Nov 19, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript November 19
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on November 19 to provide coronavirus updates. He addressed Senate Bill 311 which is pending in the Ohio state legislature. DeWine said: “The bill, if enacted, would severely limit the ability of the Department of Health to issue orders necessary to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.” Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Mike DeWine: (04:30)
Good afternoon everyone. Thanksgiving is coming up. It’s certainly one of our favorite holidays and I know that everyone’s going to be celebrating differently than we have in the past and I thought I’d ask Fran to tell you all how the DeWine family is going to be celebrating Thanksgiving this year. Fran?
Fran DeWine: (04:55)
I always look forward to Thanksgiving. It really is a fun time and every year right here in this room my kids and my grandkids, our kids and grandkids, gather together and my 94-year-old mother, usually in the evening, my brothers and sisters come and their kids come too and we have a great time. But this year, it’s just going to be different and it really breaks my heart. Because we just can’t risk it. My mother’s 94, we’ve got two brand new beautiful babies, and we’ve got our other grandkids go to school every day with lots and lots of kids.
Fran DeWine: (05:40)
So I’m still going to cook, I’m going to roast that turkey. I’ve started making my homemade rolls, I’m making some … I’ve got my pie shells started for my pumpkin pies and we’re making apple dumplings and lots of good things but it’s going to be different because instead of everyone coming here, Mike and I are actually going to deliver it or they’re going to pick it up. We’re going to take it right to their homes. We’ll do some FaceTime and we’ll do some Zoom time too, but we just can’t be together.
Fran DeWine: (06:16)
We really, really look forward to next year after we get this vaccine, when we can all be together and we all want to be here when we get this virus under control. So I think … We just can’t take chances now if we all want to be here next year.
Mike DeWine: (06:35)
Thank you Fran, and the turkey is being raised by our son John and his wife Michelle so we’re looking forward to that as we always do every year. Well we have a real treat today. That is Clark Kellogg was kind enough to do an ad and we’re going to show you that ad right now.
Clark Kellogg: (07:03)
There are a lot of questions right now. Questions about our new normal. About how to unite a country divided and find equality for all. Tough questions, but here in Ohio, we’ve always been pretty good with answers. It’s 1903. The whole world is asking, is it possible to fly? Ohio says we’ve got two brothers we’d like you to meet. In ’69, our country asked who will take one small step for us? We’ve got the man for that. How do you make machines that move us? Machines we cheer for? How do you start a movement, honor rock and roll, come back down three to one? How do we recover from a global pandemic unlike anything we’ve ever seen before? Ask Ohio. We’ll show you.
Mike DeWine: (08:11)
That is great. We have Clark on the line here. We’ll get him in. Clark, thank you very, very much for doing this ad. Ohioans, Buckeyes, we are resilient. Thank you for doing this. We appreciate it very, very much. How do you think we as Buckeyes, what do we need to do now as we deal with this? We’re eight months into this but we are resilient, we are tough and just what are your thoughts for the day?
Clark Kellogg: (08:42)
Well first of all Governor DeWine, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of the message when you reached out to me and representatives from your office reached out to me several weeks ago and then I had a conversation with the creative team from Real Art. The message resonated with me personally and powerfully because I started thinking about certain words, care, compassion, creativity, empathy, grit, hope, innovation, inspiration, perseverance, resolve, teamwork, unity, victory, and that’s who Ohioans have been, that’s who Ohioans are and continue to be. That message resonates through that particular PSA and I’m thrilled and thankful to have been a part of it and now as we think about what’s in our playbook, what are the critical elements in our playbook as we fight COVID? Frequent hand washing, clearly. Masking up when we’re in the presence of others. Social distancing, certainly things that we can and should be doing.
Clark Kellogg: (10:11)
My hope and prayer is simply this, that we all, as Ohioans, as citizens of this great state and the country we live in that we not grow weary in the doing of good, for we know that the harvest comes as we don’t give up. I hope that message resonates with all of us as we move into a challenging and difficult period here in the next several weeks but victory’s on the other side and we just have to stay committed and vigilant in those things that we can do for ourselves and for each other.
Mike DeWine: (10:50)
Clark, thank you very, very much for doing that. Just listening to you is an inspiration. The message on the ad I think is something that will resonate with all Ohioans and we appreciate this very much. I also want to thank you for your service on Ohio State’s Board of Trustees. Thank you for doing that. I think everyone knows you’re a great Ohio State basketball legend, CBS commentator now and so just thank you for being you and thank you for what you stand for, a native Buckeye and we’re very proud of you and we appreciate the message.
Clark Kellogg: (11:29)
Much appreciated Governor DeWine and thank you for your service and work and let’s all do this together and get to the other side.
Mike DeWine: (11:37)
That’s great. Thanks Clark. I appreciate it very much.
Clark Kellogg: (11:40)
Mike DeWine: (11:43)
Well, we’re going to through the data today. The data continues to be grim but I think Clark Kellogg hit the right tone. Look, the end of this is in sight. We can see the end. Unlike the spring, unlike the summer, we couldn’t see the end. We can see the end now and we just got to get there and we got to build that bridge between what we have today and build that bridge until we get to that vaccine.
Mike DeWine: (12:13)
Speaking of the vaccine, we continue every day to get better and better news. Pfizer and BioNTech have announced that the final analysis of their drug trial shows that their vaccine is 95% effective which is higher than they originally had announced. The latest report means their vaccine is even more effective than they had first thought. Moderna has announced its vaccine trial shows it to be 94.5% so both of them, very high. Experts told me early on not to expect anything this high, so I think it certainly exceeds any kind of expectations that we had so we look forward to starting to get that we hope, one of them in December at some point and the other one we hope into January so we’re very, very excited about that.
Mike DeWine: (13:12)
So let’s go to our data slides and we’ll start … I want to talk about this number because we need an asterisk with this number and let me explain. This is the reported number of cases and let me explain why we need the asterisk. We have seen the number of antigen tests go up appreciably. It wasn’t too long ago it was literally a handful of these tests. Now we’re getting large numbers of these tests that are rolling in. We made a decision to double-check these basically and that means going back, making a phone call, going back to the health department, finding out the facts that surround that particular test.
Mike DeWine: (14:06)
We started to do that and so nothing is actually confirmed until we get that positive from the antigen but then they go back and they do some additional fact checking. Most states I’m told, most states are not doing that, that they’re just throwing those directly in. I understand why because it’s a very time-consuming process. Well on Monday, we got to the point where we were not clearing every one of these tests every day and that was the first day, Monday, that we were not clearing these tests and so the only thing that was dropping in, the only thing that continues to drop in, is when that test has been checked. So as of today I’m told, by our data team, there are 12,000 of these that have not been double- checked, which means there’s 12,000 that we’ve received, we have not been able to double-check them so they have not been able to move into this category right here.
Mike DeWine: (15:11)
So big asterisk here, big asterisk from yesterday as well. I don’t know what that means but you can kind of do the math. If they started backing up on Monday and we now are 12,000 back, you can figure out that for the first few days of this week, we’ve got to spread those 12,000 out among what we’re showing here. Now I’m told by our team that usually, usually, I don’t have a percentage but usually they pan out. In other words, once they go do the factual check, yes, they are confirmed so most of that 12,000, we would expect most of that 12,000 to show up over here. So what it shows is that the number we’re reporting which is already a very, very high number, 7,787 is appreciably higher than that. So I hope to have more information tomorrow, very specific, granular information so we can better tell you roughly what that number would be but we don’t … So far, our decision is not to do what some states have done which is just to throw them in and count them once they came back positive but to actually do some investigation before we check that box. I want to put that asterisk on there.
Mike DeWine: (16:36)
We have 343 new hospitalizations reported in the last 24 hours so this is a large number. Eight of the 10 highest new hospitalization days have come in the last 10 days including today. We’re closely monitoring the hospitalization data to ensure the virus does not overwhelm our hospital system and we want to hear from people today who are going to report directly to you about what they’re seeing in their hospital and we’ll have that in a little bit.
