Mar 5, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 5
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on March 5, 2021 to provide coronavirus updates. He held the briefing at Cleveland State, which will become a mass vaccination site on March 17. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Gov. DeWine: (00:09)
Well, we’re delighted to be here at Cleveland State today. Several hours ago, the White House made an announcement about the mass vaccination site. And really this goes back a number of weeks. White House asked every governor to send a letter to the president, really outlining what we needed. And I highlighted the most important thing that we needed was in fact, more vaccine. And we asked for a mass vaccination site and we started talking with FEMA and with the White House a few weeks ago about where that site would be. And it was our recommendation that it be here at Cleveland State for a number of reasons I’ll talk about in a moment. But this is very exciting. We are really at a point in this battle against the virus where we now have a very effective weapon. We have three weapons, three different vaccines, and they’re very powerful. They’re very effective. And it’s the tools that we need to really drive this virus to the ground and to get back to normal in Ohio and across this country. Going into today, we already had 1.8 million Ohioans who have been vaccinated.
Gov. DeWine: (01:43)
And so let me talk a little bit about this mass vaccination site. My family background is from Ireland among a few other places. And so we think it’s appropriate that this mass vaccination site will really kick off on St Patrick’s Day, March 17th. There’ll be a kind of a soft beginning on the 16th for 100 people or so, test everything out. But on the 17th, we will be open for business, right here. And we will be able to vaccinate up to 6,000 people per day.
Gov. DeWine: (02:27)
This will go on for eight weeks. The first three weeks will be Pfizer first dose. Then we’ll turn right around and the same people that got vaccinated the first three weeks, we’ll get their second doses on the fourth, fifth and sixth week, three week protocol. It will be open for an additional two weeks after that. We’ve not yet determined, which of the vaccines will be used for those two weeks. Seven days a week, we think approximately 12 hours per day. And our goal is to not just here, but throughout the state, vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as we can.
Gov. DeWine: (03:17)
I have another announcement which I’m going to make in just a moment, but let me kind of set the stage. We now, as of today have over 1200 separate vaccination sites in the state. We have always planned, always planned to have mass vaccination sites. And the way that we have done this is we wanted to start off with first at 700 sites, now we’re up to 1200 sites. These are pharmacies. These are health departments. These are federal community clinics and hospitals. We wanted to make sure they were available to everybody in the State of Ohio. And so we had all 88 counties, but it’s always been a plan to increase that with some mass vaccination sites. So this is the only FEMA mass vaccination site in the state of Ohio. However, I’m going to announce now some additional mass vaccination sites. I’ll first start with two what we’re going to call pop-up sites. One in Columbus, one in Cincinnati, these will open on March 19th. Each one will be open three to four days. Each one will have 12,500 vaccines.
Gov. DeWine: (04:51)
The permanent vaccination sites are as follows. And these will start up the last week in March, the last week in March. We have 11 sites plus four mobile sites. And let me go through where these sites will be. Let me again, emphasize these are permanent sites. They will stay open as long as they’re needed. As long as there are people to vaccinate these mass vaccination sites will stay open and I will go through the list now. Lima, Maumee, of course, near Toledo. Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Youngstown, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Wilmington, Marietta and Zanesville.
Gov. DeWine: (05:51)
In addition to those, we will have four mobile clinics. The first mobile clinic will be based out of Ada and will cover Northwest Ohio and North central Ohio. There will be one that will be based out of Athens, which we’ll cover Southeast Ohio. One will be based out of Mansfield. And one will be based out of Belmont County slash Jefferson County. So a total of 15 mass vaccination sites in addition to the one that is here in Cleveland. Again, the only FEMA one is the one here in Cleveland. These other ones will be run totally by the state and volunteers. So we’re very excited about that.
