Nov 16, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript November 16
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on November 16 to address a spike in coronavirus cases. He urged everyone to wear masks and practice social distancing. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Gov. Mike DeWine: (00:00)
I think we got enough distance here. I’ll take this off.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (00:37)
So I’m going to be joined this morning… You guys set? We good?
Speaker 2: (00:41)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (00:41)
We’ll be joined this morning, Dr. Michael Canady, President and CEO of Holzer Health Systems. I’m going to talk for a couple of minutes. He will talk and then we’ll do some questions.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (00:54)
Good to be back. Really wanted to come today to update everyone in Southern Ohio on exactly where we are in regard to this. Sadly, the virus is spreading throughout Southern Ohio at a rapid pace. [inaudible 00:01:15] Today, nowhere to hide. In the spring and the summer you could live in Lawrence County or you could live in Gallia County, and Jackson County, Vinton. You might not know anybody who had COVID, you might not really [inaudible 00:01:35]. But today it is there and it is at a high incidence. The CDC defines high incidence as a hundred cases. [inaudible 00:01:51] two week period of time. Every single county in Ohio is at a high rate. Let me just talk for a moment about some of the numbers, because the numbers kind of tell the story, but first [inaudible 00:00:02:11]. We have seen in the last month, a huge increase in the number of people going to the hospital and hospital admissions, as well as number of cases. Just look at the big numbers in Ohio. We had a month ago, a thousand people in the hospital from COVID. A week ago, we had 2000. Today, we have 3000. So it’s going up at a very fast, fast rate. Hospital admissions are lagging indicators, obviously. They come after the cases and some it depends on the individual. But a matter of days after that. So when you see cases go up dramatically, you can figure that the hospitalization is going to go up dramatically.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:04)
We really have a concern about our health workers. They have run a marathon so far, and now we’re asking them to get back up and run another marathon. So the human toll on our health workers, we’re frankly very concerned with. We salute them, thank them for all the work that they are doing. So keeping this spread lower, getting it lower is going to have a direct impact on the hospitals, it’s going to have a direct impact on these health workers.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (03:38)
Let me go through some numbers. Well, statewide numbers, six weeks ago, we were at a thousand cases a day. Today, we are at somewhere between 7500 and 8000. That’s how it’s been going the last few days. So a dramatic increase, seven, eight times increase. Just looking at the counties in the region. If you look at the incidents you have Scioto County, Lawrence County, Jackson County, Gallia County, all those counties, are at least five times, [inaudible 00:04:24] cases or more, per a hundred thousand.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (04:29)
So again, that just shows us how very high it is and how it’s gone up [inaudible 00:04:35] frankly just in the last week. If we look at Vinton County, it’s two and a half times. Meigs County is double. So they’re all at a very high, high rate today. We took action last week, to begin to really enforce the mask order. [inaudible 00:04:59] mask order as you know, in every county in Ohio, since July. Last week, we put a new order on the mask order. [inaudible 00:05:11] inspectors. Inspectors from the Workers’ Compensation are going starting this morning to [inaudible 00:05:21].
Gov. Mike DeWine: (05:24)
Why do we do that? Let’s take a grocery store, and let’s say there’s a clerk there. Let’s say she’s 65, maybe diabetic. She has every right to be protected, and be protected from someone who’s going to come in that store who is potentially positive for COVID, and may not know it, probably don’t know it. But, who decides not to wear a mask. We have learned that masks are exceedingly effective, particularly when both parties are wearing masks. We have seen that in our schools. We are not seeing much spread actually in the schools themselves, in classroom. And the reason for that is because of the mask.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (06:10)
So, beginning this morning, we have inspectors who are going out in retail establishments. We would just ask everyone, if you’re going out shopping wear a mask. Every employee will be wearing masks. We’re going to make it a much, much safer environment when people do that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (06:28)
We also issued an order over the weekend in regard to weddings, funerals. We do not want to interfere with people’s celebration or people’s remembrance at a funeral in honoring the dead. But what we’ve seen is a tremendous number of cases coming out of not the funerals themselves usually, but the aftermath and the wedding. Basically the receptions. So I’m not going to limit what people can do there, but people just need to be exceedingly careful, need to wear a mask, need to be distanced. If they’re at a banquet, they’re eating, they just need to be very careful. Everyone needs to be actually seated.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:12)
So this is a very difficult time. The good news is the virus we’re going to be able to [inaudible 00:07:20]. When we get the vaccine, the Trump Administration [inaudible 00:07:28] start getting that vaccine in Ohio [inaudible 00:07:33] sometime in December. We are now making plans and working to give that just a quick [inaudible 00:07:38] it will take a while [inaudible 00:07:42] in Ohio, to be able to knock this virus down. It could be a number of months. But the good news is, that it is on it’s way.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (07:53)
I think we’re very happy about that. I think every Ohioan should be happy about that. Our commitment is of course to get that out just as quick as we can. [inaudible 00:08:05] to come up, and really kind of talk about what he is seeing at Holzer, what we’re seeing in the whole hospital system around the state. Doctor, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Dr. Michael Canady: (08:22)
Speaker 1: (08:23)
Could you first say your name and title again?
