Nov 30, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript November 30
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on November 30 to provide coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Mike DeWine: (06:43)
Good afternoon, everyone. Well, during the pandemic, some days have seemed like they’re kind of a roller coaster, I know for many of you and certainly for me as well. I started this morning with an early morning call with a number of our hospitals. And I’ve asked Andy Thomas, in a few minutes, Dr. Andy Thomas, to give you a report of what that discussion was this morning, but some serious concern in regard to what’s happening in regard to ICUs, and he’ll fill you in on that. I next had a discussion with our health departments. And again, they’re concerned certainly with the spread that they are seeing in every single county. In more upbeat news, I just got off the phone with a call with the vice president and the governors giving us different briefings. And one of the things that they spent a lot of time talking about, of course, is the vaccine that is coming.
Mike DeWine: (07:49)
So Dr. Fauci was on the call and he referred to it as just an extraordinary occurrence that this vaccine appears to be almost ready to go. So again, this is all subject to final approval, but the shipment, for example, the Pfizer could come as early as December 15th, the first shipment. Moderna could come as early as December 22nd. Again, that’s subject to approval, but we certainly are getting ready for that. And at our press conference on Thursday, I will have a full report to all of you, the people of Ohio in regard to what we are doing, how this will roll out. So we’ll be talking about that on Thursday.
Mike DeWine: (08:48)
Some bad news, our Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is mourning the deaths of two employees who have recently tested positive for COVID 19. Correction officer Steven Cook, who worked at Dayton Correctional, died on Wednesday. He had worked for the prison system since 2006. He was a father of two. This morning, we were notified of the death of correction officer, Mark Jones, a 27 year staff member at Trumbull Correctional Institution. He was an army veteran. He is a father of one. Our prayers are with both families. I want to take a moment to ask for prayers for all of those who are suffering from COVID, particularly those who are battling in our hospitals today. I have a dear friend who is battling right now. In addition to that friend, we also have our friend, Mike Crabtree, who is a county commissioner in Scioto County. He is sick with COVID and is currently on a ventilator. We’re praying for Mike, his wife, Diane, the whole Crabtree family. And again, I would just ask everyone to pray for all those who are in our hospitals today.
Mike DeWine: (10:09)
Let me go now to Dr. Andy Thomas. Dr. Thomas, thank you for once again joining us. I was able to join the call that you have frequently, I know, with the different hospitals zones this morning, very early. And I thought after listening to that, it would be a good idea for you to report directly to the people of Ohio what you all are seeing. So I’ll turn it over to you, Dr. Thomas. Thank you.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (10:36)
Thank you governor for having me here this afternoon, representing my colleagues in the other zones, as well as colleagues around the state and hospitals, whether they’re doctors, nurses, pharmacists, whoever they might be that are battling this. We’ve really continued on many of the same trends that we’ve been talking about over the last few weeks. In fact, Ohio today crossed another threshold in numbers. We crossed 5,000 inpatients with COVID in Ohio’s hospitals for the first time ever during the course of the pandemic. Just back on November 1st, we were just under 1,700 patients in the state, in the hospital. It’s a 200% increase just since November 1st, and November 1st was a high point at that point, when we began this month. Zone two, I certainly know the data the best. And I’ll tell you, we’ve seen a similar rise, as we’ve talked about before. We were just under 400 patients on November 1st, and this morning, we have 1,087 patients in the hospital. That’s 177% increase in just a month from what was already a record high when we started the month.
