of vaccine coming into our area.
Mike DeWine: (09:56)
Now it’s my understanding, in regard to the Cintas Center for the next three days, that if there are openings, it’s all full now, but there may be some openings. Is that right?
Erin Rolfes: (10:08)
I think right now, we’ll expect it to all be full, but we always encourage folks to kind of check back. It’s a location-based, so if you specifically want the Cintas Center, look for the ZIP code for the Cintas Center, and if anything opens up, you’ll see it right away.
Mike DeWine: (10:19)
But there are plenty other places, Kroger’s and others that are out there. So Erin, thank you.
Erin Rolfes: (10:24)
Mike DeWine: (10:25)
Thank you very, very much. We really appreciate the great work that you all have done. Just a reminder, as we just said with Erin, this site, the Cintas Center is an addition to many other sites around the state, about 1,300 total provider locations around the state of Ohio, 70 of those are just in Hamilton County. 70 of those are in Hamilton County. Here in Hamilton County, a little statistics, 22% of residents have started their vaccinations. So it means 22% as of this morning had gotten their first shot. 70%, almost 70% of adults who are older than 70 years of age have also gotten their first shot, those individuals 70 and older from Hamilton County. In addition to Kroger, the Cincinnati Public Health, the Hamilton County Public Health Department, the Health Collaborative, several other local agencies have really been important contributors to this vaccination process.
Mike DeWine: (11:27)
This includes Cincinnati Metro, the Cancer Justice Network, the Council on Aging and home52 Transportation are all available to help local residents get to and from their appointments. Also, the regional Rapid Response assistance program, a partnership through the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio National Guard has provided so far 961 vaccines to older Ohioans across 26 separate affordable senior housing properties in the past several weeks in Hamilton County, and there will be more coming. The program continues to set up Cincinnati area sites with new partners across the region. We’ll be announcing those in the future. These older adults may not have had adequate access to the vaccine due maybe to a transportation problem, some registration barriers. And so by taking it directly to them, again, we are expanding and working to expand the access.
Mike DeWine: (12:27)
All of the area local health departments, not just Hamilton County, but all of the area health departments, including Hamilton County Public Health, Norwood, Springdale, all work closely and meet regularly to coordinate efforts in the community. Hamilton County Public Health has been actively reaching out to underserved communities. They have an established clinic at the county Board of Elections, which is located in a central location and it is accessible by public transportation. This location serves as the vaccination home base and is supplemented by Hamilton County Public Health’s outreach, outreach to targeted communities with mobile vaccine clinics. In addition, they’re providing a minimum of 20% of their vaccine allocation for use in our vulnerable communities here in Hamilton County. Finally, the partnership with fire, partnership with EMS and home health agencies to provide vaccines to many of our home bound Ohioans here in Hamilton County. Several partners in the Cincinnati area continue to make impressive efforts to vaccinate community members. Cincinnati Children’s, for example, recently delivered vaccine to the St. Joseph Home, a nonprofit in Sharonville, which provides a support system for people with complex disabilities. These residents, all of whom use wheelchairs, have been isolated from their families for a long time due to COVID-19, so the vaccine provides hope to them and their families for the future. We’re excited about two new PSAs that we have launched. One has already launched, the other one will launch in the next day or two. I’d like to show those to you. The first features 11 people who have all gotten their shot. Let’s take a look at it.
Speaker 1: (14:18)
We got the COVID vaccine.
Speaker 2: (14:20)
We got the COVID vaccine.
Speaker 3: (14:22)
So have I.
Speaker 4: (14:23)
We have too.
Speaker 5: (14:24)
Now that I’m vaccinated, I feel relieved, hopeful.
Speaker 6: (14:28)
It’s changed my life.
Speaker 7: (14:30)
It feels like we’ve got our freedom back.
Speaker 2: (14:32)
We can get out and go around and visit people.
Speaker 8: (14:35)
I’m like I’m out of the cage now.
Speaker 9: (14:36)
My dad is 94 years old and I’m just looking forward to spending a bit more time with him.
Speaker 1: (14:41)
We can’t wait to hug our grandkids.
Speaker 6: (14:44)
I’m looking forward to going swimming.
Speaker 2: (14:46)
We’re looking forward to traveling.
Speaker 3: (14:49)
And seeing my good friends.
Speaker 5: (14:50)
To know that we’re going be able to meet our grandson who we haven’t gotten to meet yet.
Speaker 2: (14:54)
It doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t cost you anything, but it does protect you and it protects lives of others.
Speaker 9: (15:00)
I think getting the vaccine is the only way to get Ohio back to normal.
Speaker 1: (15:05)
Please get the COVID vaccine.
Speaker 6: (15:07)
Speaker 10: (15:08)
Your family and your friends.
Speaker 9: (15:10)
It’s a game changer.
Speaker 11: (15:11)
Speaker 8: (15:12)
Speaker 4: (15:14)
Mike DeWine: (15:17)
Well, those are all our fellow Ohioans, and I want to thank Maria Gaucher of Springfield, Lara and John Adams of Columbus, Ohio, Jean and Jerry Wilson of Harrison, Roland Madrano of Powell, Gus and Roberta, Gastaldo of Gahanna and Larry and Charlotte Price of Columbus, and Blanche Steward of Cambridge. We thank all our fellow Ohioans who appeared on that ad. I think they express the views of many Ohioans and people I’ve talked to. When Fran and I were seeing people who were getting vaccinated, they all kind of had that very optimistic and very thankful attitude, and looking to the future. Our next spot that I want to show has not appeared yet, but it’s going to very, very shortly, and it’s a very, very familiar face. Anthony Munoz, retired Cincinnati Bengal, a member of the Hall of Fame graciously agreed to film this public service announcement for us. So let’s take a look at Anthony.
Anthony Munoz: (16:22)
I’ve always trusted my doctors. Torn ligaments in 1977, again in ’78 and ’79. Everyone thought I’d missed my chance at Sundays, but my doctors and nurses, they gave me my shot back. So do you that I’d stop listening to the doctors in the middle of a pandemic? Not a chance. I took my shot.
Speaker 12: (16:47)
Learn more at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Mike DeWine: (16:53)
Anthony, thank you very much. Anthony is actually here. Why don’t you step to that mic over there, Anthony. And I can’t tell you how delighted we are to have you here, but also very, very delighted that you agreed to do this commercial. And I’ve not seen the other one, but there is one, I believe in Spanish, and it’s about ready to be unveiled too, but it wasn’t quite ready yet today. Anthony, thank you very much.
Anthony Munoz: (17:15)
Well, governor, thank you for having me here at Xavier University. I just have to thank you, first of all, for your leadership through this difficult time. It’s exciting for me when I talk to my friends, my college buddies out in California and your name comes up and the first thing they say is, “From what it looks like, he’s doing an excellent job.” And I said, “You’re right. He is doing an excellent job.” So again, thank you for your leadership. It’s interesting, I agreed to do that spot right away and I did take my shot. And I know there’s a lot of hesitancy about taking the vaccine and I know one of them is that it hurts, it hurts. Well, it doesn’t hurt. Just to share with you how it didn’t hurt, Tuesday at two o’clock, I took my shot. Six o’clock that night, I was on a flight to Phoenix.
Anthony Munoz: (18:04)
Yesterday morning, I woke up and got my hour, hour and a half workout in, showered, went to the workout facility and worked with a projected draft choice, a tackle from the University of Southern California. Hour in the classroom, and then an hour and a half out on the football field, going through drills. As much as I could at my age, I was working up a good sweat. Went back to my hotel after that, showered, went to Goodyear, Arizona and watched our Cincinnati Reds beat the Cleveland Indians. And then I took a red-eye last night and I got back this morning at 10:00 and I knew I had some stuff going on and I wanted to be here with you, governor, and your lovely wife. So I got my workout in, put my suit and jacket on and here I am. So it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t hurt. I can be a testimony to that.