Mike DeWine: (17:06)
Sadly we also have 63 deaths reported since yesterday and 38 new ICU admissions. Eric, let’s go to our 88 counties and look at these counties. Again, all 88 counties and as the state continues to turn red, we’ll get to that in a minute, I would suggest that anyone who really wants to understand exactly what’s going on in their county, they must look at these numbers because these numbers tell you how high the rate has been of new cases in the last two weeks and so we go from a very, very high and we’ll get to that in a minute down … The last county is Benton County, even in Benton County, our 88th highest county, the lowest county in spread in the last two weeks, even Benton County is almost two times the amount of cases in the last two weeks that the CDC says is a high incidence, so they’re almost double what the high incidence level is.
Mike DeWine: (18:12)
Eric, let’s look at the next slide please. So if Benton County at the lowest is almost twice high incidence, if you look at Mercer, they’re at 12 and a half times the high incident level. Putnam, 12 roughly, Lake, roughly 10, Allen, roughly 10, Van Wert roughly 10 times and on down so every county is very high incidence and some are just sadly off the charts.
Mike DeWine: (18:53)
We do have as you’ve seen there four counties with 1,000 cases per 100,000. So just doing the math, what that means is that in the last two weeks, one out of every 100 persons in that county has tested positive. The last two weeks, one out of every hundred persons has tested positive and so as we look at what we’re doing, looking at how careful we have to be, that gives us a pretty good indication that we have very, very great spread and of course that’s just the people who have been confirmed and just the people who have actually tested. We also know that there are people who don’t show that they had the virus sometimes and so they can be spreaders as well.
Mike DeWine: (19:44)
Now let’s compare, let’s go to the next slide Eric, percent increase in cases versus testing. Again, we continue to kind of run into this issue where some folks look at this and say, “Look, you’re testing more so that’s why there are more cases.” This is how much the increase in cases has been. This is how much the increase in testing. So we’ve gone up since October 17. We’ve gone up 43% in testing. Which is good, but we’ve seen increase in cases at 299, 299% so you can see it’s a phenomenal difference.
Mike DeWine: (20:25)
Let’s go to another early indicator which is emergency room visits with COVID-19. This chart shows the COVID-19 diagnosis of patients that presented to Ohio Emergency Room Departments. It’s depicted in a seven day centered moving average to provide a clearer picture of the general trend. You can see that the number of people presenting to the emergency room has shot up since late September and continues to grow. As you can see, it is just going up like a rocket. Of course this is the early, earlier indicator before potentially people are in the hospital.
Mike DeWine: (21:05)
Let’s go to our hospital slide. In addition to tracking the number of emergency department visits related to COVID-19, we also monitor the number of patients who are treated in hospitals. This is key to understanding the increasing burden this virus is placing on our hospital system. As I said we’ll talk more and hear more from people who are at the frontline in just a few minutes.
Mike DeWine: (21:28)
At our peak in April, we had a little over 1,000 patients in the hospital before we dropped in late May and into June as you can see. We are now in the middle of another surge in patients who are hospitalized, one that continues to rise. As of today, as of today, we are at 3,829 patients who are in hospitals today, COVID patients who are in hospitals, 3,829, 943 of those are in ICU. These are the highest patient counts we’ve had during this pandemic and more than double what we’ve seen in previous peaks and so we watch it go up and this is again, this is ICU, this is hospital count. Not admissions but actually the number of people who are in our hospitals.
Mike DeWine: (22:23)
A travel advisory map, we’ll do this very quickly. You’ll see cases across the country are clearly rising. Positivity rate as you can see is going up. You can see roughly where ours is. We have flagged in the past and will continue to do so states that are above 15%. Sadly we are quickly headed to that number. So we are almost where we had been with the number at which we had been advising people to be very careful if they travel to. That’s the reality that we face today.
Mike DeWine: (23:04)
Let’s go to our alert system and again this alert system really needs to be read in conjunction with the number of cases slide that we showed a moment ago. We’re more than four months into our advisory system. We’re hitting two critical milestones this week. For the first time we have a county that will be purple. This means that they have flagged six or more indicators for at least two weeks. This is a sign that we are starting to see sustained impacts on our healthcare services. Impacts on our hospitals. In addition this is also the first week where we do not have any yellow counties at all. So Franklin County is moving today to purple. This is their second week of flagging six indicators including sustained increases in emergency visits, outpatient visits and hospital admissions. While Franklin is the only county moving to purple this week we see similar stories in other parts of the state. Our healthcare system is feeling the impact of this disease and hospitals are worried about being able to keep up with staffing of nurses and doctors and other support staff.
Mike DeWine: (24:08)
I traveled around the state yesterday and six different cities, communities. I had a local doctor with me at every stop and that was the number one concern is personnel. This has spread everywhere in all 88 counties. We can’t borrow from one county to the other and we can’t borrow from other states. We see the great, great surge all across our country.
Mike DeWine: (24:34)
Other counties may not be seeing continuous uninterrupted increases in the same way that’s causing Franklin County to go to purple, but we should make no mistake about it. Almost all counties are seeing more cases and more healthcare use that could threaten the medical system if this continues.
Mike DeWine: (24:50)
We also have three other counties that are meeting as many indicators now as Franklin. Since this is their first week meeting these indicators, we have moved them to a watch list. If they continue to accelerate –
Mike DeWine: (25:03)
… them to a watch list. If they continue to accelerate with the use of and the pressure on hospitals and the healthcare system, then next week they could and would turn purple. They are Lake Lorain and Montgomery Counties. Lake Lorain and Montgomery Counties. We have five new red counties this week. Columbiana County, Darke, Fulton, Perry, and Van Wert. None of these have been red before. In fact, some were yellow as recently as September or October. These parts of the state, these counties have never been red before and were largely spared during the spring and summer waves of the pandemic. Now it is simply everywhere.
Mike DeWine: (25:42)
We announced last week about our Retail Compliance Unit, and we have very, very good news. Since we talked about enforcing the mask wearing in our retail establishments to protect the workers there and to protect customers, we’ve seen a significant increase. Our unit, as of yesterday, at close a business yesterday, had been into a little over half of the counties in the state, and they are finding about a 90% compliance. So we are exceedingly happy with that. They’re going into all kinds of different stores. This number may change. We will continue to report to you every Tuesday and every Thursday what kind of numbers that our folks are seeing. But they’re seeing about 90% of the people in the stores and the workers wearing masks. This is great. We’re very, very happy to see that very, very significant change. They’re going into rural counties, small counties, large counties. They’re going into every kind of county. So that is good, good news.
Mike DeWine: (26:54)
Let me talk for a moment now about Senate bill 311, which is pending in the state legislature. And I know that all bills are well-intended. I know this bill is well-intended, but I think there’s some things that maybe the legislators don’t know, have not looked at. And things that I think are very, very important. The bill, if enacted, would severely limit the ability of the Department of Health to issue orders necessary to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, not just this one, but ones in the future. That’s very, very important because when we legislate, we legislate not just for today, not just for this governor, but for someone else in other times and other circumstances. Legislation would remove the authority that’s required to deal with other outbreaks in the future.
Mike DeWine: (27:56)
A couple examples. Let’s say in the future, if a person comes to Ohio from a country that is suffering from Ebola outbreak, a future leader of Ohio would not be able to ask them to quarantine until it’s certain they were not directly exposed to a carrier of the disease. So you couldn’t just say, “If you’re coming from that country, we know that’s a huge problem. You’re coming into Ohio. We really need you to quarantine.” What this bill would say is, “You can’t do that anymore, Health Department. You cannot order that. You’ve got to go find out directly, was this person exposed?” This would be devastating. These people would be free to shop in our stores, they would be free to eat in our restaurants, they’d be free to go any place in the state of Ohio, possibly spreading a deadly disease to unknowing Ohioans. Not good.