Mike DeWine: (11:43)
Dr. Thomas, do you want to remind everybody what that zone means?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (11:48)
Sure. We’ve separated the state into three zones. Zone one is three regions of the state that stretch from Toledo all the way through Cleveland to Youngstown, Akron Canton area. Zone two, which it includes central Ohio counties up northwest towards Bellefontaine, towards upper Sandusky. And then really, region seven and eight stretch, if you think 23 South, 33 South and 70 East, that kind of Southern and South Eastern part of the state. And then zone three are essentially the Dayton and Cincinnati metropolitan areas and the counties in Southwest Ohio. So we’ve been able to really coordinate activities amongst the hospitals in those zones on a routine basis. So for example, we have a 9:00 AM surge call every day. We’ve moved from Monday, Wednesday, Friday to then Monday through Friday. Now we’re doing them seven days a week, including Thanksgiving day, as my hospital colleagues reminded me, COVID doesn’t take a vacation day. So we were doing those all through the weekend.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (12:46)
What we’ve continued to see in our zone is the rural areas of our zone, regions seven and eight, be hit particularly hard by this. In fact, at this point, they have between 40 and 50% of their patients that are in the ICU or on the ventilator are there because they have COVID. It’s a significant issue that we’re concerned about with ICU capacity as COVID patients, as the total numbers grow, the place where especially smaller community hospitals or rural hospitals can’t really expand their capacity is an intensive care. So we’ve heard a lot of concerns over the past couple of weeks about ICU capacity. But I think in the last just two or three days, there were many more hospitals in our zone really voicing concerns about their ability to continue to manage this many ICU patients. Specifically, because they also have staff that are out ill, nursing staff, physicians, and others. So that’s leaving the hospitals with really difficult decisions.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (13:54)
A third of the patients across the entire state that are in an ICU have COVID. One out of every three patients on a ventilator across the state has COVID. That’s crowding out. They’re essentially going to start crowding out other people who need that level of care if we see these numbers continue to rise. The reality is hospitals are making difficult decisions about delaying care. It may be non-emergent, non-urgent care, but it’s care that might make someone after a surgery ended up in the ICU. A lot of hospitals are delaying those surgeries because they can’t afford to have their ICU be overtaxed. In fact, just this weekend, one of our facilities in our zone that was operating at about 130% of their normal ICU capacity, so they have been able to ramp up. They ran low on ventilators. In a relatively quick fashion, Ohio State, Ohio Health, and Mount Carmel, each offered and they were able to come and pick up a handful of ventilators that got them to feel comfortable being able to continue taking patients in their ED, and if need be, needing to put them on the ventilator.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (14:59)
So it feels palpably different when we’re on our zone calls with hospital leaders around the state than it did a month ago, or even a couple of weeks ago, the level of anxiety and concern. In fact, we had one hospital in the Northern part of the state that had to call in a refrigeration truck because they had exceeded their capacity of their onsite morgue for patients who had passed away. So it’s becoming quite serious, and we appreciate the opportunity to highlight this again with the citizens of Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (15:32)
Dr. Thomas, give us the guidance. I know we had folks who did get together at Thanksgiving. They may have been outside their bubble. They may have been with other people. Sometimes they may have traveled. We see on the national news, all the people that traveled. So what advice, I guess, is the best medical advice for those who now are maybe back that were outside of their bubble for Thanksgiving or for the weekend, what kind of advice for them?
Dr. Andy Thomas: (16:04)
Well, I think it’s an interesting point. I’ve heard a number of federal officials talking about this over the weekend on television as well. Obviously, we hope that people are as safe as possible. If they did travel or got outside their bubble, if they wore a mask, if they kept their distance, and certainly we hope they were safe as possible, to some degree, the risk that they have of getting this themselves is kind of already baked into the equation. They’ve already had that exposure outside their bubble or that exposure while traveling. So for them, they can’t really change the risk of them getting sick. It is what it is at this point. But what they can do now that they’re home, is make sure that… or if they’re still traveling home, many people are still on the road today, that they’re being as safe as possible now.
Dr. Andy Thomas: (16:50)
So that might include taking some additional time off work to quarantine because you’ve been to an area that has a really high percent positivity rate, if you traveled out of state. Even if you went to a large family gathering with people you love, people you trust, you still are at risk of carrying that back to your community, carrying it back to your workplace and infecting other members of your family. So it’s the same things we’ve been asking people to do with distancing, masking, washing your hands, avoiding large crowds. But in this case, it might make sense as well for the next five to seven days to really, really minimize your level of contact. So God forbid you get sick, but at least you won’t be getting anyone else sick, and you’ll break that chain of transmission to other individuals.
Mike DeWine: (17:36)
Dr. Thomas, thank you very much. Eric, let’s go to the data slide, please. We’ll start with the hospital slide, since Dr. Thomas was talking about our hospitals. As you can see now, we are at 5,060 actually in the hospital. So that is basically the number of people in the hospital today from COVID. Of those, 1,180 are in the ICU. Let’s go to the key indicators, Eric. This is our normal indicator number. Last 24 hours, 6,631 cases. That’s lower than it’s been running. What we don’t know is whether that is just a result of the weekend. We hope not. We hope these numbers might be coming down, but we just don’t know that yet. We’re averaging 8,251 new cases over the past week. So that’s 8,251 there. Eric, lets go to the top 88 counties. And again, our advice, when you’re trying to determine what risk there is that you might run into someone with COVID, this is a pretty good indicator.
