May 3, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 3
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on May 3, 2021 to provide updates on coronavirus and vaccine distribution. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Governor DeWine: (03:37)
Good afternoon, everyone. Fran and I were saddened to learn about the death of Nelsonville firefighter, Jeff Armes. He was responding to a fire last night when he collapsed and died. We want to keep his family, as well as the fire department, in our thoughts and our prayers. Our first responders take risk every single day. This is a tragedy, and we’re very, very sorry, as I said, for his family. In honor of his life and his service, I have ordered that the flags at the state house, as well as the Riffe and Rhodes Center, be at half staff, as well as the flags in Athens County. They will remain at half staff until the night of his funeral.
Governor DeWine: (04:47)
Last week, I announced a major change in our quarantine policy. Just to recap, now any Ohioan who has been fully vaccinated will no longer have to quarantine if they’re exposed to someone with COVID-19. Certainly this has a big impact on students. Fully vaccinated, they now do not have to quarantine if they’ve been exposed, won’t have to miss sports or won’t have to miss other extracurricular activities. This also, of course, applies to adults. It applies to all adults, except those who are in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or other congregate care settings outlined in the order.
Governor DeWine: (05:34)
Now, let me move to our new order for today, and this has to do with those who work in nursing homes and those who work in assisted living facilities. This new order is consistent with federal government regulations, what the CDC has put out and CMS. The new order that I’m announcing today will exempt, will exempt, fully vaccinated employees of nursing homes and assisted living from requirement that they be tested. So normal routine testing that occurs now for those who work in nursing homes will not apply to anyone who has been fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated staff in those facilities will continue to have to be tested twice a week. So if you’re unvaccinated, it’s twice a week, you’ll be tested. If you have been fully vaccinated, then you no longer will have to be tested.
Governor DeWine: (06:50)
As we’ve talked about before, an individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer, two weeks after their second dose of Moderna, and two weeks after their sole shot of J&J. And that’s the definition of fully vaccinated. So we hope that this change will give encouragement to those who work in nursing homes who have not been vaccinated yet to take advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated. This is something that we have continued to do, and that is to provide vaccine to all our nursing homes so if there is someone who is coming in who’s a new resident, someone who is a new employee, they can be vaccinated. The same is true if someone is a resident and they’ve changed their mind, and now they decide I want to be vaccinated, they can get vaccinated. And the same is true for an [inaudible 00:07:50] employee, employee who had the opportunity to be vaccinated the first time, but passed that up.
Governor DeWine: (07:56)
So again, that vaccine is in our nursing homes. We’re making sure that this is a continuing program. It has been a very, very successful program of vaccinating those in our nursing homes. But we do know that when staff is not vaccinated, that does increase, obviously, the odds of the virus getting into the nursing home. And we saw this recently in the last few days in regard to our veterans home. Let me talk for a moment now about those who are homebound. And I want to congratulate our health departments, who have been doing a very, very good job in regard to reaching those individuals who literally cannot leave their home. Those individuals come in contact with people because there may be caregivers who are coming in and out of the home. And so again, it’s very important that these individuals who are homebound have the opportunity to be vaccinated. We want to thank the health departments for doing this.
Governor DeWine: (09:05)
We have another announcement, and that is the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Health have put together a homebound vaccination playbook for organizations working to ensure homebound individuals have access to the vaccine. By utilizing existing rapid response teams, we can work to deliver vaccine to those individuals at home. That playbook is available on the coronavirus website at coronavirus.ohio.gov. That’s coronavirus.ohio.gov. That’s the playbook. Then you click on COVID-19 vaccination program tab.
Governor DeWine: (09:47)
If you are a homebound individual or you know of a homebound individual, you have a family member who is homebound and they have not yet been vaccinated, you can call your local area agency on aging. That is 1-866-243-5678. That’s, again, 866-243-5678. And that’s your local area agency on aging. If anyone forgets that, they could also of course call their local health department.
Governor DeWine: (10:24)
Eric, let’s go to the data. So we see our cases the last 24 hours are down. We’re certainly happy to see those numbers below a thousand. It’s been running lower than the 21 day average. So we’re edging downward in the number of cases, which is very, very good news. Hospitalizations are less, a little bit less than the 21 day average. The ICU admissions were higher than the 21 day average.
Governor DeWine: (11:03)
Let’s look at the next one, Eric. This is all Ohio counties ranked by highest occurrence. And the good news is when you see white that’s better. So we’re seeing these are the counties that have the least number of cases in the last two weeks. And you’ll see those counties are creeping up. We hope to see that continue. We are moving in the right direction in regard to cases.
Governor DeWine: (11:32)
Let’s take a look at the top 20. These are our top 20, and generally you’re going to see that these are in the Northern part of the state, although they certainly are not all in the Northern part of the state. The highest incidence of cases, Lucas County. Next is Cuyahoga County, then Belmont County, Erie, Ashtabula, Defiance. Then we get down to Madison in the central part of the state, Adams in the Southern part of the state. So those are the top counties.