Anthony Munoz: (18:51)
And the last point, I really want to encourage people to get it. Growing up in a Hispanic family, Hispanic culture as I did in Southern California, my mom raised five of us by herself. She always had these home remedies. Again, I couldn’t tell you the ingredients, but she would put them together and if we had a fever or something, she’d say, “I got something for you. We don’t need to go to the doctor.” And we had this plant outside, it was called the good plant, it was [foreign language 00:19:16]. And she would boil it with water, “Here, drink this. This will get rid of your cold.” And so she had all kinds of home remedies, but I want to encourage you to not depend on home remedies because they’re not going to help you. Get the vaccine. That’s the way to get rid of the COVID.
Anthony Munoz: (19:30)
So growing up in that community, I know especially the Hispanic community, but all communities, I encourage you to get the vaccine. And the great thing about it, it’s free. So no excuse, it doesn’t hurt. Depend on the vaccine and it’s free. So again, governor, thank you for having me. It’s truly a pleasure and an honor to be able to do that PSA and encourage people to get the vaccine.
Mike DeWine: (19:53)
Anthony, thank you so much. Thanks for taking the red-eye, thanks for getting back. You look like you’re ready to get out on the field.
Anthony Munoz: (20:00)
Well, you’re kind, I’ll buy you lunch for that kind of comment. I’d need a couple of EMTs and a physician next to me if I tried it.
Mike DeWine: (20:07)
I don’t think so. You’re looking good. Thank you, Anthony. Makes a big difference. We’re very grateful.
Anthony Munoz: (20:12)
Mike DeWine: (20:12)
Thank you. Last week, I received a letter from Marcia Fudge notified me that she was resigning as a Member of Congress for the 11th congressional district of Ohio to become the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. First of all, we wish her all the best. It’s great to have a Buckeye in the cabinet and we’re very proud of her and we wish you, Madam Secretary, all the best. Because of her resignation, it is incumbent upon me according to the Ohio Code to set a date for the election of her replacement. As my former colleagues in the US House of Representatives would always say, you have to get elected to go to the House. You can be appointed to the Senate, but you have to get elected to the House, and that’s the only way the constitution provides that you get to the House.
Mike DeWine: (21:18)
So it’s incumbent upon me to set the election date. I’ve consulted secretary of state, Frank LaRose, extensively. And so I want to announce now that we are scheduling the election of the 11th congressional district to hold a special election on November 2nd, 2021, to fill this vacancy. The primary, the primary for this seat will be held on August 3rd, 2021. Again, the primary on August 3rd, 2021, the special general election on November 2nd, 2021. I see that secretary is on the screen. I think you’re in your car, Mr. Secretary. Thanks for joining us very, very much. And people may wonder why these dates were selected. I have the responsibility to make the decision under Ohio law, but we relied to a great extent on you and your great team, the secretary of state’s office. And I wonder if you could just explain a little bit about what goes into a decision like this and what has to take place before an election could actually take place.
Sec. Frank L.: (22:38)
Well, absolutely, governor. And I appreciate that opportunity. I am joining you from the car. I’m actually in Dayton today. So sorry that I’ve got to join you from the car, and I appreciate the opportunity to join. Although I don’t know if I appreciate being put on after Anthony Munoz. That’s a tough act to follow. I will remind him though that my Cleveland Indians are the defending Ohio Cup Champions over the Cincinnati Reds. But it’s going to be great to see baseball-
Sec. Frank L.: (23:03)
… great. It’s going to be great to see baseball again coming up here very soon. First of all, we’re just coming off of the most, really, successful election in Ohio’s entire history. I’d be remiss if I didn’t just take a moment to thank the many thousands of elections officials and the many tens of thousands of poll workers that made last November’s election happened here in Ohio. Again, most successful election in our state’s history in the most challenging of circumstances.
Sec. Frank L.: (23:32)
As you mentioned, we also want to congratulate Secretary Fudge. That’s a big deal to have our fellow Ohioan serving in the President’s Cabinet. She did a great job in Cleveland, and I know she’s going to do a great job at HUD, and so congratulations to Secretary Marcia Fudge.
Sec. Frank L.: (23:49)
The dates that the governor has set here to fill these vacancies, of course, the governor can’t do that until he receives the resignation letter from Secretary Fudge. She did that on March 10th of last week. Now, although Secretary Fudge had her nomination approved by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, it took 49 days, rather, for the full Senate to consider it, so there was an unfortunate delay there, but of course, once we got it, the governor and my team have been working on all the different options.
Sec. Frank L.: (24:27)
The governor today issues what’s called a writ of elections. Basically, it’s an order to set the dates. That order is going to set dates that are fair to both the candidates and to the voters, of course, allows them time to do what they need to do, and also really follows the precedent of the last several recent vacancies. Of course, we know several years ago when Speaker Boehner resigned, it took 135 days to conduct the primary from the resignation and then 219 days for the general election to occur.
Sec. Frank L.: (24:56)
Similarly, when Congressman Tiberi resigned from the U.S. Congress, there were 214 days that elapsed before that general election. This one is 229 days, so sort of right in line with what we’ve seen on those previous resignations in recent history. Of course, make no mistake that Ohioans in the 11th district are going to have the same accessible, accurate, and secure election that they and all Ohioans have come to expect.
Sec. Frank L.: (25:27)
I want to go through the dates that the governor laid out in a little bit more specificity. Declaration of candidacy for partisan candidates must be filed by May 5th at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections by May 25th. The County Board of Elections must certify the names of those candidates that will appear on the ballot. July 6th is when voters have to be registered to vote if they want to participate in that primary for the special election. Again, don’t delay. You can get registered now at voteohio.gov. It only takes a few minutes on our website, so encourage Ohioans to visit vote ohio.gov to become a registered voter.
Sec. Frank L.: (26:03)
Then as the governor mentioned, the special election for the congressional primary will occur on August 3rd, and then the general election will occur on November 2nd, which is, of course, the regularly scheduled general election for other races this year.
Sec. Frank L.: (26:21)
I want to wish everyone who’s considering running good luck. It’s always a challenge going out there and campaigning, and so we’ll keep them and their families in our prayers as they run for this opportunity to serve. Of course, I, once again, encourage every eligible Ohioan to visit voteohio.gov to get registered to vote, and while you’re there, consider signing up to be a poll worker. Again, good to partner with you on this, governor, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain in further detail the writ of election that you issued today.
Mike DeWine: (26:50)
Mr. Secretary, thank you very, very much. You and I talked a little bit about the timing, and I asked you, I went back and said, “Well, could it be any sooner?” Maybe we can just share with the public that discussion because, really, when you explained it to me about all the things that have to sequentially happen, particularly overseas ballots, it doesn’t give you much of an option there. I don’t know if you… I don’t… You explain-
Sec. Frank L.: (27:23)
Mike DeWine: (27:24)
You explain it a lot better than I did. I’ll let you do that.
Sec. Frank L.: (27:26)
Well, the Boards of Elections, really, began 100 days out before an election, getting all of the preparations done that they need to do. It follows a very predictable schedule, and so it’s good where possible to stick with that schedule and not deviate from it. When you and I spoke over the last several days, you had asked me, “Is there any way that we can get it done sooner?” and that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to look at. Our team went in and looked at other options.