Mike DeWine: (19:02)
All counties are high incident counties. As you can see, even the lowest county is over three times the high incidence rate. So every county, obviously the counties up here… Let’s go to the first 10, Eric, first 20. Obviously, Darke, Harden, Lake, Miami, Allen, Marion, those are the ones that have the highest incidence, but again, every county certainly has a high incidence at this point.
Mike DeWine: (19:37)
As we move into colder months and spend more time inside, proper ventilation and filtration is even more important to slow the spread of COVID 19. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report, and I quote, “With effective ventilation filtration, the number of viral aerosols can be greatly reduced, that’s from COVID,” end of quote. With that in mind, we have created a new program to help improve indoor air quality and reduce the transmission of COVID 19.
Mike DeWine: (20:13)
This is aimed at our nursing homes, assisted living centers and adult day centers, where our people are the most vulnerable. Eligible recipients can receive up to $15,000 to address indoor air quality through HVAC inspections, portable air filtration systems, new filtration systems, maintenance on current systems and other interventions. This $20 million program is being administered by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, which has experienced administering millions of dollars a year to help employers workforce safety. Additionally, the Ohio Department of Aging will be working with nursing homes, assisted living centers and adult daycare centers to promote these critical funds. For more information about this new program that we’re announcing today, please visit the BWC website at www.bwc.ohio.gov. It’s the BWC website.
Mike DeWine: (21:18)
A number of people across Ohio have been able to work from home since the pandemic. Because of this great increase in cases, we are asking employers and employees to continue doing that. And if some have returned to work, we’re asking them to take a hard look at this and see whether they could go remote again. We have to do everything we can during this very serious time, when our hospitals are really being hit, to slow down the transmission, slow down the contacts, potential contacts that people might have.
Mike DeWine: (21:57)
We are going to be doing that. We’re trying to lead by example. We’re doing that with state employees as well. So we had originally stated that beginning January 4th, state employees would start returning to work in stages. We are now putting a hold on that. Today, we’re going to hear from some people who are really at the front lines. Let me start with our next guest, Stacy Morris. She is a nurse manager for one of the COVID units at the Cleveland clinic, Akron General. Stacy and her nursing team are with patients from the time they’re admitted as they fight to survive, and in the worst circumstances, when they say goodbye to those that they love. Stacy, tell us a little bit about… Well, first of all, thank you for what you do and thank you for joining us, and just tell us if you can what you are seeing in your unit.
Stacy Morris: (23:01)
Thanks governor for having me. In the unit, day-to-day, it’s been really rough over the past three weeks, especially. Our numbers have just risen so quickly and so drastically. We’ve had to work to triage our beds to make space for the patients and make sure that we have enough room for them, and that includes medical surgical and ICU beds. It’s really a hard thing to watch. Something that we’ve noticed since March is how quickly these patients deteriorate.
Stacy Morris: (23:32)
That’s been a really sharp learning curve for us is seeing that they’ll just be on a couple of liters of oxygen when they’re first admitted and then requiring a lot more oxygen very quickly, and then in ICU just within hours. And I think the unpredictability of that virus and the piece of it, that’s the scary part is, we never really know how somebody is going to respond to this virus, what their body’s going to do. We’ve had people in their thirties and forties that have no medical history that do really poorly with this. And we wish we knew why, and we wish we could target it. We have treatments, but there’s no silver bullet. There’s no magic bullet to treat this right now, and that’s the part that’s always worrisome with this virus.
Mike DeWine: (24:20)
Tell us a little bit about, from a human point of view, I mean, you’re used to dealing with patients, but in this case you have patients who can’t see anybody besides you and the other people who are attending them. Sometimes you’re able, I guess, to do a Skype, I guess they can do with their family members. Can you just give us some insight into that because that’s not the normal thing that you see.
Stacy Morris: (24:48)
Right, yeah. So normally, before this virus, people could have visitors come and see them. Their loved ones could be with them. Due to the risk of transmission of the virus, there’s no visitation. So the caregivers do their best to go in with an iPad.
Stacy Morris: (25:03)
The caregivers do their best to go in with an iPad with the patients, and they’ll meet with them over the iPad to Skype. But it’s a hard conversation. It’s a hard thing to see over an iPad, to see your loved one like that when you just really want to be with them. I know that that’s a really heavy piece on the caregivers here, too, the team, holding that iPad, listening to those conversations. Typically, those are private conversations that happen amongst loved ones, and we’ve become a part of that. Having to experience that at that level is just really difficult.
