Mar 22, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 22
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on March 22, 2021 to provide updates on coronavirus and vaccine distribution. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Gov. Mike DeWine: (00:58)
Good afternoon, everyone. This morning, Fran and I traveled to the Mahoning Valley and visited the Eugenia Atkinson Rec Center in Youngstown, where they were conducting a vaccination clinic. My friend Mayor Tito Brown joined us and got his shot this morning while we were there. Mayor Brown is joining us now on Zoom. Mayor, how do you feel?
Mayor Tito Brown: (01:26)
I feel great, Governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:29)
Well, I’m glad that things went well for you. It was fun to see everybody there. I think people were happy. They were getting their shots and a real tribute to your health department. Fran and I had the chance to talk to a number of the members of the department and it was just great to talk with them. They had a tough year as all health departments have, but you got some good people there, Mayor.
Mayor Tito Brown: (01:58)
We’ve got a great team, Governor, and we appreciate you and Fran for stopping by, and everyone was so excited for that to happen. I couldn’t have been more appreciative of you being there for me to get my shot and really wanted to make sure that I did it publicly, Governor, so that everyone can see if the Mayor is getting the shot, that it’s easy, that it’s safe, but also wanted to make sure more specifically for those in the minority community, that they realize this is something we needed to do because I want to travel. I want to see my family and my friends, but I also want to be able to play with my granddaughter. Being a grandfather, you know exactly what I’m talking about, right?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (02:36)
Well, no, absolutely. That’s the most important thing with your grandkids and it just is … Getting the vaccine is liberating. It’s freedom, it’s kind of like a weight off your shoulder when that happens. Mayor, thank you very, very much. We appreciate it. I know everybody in the Mahoning Valley will be glad to see you on the news tonight and getting your shot.
Mayor Tito Brown: (03:02)
Governor, I appreciate you so much for your leadership.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:06)
Thanks, Mayor. Appreciate it.
Mayor Tito Brown: (03:08)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:08)
Appreciate your leadership. We announced last week, that we are now in the age group 40 and above, and will remain there until next week when we open it up on the 29th for everyone. That remains the same, but I talked to the health departments this morning, as I do every Monday morning, and we’ve also talked to some other providers. While there are many places where there is great demand, more demand than there are shots available, more demand than there are slots where you can go in and get your shot, we do have some places in the state where that’s not true.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (04:03)
We’re announcing today that we’re not changing the times. We’re not changing when we will switch over to 16 and above, that will occur next week. If a provider and we now have over 1,300 providers in this state, our pharmacies and our health departments, our hospitals, but if any of them are not filling slots this week, and they feel it’s necessary in order to fill slots to open up to everyone, they certainly have our permission to do that. What we don’t want is any slots not filled. We don’t want any of the vaccine sitting there. Not a change in policy, but there is an exception and the exception is if that provider determines they cannot fill those slots, then they have the option at their discretion to open it up further.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (05:10)
Last week, we opened up Ohio’s federal and state mass vaccination site at the Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland. Fran and I were there and things are going very, very well. In fact, I’m happy to report that as of yesterday, that’s yesterday’s numbers, we were up to 28, 000 people who have come to the Clinic for their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, so that’s a lot of people. Ohio Department Health Director, Stephanie McCloud is now at the Wolstein Center. Director, how are things going there today?
Stephanie McCloud: (05:49)
Governor, thank you so much for having me on the press conference. I’m excited to be here today from the Wolstein Command Center. You were here last Tuesday, and as you mentioned, as of yesterday, we did 28,000 vaccinations. Today, I’m pleased to report, we broke the 30,000 barrier at 31,000 doses of Pfizer in the community. This has taken, as you might imagine, and you know, firsthand a Herculean effort to undertake involving folks and community members and volunteers from all over. The Cleveland Fire Department, the Department of Defense, the Ohio National Guard, and the 101st Airborne have put together over 500 service members who work in shifts.
Stephanie McCloud: (06:35)
Cleveland State University, we obviously very much want to thank them for hosting as well as providing us opportunity and volunteers. Our Ohio EMA, the Federal EMA, Cleveland Clinic University Hospital, MetroHealth and Vocalink, so many others. It’s so exciting to be here today. As I mentioned, 31,000 doses of the vaccine of Pfizer, we have also taken some of those doses kind of off- campus from here to those underserved neighborhoods. We’ve vaccinated nearly 500 people at the Elizabeth Baptist Church in Cuyahoga County on Saturday.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:11)
Stephanie McCloud: (07:11)
A huge thank you to those people here today, and very exciting up here, Governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:17)
Well, it’s a real team effort. It’s a local effort. It’s a state effort. It’s a federal effort and it’s working very, very well. When we opened it, we thought we would just kind of ease it up, following what some other states had seen. We started at 15, went to 3,000, 4,500, and now it looks like we’re a fairly steady at 6,000 a day. That’s a great tribute to everyone who’s there. It’s a great thing when you walk around there to see all the people who are involved and who are making it work very well. I had a friend who texted me just an hour or so ago, said he went in there and he was out in just a very, very, very short period of time. Very well-run and very efficient. Director, thank you very much. Thanks for being there.