Mike DeWine: (28:57)
Another example. Earlier this year, President Trump very correctly placed a moratorium on travelers from Wuhan, China in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the United States. There’s no question that this brought the states some valuable time. It gave us some valuable time. Didn’t stop it from coming, but it gave us and bought us some time. But if in another crisis, a future president didn’t take action like that and it would be up to a governor to do, Ohio would not be able to impose its own quarantine on those coming into Ohio from a hotspot. And therefore, we would be unable to protect our citizens. So if that had happened and the president had not done what he did and it would have been up to us to do it, I would not have had the power or no future governor would have the power to do that. That can’t happen.
Mike DeWine: (29:59)
Worse yet, imagine a day when a country hostile to the United States smuggles a biological agent into our state, unleashes it on one of our military bases, let’s say maybe Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Our state would need to respond quickly to quarantine the area to stop its spread. Yet, this bill would not allow us to do that. In national security matters like this, time is of the essence. We would have to act immediately. As governor, I would not have the ability to do that if this bill becomes law. This bill would make Ohio slow to respond to a crisis, it would take tools away from this governor or future governors, it would put the lives of Ohioans in jeopardy. This bill is a disaster. And again, never in any way do I impugn the motives of members of the general assembly who have written this. I know it’s well-intended. They intend well. But when you really look at the ramifications of this bill, this is not a bill that can become law.
Mike DeWine: (31:18)
I have said throughout this pandemic that I would take advice and have been taking advice from medical and health experts. Health experts have told me that this bill should not become law. They have told me that this bill would be a disaster. Doctors, nurses, scientists have all advised me about this bill. For that reason, if by chance it would pass, I would veto the bill because I would have a moral obligation to do so. We can not subject Ohioans to these possibilities.
Mike DeWine: (32:06)
I want to read excerpt from Retired Army National Guard Colonel Paul McAllister’s testimony. I believe this was written testimony. “My experience during exercises in real world events, the ability to shelter in place or to evacuate an area that has been affected by CBR, any event is critical. It is a matter of life and death, is a matter of life and death for possibly hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens.” On July 11th, 2012, 17 train cars derailed within the city limits of Columbus, Ohio. They carried ethanol and caused a large fire. Imagine if that had been a deadly chemical and the plume that rose from the fire contaminated a large region of Columbus and its surrounding counties. The governor and director of the Department of Health would have had to immediately issue shelter in place orders for the areas where it was not safe to go outside and evacuation orders for the areas that were in the path of the deadly plume. I believe this bill would affect our ability to respond as a state.”
Mike DeWine: (33:17)
Further quotes, “There are multiple scenarios, either manmade or natural disasters, that would require the governor and director of health to have to do immediate and long-term orders in order to save lives, reduce human suffering, and to eventually restore our way of life. I believe that this bill will be detrimental to our ability to respond any large scale event in the state of Ohio in the future.” I have also testimony, Andy Thomas, testimony from others that I’m not going to read because of time. I may get to those in the future, but we are running out of time. And so I’m going to move on.
Mike DeWine: (34:07)
We are joined today by some people who really are kind of living this problem every single day and who see it at the front line. And I think sometimes when we talk about this and we think about this, we think in numbers. I quote a lot of numbers. But it’s really not about numbers, it’s about people. So let’s hear from some of the people who are really, I think, at the front line today. Let me start with Erin Russo. Let me introduce Erin Russo, who is director of clinical education for Memorial Health, an independent health system in Marysville. She’s been on the nursing staff at Memorial for 17 years and has more than 15 years of critical care experience. For her current position, Erin was an ICU floor nurse and worked with the hospital team, excuse me, hospitalist team. As Memorial progresses through the pandemic, Erin is a frontline resource for the nursing teams at Memorial. Erin, thank you very, very much for joining us. We appreciate it. Tell us a little bit about just what you’re seeing. Thank you.
Erin Russo: (35:32)
Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of nurses everywhere. And I just want to applaud the team that I’m on specifically because they’ve been troopers throughout all of this. We’re seeing what your data is reflecting. We’re seeing our highest volumes to date for COVID patients coming through our ER, and then requiring inpatient admissions. And some of those, their disease processes are progressing into needing critical cares. So definitely, it’s reflective of the data that you speak to. And I think the unfortunate piece is to kind of compound the issue, we’re also in our kind of high tide period in the Midwest where hospital census is typically high and expected to be high without the effects of COVID, without that population also marching into the building. So I think that’s a compounding factor for sure.
Mike DeWine: (36:29)
And what are you seeing from patients coming in? I mean, just give us a little human side of this because sometimes we just … I talk about numbers and, Erin, just what matters is people. And maybe just tell us kind of from your perspective, how this impacts the patients, but also maybe how it impacts you and other healthcare workers who are literally on the front line.
Erin Russo: (36:57)
Yeah. Well, I’ve said it before that we’ve likened this to the comparable illustration of running a marathon. And I think since dealing with this since March, I would escalate that comparison to that of the Iditarod. And honestly, the dogs are tired. Endurance is finite and nurses are human. We’re dealing with the added stress of working long shifts. And that’s not something we’re strangers to, but we have coworkers that are in quarantine. Our community exposure, it also affects nurses. So our staffing is feeling that stress as well. What we found in March, I think our original worry was of course how are nurses going to keep their patients safe? And then also what we do when we go home, how we keep our families and friends safe. And that was a definite stress that we were walking into with a lot of unknowns.
Erin Russo: (38:00)
And I think also at the beginning, we were concerned about PPE and having enough ventilator support and creating spaces that could handle surges. And what we’ve learned is we can manufacture equipment and we can manufacture supplies and we can create spaces to place beds and put people in. But what we can’t manufacture are staff members that are skilled enough to care for those patients that we’re seeing influx into our facilities. And this is happening on such a grand scale that even our tertiary neighbors, where larger hospitals that we might depend on to divert our own patients to, are also filling up quickly. So our most unsettling fear is the fact that we could have the threat of patient care being compromised in some way. That happens when staffing gets slim and stretched. Nurses have been leading the forces, and medical teams all together, the physicians, the ancillary departments, it’s been a team effort for sure, but we’re tired.
Erin Russo: (39:12)
It takes a lot to communicate with PPE. Patients are looking up in their beds and they’re seeing people come with hazmat suits on. And a lot of patients don’t know why they’re here or what they’re here for. And we’re seeing elderly populations that deal with dementia and they’re having trouble hearing us and we’re having trouble communicating. And we’re in emergency situations where our communication with each other is essential in order to make these things happen for the best outcome of our patients. And it’s just, I don’t know that I can articulate what it feels like for a nurse and our ancillary staff members to have that barrier and just continue on.
Erin Russo: (39:52)
But what I think is happening also is we’ve been in this Iditarod, in this long marathon of a race. And we see the blizzard coming. There is a tidal wave coming. Our numbers are supporting that. We’ve had a high influx of patients that definitely support what you’re saying. And there’s ways that we can stop the pace and our hospital is doing a phenomenal job working, a lot of hours to try to support those plans. But the blizzard and the tidal wave feels like it’s coming to us. And that gives us great anxiety.
Mike DeWine: (40:29)
So thank you very, very much. Last question. How are you doing?
Erin Russo: (40:36)
We’re doing okay. We lean on each other. I think it’s a year we’ll never forget. But I think a lot of us are trying to gear our perspective toward answers and an end in sight. As you said, it feels like the finish line has moved every month. And like I said, we’re tired. But a nurse, in our essence, and I’m speaking on behalf of nurses because that’s what I am, but I think physicians, and like I’ve said, all of our entire team, the reason we walk in these doors and take on these sacrifices is because we care about the patients lying in the bed. And we will, we’ll keep running the race for sure. But to have the support of community members that are taking these small steps to help us pace along with these surges, they seem like minuscule tasks, but to us, it can make the greatest difference.
Mike DeWine: (41:32)
Well, thank you. Please tell everyone on your team thank you. We are very, very grateful. None of us, unless we are there, really understand. We can say we understand, but we don’t. We have some idea, but we don’t really fully understand what you’re going through. So thank you very, very much for what you do every single day. We’re very grateful. Please pass that on. Thank you. Thanks for joining us today.