Dr. Michael Canady: (08:25)
Dr. Michael Canady. I’m the CEO of Holzer Health System in Gallapolis, Ohio and I’m a General Surgeon.
Speaker 1: (08:34)
All right. Spell Canady? How do you spell your last name?
Dr. Michael Canady: (08:34)
C-A-N-A-D-Y. Thanks Governor, for having me here today, and to talk a little bit about our processes at Holzer. As you probably know, Holzer covers five counties in Southeastern Ohio, and then Mason County in West Virginia as well. We have seen, as the Governor indicated, there is increased incidents across the state, and it’s no different in Southeastern Ohio. Over the last seven days we’ve seen 172 new cases, and our positivity rate-
Dr. Michael Canady: (09:03)
172 new cases, and our positivity rate has risen from about 5% a month or so ago to about 12% now.
Dr. Michael Canady: (09:08)
The spring and the summer [inaudible 00:09:12] in rural communities [inaudible 00:09:14] it seems, but that has changed dramatically in the last few weeks. And I guess we can take some solace in the fact that the number of deaths hasn’t increased as dramatically as the cases have, but we see no end in sight.
Dr. Michael Canady: (09:29)
I feel personally that there has been a laxity in wearing masks in social areas, retail businesses, and things over the last several months in our part of the country, particularly in our part of Ohio. We have been worried for quite some time that that might lead to increased spread in our communities. And I think we’re seeing the results of that at this point.
Dr. Michael Canady: (09:50)
As the governor indicated, cases increased and hospitalizations increased, but there’s a lag. And that lag is sometimes two to three weeks. Anything that we do today doesn’t have much effect for two to three weeks down the line. So I encourage everyone, wear the mask everywhere. It’s the only thing that we really have right now until the vaccine comes out. The mask that I wear, and I think this is something that’s really, really important, the mask that I wear is not for me. It’s to protect others from me if I happen to have the virus, because the virus is insidious.
Dr. Michael Canady: (10:23)
We can have it for even up to two weeks and not even know that we have it and be spreading it. So, what we have right now is [inaudible 00:10:29] concern right now. We are not overwhelmed at Holzer this point in time, but we certainly are trending upward. We have seen upwards of 20 hospitalizations in our small system. The good news is that we have developed a collaborative network with the other hospitals across the region, Southern Ohio Medical Center in Scioto County, and then Adena in Ross County, and we all collaborate. We take patients from each other when we become overwhelmed and we’ve done some of that.
Dr. Michael Canady: (11:03)
Back in the spring, when we were asked to gear up for the surge, we decided instead of furloughing or laying off some of our employees, because our business was frankly very low for that period of time in the springtime, we cross-trained a number of our staff so that they could work in the acute care setting if necessary, and we hope that pays some dividends.
Dr. Michael Canady: (11:28)
The message that I would like to give is, we will get through this. There’s great news on the vaccine. We hope it’s out very soon. We will get back to a normal way of living life. And my hope is that we have as many of our family members and friends with us to live that normal life again. And the only way we do that is by taking care of ourselves and each other and wear a mask and do the right thing. So, thanks, Governor.
Reporter 1: (12:20)
Can I ask you a question, Doctor?
Dr. Michael Canady: (12:20)
Reporter 1: (12:20)
I get it as far as wearing a mask [inaudible 00:12:07].
Dr. Michael Canady: (12:28)
Well, I think I hear that a lot. I hear people say, ” I wore my mask religiously. I can’t understand why I got the virus.” And again, the mask that the individual wears was not for them. The people that they may have been in contact with not wearing the mask or not using good hand hygiene and coming in contact with the virus in a way that they… And not touching your face with your hands is hard to do, but it’s really important unless you know that your hands are clean.