Stephanie McCloud: (08:06)
[inaudible 00:08:06], Governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (08:09)
We’ve talked about our central scheduling tool, gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. That’s gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. Tool is online. Allows you to register for an available appointment on the internet. We also know that we have some Ohioans who can’t navigate the internet. They may not have a computer. They may not have the ability to do that. Many of the health departments have a number that you can call to the local health department and they will schedule an appointment for you. Beyond that though, if you need help scheduling an appointment and we urge you to call our COVID-19 hotline. If there are appointments available, our team will help you register. That number is 1-833-427-5634. That number is 1-833-427-5634.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:15)
Last week, we talked about evolving the orders in regard to visitation for nursing homes, as well as assisted living facilities. Today, I want to go over the specifics of what we’ve included in that updated health directors order. As we talked about before, assisted living facilities need to follow the Ohio order, but nursing homes need to follow the Ohio order, plus the federal regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services known as CMS. We have worked hard to align the Ohio orders with the federal guidance for nursing homes, to keep it clear, make it simple and to encourage visitation. The following is general visitation requirements for both nursing homes and assisted living. The general visitations remain the same. Visitors need to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms at the front door. There needs to be a visitor log in case we need to do contact tracing later, three visitors are required to wear masks, wash their hands, and the home needs to keep up with cleaning and sanitizing. Four visits need to be scheduled in advance.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (10:35)
Here are the changes, the big changes to support visitation in a safe way. Again, these are for nursing homes as well as for assisted living. Previously, visitation was permitted, not require. Now, this is a change. We are requiring the nursing homes and assisted living to have visitation, whenever the circumstances are met, the criteria is met. Second, we were allowing vaccinated residents to have physical touch with their visitors while wearing a mask. Previously, being able to hug someone was not, it was certainly discouraged. That has been changed. Three, we’re permitting visitation in the resident’s private room. Again, this is both in assisted living and in nursing homes. Previously there had to be a separate visitation area. That no longer is true. We’re setting 30 minutes as the minimum amount of time for the visit, minimum. In other words, we’re telling the nursing homes and the assisted living, someone comes to visit, you have to allow them at least, at least 30 minutes.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (11:50)
Next, we are expanding the list of examples when compassionate care visits should be granted. You’ll be able to find those on the webpage. Previously, list had four instances. Now, it has nine. Nine examples of compassionate visitation. The orders that we’re issuing also are updating what testing is required in the nursing homes and the assisted living facilities. Although, many of the residents are vaccinated, we think roughly 90%, and everyone who wanted the vaccination has received one. We need to continue regularly testing for the virus. It’s good science, and it will help us identify cases early and it will help us prevent the spread.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (12:34)
As we talked about last week, the spread has gone down just dramatically. Further, if COVID is controlled, that means less disruption to visitation. We’ll be asking nursing homes and assisted living to test vaccinated staff once per week. If you are a staff member and you work in a nursing home or assisted living, you will be tested once per week. If you have been vaccinated. However, unvaccinated staff, those who have not been vaccinated, that will be two times a week. That will be the difference. Again, we will continue to offer staff members as we are, any unvaccinated residents, the opportunity to be vaccinated, we will continue to offer them that. Again, to repeat, we’ll be asking homes to test vaccinated staff once per week and unvaccinated staff twice per week.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:38)
We should note that there are still some times when visitation will be restricted as if there’s an outbreak, if there’s an outbreak throughout the facility. Still very important for facilities to report into the visitation dashboard and know their county positivity rate. The dashboard is available on coronavirus.ohio. gov. Anyone will have the opportunity to take a look at that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (14:04)
Eric, let’s look at our data for today. Well, to kind of state the obvious, we’ve crossed a milestone with a million cases. If you look at the cases, what we’re starting to see is what I would describe as a plateau of cases. They were going down for a while. It looks like they’ve kind of leveled out and we’ll just have to see where that goes. We know that Michigan, for example, is seeing a significant increase in cases in certain parts of the state. We’re also seeing that in West Virginia, in certain parts of the state, both states of course, border on Ohio. As Dr. Vanderhoff has talked about this variant, and the variant being more contagious, we’re concerned about where we are. It looks like we’re in a plateau at this point. Hospitalizations down a little bit from the 21-day average. ICU admission …
Gov. Mike DeWine: (15:03)
…down a little bit from the 21 day average. ICU admissions up a little bit from the 21 day average. Eric, go to the next one. Again, this is 88 counties ranked by highest occurrence. You can see that we have some of these that are below 100. The rest of them are above 100, 100 is high incidence level. Eric, let’s take a look at the next one. This is the Top 20. Clark County and Crawford County, the two highest. Clark at 232, so that’s a little over two times a high incidence. So Clark has a high incidence. The good news in Clark is that they’re vaccinating at a pretty good clip, and that’s kind of the race that we’re seeing. So we’ve just got to keep focusing on that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (15:52)
This next slide has to do with hospitalizations. As you saw, they had been going down. We actually see an uptick in those and whether that’s a long-term trend or not, we don’t know. It’s still a fairly flat number.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (16:18)
Dr. Vanderhoff is on. Doctor, you and I talked a few minutes ago in regard to the cases kind of leveling off. What we’re seeing in the hospitals is similar to that, I guess, at this point. And that is, it’s a change. We got used to this going down and we were very happy every day to kind of report to everyone that it was going down. Now we’re seeing a kind of a plateau. So we continue to vaccinate people, we’re at 2.8 million as of today. So we’re continuing to move doing that, but at the same time, we’re seeing this variant out there. So I wonder if you could make some sense out of what we’re seeing?