Governor DeWine: (12:02)
Let’s look at the next one, Eric. This is the number that we have been reporting, and we usually report them midweek. We thought we’d give you a preview of what it is today, at least. It’s 147.9. If you’ll recall, when we announced our goal of getting it below 50, we were right in this neighborhood. And then unfortunately after that, it went up. So it is now getting back down. I think it was 144 or something like that when we announced that goal. So we hope this continues to go down, and at least it’s headed in the right direction.
Governor DeWine: (12:43)
We’ll go to the next one, Eric. This is our vaccine slides. And we have seen the number of vaccines go down rather dramatically in Ohio. The number of people being vaccinated, today is Monday, so this reflects a weekend. This reflects mostly Sunday. So the number there is very low, lowest we have seen it, a little over 5,000. We are now at 40.39%, and always interesting to look at these numbers in regard to how we are doing by age. And again, the older Ohioans are vaccinated obviously at a higher rate, but all the numbers continue to creep up. But with that low number, not good. We hope to see a better number tomorrow. Eric, let’s go to the second doses. Second doses that were administered yesterday, a little over 9,000.
Governor DeWine: (13:46)
Let’s go to the next slide, Eric. So this is a new slide, and let’s hold it up there for a minute, Eric. This is our age groups. The first side of this is age groups by percentage of those vaccinated. So zero to 19 certainly is misleading because obviously 15 and below cannot get vaccinated. When you break that out to 16 and 17 year olds, and we also sometimes break it out 17, 18 year olds, those are not bad numbers. Those are around 25%. Those are about a quarter, so not horrible numbers, but that’s a little bit misleading number. You’ll see the rest of the age groups basically go up by percentage. And we grouped those over 60 into one group. So this is percentage on the right hand side of this slide, percentage of those in that age group who have been vaccinated.
Governor DeWine: (14:52)
This side is a percentage increase in cases between March, comparing March and April. And what is dramatic about this, and one of the things I wanted to point out, and it’s been reported certainly in the media, if you look at this first zero to 19 group, that is the biggest increase in cases by far. You’ll see another age group of 30 to 39 has gone up not nearly as much, but has gone up four percent. The age group zero 19 has gone up 15%, and then you’ll see the other age groups have gone down, and particularly the older age groups have gone down the biggest percentage. So again, pretty much what we would expect. Those who have been vaccinated, their cases are going down. Kind of the one outlier is 30 to 39, and that was a small increase. And your guess is as good as mine. This may be…
Governor DeWine: (16:03)
… you know, your guess is as good as mine. This may be a more socially active group and that’s why those numbers are where they are, but certainly it would have been much higher if they had not been getting vaccinated. Let’s go to the next one, Eric. I don’t think we put this up before. This is vaccinations by county of residence. And again, when someone is vaccinated in Ohio, no matter where they get the vaccine, it goes back and attributes that to their county of residence.
Governor DeWine: (16:35)
We have some people obviously who come in from other states just as we have Ohioans who have gone into other states, but this is the percentage of people in that county that have been vaccinated first first dose. So it’s an interesting way to look at what is going on in a particular county. Eric, let’s go to the next one. This is our hospitalization. This is again the number of people in the hospital as of yesterday. So a little uptick, but still maintaining pretty decent numbers, 1,100, 1,140. Eric. And that is it. Let me me go to the Lieutenant Governor.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted: (17:24)
Thanks, Governor. I’m here as you can see at Southern Hills Career and Technical Center. This is all part of our stop on In-Demand Jobs Week. I was just part of a signing ceremony where many students are signing on right out of high school, into careers that they have been prepared for through their work here at Southern Hills. I started out the day at our innovation district, Governor. It was just basically over a year ago that we created the innovation district in Cincinnati in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted: (18:06)
We were there at the 1819 center on campus at UC where you could see a number of students that I met today working, already working with businesses while attending college and actively recruiting them to stay in Ohio for Ohio employers. I should mention that they’re in the innovation district, the combination between UC and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that they do $450 million in research per year, which means they need STEM talent. And the work there on the University of Cincinnati campus and JobsOhio through the creation of the innovation district is working to produce more stem talent.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted: (18:50)
From there, I went to Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati, met with the many from the Cincinnati Public Schools Business Advisory Group, and the Cincinnati Public Schools Administration have been working closely together. And they are one of our 12 pilot sites for the high school internship project that we were operating to get hired the school students with tech skills already working out there in the business field, the field of their preparation that we know will help keep more high school students aligned with Ohio businesses, keep them in school if they want to go to college and helping them become part of our workforce.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted: (19:34)