Sec. Frank L.: (27:52)
If we were to contort the timelines, we could have gotten it done maybe just a couple of weeks sooner, and it would’ve cost a lot of money because it would have had two off-cycle elections then. That would have been costly for the taxpayers to do that and it also, again, would have been out of the norm and not what people are accustomed to. Again, that could be confusing, not only for voters and candidates, but also for our teams at the Boards of Elections. Again, just to get a few weeks sooner, my assessment was that that wasn’t worth it, and I appreciate your decision today.
Mike DeWine: (28:27)
I agreed with you after you explained it to me. This does give more predictability. The actual general election is going to be held on the regular general election day, even though this is a special election. Is that correct?
Sec. Frank L.: (28:43)
That’s correct, governor. In a year like 2021, it’s our local elections. I always remind people how important those local elections are. People tend to focus on those elections for the White House, but those elections for the courthouse and the school house and city hall really matter just as much. That’s what is the November 2nd general election is those local elections, but for the voters in the 11th district, they’ll also be having a special general election for the congressional race on that same day at the same time.
Mike DeWine: (29:15)
Okay. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. Nice to call in. We appreciate it.
Sec. Frank L.: (29:19)
Thank you so much, governor. Take care.
Mike DeWine: (29:21)
Thank you. We talk a little bit about what’s coming up, and this is kind of a recap of what we talked about a few days ago. Tomorrow morning, we will open eligibility for those who are 40 years of age and older, and those who have cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, heart disease, or obesity. In 11 days from now, March 29th, we will open eligibility up in Ohio for all Ohioans, 15, anyone older than 15, so that’s people 16 and older, 16 years of age and order. That will be 11 days on March 29th.
Mike DeWine: (30:03)
I want to note here, also, speaking of those who are 16 and 17. Now, the Pfizer vaccine is the only shot that has the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization for those who are 16 and 17. Of those 16, 17 Pfizer’s the only shot that they can get. Now, as we get closer to March 29th, we’re working with our providers across the state. They will be able to give notice or indication of what kind of vaccine that they have so that the 16-year-old, 17-year-old, who might be interested or their parents who might be interested will know whether or not they could, in fact, get that from that particular provider. We’ll have more on that as we get closer.
Mike DeWine: (30:50)
Again, a little recap about how we got here, why we made the decision to open up entirely on the 29th of March, a couple of factors. We are now averaging about 400,000 first doses every single week. We expect on the 29th of March that week, or very close to that, we expect that number to go up from 400,000 to about 500,000. That’s what we’ve been given the data from the White House in regard to that. This is expanding, the amount of vaccines.
Mike DeWine: (31:27)
We also are, frankly, in a race, and we don’t really know exactly what the enemy is doing, but we do know from talking to the scientist and talking to epidemiologists that they do believe that the variant is spreading in Ohio. The good news is that the vaccine appears to be just as powerful, they think, against the variant as against what we’re dealing with before, but also, the downside of that, of course, is that it is believed to be a lot more contagious, so we’re concerned about that.
Mike DeWine: (32:04)
One of the stories on the news yesterday cited Michigan and cited West Virginia as two states where, at least in portions of the states, they were seeing a significant uptick. We don’t want become alarmed. We just need to stay focused. We need to continue to vaccinate just as quickly as we can. Again, Ohioans are 40 or older, have cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, heart disease, or obesity will be able to book their appointments for the vaccine through the state portal, gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. Some providers who need to fill slots are actually beginning today for those 40 and over. We gave them permission to do that. They told us they need to fill the slots, and they thought they could if they could open up to 40-year-olds. We told them they could do that. They are doing that now. On March 29th, the website will open appointments for all Ohioans age 16 and up to book appointments, that same website.
Mike DeWine: (33:13)
Let me talk for a moment about Cleveland State and that mass vaccination site there. It’s going very well. The reports we get back every day from our Ohio National Guard, General Harris, is that things are moving and that they’re really on track the first day, 1,500, second day, about 3,000, today, we’re looking roughly about 4,500 there. That is going well. We are also using the Get The Shot website, the one I just indicated to book appointments for the state mass vaccination site at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland at Cleveland State. Portal will also be used with the other mass vaccination sites as they begin to schedule appointments in the coming weeks.
Mike DeWine: (33:52)
We hope that those will open on the 29th, or at least the week of the 29th, including the one right here at the Cintas Center. We’ll have more announcements as we get closer when we’re absolutely sure that we will have the vaccine in that week. If you’re looking for appointments going back to the Cleveland mass vac site, we encourage you to check back regularly. More appointments are actually added every single day. There’s been some held back for our community partners to reach out to underserved populations, but if those do not fill, we then open them up and people can go in and book them.
Mike DeWine: (34:29)
Throughout the state, we’re continuing to onboard providers who are listing appointments directly in the Get The Shot system. That is a work-in-progress. As more providers add appointments, it will become an even better resource for Ohioans looking for appointments. We know that not everyone has access to the internet or has an easy time navigating the web. To make things easier, we’ve added staff to our Department of Health COVID hotline, same hotline, more people there. We encourage people to call either their local health department… Many health departments are taking phone calls. Fran and I have traveled around the state. Many of them have somebody on their taking phone calls, so if someone can’t navigate the internet, they can call, and they can get them appointment. We also have a statewide hotline, which is 1-833-427-5634. That’s 1-833-427-5634, which is the number right behind me. If you need help scheduling, they will help you. As I said, many local health departments are also providing the same service.
Mike DeWine: (35:35)
Eric, let’s do some data. My understanding that our first slide was not ready, but I’ll give the numbers, new cases, 2,104, that’s 2,104 new hospitalizations, 156. Let’s go now to the other slides. The good news is as we continue to see the white creep up, these are the lowest counties, and we have… The break-off between the blue and the white is 100,000… Excuse me… is 100 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period of time. If it’s under that, it’s in white. We’re moving up, and we’re very happy about that. Next one, Eric?
Mike DeWine: (36:22)
These are our top counties. It wasn’t too long ago that our top county was 11 times, 11 times what the CDC said was a high incidence level. As you can see now, our top county is Monroe, and Monroe is just a little bit over two times. Again, even the top county, these are moving down. We’re very happy about that.
Mike DeWine: (36:47)
Now, let’s move to the statewide case rate. I know everyone is interested in this because we’ve announced that when we get down to 50, all the orders will be able to come off. We continue to see the number trending downward. That is just great, great news for all Ohioans. Two weeks ago, we were just under 180 cases per 100,000 across the state. Last Thursday, we had gone from 180 down to 155. Today we’re at 143.8 cases per 100,000 over the past two weeks. Again, that’s 143.8. It wasn’t too long ago that we were up in the 700s. Again, we’re making progress. The battle has to be fought every single day. We need to keep wearing our masks. We need to keep getting vaccinated and try to drive this virus down and see these cases go down. It continues to drop, and that’s the good news
Mike DeWine: (37:48)
To give you a better sense of this overall trend for this number, let’s look at this chart, which Eric has put up, which shows the historical statewide case rate. I showed this last week. As a reminder, it’s a weekly snapshot of the case rate for the previous two weeks. That kind of smooths everything out. From this, we can see that there’s been a fairly steady decline since our peak in December. While we were seeing a decline this week, it’s not quite as dramatic as previous weeks. As these numbers continue to improve, it’s important we keep following health precautions like wearing a mask in public.