Bruce Vanderhoff: (17:10)
Certainly. Thank you very much, Governor. First, we have to recognize that spring is upon us, it’s bringing us warmer temperatures, more sunshine. Our COVID headlines over the last couple of weeks have really been very encouraging. And I think we’re all eager, after what’s been a very long haul, to get our lives back. All of this together I think can tempt us to lower our guard. There’s no doubt, every day we are in fact getting closer to victory, but we haven’t reached the finish line yet.
Bruce Vanderhoff: (17:45)
As you noted Governor, states around us, especially Michigan and West Virginia, have seen some upturns again. And while thankfully we’re getting more and more vaccines into arms every day, we’re also seeing more and more activity from the variants. In fact, we’ve now documented with, genomic analysis, at least 173 variant cases, including some of the new California variants B-1427 and 1429.
Bruce Vanderhoff: (18:16)
Now keep in mind, our total variant count was only 32 two weeks ago. So this is not the time for us to throw caution to the wind. We are in the final stretch of the marathon, but we need to keep up our masking and our distancing even as more and more of us roll up our sleeves to get us vaccinated and actually get us across that finish line. Thank you, Governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:46)
Doctor, thank you very much. We’re ready for questions.
Governor, our first question today is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:52)
Laura Hancock: (18:55)
Hi Governor. I have a question. If you miscalculated the demand for vaccine in rural areas, which your decision today shows, why not adjust the amounts of vaccine going to the rural areas each week and divert the surplus to urban areas where the demand is much higher? We’ve seen governors in other states favor the parts of geography where they have the most political support. Is that what is going on here?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (19:28)
No. Laura, you know better than that. That’s not what we do. We have followed a formula and it’s a population formula. It’s 80% based on population and it’s 20% based upon the poverty level and other social indicators in the county. There’s a 20% factor in on that and we’d send those out by county every week. We listen to the people in the county, where they want them set. We started with a system of 700 locations, 650-700 locations. We’re now up to 1300 locations. We’re layering in on top of that, mass vaccination sites as we move forward.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:12)
So, if you look at the top 10 counties that are getting the most vaccination out, by population, you’ll see a number of rural counties in there. So it is not just a question of rural not taking the vaccine, urban taking the vaccine. That’s not what we’re seeing. But, when we send it out to 1300 locations, there’s bound to be places where it doesn’t take up, the uptake is not going to be consistent throughout every single neighborhood in the State of Ohio.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:55)
So we will continue work with our local communities. We have seen some shifting. For example, we’ve had some of the chain drug stores that have seen more uptick in one area versus another area and we’ve given them permission to shift that over to the areas where they have more need for it. We are now entering kind of the final phase as far as opening it up. And so, in a week we’re going to be opening this up and we’ll see what happens then.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:35)
We have focused on equity. We focused on, not just by race, not just by income, but equity based upon a geographical location as well. We tried to be fair to every county. Every County, basically the same amount per capita population, 80% for that, 20% for the other indicator, and we think that has worked. But with 1300 places, there’s bound to be some that don’t take it up as quick as others. And so, the way we’ve dealt with that is to open that up and fill that in.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (22:14)
Beginning next week, we’ll see where we go, we go from there. So, our goal is the same. Fairness, get it out to everybody that wants it as quickly as we can, let no vaccine sit on the shelf, let no vaccine sit in a pharmacy or any place very long and get it out because this is lifesaving.