I also, as I had alluded to earlier, I’ve been at two signing days, one in Bethel for the Grant Career Center, the other Georgetown here for the Southern Hills Career and Technical Center as I mentioned where I am now. What we do at the signing days is we celebrate what we value, which is high school students earning career credentials that lead directly to careers right out of high school. The employers are lining up. I met many of them today who love these students. Many of these students have already been working at these businesses, have earned tens of thousands of dollars in some case while they’re in high school. Now they’re signing, leaving high school going to work.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted: (20:12)
And I also must mention that many of them also earned college credits while simultaneously going to high school under the college credit plus program. It’s In-Demand Jobs Week. I encourage, if you want to know, you want to give advice to your grandson, granddaughter, son, daughter about where the work of the future is go to topjobs.ohio.gov. Got a great list there of the kinds of jobs that are available, what ones are growing, what they pay, all of those kinds of things, which are very, very important.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted: (20:48)
Today’s career center is not your mom and dad’s career center, so to speak. They are highly, highly successful at preparing people for work in technical credentials and in jobs. And so that’s where we’ve been today. And we’ll do the throughout the week celebrating this all across the state as employers are readily participating with the educators in preparing these students for careers and in some cases, college as well. And with that, Governor, I have one last point that I want to make today. We are one, Ohio is one of 10 states in the nation to partner with the US Census Bureau to match public college and university graduates with wage and earning data.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted: (21:36)
So you can look at data.ohio.gov and find out what you’re going to make on average graduating from every institution in Ohio with one year of experience, five years of experience out, 10 years of experience out postgraduate. Has the income data about this is what you majored in, this is what the people in those degree areas are actually making. This we think is a great tool to help continue to inform people about what worked and what education looked like, how to really match that together with whether or not you want to get a student loan, whether you want to do something differently. And all of this is available at data.ohio.gov, and it’s under Postsecondary Employment Outcomes Explorer.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted: (22:27)
So lots of information on careers, education and what exists for you as a student for the future. And we’re going to continue, Governor, during the In-Demand Jobs Week building the greatest workforce in the entire country right here in Ohio. We’re already well on our way. Great institutions working with business to provide that workforce of the future. And with Ohio’s unemployment rate at 4.7%, well below the national average. Over 93,000 jobs now that pay over $50,000 a year approximately so there at OhioMeansJobs. It’s time to pursue those career opportunities in many ways that we have to do it right here in Ohio. Thank you, Governor.
Governor DeWine: (23:15)
Well, Lieutenant Governor, looks like you’re having a great, great day. Thank you very much for that great, great report. Just a couple of other comments. As we look at making the vaccine available to everyone in the state of Ohio, our health departments are doing some amazing work, and I just want to give a couple of examples. The Dayton and Montgomery County Health Department using a public transit bus to go into communities to give the vaccine. Now they’re focusing on areas where they’re those who haven’t received the vaccines. No appointments necessary. No appointments necessary. And they promote their destination on social media every day.
Governor DeWine: (23:56)
Several local health departments are going out to sites and attractions such as going to where baseball games are occurring. Going out in front of casinos, out in front of movie theaters, dining, bar districts to vaccinate employees and patrons. Clark County Health Department purchased a box truck at a federal auction to utilize as a mobile unit to take vaccines out into neighborhoods in Clark County. This is also promoted on their social media accounts.
Governor DeWine: (24:27)
[inaudible 00:24:27] Public Health is going to libraries to do vaccines and holding a block party type events to gather people together. And these are just a couple of examples. The Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds are offering reduced prices for those who come to the box office and show their vaccination card. And I know others are doing that as well. Some of the minor league teams I believe are doing that as well.
Governor DeWine: (24:56)
Let me talk for a moment about the Wolstein Center. The Wolstein Center at Cleveland State is now open for walk-ins. And last week we began offering a second round of first doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Our numbers certainly have decreased from the high numbers that we had going on. We’ve adapted the Wolstein Center’s operations to allow walk-ins for those that prefer not to pre-register and simply want to get their vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (25:27)
This is a strategy that is really paying off and not only in the Wolstein Center, but we’re seeing this across the state more and more of our providers are offering walk-in opportunities. At Wolstein Last week, we vaccinated over 2000 people who just walked in. If you look at the total number of people last week that were vaccinated at the Wolstein Center, approximately 44% of those vaccinated were minorities and approximately 68% of those individuals came from the highest social vulnerability zip codes that we have been targeting.
Governor DeWine: (26:06)
This week is National Travel and Tourism Week. We have a lot to see and a lot to do in Ohio. Fran and I will be traveling the state on Wednesday and we’re going to see some of the different sites in Ohio, but it would take months to see everything and you couldn’t get done in a whole year. Ohio has got so many wonderful things to see and we just encourage everyone this summer to go out and enjoy our great state. So I think now, Eric, we are ready for questions.