Dr. Michael Canady: (12:57)
I personally have been carrying a little bottle of hand hygiene with me everywhere. Everything I touch. I stopped and got gas this morning and after I handled the nozzle, I used the hand sanitizer. That’s not to say that I might not get it, but the only thing that we can do is protect other people by wearing the mask and keeping the social distancing, and then protect ourselves by good hand hygiene.
Dr. Michael Canady: (13:24)
There is no magic to this until we get the vaccine and herd immunity and can get the thing under control. But this time of year, we’ve gotten back indoors more. It’s kind of a nice chilly morning here at the airport, but we’re driven inside. And it clearly is spread more fastidiously when you’re inside than when we’re outside.
Reporter 1: (13:50)
Did it seem to surge now because people, during the summer, they just didn’t do things [inaudible 00:13:57]?
Dr. Michael Canady: (13:56)
I think there’s a lot of reasons. I think we’ve had COVID fatigue, so to speak. I think we did a really good job in the spring. And you saw in Ohio, the numbers got blunted because, we did close a lot of businesses down and really stayed at home more and did work from home. We’ve encouraged that at Holzer, as many people as we can to work from home. All of those things helped and blunted that curve in the springtime.
Dr. Michael Canady: (14:24)
But I think we got a little lax and I think we didn’t see much in our part of the country. And you think, well, it’s not going to hit us, but it will. I mean, it’s not a virus that has a predilection for big cities and large communities. It’ll go anywhere. And if you get large groups of people together in an isolated environment, and they’re not doing the right things, and one of them has been in a situation where they were exposed and they’ve got it and they don’t know it, then all of a sudden you’ve got 15, 20 people exposed.
Reporter 2: (14:54)
Are you at all worried about the virus trickling down to rural Ohio? When it does come out that maybe some of the rural parts of the state, or just rural Appalachia in general, may be the last to get access or last to get their hands on it?
Dr. Michael Canady: (15:08)
Well, the good news, bad news about southeastern Ohio is that it’s about 10 years behind everybody else. But I am concerned. I’m very concerned. And one of the problems, I think, is we all know people who’ve had the virus didn’t get much in the way of symptoms and got over it. But those of us in the healthcare industry see this really, really sick people that come in. They get put in the ICU on a ventilator and end up, some of them, not surviving. And I don’t think the general public sees that as much as the people down the street that they had it, they stayed at home for two weeks, and now they’re better.
Dr. Michael Canady: (15:46)
So it’s hard to get the general public to understand how serious this can be in selective individuals. Good news is most people do okay. The bad news is some do really bad. And it’s a tough, tough thing for the general public to see.
Reporter 3: (16:02)
What’s your advice for folks as we head into this holiday season?
Dr. Michael Canady: (16:08)
My advice is to stay with strict, small family members that you know have done as well as they can to take care of themselves and have not put themselves in risky situations. Don’t go to big parties. Don’t have huge family gatherings. We all like to get together with as many family as possible over Thanksgiving, Christmas holidays, and have dinners and socialize. And that’s great. Next year, hopefully, we’ll be back to normal. But this year, I’d stay with small groups and try to do the social distancing and masking the best you can.
Reporter 4: (16:43)
Can we ask the governor a couple of questions?
Dr. Michael Canady: (16:43)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (16:54)
I apologize for walking away. I was looking at a picture of my new grandson. So he was just born this morning. Very happy about that. And my daughter and grandson, just born a few minutes ago. It’s exciting.