Next question is from Shane Stegmiller at Hannah News Service.
Shane Stegmiller: (22:39)
Hi Governor, how are you doing this Monday? I wanted to ask just a little more detailed though, about opening this up to 16 and above. Are they advertising, “Come get your vaccine. We can give it to everybody,” or is it… How are they supposed to let people know? And also, are we starting to reach a part where vaccine hesitancy is starting to kind of… We starting to hit a wall with vaccine hesitancy in some areas?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:05)
Look, please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not saying that this is widespread, that people aren’t filling up. I’m saying that out of 1300, there are some who have told us, “We’re not filling up today.” And it’s, I think, an imperative that we not let vaccine anytime sit. But the majority of places are filled up and are filling up very, very quickly. And we would anticipate that that would occur moving forward. We have some places that are booked out for two weeks. So what I’m talking about is a minority of places, and we just want to give them permission instead of them sitting there waiting with that vaccine. We want to give their permission to open that up. And by announcing that, then they will be able to switch over and be able to accept those who are 16 and above. So, you got to kind of fine tune it every day and we look at this every single day.
Next question is from Farnoush Amiri at the Associated Press.
Farnoush Amiri: (24:22)
Hi Governor. This morning you sent a letter to a GOP lawmaker in the House outlining what you said are your grave concerns regarding Senate Bill 22. You have promised to veto the bill, Senate President House Speaker promised to override the veto. What does a compromise look like at this point and how do you get that done, logistically?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (24:44)
Well, we sent them a proposed compromise. I’m not going to negotiate in public at this point. But we sent them a compromise that we felt allow them to have the oversight that they want, but at the same time fixed some of the problems connected with this bill. The letter that I sent is a really, I think, a distillation, a summary of the problems connected with this bill. This was a letter that I worked on over the weekend, our team worked on over the weekend to really try to lay out to members of the general assembly exactly what it would mean for public health. What it would mean for the safety of Ohio citizens if it actually became law.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (25:37)
One of the things that I think is important is that the bill that was passed by the General Assembly, by the Senate, by the House will have an impact far beyond, far beyond this pandemic. It should not be looked at as legislature’s answer to what we need to do in the pandemic, because it goes so much further than that. It really decimates, would decimate, local health departments ability to keep the citizens of their communities safe in things well beyond, well beyond this pandemic.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (26:27)
We outlined in there very, very specific things. And just to recap a couple of those things, one of the key components of the bill is it says, “Quarantining could not occur unless there is a medical diagnosis,” a medical diagnosis either of the individual involved or the person who they were exposed to was medically diagnosed. What does that mean? Well, if you go back to the first, really beginning of the story, two Miami University students coming back from Wuhan came back to the campus. Now they quarantined, they did everything that anybody asked them to do. But if they had refused and said, “No, we’re not going to quarantine. We’re going to do whatever we want to,” this bill would mean that the health department would have no authority to have them quarantined at all.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:36)
Now in this particular case, as you know, turned out they did not test positive. But at that time we had no place to test them in the state of Ohio. We had to send this out to the CDC. It took over five days before we got results back. So they were not medically diagnosed for five days. And if they had been positive and if this bill had been in effect, the Health Department would have no ability to quarantine them. They could ask them to, but they could not have compelled them to quarantine.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (28:11)
Ebola is another example. As the letter points out, we have people in Ohio who’ve come back from Ebola areas. And while we don’t think the risk is high, they are being monitored. And I’m going to ask in a moment, Dr. Vanderhoff to talk a little bit about what the procedure is in the medical sciences and how you diagnose someone who has Ebola. But again, this bill says you have to medically diagnose them before you can do anything. The two Miami students, you couldn’t medically diagnose them until you got a test and we didn’t even have a test in the State of Ohio and it took five days to get that back. And we certainly didn’t know who they had been exposed to, or didn’t have a medical diagnosis of anybody who they might’ve been exposed to in China.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (29:04)
Ebola is the basic same principle. We live in a world that’s a dangerous world. We have state terrorist, we have non-state terrorists. What if they do you decide to introduce the plague or smallpox or something else to the United States? Again, the ability to quarantine is going to be absolutely essential. The bill further, just to take another example, maybe an even more kind of routine example, and that is the bill says, “No general order,” you can’t make a general order about something. You know, think of the situation where there’s an Ecoli break out and it’s traced back to a supplier in regard to romaine lettuce. The order normally that would go out would say anybody who bought that romaine lettuce, anybody who’s got it, needs to-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:03)
Want that romaine lettuce, anybody who’s got it needs to do certain things. Any restaurant, any place, any grocery store or any place else. That would be a general order. And that type of order would be certainly suspect under this bill. So, Dr. Vanderhoff, let me flip it back to you for a moment to talk a little bit about some of the medical side of this. You were very instrumental as we put this letter together this weekend, we relied upon your medical expertise as well as the expertise of others. Just want to see if you have any comments on that.