Gov. DeWine: (06:47)
Why Cleveland State? Some statistics. An estimated 1.1 million Ohioans, age 60 and older live in Northeast Ohio. Overall, more than 25,000 people live within one mile of this site. Nearly 45% of these 25,000 citizens live below the poverty level and 66% are in medically underserved communities. If you draw a six mile radius around Cleveland State, there are 100 neighborhoods with higher than average vulnerability. So when we discussed this with the White House, this seemed to be the logical place. A place that could be reached by car, parking spaces, but certainly a place that could be reached by mass transit. I talked with Mayor Frank Jackson about this location when we were trying to make the decision for exact place to locate it. I’ve also talked with Armand Budish, who you’re going to hear from in just a moment. Both of them were-
Gov. DeWine: (08:03)
… [inaudible 00:08:00] in just a moment, both of them were very excited and very pleased and had some great ideas. The ideas in regard to how we make sure that every person that wants to come here will have the opportunity to come. Armond talked about buses as well as the mayor did as well. We’ve talked about reaching out to churches. We have talked about really getting so many people in the private sector and so many people in the nonprofit sector fired up, ready to go, assisting in getting people here. This is going to be really a community effort. It’s going to take everybody in the community. We have to keep our eye on the ball. We get out of this virus, we get out of this pandemic through vaccination. The vaccination process that’s going to start here on St. Patrick’s Day at Cleveland State is going to be an integral part of doing that.
Gov. DeWine: (09:14)
It’s also going to be an integral part of making sure that we are reaching vulnerable populations, that we are reaching populations that might not have transportation that might not have the ability to get here. It’s going to be incumbent upon all of us to do everything in our power to make sure that our goal of reaching every Ohioan who wants the vaccination, enable them to get it close to home and enable them to have the means to get it. That’s the goal that we’re after, and we believe that this will help a great deal. Let me now introduce Armond Budish and Armond, it’s going to be a great partner. The county is a great partner. The County Health Department Chair Terry Allan has done a phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal job. We’ve worked with them. I talk with Terry every single week and they’re just doing a phenomenal job. County is doing a great job. The city is doing a great job. We have a ways to go. The announcement today, I think is an exciting one, and it’s one that is going to benefit people in throughout Northeast, Ohio. Armond. Thank you, sir.
Armond Budish: (10:31)
[crosstalk 00:10:31]. Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you, Governor. I also wanted to welcome Mrs. DeWine to Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. I want to introduce my close partner, Pernel Jones, who’s the President of the Cuyahoga County Council. This is great news today. This is really great news, more than 300,000 additional vaccines coming our way. If I did the multiplication correctly, that’s a wow. That is really tremendous. I want to thank FEMA for their crucial support, getting this mass vaccination site up and running. I want to thank President Biden for his deployment of these sites across the country. This pandemic has been so devastating and vaccines are our way to a safe, healthy, normal. Our President understands, and he has put the vast resources of the federal government into play to help us get control of this virus. I’d like to thank Governor DeWine for selecting Cuyahoga County for this site and for his support in all of our efforts related to COVID.
Armond Budish: (11:47)
I can’t say enough about the terrific work that our governor has done for all the people of Ohio from day one of this crisis. He’s come out fighting and throughout it all, he’s communicated regularly with me, and he’s also listened carefully to my concerns and requests, and I appreciate that. Sometimes out of a crisis, good things come, and I will say that our deepened relationship and communication is one of those. This is the way government should work with bipartisan cooperation, so thank you governor, for all that you’ve done and continue to do. This mass vaccination announcement is great for Cuyahoga County and the region. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been focused on the health and safety of our residents and making sure our actions are equitable. Minorities, especially African-Americans, have suffered unduly in this pandemic. Our county programs have been very focused on writing this wrong, whether it’s providing increased funding for COVID testing or our business stabilization funding, which helped hundreds of minority-owned businesses or our rent relief, which helped thousands stay in their homes. The majority of those helped were minorities.
Armond Budish: (13:13)
This vaccination program, which will serve thousands and thousands of people every day, is directly focused on making sure that all people have access to vaccines. Especially those who might face barriers to access the vaccine. The county is doing our part with that. I know that one of the reasons CSU’s Wolstein Center was chosen as a location is partly due to its closeness to RTA bus lines and to our highway system. Easy access is really important for people. We can’t let getting here be a barrier, but we know that many in our targeted communities might not have access to a car or extra money to afford public transportation. In order to make sure that everyone can afford to get here, the county’s going to work with County Council to provide free bus passes through the RTA.