Erin Russo: (41:59)
I absolutely will. I appreciate the opportunity.
Mike DeWine: (42:00)
Erin Russo: (42:01)
Mike DeWine: (42:02)
Thank you. Cheryl Herbert is a senior vice-president at Ohio Health. She’s been a registered nurse for more than 40 years. She oversaw regional operations for the system for a time. So she knows how things work in small communities within the hospital’s coverage area and inside Columbus as well. So what does it look like for your team right now? Tell us what you’re seeing and what people are going through.
Cheryl Herbert: (42:31)
Thank you, governor. Like Erin, I really appreciate the opportunity to join you today. So thank you. Erin, at the very end of her remarks, referred to a tidal wave. And if I were to use an analogy, I would say that what we liken this to is a tsunami. The forecasters have told us that it’s coming, we’re feeling the early wave. If you knew that a storm surge of epic proportions was headed in your direction, you would evacuate. You would leave the area, you would run away. Healthcare workers cannot evacuate. And like Erin said, this is not just about nurses. This is about all healthcare workers. We all have to stay in the fight. We have to come out on the other side. And while we are optimistic about 2021, we have a lot of odds against us right now. Healthcare workers of all kinds, like Erin said, are tired, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. There are heroic efforts to be all things to all people, but COVID is overcoming our normal business. And it’s sometimes all that we think about from the time we wake up until the time we hopefully sleep.
Cheryl Herbert: (43:40)
Do we have enough beds? Do we have enough staff? What can we do to provide additional support to those who are caring for our patients and the people who support them? The answer to beds and staff, both of them are very tight. The answer to supporting our workers, we do everything we can think of. There is a special focus now on staff resilience. And inside our healthcare organizations, there is a deep, deep appreciation for everything that everyone is trying to do. As you have demonstrated with the data today, the patient numbers are escalating at a rate we have never seen in this pandemic. Healthcare workers are among those numbers. They keep getting exposed in our community. COVID patients require a much longer length of stay in the hospital. They get sicker. And healthcare workers have to spend more time on their care. All of that is really adding up to significant staff shortages. And we find ourselves working through those shortages on a shift by shift and sometimes hour by hour basis every single day.
Cheryl Herbert: (44:43)
I know that there are those watching that will say, “This is no different than what we experienced at the start of the pandemic.” But in reality, this time is very different from that time. The public health measures we had in place back then, they worked. We saw the curve flatten. People stayed home, they remained socially distanced, they didn’t spread the disease. As COVID fatigue has set in, you know better than all of us that those efforts have really lessened. Healthcare workers need help and we need it now. What I would tell you is that everything that we talk about in terms of staying at home, don’t gather for Thanksgiving, all of those things are so super important to all of us right now. And the other thing I would ask from our communities, back in the spring, healthcare workers were heroes. If you know a healthcare worker, if you encounter a healthcare worker, please tell them how much you appreciate them. That will go very far.
Cheryl Herbert: (45:43)
The other thing that we’re seeing and I think that Mr. White will talk about this as well, COVID is hitting our smaller, more rural communities much, much harder now than it did at the beginning of the pandemic. And while hospitals in those smaller communities are doing a great job of taking care of patients, they have to transfer sometimes to urban centers. One story that really pulled at my heart this week is a story of a 48 year old woman who went into cardiac arrest two days ago in one of our rural counties. She wasn’t sick before she went into cardiac arrest, she didn’t have COVID. She’s a mother, she’s a wife, she’s a daughter, she’s many other things. The local hospital did a very good job. They resuscitated her. And then they called 14 hospitals before they found a hospital that could take her in transfer to provide the level of care that she needed. Those are the kinds of things that really pull at my heart strings. And those are the kinds of things that make me say that we need community support now. We do not want to repeat her story.
Mike DeWine: (46:50)
Well, I was going to ask you, you answered it really about what rural hospitals are seeing. And then early on, you talked about that your focus now is almost exclusively on COVID. And I was wondering what that means to everything else that’s going on. I guess that was one example you just gave of how the focus on COVID and …
Cheryl Herbert: (47:15)
Right. If things don’t change, we’re going to continue to see more of the same, obviously. The storm surge will continue to grow larger and COVID will have to become an even greater focus of all healthcare activity. It’s going to get harder to access non COVID related care because health care organizations are going to have to continue figuring out how to deal with all of the COVID that is coming into their hospitals. We recognize that decisions to delay or cancel or postpone elective procedures and surgeries are very unpopular, particularly at the end of an insurance year. And while emergency care will always be available, we will always take care of people who need care, beds for critically ill patients are going to get harder to come by. Things have to change. We have to push back this wave of this tsunami. We have to find a way to cause it to ebb instead of continuing to flow.
Mike DeWine: (48:10)
Oh, last, if you could just give us a summary. I think everybody who you talk to says nurses are doing a great job, but if we want to help nurses, and I just say it, if we want to help nurses, help doctors, everybody in the healthcare system, give me the nutshell. What do you want us to do?
Cheryl Herbert: (48:30)
Stay home, wear your mask when you go out, stay socially distanced, and do not gather for Thanksgiving as hard as I understand that will be. What you and Fran talked about at the beginning of the show, governor, it’s absolutely true. It is super important. I’d like to say this. If you haven’t had COVID, be grateful. If you’ve had COVID and recovered, be grateful. There are thousands who haven’t. But please, please support healthcare workers by complying with the public health requests. That is the best thing that people can do right now, governor, is really help us by doing those very, as Erin said, those things that can seem really kind of minuscule, but for us, they are huge.
Mike DeWine: (49:16)
Please thank your team. We are very, very grateful for what they do. And thanks is not adequate, but we are very grateful. And thank you for being on, appreciate it.
Cheryl Herbert: (49:27)
Thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate it.
Mike DeWine: (49:29)
Thank you. We’re now going to go to Knox County. Bruce White, CEO for Knox County Community Hospital. Bruce, tell us what you’re seeing in Knox County, one of the more beautiful counties of Ohio. And what are you seeing in a small county like Knox County?
Bruce White: (49:50)
Hi, governor. Thanks for having me on. As Cheryl suggested, and she understands rural hospitals well, we are seeing an influx here early on in this experience-
Bruce White: (50:03)
… are seeing an influx here. Early on in this experience, the urban centers were hit. It’s now moved into the rural areas. And in fact the rural hospitals like ours are seeing it more and more. Just to give you some quick ideas, two months ago, 5% of our patients at Knox were COVID positive, now we’re at 30%. And that has moved extremely quickly. We typically set staff 65 beds. We’re bumping up against that every day. 25% of those are COVID patients. The rest are the normal patients. As Cheryl said, it impacts all patients, not just the COVID positive. Our ICU two months ago had no COVID patients in it. Two months later, we’re pushing 50% of our intensive care beds being COVID positive patients. And we’re flirting every day with the maximum number of intensive care beds we have and the number of progressive care monitor assist beds that we have.
Bruce White: (51:04)
We rely on being able to transfer, laterally, to our colleague hospitals in the area, and then onto the academic medical centers and the tertiary facilities. When those facilities get full and they are getting there, some already are, the ability to transfer is not there. And so we have to buckle down as a state because over the entire state, it’s a system and we’re all partners in this and we have to be able to rely on each other. Governor, I’ll tell you that I’ve been on, all day today, on the board meeting with the American Hospital Association. And what we’re seeing in Ohio is echoed around the country. I left that meeting to come talk with you today. And this is a major topic that they’re talking about at the American Hospital Association board of trustees. How are we going to deal with this in the country?