Bruce Vanderhoff: (30:39)
Thank you, sir. Well, yes. First, let me begin with just some quick comments about medical isolation and quarantine, because these are really among the oldest and most effective health measures we have for limiting the spread of serious communicable diseases. And not surprisingly, they have a very long history dating all the way back to biblical times. Isolation and quarantine really help protect the public by reducing the risk of exposure to people who have, or in the case of quarantine may have, but have not yet been shown to have a contagious disease. So quarantine is particularly helpful in limiting the spread of diseases that can occur before a person knows they’re sick, like COVID. In fact, throughout history, quarantine and isolation have been essential for containing outbreaks of a host of conditions like measles, smallpox, Ebola, and even the cousins of COVID that you may have heard of, SARS and MERS. And as the governor stated, we now live in a global community, because of global travel and the movement of goods. And there is therefore an ever present threat of emerging infectious diseases.
Bruce Vanderhoff: (31:59)
And sadly, as he also noted, a very real threat of bio-terrorism. Isolation and quarantine are simply essential public health interventions to protect all of us from these highly infectious, unpleasant, debilitating, and potentially deadly infectious diseases. And that’s especially true when a disease is new as COVID was and poorly understood, and, or as it was a disease for which highly effective treatments simply aren’t available. So why given all we know about the very real threats of other diseases like measles, Ebola, bird flu, and so many others, would we want to put Ohioans at risk by compromising the essential and ancient public health practices of isolation and quarantine. And then in terms of Ebola, right now the World Health Organization and CDC are monitoring outbreaks in the democratic Republic of Congo in Guinea, in Africa, both countries in Africa, that are thankfully restricted right now to remote portions of those countries.
Bruce Vanderhoff: (33:19)
And also working in our favor is the fact that travel volume for both countries is low. And putting that all together, the CDC and World Health Organization believes that the risk to the U.S. is very low. However, it’s not absent. And the Ohio Department of Health began receiving notification of travelers from Ebola affected parts of Africa back on March 6th, and has been coordinating with the CDCs Division of Global Migration and Quarantine to ensure that there are 21 day monitoring periods for travelers coming to Ohio from those areas. And one of the things that would be really problematic about this bill, if it were in effect and we were dealing with the situation I just described, is that as you can tell from the guidance, I just outlined from the CDC. This is a disease where the testing is best performed once we know a patient has begun to manifest symptoms, not days or weeks before. So we would not be able to medically diagnose these individuals before we implemented or isolation or quarantine practices. So I think it’s a very timely and illustrative case of why that bill poses a concern.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (34:57)
Doctor, thank you for talking about the medical side of this. The letter does speak for itself. Covers a lot of different areas, but this bill really is a trial lawyers dream. It’s going to spawn a lot of litigation. I’ve already had contact with some of the state universities. They are concerned about that, exposes them. Lawsuits, takes some of these cases out of the Court of Claims. It is just has many, many, many problems connected with it. So I still believe that there is a compromise to be had. I think that we made a presentation to the general assembly, to the leadership of the general assembly about how we think this would work. And we still hope that there’ll be a possibility that we’ll come up with something that is acceptable to the general assembly that allows the oversight that they want, which we certainly understand. But at the same time, does not have all of the problems that are connected with this bill. This bill, if it became law, really does jeopardize the safety of Ohioans.
Speaker 1: (36:21)
Next question is from Jim Province of the Toledo Blade.
Jim Province: (36:24)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (36:26)
Jim Province: (36:26)
I’d like to go back to getting your thoughts on crossing the $1 million infection mark. Did you think that Ohio had reached this point at the beginning of this? And I’m also curious, and this is probably a question for Dr. Vanderhoff as to whether or not there’s a certain percentage of these cases that are actually duplicates, where people were infected more than once.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (36:48)
Well, I’ll take the first one and no, I wouldn’t have started Jim. I didn’t have any idea that we would be at this a year later, and that we would have had a million Ohioans or so infected. So, no, had absolutely no idea that was coming. So Doctor, you want to take the medical question?