Mike DeWine: (38:22)
Let’s go to the alert map slide along with the statewide case rate continuing to decline. We’re also seeing changes in our alert map. It wasn’t too long ago that virtually everything on the map was red. 10 counties are dropping a level this week. That’s good. Six counties moved from red to orange as their cases per capita dropped below 100 over two weeks. Those counties are Ashtabula, Caroll, Fayette, Jackson, Morrow, and Tuscarawas. There are also four counties moving from orange to yellow because their case dropped to below 50. That’s where we all want to be. We want to see nothing but yellow across the state. These are Auglaize, Mercer, Shelby, Vinton. Auglaize, Mercer, Shelby, and Vinton. We now have a total of 60 red counties, our lowest number since early November. We have five yellow counties total, the highest since mid October.
Mike DeWine: (39:15)
Eric, I don’t know if we have the hospitalization slide. Yeah, we do. You can see continuing basically a downtrend, we are now 859, so that has come down very, very significantly, and we like to see that continue.
Mike DeWine: (39:35)
Let me talk a little bit about our nursing homes this week. Ohio’s long-term care facilities reported 70 new COVID cases. Just 70. Now, compare that with 157 new cases reported the previous week and the 2,832 cases reported at the peak of the pandemic in December. We’ve gone in a relatively short period of time from over 2,800 cases per week in our nursing home now down to 70. Obviously, we’re not going to be satisfied until we drive it down further, but it’s been great, great progress. This has come about by a lot of different things, but certainly, the thing that’s driving it the hardest down is the vaccinations. This has worked exceedingly, exceedingly well. Ohio was, I think, the first state to roll out the vaccination program for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. That also meant that we were one of the first states to complete that, and so it was very important for us to make sure that vaccination cycle was done and anybody who wanted it, whether a resident or whether they were a worker there, they had the opportunity to get it. In fact, they had two opportunities to go through, but once that was done, then it was very incumbent upon us, we felt, to continue to get vaccines into those nursing homes, and so we have set up a program that is starting to work very, very well, and that is to get vaccines into those nursing homes, and we give that vaccine, basically, to the pharmacy company that provides that nursing home with their other drugs, so it’s worked today.
Mike DeWine: (41:35)
Today, 93% of Ohio’s nursing homes and 77% of assisted living facilities have signed up with us to get the additional. Again, those numbers, 93% of Ohio nursing homes are now signed up to get the additional doses. 77% of assisted living facilities have signed up to get the vaccine. That’s the good news.
Mike DeWine: (41:57)
Bad news is those that have not, frankly. That means we still don’t have information from 243 of you out there, nursing homes, those of you who run nursing homes and assisted living, 243. We need to hear from you. If you have figured out another way to get vaccine, great, but at least let us know. If you’re not getting vaccine in your nursing home, and if you’re not getting it or if you’re not getting it in your assisted living, you need to contact us. We need to hear from you because if you’re not getting it in, that means any new hire that’s coming on or any new resident is coming in that has not been vaccinated is not being vaccinated. We need to get them at least to offer to everyone that vaccination. We also want to, again, offer it to every employee that you have and every resident that you have who has decided in the past not to get it. We want to give them another opportunity to get it. We really want to hear from all of you.
Mike DeWine: (43:03)
Through this program, we’ve already delivered 16,000 additional doses with an additional 30,000 scheduled through the end of this month. That number could be higher, but again, we need to hear from those facilities who have failed to respond. A link to the survey where you can go on and sign up is on the Department of Aging’s website, aging.ohio.gov/ covidvaccine. Even if your facility decided to partner with another or with a local health department, that’s fine, or pharmacy outside the state’s program, we still need to know that you are signed up.
Mike DeWine: (43:44)
Let me talk for a moment about another opportunity, and that is we have learned, as we’ve gone through this pandemic, the importance of clean air and the importance of circulating air in facilities where there are many people. Recently, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation expanded the eligibility of the COVID-19 Indoor Air Quality Assistance Program. This is money to go to facilities to help them upgrade. This program provides reimbursements to eligible applicants to help cover the cost of inspections, assessments, maintenance, and improvements to indoor heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, their HVAC systems to control the spread of COVID-19. It also provides reimbursements for secondary devices designed to destroy bacteria, mold, and viruses.
Mike DeWine: (44:34)
Launched in December, this $28 million federally-funded program targeted nursing homes, assisted living, adult daycare, anybody that invested in HVAC improvements that weaken COVID-19 spread was eligible, and you are still eligible. Now, in addition to those, we’ve expanded eligibility to other vulnerable populations in Ohio, including hospice homes, intermediate care facilities, senior centers, senior centers, adult care facilities, waiver settings, group homes, group homes, and substance use treatment centers. More information including the application can be found at bwc.ohio.gov. That’s the Bureau Workers’ Compensation, bwc.ohio.gov. We’re ready for questions.
Speaker 13: (45:26)
Governor, first question is from the Cintas Center, and it’s Mariel Carbone at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Mariel Carbone: (45:38)
[inaudible 00:45:38]. Hi, governor.
Mike DeWine: (45:41)
Mariel Carbone: (45:41)
I’m Mariel Carbone here with channel 9. As we get closer, once we get to that March 29th date where vaccines do open up for all this eligibility, I mean, so many people are still struggling right now that are eligible to actually get an appointment, so how do the providers and how does the system actually stay afloat and make sure it can get these people their appointments?
Mike DeWine: (46:02)
Mariel Carbone: (46:03)
… sure it can get these people their appointments?
Mike DeWine: (46:03)
That’s an excellent question, and we know that there’s some people who have not been able to get it, and the reason we made the decision to continue to open it up is we did not want vaccines sitting on the shelf. And so what we’re seeing is an uneven uptake sometimes. Candidly in many of our rural communities are not taking it as fast as we see it in our urban or maybe in our suburban, so we’re trying to continue to balance that.
Mike DeWine: (46:32)
Frankly, we’ve had some locations where we have given them authorization to, if it wasn’t being taken up, to ship it to other places, and so we try to manage that every single day. But we don’t want it sitting there either. And so that’s really what the challenge has been.
Mike DeWine: (46:51)
We have built this system over time. We started with, I think, 700 locations around the state and we decided not to start, as some states did, with a mass vaccination of five, six, seven facilities. We want it in every County. We want it close to everybody. So we started at 700, we went from there to 1,250, we’re now 1,300, and now you’re seeing it start to layer in the mass vaccination sites on top of that.
Mike DeWine: (47:17)
So what we hope is if the vaccine comes in, as we think it will on the week of the 29th, it’s going to be at least another 100,000 doses higher than we have been. And so with those doses, particularly we’re looking forward to, at least the plan is now, we’re still trying to figure these things out totally, but the plant has now to take the Johnson & Johnson and to put them into our mass vaccination sites, at least into some of our sites.
Mike DeWine: (47:45)
So on the 29th of that week, we hope to start opening up about 15 sites. One of them will be right here. So we’re going to have more sites, we’re going to have, but the most important thing is we’re going to have more vaccine. And so what you’re starting to see on the older groups, they have not topped out, I hope. But for example, one of the older group in Hamilton County is almost at 70%.
Mike DeWine: (48:12)
So we know that at some point, those have already slowed down. The first older groups have already slowed down appreciably. So the demand from the order groups won’t be as much. And look, we hope and we really encourage the younger groups to get the shot. What we’ve seen is that there is a somewhat of a slowing down the lower in age you get.
Mike DeWine: (48:36)
So we think that, look, the first week on the 29th, everybody that wants it is not going to be able to get the vaccination. But what providers have told us is about after about two weeks, as we opened something up, it generally starts to clear out and then they can start seeing holes, and that’s what we’ll see.
Mariel Carbone: (48:53)
Speaker 14: (48:55)
Next question online is from Molly Martinez at spectrum News.
Mike DeWine: (48:58)
Molly Martinez: (48:59)
Hi, Governor. Good to see you.