Governor, first question today is from Courtney Francisco at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Courtney Francisco: (26:46)
Hi. Can you take us back to the first few days of the pandemic, Governor and talk to us about what health professionals were telling you about the possible death toll. I want to talk a little bit more about the restrictions of certain activities, if that makes sense.
Governor DeWine: (27:02)
I don’t know that I can accurately remember exactly what they told us about death toll. What they told us was that going through this experience, we would have to act early. It might seem too early, but later on that might even look too late. And so the one thing that was emphasized by our health experts that we talked to was you must act early during a pandemic.
Next question is from Spenser Hickey at Hannah News Service.
Spenser Hickey: (27:38)
Thank you. Governor, there was a story in the New York Times this morning on concerns among the public health community that herd immunity may not be attainable in the US nationally. I was wondering if you could comment on that and vaccine hesitancy in general.
Governor DeWine: (27:58)
Well, yes, I’ve read the article and I’m going to let Dr. Vanderhoff take a first shot at that. Nope, he’s not on. Okay. Dr. Vanderhoff is not here. So I guess you get the non-doctor today. So I read the article. We’re not setting any number that we think is our ceiling. We continue to see even high numbers. Our group, for example, in the 70s is very high. Those over 80 it’s high, but we continue to see those numbers go up. And so every group, our job we think is to offer this to every group, make sure that it is available to them in a convenient place. Continue to talk about how safe this is and how effective it works. And that’s really what our job is.
Governor DeWine: (29:03)
As far as the herd immunity, the essence for someone who didn’t read that article, the essence of the article as you say was quoting some scientists and health professionals who said with the hesitancy that a certain percentage of the population has that we would probably not hit “herd immunity.” What we do know is this. That the more people that get vaccinated, the harder is for this virus to spread. The more people that get vaccinated, the fewer people are going to get sick. The more people that get vaccinated, the fewer people are going to die.
Governor DeWine: (29:45)
So our goal is to continue every single day. And we’re seeing our cases go down. We set a goal. We’re now seeing the cases go down and we believe that the reason those cases are going down primarily is because of the vaccine. We think the fact that we still are getting very good compliance. I looked this morning, 93% compliance in our retail stores of people wearing a mask, so staying on defense, but also getting the shots in people’s arms. Every time we get, even if a small day like yesterday where we didn’t have that many people get vaccinated, each one of those counts.
Governor DeWine: (30:27)
And it is like everyday putting money in the bank because you know that you’re going to get full vaccination after a number of weeks after that, and nothing’s going to stop that. That’s going to actually occur. So we’re going to continue to do that. We hope that as the vaccination rate, a bigger percentage, we’re now over 40, about 40 and a half percent. And as those numbers continue to move up, even if they’re moving up slower than they were before, we believe we’re going to see the cases continue to go down. And that’s frankly, what we have to do.
Spenser Hickey: (31:07)
The next question Is from Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.
Governor DeWine: (31:12)
Geoff Redick: (31:14)
Good afternoon, Governor. I just wanted to see what your feelings were. I’m sure you were able to catch some images of the draft up in Cleveland, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Probably one of the most crowded events with people from all over the country that we’ve seen in Ohio in quite some time. And that was the reasoning originally for shutting down the Arnold here in Columbus was that people would be traveling from all over to one area.
Geoff Redick: (31:41)
So there were masks in place of course, but it was a lot of people. I’m just curious if there’s any worry about transmission from that event and since it didn’t require vaccination.
Governor DeWine: (31:50)
Well, that’s a good question. The NFL worked very closely with us. The Browns worked very closely with us. They set the guidelines as you know, they had an area there where people all had to be vaccinated.
Governor DeWine: (32:02)
… at an area there where people all had to be vaccinated. That was their … They set that. The basic principle is, a couple of basic principles outside is always a lot, lot, lot better than inside. And so this was basically an outside event that you were seeing on TV, but the basic rules still apply. And that is, people need to be masked if they cannot maintain social distance outside. And so, you saw what you saw, I saw what I saw. I saw a lot of people with masks. I saw some people who did not have masks. So if anyone is not wearing a mask in they’re not socially distanced, obviously that’s not what we want to see, but by and large, so a lot of people with masks on and that’s where we are. So we’re at a different phase in this. And we know more than we knew before. We know two things really, really that we didn’t know as much before. One is outside is a lot, lot better than inside and two, wearing masks really, really matter. And those are just as we move forward in this, and as we move out of this, those are the things I think we have to keep in mind as we continue to vaccinate people.
Next question is from Laura Hancock at cleveland.com.
Laura Hancock: (33:29)
Governor, what do you think about lawmakers in the House version of the budget bill offering tax cuts, even though the American Rescue Plan says you can’t do that?
