May 7, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 7
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on May 7, 2021 in Cincinnati to provide updates on coronavirus and vaccine distribution. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Gov. Mike DeWine: (00:00)
… Knew I was going. I caught her a minute ago and she was headed … She goes, “Where are you?” I said, “Well, I’m in Cincinnati.”
Commissioner Moore: (00:03)
Tell her we asked about her. We asked. [inaudible 00:00:10]
Gov. Mike DeWine: (00:13)
Y’all okay? Well, I was just joking, joking with the Commissioner. I’ve really wanted to joke … She and I talk every Monday morning with all the health directors, health Commissioners around the State of Ohio. There’s, I guess, 113. And she’s the one that is always the most positive and always has great ideas. So I want to also say something about Alicia Reese, who’s been talking to me for some time about doing mobile clinics. So I just want to congratulate the city. I want to congratulate the county, Hamilton County, city of Cincinnati for doing really a great, great job in getting these vaccines out.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:04)
We’re now at the point where it’s so very, very important that we get the vaccine out and take it to the people, take it into their neighborhoods, take it into their communities, make it available. When I talked to several people over there and several inside they were so … I said, “Well, why’d you decide to get the vaccine?” And the answer almost every single time is, “I wanted to go see somebody. I want to see my mother. I want to see my brother. I want to see my grandkids. I want more freedom.” And that really is what this vaccine really is all about, is giving us freedom.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:48)
We’ve got 41% of the people in the State of Ohio who were vaccinated. Within a few days, we hope that we’ll have a new group opening up, those 12 to 15. And some people might say, “Well, what’s important about the 12 to 15? They probably don’t get too sick if they get it.” The answer is that some do, most don’t, but that this group certainly can spread just as much as adults can. So if we’re going to knock this virus down the way we really need to do it, we’ve got to have more than 41% of the population. We’ve got to continue to go. And you know, it’s sites like this that are going to enable us to really get back to normal this summer.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (02:35)
And I’m very, very optimistic, but we have to just keep going. We cannot give up. We’re like a football team you see as driving or the Bengals are driving and we’re the other guys down to the four yard line. And we just can’t walk off the field. We’ve got to keep going and finish the game up. So I’m going to have a Commissioner come up, and then Alicia Reese, and then we’ll take questions. Commissioner? She told me I could hug her. I figure, if the health Commissioner says I can hug her, it’s probably okay. Right?
Commissioner Moore: (03:06)
Well thank you, Governor. Thank you, Commissioner Reese, for being here. We’re in the second phase, and the second phase is the next steps. And we’re taking the steps to go into our communities to take it to where people are. We know that there are a lot of challenges. We want to make it less, less. Reduce the challenges and have opportunities to have conversation. It’s about a conversation. You heard the Governor talk about asking people why. I have a theory based on a pharmacist at Kroger’s. He said, at the end of the day he goes through the store and he asked people, “You want a vaccine?” People are one ask away. So all of us, we’re one ask away from convincing someone to get a vaccine.
Commissioner Moore: (03:59)
We’ve shared before, it’s about talking to people that you know. We’re trusted voices. Everybody in this community has a role to play, and we’re all trusted voices. So let your voice be heard. Ask your neighbor. Have you been vaccinated? Let’s talk about it. I have asked nurse Jenny, ask nurse Jenny if you come to any of our sites and she’s there, she’ll answer the questions. We have other nurses that will provide you information as well. So come on, Cincinnati. We can do this. We’re in this tunnel and we’re trying to get out. Come on. Let’s get vaccinated. Thank you.
Commissioner Alicia Reece: (04:41)
Okay. Thank you. Commissioner Moore has been very creative, aggressive and has been able to pivot when necessary. And I want to thank her for her leadership. I want to thank Governor DeWine. One of the things we talked about on my radio show with him about in February, we said, “Hey, can we get the vaccine to churches? That was on a Friday. Wednesday, we were in the churches.
Commissioner Alicia Reece: (05:06)
Then we said, “Governor, can we take the vaccine to the people? How can we get rid of the barrier, the preregistration?” Governor came and said, “We’re done with pre-registration.” And I was part of the walk up, the first walk-up clinic in Hamilton County was at the Board of Elections, and people were wrapped around the building because they got rid of that barrier. And I said, “Governor, we got to go mobile. Let’s take the vaccine to the people, instead of the people trying to find a vaccine.”