Bruce White: (52:00)
It’s happening everywhere. Ohio is not unique, and we need to figure this out. Let me give you a couple, if you would, comments that follow up. And Aaron and Cheryl spoke to this perfectly. But earlier in the experience we were worried about PPE and supplies. That’s not the issue. Now it is manpower. It is the skilled resources. People are tired just as they said. I have the privilege of working with some amazingly dedicated people, but they can only do so much. Every day, they do miracles, but they can’t perform magic. And they are tired and they’re doing a great job, but they do need the support of our state. They need folks to do the right thing so that we don’t overwhelm our hospital resources, a major concern for us. And what happens when that happens? Our folks are resilient and they’re wonderful.
Bruce White: (52:53)
And our management teams are great. They know how to move care from various areas. So we see the influx of COVID patients and that intensity and acuity of care need going up, we pull them from other areas. But what that means then is that those really important health care concerns that are going on every day in every one of our communities, high blood pressure, COPD, congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic conditions that impact people. Those things don’t have… We don’t have the staff. We don’t have the services to be able to continue to focus on them the way they should be focused on because we’re focused on the surge that we’re seeing. Screening procedures for cancers or mammo, prostate cancer, colon cancer. One of the most treatable cancers that you can have. Those things start to suffer, the screening services. So it’s not just the people who get COVID and in our communities, it is everyone who gets impacted by this kind of thing.
Bruce White: (53:52)
And so we need to focus on those things. One of the things I’d also share with you is I hear people will say to me, “Well, as the workforce gets stressed, if we really get to that point where we don’t have nurses and doctors, they call the National Guard.” I just kind of want to remind everyone the National Guard when they have nurses and doctors, those people are sitting around somewhere on a bench just waiting to get called into the game. They’re out in the hospitals and systems right now, working in their day jobs. And when they get pulled up, we’re just pulling them from those positions where we need them. So there is no magic bench that’s sitting around with a lot of players that can just come in to the game. So you’ve asked for a couple of stories.
Bruce White: (54:39)
I don’t work on the front line. I have the privilege of working with people who do. But this morning I was talking to one of my nurse leaders in our intensive care areas. She told me a couple of quick stories that I’d like to share. We had a gentleman that was in-house, inpatient, doing well. Older gentleman in his early 70s. His wife also had COVID. They lived alone together. He had to be hospitalized. That meant she was home alone, taking care of her own COVID situation while he had to be in the hospital. He was one of the lucky ones. He actually called me on my phone and told me what great care he was getting and how much he appreciated it. He started his experience by saying, “I decided I wasn’t going to focus on me or how that was impacting me. I decided I was going to thank my healthcare workers and the people who were so dedicated in taking care of me.”
Bruce White: (55:29)
That’s it. That’s a very positive story because he’s been discharged now, he’s back home with his wife and that’s great. Another story that she shared with me, however, not so happy. Gentleman in his mid 60s. I’m approaching 62. Mid 60s doesn’t sound all that old to me anymore. Was unfortunately with us over a week period of time, progressively got worse. Had to get onto a ventilator. The nurse explained to me that she was in that room, sitting with that patient in her PPE, as he passed. This is what our nurses do. A gentleman who had no family, alone in a hospital room and here’s a nurse taking care of him for his last moments on earth. One last thing I want to say is to make this real for people, I had described to me what some of our intensive care staff need to do when you have a patient on a ventilator.
Bruce White: (56:21)
My friend, Jim Juliano at the Ohio Hospital Association has been a chief nursing officer, and now works for the hospital association. And he’s mentioned, one time he said, “I wonder if people understand what it means when you prone a ventilator patient?” And I don’t say this to scare anyone, but as that gets described to me and what takes place, my nurse manager told me this morning proning is a technique that has been adopted for patients who are on a ventilator. They turn the patient over and it takes pressure off of their lungs, moves fluids that’s in their lungs around, and it helps them while they’re on that ventilator. Dr. Vanderhoff could probably speak to this much better. But what I want to tell people is they do that four times in a 24 hour period. When they do that, it takes four nurses and one respiratory therapist in the room to do that.
Bruce White: (57:10)
They have IVs in the patient, the patient’s connected to monitoring, and it takes all of that staff. And you have to remember that when this is a COVID patient, all of that staff is in PPE that they have to put on to protect themselves and protect the next patients that they’re going to be caring for. That is not something that these nurses want to be doing. And so everything we can do as citizens in the state to do the right thing. You’ve asked what can be done, mask, distance. There’re simple steps and we just need to ask everyone to do something. We have vaccines that are coming. It’s going to be some months yet, but it kind of reminds me when we used to go to the local sporting events, the high school football team or the basketball game. And in the fourth quarter, you’d see all the players going around, holding up four fingers. What were they indicating to each other? They were indicating to their teammates that this is the fourth quarter. This is when it’s the most important. This is when you may be tired or hurting, but this is when you buckle down because this is when it’s the most significant. And I almost feel like in Ohio, we should all be going around with four fingers held up in the air and say, we’re in the fourth quarter. Let’s hang on for the coming months until we get those vaccines out, we get them deployed and then we can start turning this around.
Mike DeWine: (58:27)
First, thank you very much. Please thank all your team in Knox County, the hospital who are doing such a great job. And we’re very, very grateful. And thank you for coming on today.
Bruce White: (58:38)
Thanks for your support, governor.
Mike DeWine: (58:40)
Thank you. We’re going to go to Dr. Vanderhoff. And doctor, we’re not going to cut you short, but we got questions, members of the press corps, and we’ve gone over a little bit. So just kind of tell us what you’re seeing. You’ve listened to the different people who have talked here and kind of tell us a little bit about some of your thoughts and as we approach this holiday a week from today.
DR. Vanderhoff: (59:05)
Thank you, governor. I want to thank my colleagues. They really painted such a clear picture of the difficult conditions and the enormous stresses that are being faced by our healthcare workers and our healthcare system. I want to re-emphasize a couple of things I heard. First, the threat posed to our state cannot be overstated. And second, we can’t fix this alone. We need the community’s help to turn this tide. We need every Ohioan to be in this together. As you just heard, these unprecedented spikes in cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, they’re happening all across the state. Too many of our valued healthcare workers are using that word exhausted. And our hospital systems, we’ve heard, they’re working hard to stay ahead of this wave, but they need our help. We have the power to help them. The actions of the people of Ohio will be the determining factor in what I think the future is going to look like.
DR. Vanderhoff: (01:00:09)
We have to band together. We have to recognize this threat. We have to be committed to protecting one another. And Ohioans have done it before. We have stayed home. We have saved lives. Businesses, restaurants, Ohio workers, schools, universities have all come up with creative ways to reduce spread. Our essential workers have kept us all going, and we’ve been able to reach out to our neighbors and friends and help one another. So as we look forward to Thanksgiving, we need to keep all of this in mind and realize that even if your gathering is small, your exposure may not be. You could be at risk from anyone who walks through your door, but also from anyone that they have been in contact with over the preceding two weeks. And any of those people could be a problem for not only them, but down the line to you.
DR. Vanderhoff: (01:01:12)
And we know science is clear, COVID-19 is often silent. It could be passed on by people who really have no symptoms. So we need to practice social distancing, wear our masks, wash our hands, keep our gatherings small, just as we heard that the governor and his family are going to be doing. Use the tools that you have at your fingertips to protect your families and your communities. Right now, there really is no other way. As the governor said, we’ll have a vaccine soon, so let’s celebrate the holiday, but let’s do it differently this year. Let’s celebrate small. Let’s do it safely. And next year, we’ll all be able to celebrate Thanksgiving just as we usually have. Grateful that we all stood together in this storm and made it through.
Mike DeWine: (01:02:06)
Doctor, thank you very much. We can’t wait until we’re through the storm. We’ll go to questions.
Speaker 1: (01:02:11)
Governor, the first question today is from Jim Otte at WHIO in Dayton.
Mike DeWine: (01:02:17)
Jim Otte: (01:02:17)
Governor, let’s talk about the curfew that’s coming tonight. What is your anticipation? What is your order say about enforcement? And for those people who are driving around, should they be fearful of being pulled over? Secondly, if I’m going to work or school, do I need paperwork and indication, something formal or will you be willing to take someone’s word at the fact that they are in fact headed someplace where maybe they should be and should be permitted?