Governor DeWine: (33:42)
Laura, we’ve got a long way to go. I’m not going to comment as we go through this process on every single item that’s in the budget. I had the opportunity to talk with the leaders and we continue to exchange ideas. As you know, this is a process and I get the first shot because I get to put a proposed budget out, House goes next. Then the Senate goes, then they come together. We hope we come together then and get a bill passed by the budget deadline. So I’m not going to get into every single item.
Laura Hancock: (34:20)
Are you concerned that it’s going to jeopardize the federal money to bail out the unemployment system and other things that you have in mind?
Governor DeWine: (34:25)
I’m sorry, am I concerned about what?
Laura Hancock: (34:25)
That it’s going to jeopardize the federal money that you want to bail out the unemployment system and among other things that you want.
Governor DeWine: (34:40)
Well, I don’t think it’s … Look, I don’t think it’s, we have a real consensus, I think that we need to use some of this money in regard to the unemployment, get it where it needs to be. So, but I don’t think that we’re not going to do anything that jeopardizes them.
Next question is from Courtney Wheaton at WKEF in Dayton.
Courtney Wheaton: (35:06)
Hi, Governor. Sounds like there are workforce development opportunities for in demand job [inaudible 00:35:13] and in general, but employers online, Ohioans are still concerned about not being able to hire workers. Many are complaining about unemployment ruining it for them and lack of interest in working or fear about working during a pandemic. Is there a plan to address that problem?
Governor DeWine: (35:28)
Look, if there’s a problem there that was not created by the state. There’s laws that are passed at the federal level. And I see the same thing. I mean, I was in a restaurant in Youngstown the last, 10 days ago, I guess. And had that discussion with the owner. I know the Lieutenant Governor has had discussions with owners of businesses about not being able to find employees. So, that is a problem. As far as the specific unemployment, again, that is something that some employers have told us. Yes, we believe that that’s one of the reasons that they’re not able to find people to work, but it is a problem out there and as Lieutenant Governor goes through almost every week he lists, he doesn’t list them all, but tells how many very, very good paying jobs that are out there. So part of our job, what we see as part of our job with skilled jobs is be able to make everyone be able to access that training, to get them up to a higher level of skillsets so that they can make more money and so they can fit the different jobs that are out there and qualify for the different jobs that are out there.
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (37:00)
Governor, if we continue to see our vaccine, the amount of vaccines we’re giving out from day to day, go down and we see more and more vaccine hesitancy, how does that change what you think Ohio will look like this summer? I know previously a lot of people were looking forward to a relatively normal summer. If we don’t get more and more people getting the shot, how does that change that?
Governor DeWine: (37:28)
Well, I think one of the things that the experts are telling us is that this concept of herd immunity, where our mind went, is that means we’re done with the virus. I think when you read what the experts are saying now, it does not … Very few people are saying we’re going to get rid of this virus. We’re going to drive it down. And we’re going to get, most of us are going to get protected. So it is, looks to me, as if we’re talking about living with it at a much lower rate and the frankly, as governor of the people of Ohio, the lower the rate, the better.
Governor DeWine: (38:28)
So, we do have, as we’ve talked about, this is kind of a strange time. We have the tools to keep driving it down. There’s reason for people to be more optimistic. We’re seeing the case numbers go down, but at the same time, if you are someone who has not been vaccinated, we still have a variant that is out there that is more contagious than it was a few months ago. And so even though cases are down, if you have not been vaccinated, the risk to you is certainly very, very significant. So the concern, I think, that many people have expressed is that people be lulled into a sense of complacency or lulled into a sense of security. And that that is a false sense of security. So if you have not been vaccinated, you are certainly subject to getting this again. And depending on … One of the things we’ve learned is, is this virus impacts people just differently. And we never, you never know. It’s not like you can go get a test and find out, :Hey, is this virus, how much is it going to hurt me? Is it going to put me in the hospital? Is it going to potentially kill me? Or is it just going to be like the light flu?” No one can tell you that. And so that’s the danger. And so, I think summer’s going to be good. I think people have an opportunity. We’re getting back to where we want to be. If you look at the economic numbers, they are good. Ohio is coming back strong, but my caution is, if you have not been vaccinated, this is a high risk gamble, a very high risk situation. If you have been vaccinated, people are going more to restaurants. They’re going more to bars. They’re going to movie theaters. They’re going to go baseball games there. There’s a world out there. And once you’re vaccinated, you have great opportunity to live your life. And so we just continue to encourage people to get vaccinated, but for those who have not been vaccinated, there’s a real risk out there. And that’s the concern, frankly, that I have.
Next question is from Jim Provance with the Toledo Blade.
Governor DeWine: (40:49)
Jim Provance: (40:50)
Hello, hi, hello again, Governor. Can you give us an idea of what through your head, as you saw some of the images coming out of India over the last few days, and specifically, could you give us an idea of whether or not you ever thought in your mind that things could ever get that bad here?