Mike DeWine: (49:00)
Molly Martinez: (49:01)
Cuyahoga and Summit Counties both have May primaries on the books already. Why have the election in May … Why not have the election in May and August so constituents in the 11th don’t go eight months without representation?
Mike DeWine: (49:15)
So is Regis asleep there?
Molly Martinez: (49:17)
Mike DeWine: (49:17)
Is Regis asleep, huh?
Molly Martinez: (49:20)
Mike DeWine: (49:21)
Molly, I asked that same question to Frank LaRose and I said, “Look, can’t we do that?” And he explained to me, and I can’t do it off the top of my head, but he explained to me, “You couldn’t now. You couldn’t hold that election.” And particularly you wouldn’t be able to mail out the ballot, get them printed and mail out the ballots for the overseas people who wanted to vote. That’s the beginning process, is the overseas, and then it goes on from there. And I’m sure the Secretary of State’s office can walk you through those numbers. But that was my first question.
Mike DeWine: (49:56)
Look, I looked at that and I said, ” Look, this is a long time to wait to fill this seat.” The people of the district need to have representation. But then when we went through it and the Secretary of State’s office went through and explained to us, it was clear. They just said, “You cannot. We will not be able to hold a legal election in May.”
Mike DeWine: (50:16)
So they can walk you through those dates, but it kind of surprised me too. Look, I’m not blaming anybody, but if the Senate, it’s just a fact, is the Senate had acted sooner, we might’ve been able to get that May date, but we did not and we’re left with where we are.
Speaker 14: (50:37)
Next question is at the Cintas Center from Anne Saker at the Cincinnati Inquirer.
Anne Saker: (50:43)
Mike DeWine: (50:44)
Anne Saker: (50:44)
Mrs. DeWine, nice see you here in Cincinnati. Governor, I wonder if you can cast your mind forward past March 29th and tell us if you know yet what the feds are saying about vaccine supply after the 29th? You’re going to have an increase of 25% by then. Is that the track or is it still fluctuating and no one can predict at this point?
Mike DeWine: (51:08)
Well, we believe we’re going to continue to see these numbers go up, but the next jump we think is going to be the week of the 29th. Beyond that, I would be only guessing, and I don’t want to guess about that. But they have given us strong assurance that these numbers are not going to go down. So when we hit, if we get to half a million, let’s say, on the 29th that week, we expect at least a half a million every week going forward. And so you can kind of just do the math and look at the numbers.
Mike DeWine: (51:49)
And now, one thing I would just point out is obvious when you think about it, but the number that we show, we’re at like 21% or 22% of our population, I think it’s 22%, statewide has now been vaccinated. That is not of the adult population. That is of the population. So what’s going to happen is that we hope by fall, that we will be able to, my hope is, as kids start back into school, K through 12, we will have a vaccine that’s been approved for children. And that’s how we’re going to really, we hope, complete this task.
Mike DeWine: (52:32)
I was talking to with Fran, I were talking to Father Graham a moment ago before we walked in, and we were talking about college students and we’re trying to see if it’s going to be possible to start in and do any college students before they leave for the day summer. We would love to do that. It’s going to be very difficult. I’ll be candid with you, it’s going to be very difficult to do, and that’s because we will not have, certainly we will not have enough Johnson & Johnson. And so we would be having to be on a three week cycle or a four week cycle, and that just doesn’t seem to quite work.
Mike DeWine: (53:15)
So we’re still looking at that, trying to figure it out. And I can’t in good conscience take the vaccine away from 40-year-olds or 50-year-olds who are more vulnerable than a 20-year-old. So we can’t move it from another group. So I think it looks like it’s more likely that we will start planning with the universities for going back in the fall, a very, very, very aggressive vaccination schedule.
Mike DeWine: (53:52)
Now, many of those, what we would hope, is during the summer, and I’ll talk more about this in the future, but what we would hope is young people in the summer will sign up because we know we’re going to have room in the summer. We know that we’re going to have room in a few weeks. So we just can’t go into a campus and do everybody because they will be gone, but we hope that the students will sign up on their own and get the vaccine on their own.
Mike DeWine: (54:22)
While this age group doesn’t generally get really sick, we do know that does happen. I have on my desk back in Cedarville a picture of a young man who went to the University of Dayton who died from COVID. Just a horrible, horrible tragedy. But we also know that students can carry it, and so being able and get them vaccinated has the added benefit of people who are more socially active and travel more and move around more. So we would love to be able to get them vaccinated, but it looks like it’s going to be very difficult to do as a group before the summer.
Speaker 14: (55:03)
Next question online is from Scott Halasz at the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Mike DeWine: (55:07)
Scott Halasz : (55:08)
Hey, Governor. How are you today?
Mike DeWine: (55:09)
I’m well, sir.
Scott Halasz : (55:10)
Good. Most of the schools in Greene County have begun talking about proms and graduations in-person and they keep referring to, “We’ll see what happens when we get more guidance as to what we can do.” When can they expect more guidance as far as how many can they have in a prom? How many can they have at graduations?
Mike DeWine: (55:29)
Look, Scott, we’re going to give them some guidance, but there’s not going to be much in there that’s a surprise. And what we’re trying to do, just so everybody can understand. When we’re asked for guidance, whether it’s for opening baseball or whatever it is, we give them the guidance based upon the science that we’re seeing now with the understanding that we hope it’s going to get a lot better by the time the prom takes place or the graduation takes place.
Mike DeWine: (55:56)
We don’t know, but today the advice is and would be wear masks. Everybody needs to wear a mask. If you’re talking about graduation, you can figure out how to do it outside. It’s obviously going to be safer outside than inside. But try to keep the distancing and just follow all the practices, frankly, that we’ve learned in the last year. But I have said clearly that unless something out of the ordinary happens and we start really going back down hill, proms should be able to occur, graduations should be able to occur, county fairs should be able to occur.
Mike DeWine: (56:34)
But we’ll have more specific guidance, but I think when people get the guidance, they’re going to say, “Well, yeah, I already knew that.” And so it’s the basic principles. We’re just going to tell them, do the basic principles that you’ve been doing. And schools know how to do it, they’ve done a good job. But if that event’s going to be held today, based on what we’re seeing today, there would have to be, everyone would have to wear a mask.
Speaker 14: (57:02)
Next question from the Cintas Center is Joanna Bouras at WXIX in Cincinnati.
Joanna Bouras: (57:07)
Hi, Governor. Joanna Bouras with Fox19. So 21 cases is the highest we’ve seen in the state in quite some time. Are you worried that the variant is taking a stronger hold?
Mike DeWine: (57:22)
We’re watching it every day. We just can’t tell yet. I talked to my team last night, this morning about it, and I’m worried about what’s going on in other states. When you see something happening in Michigan, you get worried. You see something happen in West Virginia, you get worried. So we don’t know yet. We just don’t know and we’re just going to have to watch it. But we know that it is a race and we know that this virus is still very much out here.
Mike DeWine: (57:56)
Even if you look at the numbers, and we feel really good about the numbers because of how bad they were in December. But if you look at them, just if you walk in one day and had no background and they told you those numbers and you understood the numbers, you’d say, “Oh my God.” We’ve got most of our states high incidence … or excuse me, most of our counties are high incidence now, and they’re still, so it’s still high.
Mike DeWine: (58:23)
So there’s a lot of the virus out there. We clearly know that this variant is moving in Ohio. So yeah, we’re worried. But we also, on the other hand, know that we’re vaccinating yesterday 60,000 some people. I didn’t check today’s numbers, I don’t know today’s numbers for yesterday, but so we’re on offense. We’re making progress, but this virus is still out there and we got to be very leery of it and be very careful.