Commissioner Alicia Reece: (05:37)
And I’m just excited today that we have two mobile buses, vans here, Hamilton County Commission, we voted for, we’re going to have a mobile bus moving out. And so we’re in the second phase. The first phase we were making sure that our seniors had gotten the vaccinated, and we’ve done that. Now we’re in the next of the younger generation, ones who want to get out this summer, want to have a good time, but we’ve got to make it convenient for them. They’re used to getting the app. They’re used to hitting a button, making it real convenient. So, that’s what we’re doing today. I want to thank the library for opening up their doors, a place where people come all the time. And I want to say that we’re going to be announcing a new marketing strategy that will go to the young people.
Commissioner Alicia Reece: (06:20)
We’re going to be everywhere. We’re going to be on TikTok and everywhere they are. And we’re going to have these mobile vans going all over the place, whether it’s at the DORA downtown during a Reds game, or like today, we’re announcing, me and Commissioner Moore are announcing we will be an FC Cincinnati opening day. So opening day, you can go to the game, but get your shot on your way in.
Commissioner Alicia Reece: (06:44)
So these are the kinds of creative things that we’re going to do. And I want to think of the Governor, because I’d probably bug him to death. I text him all the time, but he moves really quick to help us out. We’ve got to throw everything we can at COVID. We are also at the movie theaters. We pulled up at Kenwood movie theaters. So look for these buses. Look for these vans. The vaccine is coming to a neighborhood, a community, an event, a happy hour near you.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:08)
I want to thank the library. Absolutely magnificent library. Thank you for hosting us. We’re grateful.
Thank you. Very briefly, I’m Paula, I’m from the library and we’re so thrilled to be here, have our rock stars from the health commission as well as a Commissioner Reece. And of course, Governor DeWine, we have a new site here. We are really partnering to get the vaccine sites at a number of libraries across the city and the county. So look for more information on that, thanks to all of our healthcare workers who are out here today. Library’s here for you. This is a new site opened in middle of April, and we’re so happy that you’re all here, and that Governor DeWine came on down to a highlight this, and also the important work of the vaccination effort here in the county. So thank you very much.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:55)
I might add one thing. They have a choice here. They can get Johnson & Johnson out here, or they can go in inside and get the Pfizer. And they’re telling me that I guess Johnson & Johnson may be winning so far to today, but it’s all about choice and giving people really that opportunity, which I think is a really, really positive thing. So we’re happy to answer-
Speaker 6: (08:25)
Governor, I know there’s a lot of people that were following the standard that you set, that 50 cases per 100,000. It does not appear that we’re moving much closer to that number. So, you had mentioned some time ago that you were looking at the possibility of changing the metric. Are you any closer to making a decision on that?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (08:45)
Well, let’s talk about the 50. Every day we are getting closer. No, we’re not moving as fast as we would like. I think we picked up a couple points yesterday, and the day before we picked up about five points. So we’re lower than it’s been for a number of months. I think it was 138, and we hope that that continues to go down. I don’t think anybody knows what the magic number is, as far as what percentage of Ohio’s population needs to be vaccinated before we really drive this to the ground. But what we do know is that everybody that gets vaccinated, that’s one more person who, in all likelihood, is not going to get it and it’s not going to pass it, not going to spread it. So we’ve already basically removed about 41% of the population from being spreaders, and we just have to continue to move forward on that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (09:45)
So as far as whether we set another goal, I’m not really sure. I think frankly, that whatever goal we set, that when we have 50, when we break 50 would be probably when we would cross that line as well. I mean, you can come up with a line of 55%, 60% [inaudible 00:10:05]. I know the President is talking about 70% by July. Is that doable? I just don’t know whether it’s doable or not, but I can tell you if we would get 70% in Ohio, this virus is going to have a really hard time infecting too many people. So the more we get, the better it is. And places like this, just make a huge, huge difference.
Speaker 7: (10:32)
Governor what would the State be willing to do, what would you be willing to do to either incentivize or penalize people to get the vaccine?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (10:40)
Well, I think what you’re starting to see is a kind of a natural distinction being made. For example, a couple of things the State has done, we’ve said that it really makes no medical sense for someone who has been fully vaccinated, who is exposed then to have to quarantine for 14 days. And we’ve said, so if you’ve been fully vaccinated, no longer do you have to quarantine. That’s a particular importance, I think to an athlete.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (11:13)
We’ve heard our athletes, our high school kids who’ve had to quarantine, missed games. That’s important things. So I think that should be an incentive. If you’re an athlete and you want to have your season, don’t want to be quarantined, it should be an incentive to get that vaccination. We’re doing the same thing in our nursing homes. We’re doing the same thing in regard to our assisted living.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (11:36)
We announced this week that if you work in assisted living, you work in a nursing home and you are fully vaccinated. You no longer will have to be tested twice a week. Everyone who works in those places in Ohio has to be now tested twice a week. I don’t care where they are. And if people want to avoid that test, then they can get vaccinated. You’re seeing the private sector start to make decisions. You saw the NFL at the draft. They had an area where you could only go into if you were fully vaccinated.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (12:12)
So look, there’s so many reasons to get vaccinated, and I think you’re going to see more and more reasons as we move forward. I know some States have come up with $100. Look, we’re looking at all kinds of things. If we thought, if we can figure out what would really incentivize people and pick up a significant number, we would certainly do that, and we’re still looking at that.