Governor DeWine: (41:10)
Well, there’s a horrible, it’s just horrible. And we’ve been through, we’ve seen scenes before. At one point Italy looked bad. I don’t know if I can compare one to the other, but what we’re seeing out of India is just gut-wrenching and without the quantity of the vaccine. So yeah, it’s just this horrible. It’s absolutely horrible. Your question was, did I ever think that we could see that here? Jim, I think that we didn’t know what we could see here for sure, but we did feel it could be bad and the experts were telling us it could be bad. And I think it’s always hard for that to sink in when none of us have had this life experience before. When you don’t have a life experience, when nothing like this has ever happened in your lifetime, it is very difficult to really have it sink into your head, but certainly experts were telling us it could be very, very, very bad.
Next question is from Scott Hollis of the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Governor DeWine: (42:23)
Scott Hollis: (42:23)
Hi, Governor. How are you today?
Governor DeWine: (42:25)
I’m well, sir.
Scott Hollis: (42:27)
You are. Good, good, good. Glad to hear. So kind of a follow-up to a couple of the other questions that had to do with it, I think the draft or whatever, baseball has been going on for about a month now. The Reds have had a lot of home games. The Indians have too, and increased attendance. My Cubbies were in town this week and they always bring a good crowd. What have you heard from the two teams as far as cooperation with masking, social distancing, any issues like that? And if things go well, could we start to see more and more people being allowed at ballgames to where we get somewhat back to normal?
Governor DeWine: (43:02)
Yeah. First of all, my sympathy for you as a Cubs fan. I’m sorry, you’re a Cubs fan.
Scott Hollis: (43:07)
Governor DeWine: (43:09)
I’ve never been able to figure out why we have these Cubs fans that descend on Great American Ballpark when the Cubs are in town, but that’s another, that’s another story. Nothing more fun than being by right by a Cubs fan. So at any rate, Scott, I told the minor league teams, I told the major league teams that I felt that as the summer went on we would be able to have more people at the ballpark, and I still feel the same thing. I think that we’ve already seen one increase we’ve been able to do. And again, there’s a difference between outside and inside. We can do things safely inside, outside is just a lot safer. And some people have tried to put how many times safer is it, 15 times, 18 times. I don’t know, but we know it’s a lot, lot, lot safer. And so the ability to do things at the ballpark, that’s obviously outside, is significant. And I watched the Reds games and a lot of people have masks on, some don’t, but they are outside. And, I think things are going pretty well at those two ballparks. Games I’ve seen, the Indians and the Reds.
Next question is from Jessie Balmert at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Jessie Balmert: (44:36)
Governor DeWine: (44:36)
Jessie Balmert: (44:38)
My question is, for a fully vaccinated adults and teens, is there going to be any change to the health orders or guidance as to what they can do inside going forward?
Governor DeWine: (44:50)
Yeah, look, Jesse, I don’t have anything today, but I think we’re going to continue to try to have our health orders reflect the medical reality, and the medical reality is you’re fully vaccinated, for you the situation is much, certainly much, much better, and it’s very different. It’s life-changing. So, we’ll continue to look at these. I’ll continue to consult medical advisors, will certainly talk to you about Dr. Vanderhoff, but as far as any other changes, yeah, there may be other other changes. Again, what you’re seeing is, what you saw with the NFL, the NFL made a decision if you’re vaccinated, you can be here. They made that decision. We didn’t make that decision.
Governor DeWine: (45:44)
We’re also following medical facts. When we say someone who is working in a nursing home who are now testing twice a week, well, if you’ve been vaccinated, you really don’t need to be tested twice a week. You don’t need to be tested. And so you’re starting to see science drive these distinctions. And it’s not that we don’t care about one citizen more than another. That’s not it, it’s just science is going to drive these distinctions between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated. And many of those are being driven by the private sector. And we will continue to try to do, is not have health orders that are holding people back from things that medically they ought to be able to do and healthwise ought to be able to do because they’ve been vaccinated.
Next question is from Mike Livingston at Gongwer New Service.
Governor DeWine: (46:48)
Mike Livingston: (46:49)
Hey, hi, Governor. What is the status of your conversations with your team about possibly adding a goal to remove health orders tied to vaccination rates? Thanks.
Governor DeWine: (46:59)
Ongoing. We continue to look at this, continue to discuss it. I have nothing to announce today. Again, I believe that one thing impacts the other, and I believe that the reason you’re seeing a decrease in the number of cases statewide, which we like to see, has to do with more and more people becoming fully vaccinated. So even though we’re cutting down, we’re seeing the number of people vaccinated every day, we’re still seeing people vaccinated every day. And then we had people vaccinated three weeks or four weeks ago, that now are getting the immunity, full immunity. So that will, we think, will continue. So we think those are two … are related very, very closely to each other, but we have not yet come up with a here’s the specific number that all health orders will come off. And we’re still talking about it, still looking at it.