Reporter 4: (17:27)
So the question I have is, should people avoid large gatherings such as church? Should people, I guess, just not go to the church? And has Ohio seen any our… Because we’ve seen here in West Virginia some outbreaks traced to churches. Has that happened in Ohio? Should we avoid going to church in Ohio?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:36)
Well, I’m not going to tell anybody to avoid going to church, but if anybody’s going to church, they certainly need to wear a mask. What we’ve learned, we’ve learned a lot since April. And the power of these masks is, it’s not total immunity or a total guarantee, but it dramatically changes your odds. What we’re seeing in this flare-up, that, of course, is not-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:03)
What we’re seeing [inaudible 00:18:03] that’s not just in Ohio, in West Virginia, but it’s across the country now, in the Northern part, is what was predicted, although I don’t think any of us had any idea it was going to be this bad. It is [inaudible 00:18:18] it was predicted when it got colder and people started moving inside. So there’s an inherent danger of people gathering together inside.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:32)
So I think people have to make their own decision about church. Where we’ve really seen the spread is in church-related activities. It might be a picnic, it might be a funeral, people getting together afterwards, eating, wedding receptions. We also know that when people are speaking louder, when people are singing, there’s more of a spread.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (19:06)
So really, I think people need to be exceedingly careful. We’ve got to slow this down. And the only way we really slow it down is wear a mask and slowing, reducing the personal contacts. If you look at what happened in the spring, and most businesses were still open, certainly not all of them, but if you looked at the miles driven by, [inaudible 00:19:38] keeps track of that, it was down dramatically. If you look at cell phone, they can monitor cell phone by how much people move around, that was down dramatically.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (19:51)
So if we can take this activity down… We don’t want closed businesses. We want people to be able to make a living because we know there’s some real huge consequences when people cannot do that. We want our kids to be in school as much as possible, but to do those things, we have to slow down other things.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:21)
The wearing of masks, as I said, we’re now inspecting stores around the state. We’ve got everybody going into retail, unless they’ve got a medical reason, now, if they’ve got a medical reason not to wear a mask, then that’s something else, but everybody going into retail needs to wear a mask to protect the people who are in there and the other shoppers. We need to see people pulling back, frankly, from what they would normally do.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:50)
Someone talked about football games. If people are socially distanced in football games and a big distance away and they’re all wearing a mask and it’s outside, that’s one thing. People can make their own decision about that. But where you really, in regard to football, see the spread is people getting together and watching it on TV for three hours, and they’re not from the same household. I mean, if you’re going to be with somebody who is not in your household, you’d better be really, really, really careful.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:23)
This is just at a much higher level. And again, I think it’s very understandable. I live in a rural community. I live in Southwest Ohio, but it’s a very rural community. And we were basically spared in the spring, in the summer, but no place is spare now. I mean, literally every single county in the state is at least twice the level of what’s called high incidents. And if you look at the counties I just read, some of them are five or six times. So that just means that it becomes much more dangerous.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (22:01)
We’ve had a color code map. I would say to people you can certainly continue to look at that color code, but when virtually everything is red, what you really need to look at is the numbers every two weeks. And we put that up every single day and we go back 14 days. You can see how many cases your county has. We now have the breakdown by zip code and people can look at that as well.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (22:27)
So we have got to slow this down, and the only way we can slow it down is for people to pull back in some of their activities. I think it’s some of the things that we did in the spring. People made decisions. Instead of going to the grocery store every time we think we need something, plan the trip. Do it once a week or however often you have to do it. My friend goes in to Cedarville about once a week and gets milk and kind of some basic things. But plan those trips, think about those trips. Is that really necessary? Because the more you’re in contact with people when the virus has spread as much as it has now, your odds are dramatically higher than they ever were of coming in contact with someone when they’re not wearing a mask or you’re not wearing a mask and they have the virus and they don’t know they have it. The rates are just exceedingly high today. And we know that the hospitalization is a lagging indicator. So we’re close to 8,000 cases now in the last week per day. We probably average 7,500 cases in the last week per day. That’s a huge number statewide. And it just means that more and more people have this virus.
Speaker 3: (23:52)
You’re coming up on a big decision later this week about retail, fitness centers, jobs and stuff like that. It seem a lot of people now are more concerned about jobs, finances, the economy, [crosstalk 00:24:07]
Gov. Mike DeWine: (24:06)
Yeah, we’re looking for a way, and we’ll have an announcement tomorrow, so this will be tomorrow, Tuesday, we’re looking at a way to allow people to work, to keep kids in school, to protect our elderly in nursing homes. But to do that, we have to change what we do. We have to pull back some, only go out for essential things, only go out if you’re going to work, kids going to school. We got to decide what really is important in our lives. Because if we don’t, this thing is just going to keep going. It will continue to increase. That’s what we’ve seen in other states. That’s what we’ve seen in other countries.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (24:52)
So this is a critical time for us in Ohio. And what is at stake is having kids in school, protecting our elderly, keeping businesses open and doing those things that we all believe are so very, very important.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (25:08)
And I just can’t stress it enough. We’ve got to pull back. We don’t want to shut down. We don’t want to shut this state down. That has ramifications for mental health. It has ramifications for more drug addiction, overdoses. I mean, all these things go up when you shut a state down, and we do not want to do that. We should try to avoid that as much as we can. So we don’t want to do that. But instead of shutting down, we have to slow down, and we have to slow down in our individual lives and our decisions about what we are doing.