Joanna Bouras: (58:52)
Speaker 14: (58:52)
Next question online is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.
Alex Ebert : (58:57)
Good afternoon, Governor. We’re seeing nationally that there is disproportionate hesitancy to take the COVID-19 vaccine among white males without a college education. Can you describe if Ohio is seeing similar results and what the state is doing to target that group? Thanks.
Mike DeWine: (59:18)
Yeah, I think we are seeing some, certainly some of that. We’re seeing, as I described before, a difference in rural communities, although that’s not universal. If you look at our one through 88 list of counties, based on the percentage of their population that has been vaccinated, you will see a very interesting assortment of counties in the top 10, and some of them are some of the smallest counties that we have.
Mike DeWine: (59:52)
So, look, I think that we’ve talked about a hesitancy among minorities, but I think we’re seeing some significant movement there and it’s incumbent upon us, all of us to work together. And again, I want to praise what I’m seeing in Hamilton County and in the city, the health collaborative here is doing a phenomenal job. They’ve got many plans and they’re doing many things and we’re working closely with them to get them the vaccine to do it to reach underserved populations.
Mike DeWine: (01:00:25)
But yes, the answer is yes, we are seeing that and we continue to try to work at work on messaging there. I think there’s some universal truth, and one is that if someone has a hesitancy, I would suggest that they talk to their doctor, their health provider. That’s the best person to get that information from. And we’ve also found from surveys that those are the most believable to an individual.
Mike DeWine: (01:00:59)
We also have a situation, and Fran I’ve run into it a lot, as we’ve just talked with people who’ve gotten their shot who said, “I’m going to go back home and get the rest of my family.” We had one man today at the Cintas Center who said, “Yeah, I’m the last in the family. Everybody else has got it.” And so you can only imagine the conversation in the family, they’re probably encouraging him to do it.
Mike DeWine: (01:01:29)
But the people in our lives who have the most influence on our spouses, our family members and our friends, as well as our doctor, and that’s really who’s going to make a big difference. So I’m optimistic as we continue to go, we’re going to continue to get people who say, “Yes, I want it.” Who before said, “I’m not sure yet.”
Speaker 14: (01:01:51)
Next question from the Cintas Center is Jenna Cisneros at WKRC in Cincinnati.
Jenna Cisneros: (01:01:56)
Hi, Governor. Good to see you in-person.
Mike DeWine: (01:01:58)
Jenna Cisneros: (01:01:58)
Jenna Cisneros here at Local 12. How is the state working to overcome vaccine hesitancy when it comes to that younger population that’s going to be eligible come 11 days from now?
Mike DeWine: (01:02:09)
Yeah, we are working on an ad right now. The last ad, as you can see by the demographic or the age was directed at our older Ohioans, the one we showed before the one with Anthony. That’s directed to our older Ohioans, because frankly, even though two thirds of the people 70 years of age and older and in the state have gotten the vaccine, that’s not enough and we’ve got to drive those numbers up because those are the most, absolutely most vulnerable.
Mike DeWine: (01:02:37)
Conversely, we’re now moving very quickly, 11 days into people from 16 up, and we know that this has been the group that has worried the least. They’ve followed the science and follow the data and said, “It’s not as great of risk for me.” But we also know that this is a group that can spread it a lot, and this group, some of them can get very sick, and we had some horrible cases.
Mike DeWine: (01:03:10)
But so I think it is trying to persuade them for many reasons. One is you don’t want to be a carrier of this, and the evidence would appear to show that once you get the vaccine, your ability to carry it goes down as well. At least that’s what I’m told. So part of it’s do your part, be patriotic, help us out. And part of it is, look, if you still have someone in your family who has not been vaccinated and who might be very compromised, you don’t want to be taking it to them.
Mike DeWine: (01:03:48)
But that is a work in progress. I just talked to our team yesterday about developing an ad. They’re starting to do that, and we hope to have something out in the next 10 days by, really to coincide with the time when we actually open it up.
Speaker 14: (01:04:05)
Next question online is from Dan DeRoos at WOIO in Cleveland.
Mike DeWine: (01:04:09)
Dan DeRoos : (01:04:09)
Good afternoon, Governor. How are you, sir?
Mike DeWine: (01:04:11)
I’m well, sir.
Dan DeRoos : (01:04:12)
I get my vaccine tomorrow at noon, so I’d like to thank you for that opportunity.
Mike DeWine: (01:04:16)
Dan DeRoos : (01:04:17)
It’ll be available at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland.
Mike DeWine: (01:04:19)
Dan DeRoos : (01:04:19)
So we appreciate that. I want to talk about another big event in Cleveland. April 29th is a day one of the NFL Draft here in Cleveland. How much has your office worked with maybe the Cleveland Sports Authority or the City of Cleveland on what that might look like?
Mike DeWine: (01:04:36)
Yeah. We’ve been working with the Browns. I talked to Jimmy Haslam over the weekend about this, and he texted me, I think it was yesterday or the day before, and said, “Okay, who do I work with on your team?” And I gave him my Chief of Staff and our Health Director. I said, “Here’s the phone number? You guys should be talking directly.” But so we are very much aware of it. We’re very much aware of the date. We know the importance of this event, is looked forward to buy fans from all over the country and every team. So we’re working closely with them.
Speaker 14: (01:05:18)
Next question from the Cintas Center is from Jatara McGee WLWT in Cincinnati.
Jatara McGee : (01:05:26)
Mike DeWine: (01:05:26)
Jatara McGee : (01:05:26)
Jatara McGee with WLWT. One of the things that I’m hearing locally, and we are seeing more vaccine supply coming in and there are already attempts happening to reach those vulnerable communities, but one of the things that we’re hearing from local health officials is that one of the barriers is the current design of needing to pre-register before you can get a vaccine appointment.
Jatara McGee : (01:05:47)
When will we and will we get to the point where people can just walk down the street if they live right near the Cintas Center or drive here and stand in line to get their shot?
Mike DeWine: (01:05:56)
Excellent question. What we did not want to do is have the situation we’ve seen in other places where someone’s waiting five hours or six hours or seven hours in the cold or in the heat or whatever. This system has worked well once you get the appointment, and we know the frustration that’s connected with people. I talk to people about getting it.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:19)
We are trying out, we’re going to try out in the next few days in Cleveland on a controlled group who will be able to actually walk up. And we’re not ready to announce that, I guess I gave a little preview here today, but we’ll be announcing what we’re doing.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:38)
Again, this is working in Cleveland with our community partners, these would be underserved populations. And we’ve worked with some ministers who have basically, “Look, we want to try this. We want to try to bring in people from our community and will you let us try that?” And we said, “Absolutely, we want to try it.”
Mike DeWine: (01:06:58)
I have always felt that at some point in this that we will have the opportunity, when we get the demand down lower, that we will be able to have mobile clinics out in neighborhoods and that people literally will be able to walk up and get the vaccination.
Mike DeWine: (01:07:22)
Now it poses a challenge for the second dose, and we’ve got to figure that out. Now, if you’ve got Johnson & Johnson, then you don’t have that problem. So that’s one of the things we’re working on. We can certainly channel more of those vaccines to the clinics. But at some point we’re not there yet, but at some point we will be where people will be able to walk up and get the vaccination there. And because no matter what the registration is and no matter how easy or hard it is, it still poses a barrier of some to some people because of whatever their situation in life happens to be. So it’s a good question. We’re going to get there.
Jatara McGee : (01:08:08)
Terrific [crosstalk 01:08:09]
Mike DeWine: (01:08:09)
We’re going to do it.
Speaker 14: (01:08:09)
The next question online is from Jim Otte at WHIO in Dayton.