Next question is from Justin Dennis at mahoningmatters.com.
Speaker 1: (48:02)
Next question is from Justin Dennis at Mahoningmatters.com.
Justin Dennis: (48:05)
Good afternoon, Governor. Thanks for briefing us today. In reviewing local vaccination rates, Mahoning Matters has found local health officials administered fewer doses last week than in the week of January 17th, when vaccine was much more scarce. Will these trends, do you feel, have an impact on Ohio’s vaccine allocation? Could shipments start going elsewhere, possibly? Would we see less vaccine in the state because of this?
Governor DeWine: (48:28)
Yeah, Justin, I’m not sure I got the first part of that, so let me try to answer what I got. And then if I didn’t answer the question, come right back, and we’ll have a second go with this. What we have done is, at first, we were going still with a lot of different locations, but I think we first started off at 650, something like that. And we’re trying to push it out as fast as we could because we knew there’s tremendous, tremendous demand. What we’ve done in the last several weeks is, we’ve tried to spread this out even more. For example, primary care physicians. We didn’t give it to a lot of primary care physicians the first few weeks, because some of them could only get 50 out a week, and our goal at that point was just to shove it out as quickly as we could.
Governor DeWine: (49:19)
Now we’re getting… Now we’re fine-tuning and getting down. And we know that some primary care physicians will be able to call up their patients, and those patients who trust them will get that vaccine, whereas they might not have gone to a mass vaccination site or might not have gone to their local pharmacy. So we’ve continued… We have changed that, but we clearly now have a lot more vaccine than we have demand. We make judgment calls every single week, where to send that. I’ve told our team, anybody who wants it, who we think has any chance of getting it in people’s arms, let’s give it to them, let’s get it out to them. And that’s kind of been the change that you’ve seen. But we are not… Obviously, if you look at the numbers, they’re down dramatically from what they were three or four weeks ago. I don’t know, I may have missed part of the question. Well, anything else on that?
Justin Dennis: (50:19)
Yeah, I was just explaining for a local context, our local officials last week administered fewer doses than they did the week of January 17th, when the vaccine was much more scarce.
Governor DeWine: (50:30)
Yeah. No, I think that’s probably true statewide. Some of it’s natural, some of it is tremendous demand, and the people who really want it wanted it. We knew at some point we would start seeing the demand go down, and I think we predicted fairly close to when that was going to occur, but it certainly is going down very, very significantly at this point. But we’ll look at these numbers once we get away from the weekend. The next couple of days will give us a better feeling of exactly where we are.
Justin Dennis: (51:08)
Speaker 1: (51:10)
Next question is from Josh Ruttenberg at Spectrum News.
Josh Ruttenberg: (51:14)
Governor DeWine: (51:15)
Josh Ruttenberg: (51:15)
I wanted to ask you a question about redistricting. There is a deadline coming up on Wednesday for whether or not a constitutional amendment could be added as far as putting it on the ballot. I know that Senate President, Matt Huffman, wants that, but the Democrats are opposed to it. Do you have a stance one way or another about what you feel should happen with redistricting?
Governor DeWine: (51:38)
No. I’m told that’s unlikely to happen. Look, we are dealing with new laws, and we need to follow the new law, and this is going to be a first impression for everyone as we move forward. Let me ask the former Secretary of State, I don’t know if John is still on… No, he’s off, too. Okay. So you’re stuck with my answer, I guess.
Speaker 1: (52:05)
Next question is from Jim Otte at WHIO in Dayton.
Jim Otte: (52:09)
Governor, I wanted to ask your opinion and analysis on what it’s going to take, if we’re at 40% for first vaccinations, what it’s going to take to get us to 50. And it’s not just a matter of convenience, but it sounds given that the RTA bus is being used in Dayton, a box truck in Clark County, it sounds creativity is the next thing you’re counting on to get us to that next 10% level.
Governor DeWine: (52:33)
Well Jim, we are… Start again. We are relying on a great deal of creativity that we’re seeing at each different community across the state. I talk to health directors every Monday morning, they’re pulling out all the stops. They’re doing everything they can, and they’re taking it directly to people. The idea of taking a van out, taking a mobile unit out, and literally going into a neighborhood, announce that you’re coming so people can be prepared, but going into a neighborhood and setting up shop right there, and not requiring anybody to sign up in advance, is the way we are going to make this available to everyone. The facts are that there are people who cannot navigate and don’t want to navigate, maybe just don’t want to navigate setting up an appointment. There are people who want to go when they want to go, they don’t want to have to set up an appointment.