Mike DeWine: (01:02:45)
Jim, thank you for the great question as always. It’s like most laws, we’re not looking for a police officer to be out there and pulling somebody over. What we are looking for is to set a bar. And I think Ohioans understand the gravity of the situation that we’re in. We’re saying this is kind of a timeout. From 10:00 at night until 5:00 in the morning, no retail establishments, with a couple exceptions, will be open. So mostly it’s like anything else. It’s what we do in our own lives and the decisions, the personal responsibility that we take. I trust Ohioans to take personal responsibility, not be out after 10:00 unless they need to be out, unless there’s an emergency going on. As far as your specific question in regard to pulling someone over, we don’t anticipate this.
Mike DeWine: (01:03:43)
We don’t anticipate that police will go pull someone over if they see them driving at night. We should assume that they have a legitimate reason to be out there. But on the other hand, if there’s a number of people congregating somewhere and the police see that, certainly they’re probably going to pull over and say, “Hey, it’s beyond the 10:00. You guys need to go home.” And so that’s really what I look for. This sets the bar. It says, this is something we need to do. And I want to add something. I did six press conferences all over the state yesterday. And one of the things that I said is let’s do more. And what each Ohio one can do is to reduce their own contacts with other people. Wear a masks when you’re out in public and reduce the contacts.
Mike DeWine: (01:04:34)
When this thing started, we talked about pulling back. People did pull back. People, maybe they normally went to the grocery store wherever they ran out or something. They pulled back and said, I’m not going to do that. I’m to put on my list, I’m going to go maybe one time a week, whatever, whatever. There’s ways to pull back. And we’re not telling people, just you have to stay home all the time. What we are saying is figure out in your life, what you can do to reduce your interaction with other people. And if you do that plus the other things that we have set out, we’re going to really take this virus down. That’s what really is needed.
Speaker 1: (01:05:16)
The next question is from Marty Schladen at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Marty Schladen: (01:05:18)
Good afternoon, governor.
Mike DeWine: (01:05:20)
Marty Schladen: (01:05:23)
So as you and your guests are describing the dire situation we find ourselves in, the Republicans in Ohio Senate are advancing a bill that would undermine your ability to issue health orders, outs Republicans voted down a motion to require mask wearing. So I want to ask the bottom line question of you and your guests. If we continue on our current trajectory, how long until we get to the point where we’re rationing care the way Italy had to in the springtime? And I’m hearing some stories out of my old stomping grounds in El Paso that they’re having to do now. And also from the health professionals, I’d like to know what they hear, what they think when they hear people insisting that mask wearing isn’t necessary.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:13)
Okay. Let me go to them because they’re the experts. We can start with Dr. Vanderhoff. And I don’t know who else is on Eric, if anybody else. But Bruce, if we’ll start with you and we’ll see if anybody else wants to pop up and answer that. It’s a great question.
DR. Vanderhoff: (01:06:27)
I think that what we just heard were some incredibly compelling stories, that we are on the doorstep of that. I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you that it would be some defined time from now, but it’s not far away. And I’d like to give the colleagues on the line who are, today, at the front lines a chance to speak. Maybe Mr. White.
Bruce White: (01:06:54)
Yeah, sure. Thanks Dr. Vanderhoff. We’re extremely close. When I talk about our ICU beds being full and flirting at that limit every day, that’s happening daily. We’re looking every day at the surgery procedures that we do that are going to require an inpatient bed following the procedure. And we have to guess about three or four days in advance, are we going to have those beds because we don’t want to be canceling surgeries on the day of. Are we going to get to the point where we have to start differing procedures again like we did in March? I think we’re extremely close to that. And I think that’s true of everyone in the state. This is one of those things where you say, this is not a drill. And again, this time around, it’s a little bit different. It’s not because of supplies. It’s not necessarily even because of the physical beds, but it is the staffing that is causing a lot of that type of problem.
Mike DeWine: (01:07:48)
Okay. Anybody else? If anybody, Eric, comes up. Okay, good. Thank you very much.
Speaker 1: (01:07:55)
Next question is from Jess Hardin at mahoningmatters.com.
Jess Hardin: (01:07:59)
Thanks for taking my question. I’ve got a two-parter today. My first question is for Ms. Herbert. In reference to March, you said public health measures we had back then they worked. Do you support a statewide shutdown? And for you governor, at this point about 32% of Ohioans are living in counties with stay at home orders, including Franklin County yet when I speak with local leaders here in the Mahoning Valley, they say they’re following your lead. Mahoning County in the state’s latest alert map update has a higher number of new cases per capita than Franklin County, which has just gone purple. What is your tipping point for issuing a statewide stay at home order? And what is your message to people like the residents of Mahoning County who at this point are relying on your leadership to enact public health measures other local leaders view as necessary?
Mike DeWine: (01:08:54)
Well, first of all, I’ll take the question first and we’ll go from there. But I want to say that the cities or counties that have had a stay-at-home advisory, which I think in most cases it’s an advisory, are very consistent with what I have said. And I congratulate them. I think they’re on the right track. They’re doing the right thing. And that basically is and it’s my message to all Ohioans. If you can stay home, stay home. This is very, very, very serious. No one’s going to begrudge you going out and doing things that are necessary. You have to go to work, you have to go to work. We want kids to go to school. Kids go to school. But beyond that, we’ve got to tone this down. We got to take this down. The reason we have not put in a statewide shutdown of all business in the state is because of the ramifications of that.
Mike DeWine: (01:10:04)
Everything we do throughout this pandemic is a balancing. At least for me, it’s balancing. We know when we shut down a significant part of the business in the spring, and we shut down schools, some bad things happen when that happens. We saw child abuse reporting go down. Why? We don’t think child abuse went down. We think the reporting went down because it’s the teachers who generally report the child abuse. We saw a spike in mental health problems. We saw more people die of overdoses. And what we think that is, we don’t really know why, but what we think is more people were by themselves when they took drugs and there was no one there to call 91 or no one there to hit them with the Narcan. So a lot of bad things happen when we completely shut down. We know that Ohioans have it within their power now to dramatically slow this down.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:03)
And that’s why we put emphasis on personal responsibility and people making those right decisions. Now, we’ve helped. We put in an order in regard to mask wearing in retail, it shot up. We’ve seen it go up dramatically and that’s great. We’ve said you’ve got to be very, very careful with these with funerals. Got to be very careful with weddings. We put new orders on, in regard to that. We put the order on, in regard to the curfew. But we’ve just really said, beyond that, most of this is personal responsibility. And if you don’t have a reason to go out you should not really go out. You should restrict the reasons that you go out. Because reducing the contact is the other way. Mask is one way and we have contact. The other way is reduce the contacts. And if we can reduce those contacts that’s important.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:58)
The big spread is coming and we know this from whatever health department is telling me. The spread is coming from what people do in their personal lives. When they’re interacting with family, sometimes extended family, but family, people outside their household and friends. And I can tell you that they, many times, do not perceive those people as a danger. If they go to the local store, that’s a danger. I put my mask on. My friend comes over who’s a good friend of mine, I’ve known him since high school. I don’t put my mask on. That’s the problem and orders don’t touch those. This is why it does come back to personal responsibility.
DR. Vanderhoff: (01:12:43)
I think that what I would add to that is that we all know what it is we need to do. And the steps that have been taken, as the governor said, are already showing an impact. Now, as we move to having this curfew, I think that sends a further message about the seriousness of our need, collectively, to follow these guidelines, mask, distance and when we don’t need to go out, we don’t go out.
Mike DeWine: (01:13:13)
Cheryl, I think you were on there, weren’t you? I’m sorry. I thought Eric was indicating that maybe she’s on there.
Cheryl Herbert: (01:13:21)
I am governor. I, however, have nothing to add to what you said. This really is about personal responsibility. It is about determining what is best for everyone in the community.
Mike DeWine: (01:13:36)
Thank you. Okay. Thank you. Next question.