Bruce Vanderhoff: (37:10)
Yes, sir. Thank you. It’s a very good question. However, fortunately, at this stage in the pandemic, the incidents of repeat cases of COVID-19 or follow up infection to an earlier infection still appear to be very, very rare. And so I don’t think a sizable proportion of these numbers are the result of second infections.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (37:38)
Speaker 1: (37:39)
Next question is from Jess Hardin at mahoningmatters.com
Jess Hardin: (37:43)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (37:45)
Jess Hardin: (37:47)
Thanks for taking my question today. And it was good to see you this morning out in Youngstown. As we know, there are plenty of adults who are refusing the COVID vaccine, and I’m wondering about their 16 and 17 year old children. As minors become eligible, will getting vaccinated require parental permission. And is there anything the state could do to assist young people who want to get the shot, but whose parents don’t want to allow them to?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (38:17)
Well, we’re going to follow the laws we do in regard to all vaccinations, and we’re not going to compel anybody to get the vaccine. This is an individual choice. These individuals are minors, and I’ll have my staff correct me if I’m wrong. But again, we would assume a parental permission slip would be what would be obtained before that person would be able to get their vaccine.
Speaker 1: (38:46)
Next question is from Randy Ludlow at, The Columbus Dispatch.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (38:50)
Randy Ludlow: (38:52)
Good afternoon, Governor. Back to allowing providers at their discretion to give shots to those eight, 16 and up, appointments if they are available, what guidance has the state given them on when appointments are available? When they have an opening an hour in advance? The day of? 24 hours before? What kind of guidance have you given them on when they can vaccinate 39 and under?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (39:23)
Well, I think Randy, we have to start off with, to state the obvious and the obvious is that in a week, they’re going to be able to vaccinate anybody. So knowing that and knowing that we have already had open for the most vulnerable people for some period of time, I think those are two facts that weigh on this. But the main thing is it’s a common sense approach. We didn’t outline for them specifics, but the key here is it’s an exception to a rule and the rule has not been changed. And the rule simply says, you’re vaccinating this week, people 40 and over. And unless there’s some very significant reason, you should not deviate from that. A significant reason is that they’re looking at, they’re not filling their shots up. And most of these places have been at this now for a long time, many, many, many weeks.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (40:33)
They have an amazing feel when you talk to them about how they’re feeling and they can compare it to past weeks and they can compare it to, they know, for example, if they’ve got X number that are vacant for tomorrow, or let’s say two days from now. They can usually tell you whether those are going to fill or not. So what we don’t want them to do is to be literally sitting there with staff and people and vaccine precious vaccine and not be able to hit those slots. So it’s not just one or two people missing an appointment. That’s not what we’re talking about, what we’re talking about, where there’s a gaping hole and they see that hole and they are convinced they will not fill that unless they’re able to open it up. And again, it’s all going to open up in seven days anyway.
Speaker 1: (41:32)
Next question is from Mike Livingston at Gongwer News Service.
Mike Livingston: (41:37)
Yeah. Hi, Governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (41:38)
Mike Livingston: (41:39)
Back on SB 22, if I could, in your talks with leaders or maybe in any reaction you’ve received so far in your letter, do you think that you’ve made any progress in changing any minds on that? Thanks.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (41:51)
Oh, I don’t know. The letter went early this morning, so we’ll just see what people’s reaction is. We put a lot of thought into the letter. We not only consulted medical experts, but obviously we talked to legal experts as well, and really fought through the letter, and tried to distill down what we felt were the real problems with this letter. Or excuse me, the real problems with the bill, and the letter tried to aluminate on that. So I would expect members to look at the letter and they’ll make up their own mind. If they have questions, I’m sure that they will call us. So it’s an attempt to really define down what the problems are.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (42:41)
And I’ve talked about these problems before. This was, as you know, a bill that one house passed and sent over to the house, and then the house put new things in it. And then it came right back to the Senate, and a short time later, they approve those things and that was it. So there wasn’t a long period of time for public debate. I started talking about it in the next news conference. But I wanted to put down in writing exactly what this bill would do. But I think the most important thing is, we should not look at this bill as only dealing with this pandemic. We’re going to be out of this pandemic, I hope fairly soon.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (43:39)
What this bill is about is setting public policy for a number of years. It’s about determining how the next crisis will be handled. But it’s also about how a local health department handles even a more routine situation, such as E. coli. This fundamentally changes the ability of public health in the state of Ohio to protect the citizens. And it goes so far beyond any dispute that we might’ve had in regard to how this pandemic should have been covered. I understand that there are members of the general assembly who don’t agree with many of the things that we did during this pandemic. This bill goes so far beyond that though. They’ve taken it out from that dispute out and just decimated public health’s ability to protect the people of the state of Ohio. Now it’s passage-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:01)
… it’s passage. Look, this is about the safety of the people in the state of Ohio. This bill is a dramatic change in how people are protected in public health crises.
Speaker 2: (45:17)
The next question is from Tom Jackson at the Sandusky Register.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:23)
Tom Jackson: (45:25)
Hi, Governor. How are you?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:27)
I’m well, sir.