Governor DeWine: (53:35)
We are here to answer that request from them. Across the state, you’re seeing health departments, you’re seeing pharmacies, you’re seeing doctors, who are really doing outreach. We have doctors who are… Staff is really picking up, nurses are picking up the phone and calling their regular patients and saying, “We have the vaccine.” We’re seeing patients show up for physicals or some other reason, and doctors turning to them after that is over with and saying, “We have the vaccine. I think you really should take the vaccine.” That’s what’s occurring, and I think that people are doing a very good job in working to get it out. But you’re absolutely right, what this really takes is ingenuity. It takes some real energy level and that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing everything that we can to get it out to everyone and make it available for them.
Speaker 1: (54:38)
Next question is from Andy Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Governor DeWine: (54:42)
Andy Chow: (54:42)
Hey, Governor. Getting back to something you said earlier, you don’t think that the state will hit herd immunity. Do you think the state will just never get there because of the amount of people in Ohio who are just actively making the decision to not get the vaccine?
Justin Dennis: (55:01)
Well, I don’t know that we won’t get there. If I said that, I’m not sure, I shouldn’t have said that. What I was doing is trying to tell you what the experts are telling us. And I think it’s, this is not unique to Ohio. I think the national stories that you’re reading now and talking about, well, we’re not going to get to herd immunity, or we won’t get to herd immunity this summer, those are national stories. They’re looking at the whole country. What makes this difficult is we don’t know how many people have immunity now. We know how many have been vaccinated, we know how many have had their second vac, how many are completely vaccinated, but we don’t know how many people had the virus before and are certainly carrying some immunity.
Justin Dennis: (55:46)
No one knows what the numbers are. The safest thing to say is, if you’re vaccinated, you’ve accomplished a lot for yourself, you’ve accomplished a lot for the state. If you’re not vaccinated, it remains a high, high risk. The more people get vaccinated, fewer cases we’re going to have, the closer we’re going to get to driving this vaccine, or driving this virus down. The more vaccinated, the more the virus goes down. Is there a magical point at which we call it herd immunity and it goes away? I don’t know, but what we do know is, continuing to focus on the vaccine and getting it in people’s arms is our ticket out of this virus that we are dealing with.
Speaker 1: (56:41)
Governor, next question is the last question for today, and it belongs to Dan DeRoos of WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRoos: (56:47)
Good afternoon, Governor.
Governor DeWine: (56:49)
Dan DeRoos: (56:51)
As an Indian fan, I highly stand behind your sentiment about Cubby fan. We’re not big fans here in Cleveland, either. I want to continue on this train of thought about herd immunity. Have you personally had any moments where you kind of throw your hands up, or you shrug your shoulder, and you say, “Hey, we’re doing everything we can to get people vaccinated.” The Wolstein Clinic, that’s a surprising number. They’re able to handle 6,000 doses a day, and yet they only did 2000 walk-ins last week. At what point do you throw your hands up and say, “Hey look, we’ve done everything we can. We’re taking off the restrictions.” You called it yourself. You said, if you don’t have the vaccine, you are a high-risk gamble.
Governor DeWine: (57:37)
Yeah. First of all, maybe to clarify in regards to the Wolstein, I think there was 5,000 or 6,000, I don’t have the exact number in front of me, who got vaccinated last week. It was about a 10th of what… Not a 10th, excuse me, it’s a fraction of what it was before. They used to do 6,000 a day, had the ability to do that. There were some people who had appointments, as well as some people who had just walk in. As far as, do I throw up my hands and say we’ve done everything we can that’s, unfortunately for me, I think it’s not my nature. What I basically ask myself every day when I get up is, what else can we do, what are we missing? I always think we’re missing something. And is there something that we’re missing that we could be doing? That’s what I’m asking my team every day, that’s what I’m asking health commissioners every day. No, that’s not how I approach things. We got more to do, and I’m sure there’s something else out there that we could be doing to increase the number of people who get the vaccine.
Governor DeWine: (58:49)
But if not, we’re going to just continue to focus, to grind this out, and to do it every single day, and to get shots in arms. And every day, when we look at the numbers, even if they’re low numbers, we’re still getting more people vaccinated. That’s really what I think our goal has to be every single day. I want to close to talk a little bit about what we did Friday, Fran and I did. We were in Ross County to dedicate the COVID-19 Memorial Grove at the Great Seal State Park, in honor of the victims and survivors of COVID-19, as well as all Ohioans who have made such amazing personal sacrifices to protect others amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor DeWine: (59:33)
The COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove at Great Seal State Park includes a Grove of 15 newly-planted trees surrounding a paved trail. Benches will be added to allow visitors to comfortably reflect on the toll of the pandemic, honor lives lost, pay tribute to courageous frontline workers, and recognize the selfless actions of Ohioans to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. We selected the Great Seal State Park for the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove due to its rich history and its central location. It is a beautiful spot and I hope to grove brings Ohioans peace, comfort, and certainly hope. Thank you all very much.