Armond Budish: (14:09)
We’re going to subsidize rides through a ride share service, which people can access by calling 2-1-1. We’re also working with the Senior Transportation Connection and with the ministers of black churches to provide free transport for people to the Wolstein Center. I’ve already spoken with leaders at Passenger’s Admission and the Cleveland Clergy Coalition, and they’re very interested in working with us. The churches are particularly important because residents trust their pastors when they urge them to get vaccinated. We’ll be announcing more details through the media and social media and our website in the coming days, so people will know how to get a pass or some other form of transportation that I just mentioned. I can’t say it enough, this is an exciting development for the people of our region. It’s been a long, hard road and we aren’t over it yet. We still need to be careful, to wear masks, social distance and limit our exposure to other people, but I’m thrilled to say that with this new mass vaccination site, the light at the end of the tunnel just got a lot brighter. Thank you.
Harlan Sands: (15:31)
Thank you, Armond, and thank all of you for being here. I’m Harlan Sands, President of Cleveland State, and thank you, Governor. It’s good to see Mrs. DeWine here, as well. As President of Cleveland State, I am extremely proud to be here representing our faculty, staff and students as I stand front and center with our public leaders as a trusted community partner. We’re working together to solve this public health crisis, and as Cleveland’s Public Research Institution, provide …
Harlan Sands: (16:03)
… and as Cleveland’s public research institution, providing these critical vaccinations is mission-central for Cleveland State. As these gentlemen and ladies behind me know, this takes logistics. As an ex-military officer, we are here to help with those logistics. We also are here to help with the service providers that are going to be providing the vaccinations.
Harlan Sands: (16:25)
As we sit here today at the core of Cleveland Center, culturally, educationally, logistically, we’re really proud of our selection as the first state federal mass vaccination site for COVID-19 in the state of Ohio. Our mission at CSU to empower students, create knowledge, engage communities, and shape our world was really conceived with efforts like this in mind.
Harlan Sands: (16:51)
Today, we get to step up and help again. Since the pandemic started, we have made safety of our campus community a top priority. We bring that same commitment and track record of success to this effort today. Let me thank our pandemic response team, particularly led by senior vice president for research innovation and healthcare strategy, Forrest Faison, former surgeon general of the Navy, for pulling this together, setting up the site, and doing it so quickly. We look forward to working with the governor, county executive, and we appreciate everyone being here. I’ll turn the podium back over to you, governor. Thank you.
Gov. DeWine: (17:36)
Well, again, we want to thank President Sands and the Cleveland State. I called the president when we were considering this location, and I said, “I think this is the best location.” He said, “Okay. We’ll do it.” This is going to be 6,000 people coming through here for eight weeks. Mr. President, it’s going to be quite a scene, but it’s certainly something very, very happy. We also want to thank FEMA, want to thank President Biden. These doses that will be coming into Ohio are in addition to our normal allocation, so we’re very excited about that as well. Anyone have questions for any of us?
Speaker 2: (18:22)
Governor, over the course of this eight-week mass vaccination, do you imagine us getting to a point where anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one here regardless of age or medication condition?
Gov. DeWine: (18:35)
Well, that’s a good question. The question was during that eight-week period of time, do I imagine at some point where anybody will be eligible to walk in here? The answer is I don’t know. We’re moving pretty quickly. We’re down to 60. We’ll hold at 60 until we think that people 60 and above have been able to get the vaccine.
Gov. DeWine: (18:58)
What we’ve had, as you know, in the past is a lot more demand than we’ve had supply, so we will move the age and open this thing up just as fast as we can, but age is the biggest determination of potential death and hospitalization if you get the virus, so we’re going to stay with age plus a few other things that we’ve added in there. The answer is I just don’t know. That eight weeks from March 17th, I mean, it’s very, very well possible by the time we get into this, deeply into this here that anybody could get the vaccine. Certainly possible. Just don’t know yet.
Speaker 3: (19:49)
What was the role of the federal government in setting up this site? Was it in securing those extra doses?
Gov. DeWine: (19:54)
Federal government is supplying the doses. They’re also supplying the people to do the vaccination. We have been working with the White House, we have been working with FEMA for a number of weeks. This discussion has been going on at least a month. We went back and forth about what they wanted. They wanted one site. We really talked about where that should be, and I think really came to the conclusion that Northeast Ohio is where it needs to be based on population and that Cleveland is the logical place, and ultimately, Cleveland State is the best place here to do it.