Jim Otte: (01:08:14)
Governor, thank you. I want to go back to the number of cases per 100,000. In baseball terms, I call this the magic number. What is the projection now? If we’re at 143.8, what’s your projection now for lifting the restrictions? Are we above or below expectations? Are we still on that track? You mentioned a couple of days ago, “Ah, seven or eight weeks out before those restrictions might be lifted.”
Mike DeWine: (01:08:38)
Jim, I can’t tell. I can’t tell. I don’t know if we’ve got a trend yet. We’re still headed in the right direction. We’re not heading there quite as fast as we were. Is that a trend or is that just a blip? I don’t know. But one thing that I’ve learned in a year of doing this and battling this virus is that you never know what it’s going to do next. You just don’t know.
Mike DeWine: (01:09:03)
You never know what’s going to do next. You just don’t know and we’ve normally had this cycle where it’s been up and down, up and down, up and down. What’s counter to that and what’s encouraging, is 2.4 million Ohioans have been vaccinated. Every day, we’re vaccinating 40, 50, 60 or 70,000 Ohioans. So every day, we’re making it harder for that virus to spread. So that’s what encourages me, that’s what gives me heart and that’s what gives me faith that this thing is going to end and we’re going to drive this thing to the ground, but we know there’s variants out there and now we’re seeing on the news, you all reported yesterday, WHIO you reported it because Fran, I watched it, that we were seeing an uptick in Michigan. We were seeing an uptick in West Virginia. So those are our borders, two of our border states, and so that does concern us.
Speaker 15: (01:10:01)
Next question from the Cintas Center is from Jolene Almendarez at WVXU in Cincinnati.
Jolene Almendarez: (01:10:12)
Jolene Almendarez and I’m with WVXU. Nice to meet you. So earlier this week there was an outbreak of COVID-19 in a nursing home in Kentucky. I think there were over 40 reported cases there. I know just a few weeks ago, visitation opened up in Ohio nursing homes. So here in the Cincinnati area, I talked to some people, one nursing home that I spoke to said they were just doing distancing, hand sanitizer kind of thing. Another nursing home said they were doing rapid testing onsite and within just four weeks, said they’d stopped seven people from coming in who were COVID positive who may have spread it.
Jolene Almendarez: (01:10:52)
And so I’m wondering if there’s any possibility that there will be any additional restrictions or requirements for who’s going in and out of nursing homes to prevent these kinds of outbreaks?
Mike DeWine: (01:11:04)
Well, the federal government controls basically visitation nursing homes, CMS, and so they just, as you may have seen a week ago, loosened restrictions at nursing homes and look, it’s very understandable why we have people who have not been able to see their families, et cetera. So what I talked about earlier though, I think is the most important thing. If we want to have more visitation in nursing homes and I would just say to people, if you have someone in a nursing home, ask that nursing home, are you continuing to vaccinate your residents? Are you continuing to vaccinate your staff? We are providing that to them.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:55)
We provide the vaccine to them. I gave you a number earlier on, the number of nursing homes who have not signed up yet with us and we don’t know why because this vaccine is free and we’re sending it in to them and they need to use it because every nursing home has turnover. You’ve got new staff coming in who may not be vaccinated, probably aren’t vaccinated because of the age and you also have residents who are coming in. Some of them may not be vaccinated yet.
Mike DeWine: (01:12:24)
So that is the most important thing, the most important way to make sure that the nursing home stay open, have decent visitation, is to make sure everyone in that nursing home is vaccinated. And if you have a loved one who’s in a nursing home who has not been vaccinated, I would just employ you to talk to them and ask them to be vaccinated. Your nursing home should have the vaccine because we have provided it to them and so we have to continue to be very vigilant.
Mike DeWine: (01:12:52)
If you look at the cases in Ohio and these cases have just dropped, we’re a fraction, a small fraction of what we were and they dropped again this week. So we’re driving those down and the only reason, not the only reason, but the main reason that’s changing things is the fact that we have the vaccine and not only have we been through each nursing home three times and each assisted living three times with the vaccine, we going back and sending the vaccine into the nursing home and letting them vaccinate people in that nursing home.
Mike DeWine: (01:13:22)
So nursing homes have to remain vigilant. They have to continue to push to see if their employees… Give their employees another chance to be vaccinated. The first time through, we only have 40% of uptake of people working in nursing homes who were vaccinated. Second time through, those numbers went up, but we still have a long ways to go with people who work in nursing homes and frankly, we still have some residents who have not been vaccinated yet and we would encourage them to become vaccinated.
Speaker 15: (01:13:53)
For any questions this afternoon are online and the next one is from Adrienne Robbins, WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:13:59)
Hi governor. Thank you for taking our questions this afternoon. How concerned are you that there will be a big enough group of those hesitant to get the vaccine that they could hold our recovery back. And how soon do you see a scenario where we lack enough people to take the shots but have enough shots for everyone?
Mike DeWine: (01:14:20)
The answer to the second question is, I don’t know. Answer to the first question is yes, I’m concerned, but I’m an optimist. I think that the more people learn about the vaccine, the more you’re going to see people will continue to take it, the more they learn about it.
Mike DeWine: (01:14:37)
But yeah, I’m very, very concerned that we’ll hit the numbers that we have to hit and so it’s going to be, frankly a lot’s going to depend on our young people; our young people’s willingness to take this vaccine and to slow the spread down and it’s really, we are all in this together. We said this is the beginning and we’re ending this big discussion and this whole year with all of us really in this together because we now depend on each other to knock this virus down.
Mike DeWine: (01:15:10)
And the more of us that get vaccinated better off that we’re going to be. As far as your first question, what providers tell us is every time we open it up, there’s a big swell for a couple of weeks and then on the third week, it starts dropping off. The demand is starting to get satisfied after a couple of weeks and then we see some openings.
Mike DeWine: (01:15:33)
So I would expect, the week of the 29th, when that opens up, you’re going to see a lot of new people come in. That will continue for a couple of weeks and then after about when you get into that third week, I think you’re going to see it start to open up a little bit and there’ll be more opportunities for, for people to get their shots.
Speaker 15: (01:15:54)
Next question is from Cheyenne Haslett at ABC News.
Cheyenne Haslett: (01:15:59)
Hi governor. Thanks for taking my question. Similar to the last one, I wonder if your decision to open up vaccinations widely on March 29th, is that all in response to lagging uptake? In other words, are you starting to see vaccine hesitancy and is opening it up widely the solution?
Mike DeWine: (01:16:20)
Well it was, it’s always a tough decision to know exactly when you should open it up. It’s a question of are you… We were seeing people tell us, for example, Dayton and Columbus that morning on the phone, health departments said we have vacancies today. We have vacancies tomorrow. So when you start seeing vacancies, then you know, it’s not being, the uptick is not going as well.
Mike DeWine: (01:16:44)
What was your other question? I’m sorry. You had a second question, I think.
Cheyenne Haslett: (01:16:48)
Yeah. If that was in your decision to, if vaccine hesitancy, if you’ve kind of hit your limit with people who are eligible and then opening it up widely as to reach more?
Mike DeWine: (01:16:58)
We seem, and I say seem, because I don’t know for sure, but we seem to be having a slower uptake in every time we moved down in age, at least that’s what it appears to me to be happening. But I mean, the interesting thing is even in the older groups, you continue still to see those numbers go up. I mean, we’ve had for people 80 and above, have been open for a long, long time. We’re still seeing 80 and above who are coming in and being vaccinated because we’re seeing those numbers go up.
Mike DeWine: (01:17:35)
So I look at this. When we opened this up on the 29th and I think we’ll have a big dash in for a few weeks and I think it’s going to level off some, and I think it’s just going to then we’re just going to continue to have more and more people, I hope, vaccinated as we move forward.