Speaker 8: (12:41)
[inaudible 00:12:41] incentivizing companies to get their employees vaccinated?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (12:45)
Well, I think there’s a real incentive for companies to do it without any money. And that is to have a workforce that does not have to be off because they get the virus or does not have to be off because they’ve been exposed to the virus. So there’s a real incentive for companies. I was on the phone today with a number of businessmen, businesswomen, and a number of them are bringing the vaccine directly into the company. And that’s what we asked them to do, because we know that that will encourage more people to get it.
Speaker 9: (13:18)
Is there are another standard or rule that currently exists that you could relax that might encourage more people to seek the freedom that you mentioned with getting fully vaccinated?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:27)
Well, I’m open to suggestions. Seriously. I talk all the time. We look at this every day, what else can we do to encourage more Ohioans to do this? We’re not going to compel them to do it, but we are clearly moving to a point where people who have been vaccinated are looking up and say, “Look, I’ve been vaccinated. I’ve done what I’m supposed to do. Why do I have to do some of the things? Why do I have to wear a mask anymore?” Et cetera.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:55)
So we’re not there yet, but this summer, by the time we get into the summer, things are going to look pretty normal in Ohio. You’re see more people at baseball games, you’re going to see other restrictions taken off. And so we’re getting there. And so now’s the time. Now’s the time to get vaccinated.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (14:16)
We’re in this kind of strange situation where we’ve got 41% of the people in the State are vaccinated and are pretty darn safe. But if you’re not vaccinated, we’ve still got a virus that is circulating and it is more contagious than it’s ever been. And so it’s kind of a strange time. It’s safe for one group, but even more dangerous for another group than it’s ever been before. This is a dangerous time if you have not been vaccinated, because this virus is so contagious and it’s still out there.
Speaker 10: (14:50)
What type of impact do anticipate the 12 to 15 year olds, once they’re approved to get the vaccine having on that 41%?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (14:57)
Well, I don’t know, but we can get some indication by looking at … I had our team breakout 16 and 17 year olds, and then 18 and 19 year olds, and we’ve vaccinated about 1/4th of that in a relatively short period of time. And keep in mind, they have to get the parents’ permission. They got to get a parent to sign it, and so it’s more complicated, and we’ve hit about a quarter of that group. So I would hope that we would see the similar uptake, at least among 12, 13, 14, 15 year olds.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (15:31)
And so I think I’m optimistic. We are already making plans to take this into Boys Clubs, Girls Clubs, where food is being distributed this summer. Any place there are people. Now, look, we’re not going to vaccinate a child unless the parents have given permission, but making that available, making it convenient for people, this is the ticket back to normal. And I think more and more people are realizing it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (16:01)
Look, I talked to a gentleman over there a minute ago, and I don’t know how old he is, but clearly he’s been eligible for a while to get it. And he’d made the decision today or yesterday to come in, and his son brought him in. So I just think you’re seeing more and more people as they think this through who wanted to hold back for a while and said, “We need to wait. I want to see how this works out.” I understand that. But now people are seeing millions of people vaccinated, and they’re making their decision, and their decision is based on what the science is. And that is that you’re a lot more at risk not getting the vaccine then in getting it. In fact, getting the vaccine removes so much risk of that COVID.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (16:48)
So people continue to make those decisions. We’re not going to see the big numbers that we used to see for 80,000, 90,000 a day, but we’re going to be in the twenties and 25,000, 30,000 a day. And we’re just going to grind this thing out. That’s the first dosage, yeah.
Speaker 11: (17:05)
So you’re saying that we’re not there yet, but we’re moving to a point this summer where no restrictions then for those who are vaccinated?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:15)
Look, restrictions, you’re starting to see them go away across the country. And basically we have an obligation to make this available to everyone. And I mean, really, really work at it. But at some point there’s a frustration level, I think for people who have been vaccinated and who are saying, “Whoa, now, wait a minute. I did what I was asked to do, now why do I still have to wear a mask? Why do I still have to do these things?” We’re not there yet, but you can tell by talking to people, that’s what people are saying to me. And they’re saying, “Look, we want everybody to have a chance to get vaccinated, but at some point I did my part.” We’re not there yet, we’re getting there.