Gov. DeWine: (20:39)
They do have some parking. It’s not huge parking, but there is parking here. There’s also parking that’s adjacent to it. But it’s also very, very close to a neighborhood with significant minority population, historically underserved neighborhood, and as well as many other neighborhoods. Again, with the transit, beyond transit route, that was also very significant well.
Speaker 4: (21:08)
Governor. Thank you, sir. Do you feel [inaudible 00:21:13] approach as compared to governors in Texas and Mississippi, and if you follow the science and the numbers, and they’re opening up their states as early as next week.
Gov. DeWine: (21:25)
Well, I’m not going to comment about what other states are doing.
Speaker 4: (21:31)
Why not, because they directly impact what happens. If somebody from Texas or Mississippi comes into Ohio, they pose threat like anybody else. Why not?
Gov. DeWine: (21:41)
I understand. My job is to be governor of the state of Ohio, and I’m going to focus on Ohio. We’re going to follow the science. The science clearly tells us that these masks work phenomenally well. I mean, one of the things that we’ve in the last few months is just how powerful the mask are. Frankly, interestingly, the place where we’ve really, really seen this is at our schools. We’ve seen virtually no spread in class when kids, even when they’re less than six feet apart, if they’re all wearing a mask, virtually no spread. That’s what principals have been telling us for months, superintendents have been telling us for months.
Gov. DeWine: (22:22)
After hearing that, we went into the schools, we did some testing. Seven different schools came out, and overwhelmingly, it was very abundantly clear that there was not seeing the spread. Our ticket out is to continue to wear this mask and to vaccinate, so vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, wear mask. That’s how we get out of this.
Speaker 5: (22:52)
Is there any possibility of an extension of this mass clinic?
Gov. DeWine: (22:53)
I don’t think there’s any possibility-
Speaker 5: (22:55)
Gov. DeWine: (22:55)
… of an extension of this mass clinic, but by the time this clinic is done, there’s plenty of other opportunities for people to get vaccinated. If for some reason maybe we didn’t get to their age group, there’s many, many other opportunities. I mean, frankly, Cleveland has an abundance of opportunities. Cuyahoga County has. I don’t know how many sites there are at Cuyahoga County. There are a lot of our regular sites.
Gov. DeWine: (23:27)
Plus we have Metro, we have UH, and we have the Cleveland Clinic. Those facilities also, frankly, when there is the need, can dramatically increase their capacity. We know how much each one of them can increase their capacity, so we are building a system in Ohio that can surge up pretty quickly, over 1,200 sites around the state of Ohio, 15 sites that we announced today that will be coming in the latter part of March, two-
Gov. DeWine: (24:03)
… announced today that will be coming in the latter part of March, two pop-up sites in Columbus and Cincinnati, that will be four or five days and this site that will last eight weeks. Plenty of opportunity for people to get vaccinated. When this one goes away, we will just surge more resources, more vaccine into other sites. I don’t look at that as a problem at all.
Speaker 6: (24:29)
Two quick questions. First, is what do you picture for scheduling for these vaccines? Will the central system be up by then?
Speaker 6: (24:37)
The second part, since we’re talking about schools. The Cleveland teachers’ union voted last night to keep working remotely. Do you have a comment on that?
Gov. DeWine: (24:45)
Yeah. Well, let me start with how people will be able to schedule. There’ll be able to go online on the state system and schedule online. They also will have the ability to make a phone call. They also will have the ability to physically come and make an appointment. The whole idea is to just do everything that we can to make it easy for people and knock down any barriers that might exist for people to be able to access these vaccines. We have a obligation to make sure every Ohioan who wants the vaccine has the ability to get it in their community easily, and that includes setting up the appointment as well.
Gov. DeWine: (25:36)
I go back to something I said, this is going to be a real community effort. This is a community that comes together. The county. The city. Non-profits. This morning, we were at the Salvation Army in East Cleveland, a lot of different groups that come together, a lot churches that come together. We’re going to need the churches, all churches in Cuyahoga County to be involved in this, to work with their members, maybe to help supply buses. I love the announcement that Armand just made. That is great.