Speaker 4: (25:47)
Could you tell me how many people are in your Retail Compliance Unit and their goals, or many business they have to visit per day and how they’re going to work with our local health department?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (26:00)
Yeah, I was on the phone this morning with the local health department. Every Monday morning, I do a call at 7:15 for 45 minutes. And let me just say, before I answer your question, I came away from that call this morning just feeling that these health departments are now being pummeled, beaten up just by the number of cases. So this is a courageous group of people. They’ve been through this for eight straight months. God bless them for what they’re doing, but I think they feel overwhelmed at this point.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (26:38)
And as they reported to me county by county what is going on in the county, it was scary for me, like candidly. I came boy and I said, for the first time I told my staff, I said coming off this 45 minute call with health departments all over the state, I said, “They’re scared. They’re scared for the first time about what they’re seeing.”
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:03)
They’re scared. They’re scared for the first time and what they’re seeing and the increase that is going up so very, very fast. As far as the compliance, I don’t know the numbers. I’ll be able to give you those numbers out tomorrow. I don’t know how many we have in the field today. It’s not as many as we’re going to have. We’re going to continue to add as training continues and they’re going into any retail establishment. So it won’t be just big box stores. It won’t be just a small convenience store. I mean, they’re going to mix it up. And look, the idea is not to be punitive with anybody. The idea is just to say, “Look, we got to step our game up here.”
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:44)
And you know, people need to wear masks. And we don’t want a confrontation with the people who work at the store. They’re going to be nice. They’re going to ask the people to wear a mask. And we just hope that people will do that. Candidly, we don’t have to have everybody wearing a mask. We just got to have a huge, big percentage of them. And when we go into stores now, and some of our rural areas and only 20% of people wear a mask, that’s just a problem. And it’s not fair. It is not fair to that clerk who is there, who might be compromised medically some way. It’s just not fair to her or to him. They’re out there making a living. They have to do it. They have to work. And they’re serving us and we need to take care of them. And by wearing a mask, that’s how we take care of them.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (28:35)
So the power of these masks is just we didn’t really recognize it when we started this. You see, I have several. I’ve been wearing several today. But we didn’t realize it. But today we really do, and we know the importance of these masks. So we’re just asking everybody, if you’re going out in public, wear a mask. If you’re taking a hike or bike trail, you’re not coming in contact with people, obviously you don’t worry about it. But if you’re out there, you’re going inside, you’re going to be in contact with somebody, wear it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (29:07)
And just asking everybody to slow down. Let’s pull this thing back a little bit. Let’s pull the social interactions back. Think twice about having a sleepover with your kids. I mean, what we’re seeing in schools is the schools are doing a phenomenal job. There’s not much spread in the classroom, but where we’re seeing the spread is decisions that people are making. Let’s go to a birthday party, and then somebody at the birthday party is positive. And now we’ve got 20 or 30 kids in quarantine. So these are the things that in our own lives, decisions that we have to make. Anybody else?
Speaker 5: (29:42)
Where will you be going after you leave here?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (29:45)
Yeah, I’m going to hit a couple more the West Virginia. I’m going to be in Wheeling. Some of the West Virginia markets that go into Ohio. I’m going to be in Fort Wayne, Indiana later because that goes in Northwest Ohio. And I’m going to be at Lima. And then tomorrow we’ll have our press conference and then Wednesday I’ll be back flying around the state in some of the other markets, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:13)
Speaker 6: (30:15)
I had a quick question.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:15)
Speaker 6: (30:16)
You mentioned the good news about the vaccine. Before coronavirus, they’re were some tensions about vaccines in general. What can the state do to kind of ease some of those concerns-
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:27)
Speaker 6: (30:28)
Technically with something so quickly.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:30)
Yeah. Look, I mean, I know that there’s some people who hesitate about vaccines. I would just tell them, “Hey, just wait until this comes out.” You know, we will focus initially on workers at care settings, nursing homes to try to protect the people in the nursing home. That’s where we’re going first. Because if we can put a shell around those people and keep that virus from coming in. Because it comes in generally through workers because they’re out in the community. It’s just natural. But if we can do that, then we’re going to protect them. So I would just say for anybody, who’s hesitant about getting that vaccine, just wait. You know, wait in the sense until you start seeing people get it. They’re already doing trials. When they start rolling it out, doctors will be talking about it. What they found out in the trials. Trust in the FDA, trust that this is going to be done right.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (31:34)
And we’re going to need, frankly, a significant number of Ohioans to take this if we’re going to get out of this. And that’s how we get out of this. We get out of this and we move on to our regular lives by the vaccine. So the good news is it’s coming. Bad news is it’s not here yet. And we’re going to have to be doing this for some more months, but the end is in sight and we can see the end now. Thank heaven. So anybody else? Well good to see everybody. Thank you all very much.