Speaker 12: (17:58)
Governor, how about the rural areas? What’s your biggest challenge there? What are you going to do to overcome it?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:04)
Well, we can talk about different groups. If you look at our counties, we list them 1 through 88 every day, you’ll see that we got a lot of rural counties where the uptake is not very high, but you also see some rural counties that are in the top 10 as far as uptake. So it’s not just always … it doesn’t always break out rural/urban. We probably do have better uptake in urban areas, suburban areas than we do in rural areas. But look, all we can do is continue to offer it to people. And my experience in life is that some things are process. They just take a while, and you got to kind of work your way through the process. And that’s what we’re doing now.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:54)
We’re no longer where we’ve got this great buildup demand. We’re now to the point where we got people who we’re thinking about it, and we’re never going to get those people who are adamant, “No, no way.” We don’t have to get them all. But the people who are kind of in the middle, ambivalent, these are the people we have to appeal to. And these are the people that I think you’re seeing coming every day. And we’re going to continue to vaccinate those.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (19:24)
Our job, we’ve got, I think 1900 locations in the State of Ohio. How many you got in Hamilton County, Commissioner? I looked before I came. Let me look. I wrote it down, let me see here. 69, I’ve got. That sound right? 69 locations in Hamilton County. 69 places you can get it in Hamilton County now. And you’re going to more, because we’re …
Speaker 10: (19:51)
As we move to a phase where the vaccines, at least Pfizer-BioNTech is approaching full approval, at least they’ve requested full approval, how does that change the way the State approaches sort of the vaccine administration?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:04)
I think you’re going to see with full approval, I think you’re going to see private businesses more inclined maybe to make that an the order and give people a certain date and say … I mean, I talked to somebody literally two hours ago on the phone, private business, I wasn’t encouraging it or not. And this person said to me, “July 1st, we’ve already told our folks, everybody’s got to vaccinated.”
Speaker 10: (20:32)
Why is that? What’s the difference between [inaudible 00:20:34]?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:33)
I think that there are some people … I don’t want to play lawyer here, but I think there are some people that think that there is a difference if you’re actually telling people, if you want to work here, you have to have the vaccine. I think some people, some lawyers are making a distinction between the emergency level and the other. Again, I’m not going to comment on that, but I think there’s a more comfort level we’re seeing from people.
Speaker 13: (21:01)
Governor, are we winning the race against the virus right now?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:05)
Well, yeah, well, I think we’re winning the race. I mean, we’re seeing cases go down in Ohio. So that tells me we’re winning the race, but the race is not over. The game is not over. The big fear, and you can read it in many publications, some of you have reported on it, I mean, the big fear is if we don’t continue to squash this down and it continues to circulate, that at some point it develops a variant that cannot be dealt with by Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson. And that is the big fear.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:39)
Now, look, I read all the scientists. I don’t know whether that’s going to happen or not, but the worst case scenario when you talk to the scientists is that, and that’s why it’s just one of the main reasons it’s so very important for us to continue to get more and more people vaccinated. That’s what we just have to do. Anybody else?
Speaker 14: (21:59)
Are there things you’re most proud of, or that keep you up at night?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (22:05)
I’m most proud of what community after community has done in this State. Hamilton County, Cincinnati is a great example. There’s others around the State where they have literally thought and thought and thought, how can we take this out to people? And they’ve come up with interesting ideas and they’ve executed on those ideas. So this is a battle that’s won or lost at the community level. So, what Hamilton County is doing, what Cincinnati is doing, what other communities are doing has been very good. I’m very, very proud of that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (22:37)
What keeps me awake at night? Yeah. It’s wondering, what else can we do? Trying to figure out, what else could we do to get more people vaccinated? So, anybody?
Speaker 15: (22:49)
Governor, real quick, I’ve asked you on several occasions over the last six weeks or so about forcing people to start looking for work if they are collecting unemployment. You said, you’re going to look into it. I asked the Lieutenant Governor last week this very question, he was with the impression that you already had to look for work before collecting unemployment. We know that’s not the case for people who had started-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:12)
Yeah. And so we looked at that, and there’s a couple of different issues, but one issue … so I’ve told our team that the suspension in regard to work requirement, that you were looking for work, we’re going to put that back in. You need to be looking for work. I’ve already told our team to put it in place. They got to follow whatever the guidance is, as far as notice. I don’t know that, but I told them to do that, as far as that. That would be a requirement.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:45)
Look, it’s just getting back to normal. I mean, that was in there when we were at a different stage. We’re now back to normal. We now have unemployment that is basically what it was before the pandemic. So it’s now time to do that. [inaudible 00:23:58] Anybody else? All right, thank you very much.