Gov. DeWine: (26:15)
Let me answer your second question. Cleveland City Schools have done a good job in getting ready to open back up. It’s a safe environment. We know today something that we did not know, frankly, when schools were closed last March; and that is, we know how powerful these masks are. We’ve seen example after example of kids in school, every child wearing a mask, every teacher wearing a mask, every custodian, everyone wearing a mask. We have not seen much spread in the classroom at all. In addition to that, we have offered vaccination and that’s been taken up by the Cleveland City School personnel. They received a first vaccination, getting ready to receive a second vaccination.
Gov. DeWine: (27:17)
Those two things, knowing what we’ve known, knowing what we’ve learned in the last few months about how powerful these masks are in school, added to that vaccinating any adult in that school that wanted to be vaccinated, I think should insure people and make them feel good that they can go back to work and that will be in fact a safe environment. Kids have been out for a year now. It’s time for the Cleveland City children to be able to go back to school in person.
Speaker 7: (27:54)
When will the online scheduling system be up and running for people to sign up?
Gov. DeWine: (27:59)
Yeah, I can’t give you a date, but it’s going to be fairly soon.
Speaker 8: (28:02)
When we look at the other 15 mass-vaccination sites getting ready, any idea roughly how many people those will be able to service in a day?
Gov. DeWine: (28:11)
Yeah, those are going to range anywhere probably from 300 to 3000. It will vary based upon what the need is. The mobile clinics, we’re excited about them because there’ll be able to take it right into the community, smaller villages, other places. We’re very excited about that. We continue to layer on these opportunities for people to be able to get the vaccine.
Gov. DeWine: (28:42)
Speaker 9: (28:44)
Where will those pop-up sites in Columbus and Cincinnati be located?
Gov. DeWine: (28:47)
We don’t know yet. Don’t know where they’ll be located yet.
Speaker 8: (28:50)
How much will this vaccination, mass-vaccination cost? Who will staff it?
Gov. DeWine: (28:58)
I can’t tell you the cost, because I don’t know the cost. FEMA is picking up, certainly, some of this cost. We appreciate that very much. The federal government, the Biden administration is supplying the vaccine. We appreciate that very much.
Gov. DeWine: (29:12)
My understanding, and this is still a work in progress, but FEMA’s been in here for about a week now. They like this site, by the way, so that’s great. What we anticipate is that FEMA will supply, the federal government will supply the vaccinators, but it will be up to us locally to supply people who are doing the data entry, as well as traffic flow. I mean by traffic flow, I don’t just mean outside. I mean in here. This will be a significant local presence, significant state presence as well. The National Guard very well could be involved in this. The Guard has been great throughout this pandemic, and they’ll continue to be very involved in a lot of the sites that we have as far as mass-vaccination sites that the state itself is running.
Speaker 10: (30:09)
Governor, where is the personnel going to come from to staff the inoculation [inaudible 00:30:15]?
Gov. DeWine: (30:14)
Yeah. I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I don’t have that.
Gov. DeWine: (30:20)
Okay, thank you all very much.
Speaker 10: (30:21)
Gov. DeWine: (30:21)
Speaker 11: (30:21)
Great job, Governor.
Gov. DeWine: (30:35)
[crosstalk 00:30:35] Thank you very much.
Speaker 11: (30:35)
It’s good to see you.
Gov. DeWine: (30:35)
That’s good, Herman. Good. Free passes. That’s good.
Speaker 12: (30:35)
We’re trying. We’re trying to do our part.
Gov. DeWine: (30:43)
It’s all good. Good to see you.
Speaker 12: (30:45)
Speaker 11: (30:45)
We’re going to make this work.
Gov. DeWine: (30:46)
It’s going to work. It’s going to be great.
Speaker 12: (30:46)
Speaker 11: (30:46)
Gov. DeWine: (30:49)
I’m excited to come back here. Yeah.
Speaker 12: (30:53)
Thanks for coming in today too. [inaudible 00:30:53].
Gov. DeWine: (30:53)
We might celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here.