Cheyenne Haslett: (01:17:50)
You still feel confident about being able to hit herd immunity in Ohio. Has anything changed your mind on that recently?
Mike DeWine: (01:17:57)
Well, no one knows exactly what her immunity number is. Now, the second thing we don’t know is how many of our fellow systems have actively had the virus. And we know there’s some studies that would indicate that at least for eight months, there’s significant immunity. So some estimates have had us from 20 to 30% of Ohioans who have, and again, I don’t know the number. No one knows the number, but maybe 20 to 30% of Ohioans have actually already had the virus and still would have some immunity. So you don’t know and there’s going to be overlap. There’ll be some of those people who end up getting the shots. So you can’t add the two numbers together, but that’s why it’s so difficult to determine when you get herd immunity. The only way we’re really going to know it is just by the way the virus goes away and how far down it goes.
Mike DeWine: (01:18:49)
But what we do know is everybody who gets vaccinated in the state of Ohio, brings the day closer when we will be able to get back to normal.
Speaker 15: (01:19:04)
Next question is from Andy Chow, Ohio, Public Radio and Television.
Mike DeWine: (01:19:08)
Andy Chow: (01:19:09)
Hey, governor. To talk about SB22, a little bit, when it was in committee, when people would come in to give testimony, one of the biggest arguments was that there were a lot of people in Ohio who felt that their voices were shut out of the conversation when it comes to crafting health orders and states of emergency.
Andy Chow: (01:19:32)
So what do you say to people who believe that their voice was shut out? That people like small businesses weren’t able to speak into the process? And then what more can be done to really kind of maybe ramp up civilian representation into the process of issuing things like states of emergency and health orders?
Mike DeWine: (01:19:50)
Well, I think that’s a good question. I think it’s something that we always have to be concerned about. I’ve talked to the Speaker and the Senate President in regards specifically to the legislature and I told them, I think there is a pathway. I still believe there is a pathway, without this bill, where there could be another bill that we could agree, on where you would be able, the legislature would be able to feel that you had significant input into what goes forward. That there would be protection in there that would guarantee that and I would enter that discussion with good faith. I would still hope that we would be able to do that.
Mike DeWine: (01:20:33)
As far as the business community, or as far as small businesses, far as average Ohio businessperson, we did something that I think it’s unique in Ohio. When we came out, when we were getting ready to open things up last spring, we put together working groups and we put together working groups, barbers, beauticians, manufacturing, restaurants, bars, and we put people from those very industries on these working groups. They, along with the health experts designed what those go back to work regulations were. On some cases it wasn’t going back to work. For example, manufacturing never stopped. But even in the case of manufacturing, we put together a working group and they came up with protocols and I’m very proud of the work they did.
Mike DeWine: (01:21:41)
So business was certainly represented at the table. They helped design these protocols and it’s a tribute to them that these protocols have worked exceedingly well. We do not see generally much spread in business and I think that the restaurants and the bars, with a few exceptions, but the vast, vast, vast majority of them have worked very hard at doing this and have tried to run it as very safe an operation as they could. So people were involved. It was a process that we created and it’s something that I’ve tried to do throughout my career.
Mike DeWine: (01:22:24)
When we look at reforming foster care, we pull people in. We do town hall meetings around the state. Whatever it is, we try to pull people in. Now that does not mean, Andy, that everyone’s going to like my decisions. Ultimately, you know, the buck stops with me. But ultimately, you know, I listen and we try to make the best decisions that we can.
Mike DeWine: (01:22:48)
But in regard to getting back to this particular bill, I believe what we’re seeing now in the legislature, as members of the legislature and there were things added as you know, as it moved from one house to the other, and then it was back, things were added. I honestly think that as some members look at this, they are certainly beginning to understand some of the specific problems that are connected with this bill.
Mike DeWine: (01:23:20)
So I would just say to my friends in the general assembly, let’s take a pause. Let’s use this as an opportunity to talk. Talking never hurts. Let’s see if there isn’t some way we can reach an agreement that satisfies your members, so that they can feel that they are in fact participating in the future and they will. And future legislatures will be able to participate in these decisions in the future.
Mike DeWine: (01:23:47)
We’ve actually put forward a proposal that we think is a proposal and a good proposal and we would like for them to look at it. But I mean, here’s what’s happening. College presidents now are looking at this and saying, state universities are shaking their heads here. “Really, I’m going to get sued and all 88 counties under this bill. Why? Why would we change what’s been working as a law in the state of Ohio since the 1970s?”
Mike DeWine: (01:24:18)
We’ve had people who, health directors and people who care about public health as we all must say, “Why would we want a situation where you could have students like Miami University did, who came back from Wuhan and who, fortunately in that case, they agreed to quarantine. They were great and turned out there wasn’t a virus, but we didn’t have any way even to test the virus. We had to send it out to the CDC as I remember correctly and didn’t get back the results for a number of days. So if those students had said, “Hey, we’re not. You don’t have any authority. We’re not going to quarantine.” They could have. And if they had turned out, they had it, they could have spread that throughout the Miami University campus, they could have spread it throughout Butler County and what this bill does is, it says that unless a health department, a local health department cannot quarantine, unless that particular individual who they want to quarantine, has been medically diagnosed, medically diagnosed.
Mike DeWine: (01:25:22)
Well, in this case, you couldn’t medically diagnose them because we couldn’t even do a test in Ohio. And the other thing it says is, or if the person who was close, who might have infected them has been medically diagnosed. Well, they’re coming back from China. We have no ability to see even who they came in contact with.
Mike DeWine: (01:25:41)
So it’s things like that that I think members are starting to realize is in this bill and it’s causing them to kind of look at this again. I just think now, as we start to look at this again, this is an opportunity for us to say, “Look. Let’s see what else we can do. That we can come up with something that we all can agree on and let’s move forward. Let’s let’s move forward but let’s don’t have a future governor or future health departments or citizens, most importantly, be in a position where their health might be compromised by an emergency when someone could not be quarantined.”
Speaker 15: (01:26:22)
Governor, next question. This is the last question for this afternoon and belongs to Geoff Redick from WSYX in Columbus.
Mike DeWine: (01:26:27)
Geoff Redick: (01:26:30)
Hi governor. The president of the United States will visit Columbus next week to promote his American Rescue Plan. Will you greet him on his visit to Ohio? And do you uniformly oppose the American Rescue Plan like many other Republicans?
Mike DeWine: (01:26:49)
Well, I haven’t even got all the way through it. It’s probably would not have been, if I’d been in Congress, the bill that I would have preferred but… Look, we’re taking a look at it. We’re trying to analyze it. One of the concerns is the provision in there that Dave Yost pointed out with his lawsuit and we’re trying to get an analysis frankly, want to hear what Treasury says in regard to that provision, which would prohibit us and other local government entities from cutting taxes if we wanted to. It doesn’t seem like the federal government should be involved in that.
Mike DeWine: (01:27:28)
But again, we’ll wait until we get some interpretation in regard to that. As I said, in answer to many of your questions during the time when President Trump was president, I believe that the governor of the state of Ohio should have a good relationship, a good working relationship with the president of the United States of whatever party. And I intend, I had a good relationship with President Trump. I have a good relationship with President Biden and if there’s an opportunity for me to welcome the president of the United States to Ohio, I certainly would do that.
Mike DeWine: (01:28:06)
Want to thank you everybody. It’s good to be at the Cintas Center. Good to be at Xavier University and we look forward to talking with you all again on,~ sometime next week. I think it’s Monday. Thank you very much.