Tom Jackson: (45:29)
Good. Governor, you’ve been able to ramp up the speed of vaccinations as you get larger supplies of doses. And I’m wondering if you have a forecast you can share over how things are looking for vaccine shipments in the next two or three weeks, and whether you’ll be able to continue speeding things up?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:52)
Tom, it’s our understanding from talking to the Biden White House, that the first two drugs are not going to speed up, they’re going to be basically the same, Moderna and Pfizer are going to be the same, but that Johnson & Johnson is going to kick back in and go up. But again, until we see exactly what that is, we don’t have the hard numbers, but we’ll find that out in the next several days and we’ll be able to see what Johnson & Johnson is going to be for next week.
Speaker 2: (46:29)
The next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (46:37)
Kevin Landers: (46:39)
Hello, Governor. You mentioned the compromise you sent to the legislature, is there a time limit on when you would like to have them get back to you? And when are you going to veto the bill?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (46:50)
I’ll veto the bill tomorrow.
Kevin Landers: (46:52)
Is there a time-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (46:59)
As you know, Kevin, if the bill is not vetoed, then it becomes law. So I will have to veto the bill tomorrow. I think the real question is, what happens then? And if there’s a way to come up with something that is satisfactory to the members of the general assembly, and it’s also something that we think protects the health of the people of Ohio. I mean, I ended the letter that I sent, let me just read it, I accept and respect the legislative oversight. It’s exercise is part of the responsibility of the legislative branch. As I have communicated to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, I still believe we can reach an agreement that will provide for that oversight while at the same time, protecting the health of the people of the state of Ohio. And I still believe that, and I think we can do that.
Speaker 2: (48:04)
Next question is from Nathan Hart at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Nathan Hart: (48:10)
Hi, Governor. Vaccine eligibility opens up next week, but not everyone will be able to get an appointment that first week or even the weeks after. Do you have an idea or a rough estimate on when there will be enough vaccine appointments for every Ohioan that wants one?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:25)
Nathan, I really don’t. I can only tell you again, what the providers tell me. And again, they’re the ones who are out there every day. They’re seeing the supply, they’re seeing the demand and they get a feel for this. What they have told me is it usually takes about two weeks once you open up an age group. But the other thing that we have seen is that the younger age group we go to the uptake is much slower. So those are some of the factors. So I won’t put a prediction on it, but from what the providers tell me, the people who are out there doing it every day, they think about two weeks normally for it to loosen up some. The first two weeks are very, very tight. But you also have the factor that every time we make a move and we go to a younger group, it is taking longer for that group to reach certain levels of a percentage of that group.
Speaker 2: (49:23)
The next question is from Molly Martinez at Spectrum News.
Molly Martinez: (49:31)
Hey Governor, good to see you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (49:32)
Molly Martinez: (49:33)
I was wondering what the plan is for vaccinating the prison population?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (49:39)
Molly, we have followed every opening, so if we said people, for example are diabetic than the people in the prison who have diabetes were vaccinated. When we started at 80, we vaccinated everybody in the prison who was 80 and above. And yes, we do have people who are 80 and above in prison. When we went in and did nursing homes, we vaccinated people in the prison who were in the equivalent of a nursing home. So we will continue that all the way through this. We’ve tried to do it in a measured way that paralleled what was going on out in the community. So while we’ve not given them any special preference, certainly, but we have followed when their group is eligible, then they had the opportunity to get the vaccine. And we’ll continue to do that. I can see I’m putting Regis to sleep again there. Molly’s dog was there, the rest of you can’t see it, I can.
Speaker 2: (50:50)
The next question is from Scott Halasz at the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:55)
Scott Halasz: (50:56)
Hey Governor, how are you?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (50:59)
I’m good, sir.
Scott Halasz: (50:59)
Good. It’s officially spring, which means we’re going to be hitting spring break season very soon, if not already. What’s the concern level about either college kids, high school kids, or even families going on vacation, maybe going to Florida? They’ve been in the news with some of the things going down there right now. What’s the concern about folks going down there, coming back and maybe starting to spread… Even with the number of people who have been vaccinated, what’s the concern level about what could happen to post spring break?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (51:32)
Well, I have a significant concern, I think the medical community has a significant concern about it. I mean, what we saw this weekend at, congratulations to Ohio University, by the way, but what we saw at OU after that is not good. What we saw at the University of Dayton, after that was not good, or what we saw Saturday, they weren’t celebrating… But at any rate, those scenes that we see on TV are worrisome because we know that while we’ve vaccinated one fifth of Ohioans, that means four fifths of Ohioans have not been vaccinated. And we know as Dr. Vanderhoff says, that we’re seeing an upswing in Michigan, we’re seeing an upswing in West Virginia. We’re seeing a leveling off, we’re plateauing out now with our number of cases.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (52:21)
So it literally is a race Scott, and we’re vaccinating as fast as we can. We just encourage everyone, if you want to get back to normal, the way we get back to normal is get the vaccination. Even if you think, next week you’re 20 and you don’t think you have any risk, go ahead and get the vaccination, because what you’re doing is really helping all of us knock this virus down. When the virus can’t go from person to person, we’ve made some real progress. So anytime we see a whole bunch of people getting together in a situation like that, it is worrisome. I think people can generally do now what they want, it’s just how they do it. And how they do it means they should continue to wear a mask. We’re not out of that phase yet. So yeah, I’m certainly concerned. I’m concerned when we see gatherings of people coming together. Travel again, is something that… Again, it’s how you do it, how careful are you in regard to that?