Speaker 1: (01:13:40)
Next question is from Dan DeRoos at WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRoos: (01:13:44)
Good afternoon. How are you, sir?
Mike DeWine: (01:13:46)
I’m well. Hey Dan.
Dan DeRoos: (01:13:47)
I’d like to talk about the sudden shift in the reporting of numbers, specifically, as you said, the antigen tests that we’re now sort of holding back and double checking before we add to our roles. Doesn’t this send sort of a weird message that we’ve been using the antigen test for quite a while. We know that, unfortunately, it can only be about 75% reliable, if that. So how many of our cases have we been adding for weeks and weeks and weeks now that may not have been true and it’s only since Monday that we’re now going to go back and double check?
Mike DeWine: (01:14:22)
No, Dan, I did not explain it very well and I apologize. Since we moved over, since we started seeing antigens tests and I’ve watched them because I get my chart every day and they’ve really kicked up. But throughout this, it’s my understanding that our team has been doing the double checking. It was only when we got to Monday that they couldn’t clear those cases fast enough in that 24 hour cycle. So they were doing it all around and they were only coming in, but when it started going like this on the antigen tests, they were overwhelmed. They couldn’t clear them because they have to clear them specifically with a phone call and they go back and they get the information-
Mike DeWine: (01:15:02)
… Quickly with a phone call and they go back and they get the information. And so, on Monday they’ve, for the first, day couldn’t report correctly, or it’s under-reported. So throughout this, they’ve been doing this. We thought that that was the right thing to do. Other states have not done it. Some other states have certainly not done it. We felt that this is the right thing to do, and that’s how we do it. So, I apologize. I didn’t explain it very well. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (01:15:28)
Next question is from Ben Schwartz with WCPO in Cincinnati.
Mike DeWine: (01:15:33)
Ben Schwartz: (01:15:34)
Hi, governor. Do you expect the 10:00 P.M. curfew to play a big role in helping curb the spread of COVID-19 during next week with Thanksgiving celebrations? Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (01:15:45)
Ben, I think it’s going to help. I think we’ve got a lot of things coming together, but I’ll go back to what I’ve always said. The most important thing is personal responsibility and what people do. And I’ll tell you, I know that not everybody sits at home and watches these press conferences, but listening to the health experts who are there on the front line, I don’t know how anybody could watch that and not be impacted. I was. And I think, when people understand what’s at stake, and what we’re asking our health people to do, and what they have to go through, we need to help them. And, if you don’t want to wear a mask for any other reason, help that person down the street who’s a nurse. Wear it for him. Wear it for her. Wear it for the other health professionals who were there. So, it will help. It’s one of many things, but ultimately the most important thing is what we do in our individual lives.
Speaker 2: (01:16:46)
Next question is from Jackie Borchardt the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Mike DeWine: (01:16:49)
Jackie Borchardt: (01:16:54)
Good afternoon, governor. It’s my understanding that the number of antigen tests given in Ohio is relatively small, like less than a thousand a day. How did we get backed up by 12,000 just as of Monday? Where is the bottleneck happening? Is it people at the local level? Do we have enough epidemiologists at the state level?
Mike DeWine: (01:17:12)
Well, I’m going to ask my team to get me the numbers that are coming in. But, no. It used to be small. I used to look at the numbers and it was nothing. But now, I’m looking at the numbers and they are significant. And so, they tell me that there’s a file problem. The files that are being sent in are so big sometimes that there’s a problem. That’s beyond my area of expertise at all. So, that’s one problem.
Mike DeWine: (01:17:40)
But my understanding, the major problem is we just can’t clear these cases fast enough. We were able to clear them up until Monday with some big effort. But, when we hit Monday, we couldn’t clear them all, as these antigen cases have gone up like this. And we’ll get you the number. I’m going to try to get the number in the next minute, few minutes now, before we go off the air, get you the number. But we’re running a lot of these cases now.
Mike DeWine: (01:18:08)
What you said, a month ago it was absolutely true. It wasn’t much at all. But today it’s a lot. And we’ll get you some of those numbers. But that’s why, we’re just not clear in those cases fast enough. And we want to be accurate. We want to be correct. And we don’t want to just take them without clearing them. Now, most of them, when you go back, I’m told by our team that in most cases they clear and they become positive. But it’s only by going through that process of getting the data.
Jackie Borchardt: (01:18:34)
Do we have enough people to be going through the data that we can keep up with this?
Mike DeWine: (01:18:42)
Well, no. As of Monday, we don’t. We’re trying to fix that. But I’ll show. We’ll show you how it’s dramatically kicked up. I mean, it’s gone up very, very quickly.
Speaker 2: (01:18:55)
Mike DeWine: (01:18:56)
That’s a good thing. Look, it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. I mean, if we go back three months ago to these press conferences, one of the things that we were talking about is, why is Ohio so low? We’ve gone from 43rd, I think I saw, until now we’re 10th or 11th in per capita, the number of tests. That’s a good thing. We should celebrate that. But also, just like everything else in our whole health system, everything is surging. And, when these cases are surging as fast as they are coming in, you saw what happened on Monday. And we’re working to fix it as quickly as we can so we can give those numbers. Again, I would say, for those who don’t want to rely on case numbers, and we’re going to try to continue to give you the best case numbers we can, look at the hospital numbers. Those people are not checking into hospitals just because they want to check into hospitals. They’re checking in because they’ve got a COVID problem.
Speaker 2: (01:19:54)
Next question is from Farnoush Amiri at the Associated Press.
Farnoush Amiri: (01:19:59)
Hi, governor. You mentioned extensively today how dangerous the implications of Senate bill 311 would be, but this is similar action that the general assembly has been attempting since the pandemic began in March. And these are members of your party. And this pandemic is far from over, even with a vaccine in the horizon. So, how do you plan to address this continuous tension between you and your Republican colleagues in the House and Senate who seemed to undermine your capabilities as a governor in this consequential time we’re in?
Mike DeWine: (01:20:29)
Well, we agree on a lot of different things. We have a lot of bills that I hope they’re going to take up in the lame duck session. But, on this one, obviously there’s a disagreement. I would like to think that they don’t fully understand. But look, the people who I listened to, I would hope they would listen to, there’s testimony today, I know, and that is the medical experts, and bio terrorist experts, and others who have looked at this and have said, “This is very dangerous.” And ultimately, my responsibility is to the people of the state of Ohio. I took an oath to support our constitution. I took an oath to do everything I could every single day to protect Ohioans. And this bill is a dangerous bill.
Speaker 2: (01:21:23)
The next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (01:21:29)
Hello, governor. Thanks again for your time. Two parter for you, Franklin County is now purple. What does that mean as it relates to your curfew order? Are people living in Franklin County under stricter rules than what the curfew doesn’t address? And secondly, you said you were swayed by worker stories not to close bars and restaurants. And today, after hearing nurses who were describing the cases as a tsunami, are you not swayed by them to take a tougher stand other than a curfew?
Mike DeWine: (01:21:55)
Yeah. Kevin, what I said was, I’m a good listener. And I did listen to people who livelihood depends and their ability to feed their family on working in a restaurant. I think that’s something that I should do. I try to listen to as many people as I can. I don’t always do what everybody wants. That’s impossible and that’s not what I try to do. What I try to do is listen, and then make the best decision. And that’s what I did in that case. I truly believe the curfew we put in place, the retail enforcement, those are two solid things that will make a difference. But ultimately, again, I will repeat, it comes down to what we do in our own personal lives. And there’s no way government can really effectively have an impact on that.
Mike DeWine: (01:22:48)
It is people who do not hesitate to put a mask on when they go to the grocery store, but when they have got their brother-in-law over watching football and he’s not in their household, they don’t wear a mask. It is human nature, but we have to understand that either you or he could be carrying the COVID and could spread it without knowing it. So again, what we’re trying to do is get the information out to Ohioans so they can make these decisions and understand the gravity and the importance of their decision, that they’re making these decisions for our health workers. They’re making it for their neighbor, maybe, who needs a hip replacement or something and wants to be able to go and have access to a hospital to do that.