Speaker 2: (53:38)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (53:41)
Hi governor, thank you for taking our questions. President Biden will be making his visit to Columbus tomorrow, do you know yet if you’re going to be meeting with him or welcoming him to the state? And what it that you would want to say to him, is there anything the federal government isn’t doing right now that Ohio needs from it?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (54:03)
Well, Fran and I have been invited to meet with the president when he flies into Columbus tomorrow, and we intend to be there representing Ohio and to welcome the President of the United States to our great state. I’ll have a private discussion with him. There’s not anything huge. I’ll, frankly, probably spend the time talking to him about what we’re seeing in regard to the virus in Ohio, and the things that are working. And I’ll tell him that at Cleveland State, the Wolstein Center, which is the one federal FEMA vaccination site in partnership with the state is working exceedingly well.
Speaker 2: (54:50)
Next question, is from Tom Bosco with WSYX in Columbus.
Tom Bosco: (54:55)
Speaker 2: (54:56)
Tom Bosco: (54:57)
You spoke on, well, last week when you were in Chillicothe, and this is kind of a followup to a question I asked you last week. Do you still feel it’s reasonable for people to have to drive in some cases, 20, 30, 40 minutes to get the vaccine? In other words, as I mentioned last week, some people are having to find vaccines out of their county, because their whole county is all booked up. When do you think that will break up? And is that reasonable to ask people to travel like that?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (55:28)
Well, Tom, we have 1,300 locations around the state of Ohio and the goal was that everybody would be able to get it close to home, but we also know that the uptake in each one of those is not consistent, that’s just the way it is. And so people look around and they find a location and they go to that. So I wish it was closer to home, but I don’t blame them for going to where they can get it, because getting it quick is the right thing to do. We just have seen people who got sick, and they got sick right before they we’re going to get the vaccine or even right after that, they already had it when they got the vaccination.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (56:11)
So what the future will bring, I don’t know. We’re going to continue to really focus on the underserved. I was talking to Mayor Brown this morning, and we talked about different things. One of the things is how we reach out to the local communities and how we work within churches, work through other places. So our goal is going to continue to be, to try to put it into people’s neighborhoods and particularly people who may not have the ability to travel. And so we continue to try to balance this, but I can’t predict at what point you’re going to be able to go at virtually any place and get a vaccine. That day will come, but I don’t know when that’s going to come.
Speaker 2: (57:02)
Governor, the next question is the last question for today, and it belongs to Jim Otte of WHIO in Dayton.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (57:07)
Jim Otte: (57:08)
Hi, Governor. Hi. you spoke earlier about getting back to normal. It looks like you’re back here at the State House today, congratulations. We know you’ve been traveling a lot around the state, are you now ready to get back to more of a traditional schedule here at the State House, working around the Capitol Square? I believe, I may be wrong, your last briefing actually was during that 5: 30 PM primetime address a couple of weeks ago. Are you headed back to normal in your daily schedule?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (57:37)
Yes. Today, Fran and I were in Youngstown, we’ve been, I think, 12 different locations in the last two weeks. Really, when we got our second shot, and waited two weeks, waited about 10 days, I think, we started traveling around the state. And so we’re going to continue to do that. I’ve held meetings right here. You’re very observant, Jim, you are, this is the governor’s office. And we’ve held meetings, I’ll have a meeting tomorrow, a regularly scheduled meeting with the Speaker and the Senate President. And the meeting we had with them last week was in this room as well.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (58:12)
So yeah, it’s an example, Jim, I think of why it’s so important, and how when I go in, and Fran and I go in and see people who are being vaccinated, what they tell us is, I’m getting my life back to normal. I’m able to hug my grandchildren. I’m able to move around more. I’m able to do this or that, or go to a baseball game or whatever they like to do. And so, yes, I’ve started to travel quite a bit around the state. I missed doing that for the good part of this past year, and glad to be out and glad to be in Youngstown this morning with the mayor and the health director. And it’s been good to get out. Eric tells me that is the end, so we look forward to seeing you all next week. Thank you very much.