Kevin Landers: (01:23:38)
In terms of the purple counties, can you address that?
Mike DeWine: (01:23:45)
Yeah. I mean, we have not put anything in that order. There’s nothing in regard to purple counties. What we done is, through our color code, tried to inform local decision makers, whether it’s the mayor, whether it’s the council, whether it is county commissioners, whether it’s school boards about what is going on in that county. And so again, we should look not just at the purple. We need to look at the rate. And, if you’re a school district, you may even want to look down at the zip code rate and look at, that data. So it’s looking at all of the data.
Mike DeWine: (01:24:28)
Let me just answer a question. Seven day average in regard to antigen test shows we’re running about 10,000 now coming in a day. And again, these don’t just go up on the board. These have to be each one literally hand checked. And usually that’s by phone. So, about 10,000 a day, is what we’re running. I know it wasn’t that long ago, we were running a few hundred a day, a hundred, 200, 300. And now, we’re up this. And, look, it’s a good thing, but it creates this challenge, and we try to be transparent and talk about it. So, and we intend to fix it.
Speaker 2: (01:25:13)
Next question is from Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.
Geoff Redick: (01:25:18)
Hi, governor. If Cheryl Herbert is still on, I’d like to ask her about elective surgeries. I know she just deals with Ohio Health, but we’ve heard about delaying or canceling elective surgeries and what that does to hospitals from a revenue standpoint. She said that we’re close to this rationing care level. I’m just curious how close we are to canceling those electives.
Speaker 2: (01:25:48)
Cheryl, go ahead.
Cheryl Herbert: (01:25:50)
Thank you, governor. And thanks for the question. As Bruce White also indicated, this is really almost a day by day decision for us at this point. Every day we try to look three or four days ahead and project how many beds we’ll have, how many COVID patients we’ll have, how many staff we will have. And we begin to talk about the options that are available to us. We and other health systems in Columbus and around the state will pull that trigger, I believe, when we determined that it’s necessary in order for us to be able to safely care for everyone who’s in a bed. I know that’s not a completely definitive answer, but this is such a fluid situation that we make those determinations really as we go along and watch the situation evolve.
Mike DeWine: (01:26:47)
Thank you very much.
Speaker 2: (01:26:49)
Next question is from Andy Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Andy Chow: (01:26:54)
Mike DeWine: (01:26:55)
Andy Chow: (01:26:56)
Hi. I know we’ve talked about and you’ve talked about how there are concrete provisions in the curfew that can be enforced. And that, if somebody violates it, that there are consequences. But how much of the curfew is maybe more of a symbolic gesture or a symbolic message to people to say that things are getting seriously and maybe they can turn to the curfew and point to these other things as just reasons to really double down on mitigation efforts?
Mike DeWine: (01:27:24)
It certainly is part of that. I mean, I think that one of the things that we have learned is that laws reflect norms. They reflect trying to change behavior more than they do to try to be punitive. This curfew is not managed a punitive thing, but it is trying to set what the right standards should be. And we’ve set it for 21 days. We don’t know how long, but there are things that we need to do in the next 21 days, all of us. And it’s not just the curfew and abiding by the curfew.
Mike DeWine: (01:27:59)
I mean, look, we think it’s going to take people out. I mean, some people go to bed before ten o’clock. But there are a lot of people… I remember when I was 20, I didn’t. So, and it’s not just directed at young people. But it’s to take beyond ten o’clock to basically say, “Let’s cut out retail. Let’s cut out the intermingling that is going on. And let’s everybody go home.” And, if we can significantly increase that number, we will be successful, number of people who pull back. Again, it goes back to what I said all day yesterday when I was going around the state, we need to pull back.
Speaker 2: (01:28:40)
Governor, next question is the last question for today, and it belongs to Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (01:28:44)
Hey, governor. I always appreciate the time.
Mike DeWine: (01:28:48)
Adrienne Robbins: (01:28:51)
Earlier today, the Lieutenant Governor has said that part of the issue of our numbers being late reported was people are overwhelmed. And it sounds like you’re kind of telling a similar story. If the reporting is overwhelmed by numbers in these antigen tests, should people be concerned that other parts of the state system or the health system could be overwhelmed and possibly not firing on all cylinders as well?
Mike DeWine: (01:29:17)
Well, you heard today about the most important part of the health system, and that is the hospitals, and the doctors, and nurses, and personnel that we’ve asked to run a marathon. And now, we’re asking them to run another marathon or a Alaskan dog sled race, whatever. So, look, it’s under immense pressure. I mean, every part of the system is under immense pressure. I talk every Monday to the health directors. I’m telling you, this last Monday was the first time I really heard almost panic in some of their voices. And these are tough people. They have done this for eight months, but they’re overwhelmed. Yeah. There’s a lot of parts of our system that are overwhelmed, which is another reason we needed to just, hey, we’re tired, but we got to do this.
Mike DeWine: (01:30:07)
And we got to separate ourselves from other people more. We just have to do it. We got to wear a mask more. If we’re looking to go talk to a friend, go meet up with a friend, drink a beer or something, we got to pull back from that and say, hey, we can’t do it. We’ll do it next July, or August, or whenever we can do it. Yeah. There’s a lot of pressure on the system. So, thank you very much.
Mike DeWine: (01:30:28)
We want to close. Eric and Eve have done a great job putting together some of our heroes, Heroes of Hope. We’re going to see another hero of hope today. We want you to meet Brandon who is adjusting how he serves customers as he remains optimistic. He is truly one of our Heroes of Hope.
Brandon Bir: (01:30:57)
Hi, I’m Brandon Bir, the director of sustainability for Crimson Cup Coffee. I travel around making relationships with coffee farmers and educating coffee professionals. I’m also a Q grader, which is essentially a kind of like a sommelier but for coffee. And I taste and quantify quality of coffee. I did start the year off and Uganda and Ethiopia, but I probably would have followed that up with Honduras… Columbus now.
Brandon Bir: (01:31:39)
I really enjoy my job. I’m very passionate about what I do. I help set up quality control labs. They teach farmers and coffee professionals how to quantify the quality of the coffee and how to find defects or taints inside of coffee. What that does is arm them with the information that they need to make more informed decisions when they’re selling the coffee.
Brandon Bir: (01:32:01)
Take for example, Uganda, again. We have to fly a prop plane to a very remote area, take dirt roads to the community where we’re at. There’s rolling blackouts. There’s not clean water. It makes things really difficult. But again, we help build a quality control lab there. And that’s going to enable them to make the choices that they need to make so they can raise the community, get more money for their coffee, invest in their own community, maybe bring a more reliable source of electricity or more clean water to these areas. And that’s something that we do in many different areas of the world. And that’s a main objective of what we’re trying to do.
Brandon Bir: (01:32:43)
Right now, we’re roasting about a million pounds a year. And some of these will buy one, two, or three containers from them, which might be upwards of 75% of the coffee that they’ve actually produced. We’ve had to adapt a lot due to the pandemic. The places that I can’t travel that I’d usually bring them back in my luggage, I’m getting those packages and we’re roasting. And we have to correspond, again, digitally to make sure that we can have an open line of communication. But we’re also, here we’re adapting at our coffee houses. We put our food truck out there and we’ve made up a mock drive through to make sure that we make our customers feel comfortable and we’re also keeping everyone safe.
Brandon Bir: (01:33:29)
We want to stay positive. The way that people have adapted inside of Ohio, it’s awe inspiring. You can absolutely complain or you can take a positive stance and you can say, you know what, we’re going to build from this. We’re going to see a better tomorrow. Ohio will come out of this in a better place, I think, together.
Mike DeWine: (01:33:52)
We want to thank Brandon for being one of our Heroes of Hope, for keeping us optimistic, his customers optimistic. There is a lot to be optimistic about finally, now, as we see the end is coming. We wish you all a happy day and look forward to seeing everybody on Tuesday. Thank you very much.