Stacy Morris: (25:38)
When there is visitation, that means the odds aren’t in your favor. When you’re able to actually come in and say goodbye and when we have to get you ready for that point, that’s the scary, harsh reality of this virus, is we don’t ever want anybody to get to that point, but we have to deal with that. The caregiver team deals with that every day here. It’s more uncommon to not take somebody to ICU or to have them do poorly than it is that they … We have a couple people, two to three every day that aren’t doing well on our medical unit here.
Mike DeWine: (26:15)
So how do you personally and the other doctors and nurses, how do you deal with this?
Stacy Morris: (26:23)
I think we lean on each other a lot. I know we do, because it’s a really amazing, supportive team here. Emotionally support each other and carry each other through this. I just know that the team here is amazing and provides amazing care, but there’s only so many of us to give that care. You can always get more equipment, build more space, put more beds, but there’s not just hundreds of thousands of nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists just waiting in the wings. We’ve been trained for years medically to care for patients at high acuity levels that they have right now with this virus, and you can’t replicate that. You can’t just snap your fingers and make more caregivers appear. There’s always space. There’s always equipment. But you need us, and we need the help of the people to help fight this so that we can be there for you and continue to give the care that we’re giving.
Mike DeWine: (27:21)
Well, thank you for what you do, and thank everybody else that you work with, what they do, and across the state. I can’t imagine the emotional toll that it takes on you. I mean, you’re seeing people, you’re used to treating people who are sick, but this is … I think it would seem to be a very different experience. How do you deal … You’ve seen some of the things that are posted on the internet or people who are interviewed who don’t think that this COVID is serious. They don’t think they should wear a mask. Do you have anything to say to them today?
Stacy Morris: (28:04)
I just want people to take it seriously. But this isn’t a hoax. It’s not blown out of proportion. This is our reality, and me and my team here, we live it every day, coming to work. The team here gets up every day, coming in to take care of these patients, and they’ve been doing it since March. While it’s been coming in waves, this is one of the biggest waves we’ve ever seen, and we don’t see an end to the growth. We’re hoping that we can come together as a state and a country to help slow this. We need to slow it like we did before. Unfortunately, we can’t do that without the help of everybody, masking, doing social distancing, hand sanitizing, all of the things that you’re supposed to do.
Mike DeWine: (28:50)
Well, again, thank you. Thank you so very, very much, and thank you for taking time out of your busy day to really talk to the people of Ohio. We just are very grateful for what you do.
Stacy Morris: (29:01)
Thank you for having me, Governor.
Mike DeWine: (29:02)
Thank you. We now want to give some insight on what it’s like right now inside Ohio’s long-term care facilities or nursing homes, congregate settings. Carrie Watkins is the Assistant Director of Nursing at Genacross Lutheran Services in Holland, Ohio, near Toledo. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it very much.
Carrie Watkins: (29:29)
Mike DeWine: (29:30)
Tell us a little bit about what you’re seeing every day in regard to the COVID. Again, not something that before March you were seeing, and it certainly has got to be a different thing to deal with, if you could just give us maybe some insight into what goes on and what you’re seeing.
Carrie Watkins: (29:49)
Well, we’ve been seeing recently a huge surge in the cases prior to this. We’ve been dealing with the pandemic since March. Our facility had gone through several months of being COVID-free. We did have an outbreak back in the end of August. We got through that. But we’re seeing now that we’re having such a higher rise of cases in the community that it’s getting to the point where it’s getting into all of these other nursing care facilities and taking over, no matter how much preparation you make, no matter how many things we do to do the proper infection control. We had great surveys. We’ve had great response of our infection control in our facilities, but it still manages to get its way in. Proper use of PPE, staff education, sanitation, all the things you do, right? It doesn’t make the virus go away.
Carrie Watkins: (30:53)
We’ve had very sad situations of losing patients, residents in our facility. For example, I remember one of my nurses came back from maternity leave, and she had been off for two months. She wasn’t there during the outbreak that we had. She came back, and her hall that she normally took care of 22 residents per year …
Mike DeWine: (31:18)
I think we’ve got a little problem. We’ve got her frozen on my screen. Eric, what do you think? We’ll come back? Okay. We’ll we’ll come back to Carrie Watkins in just a moment, we hope. Let me kind of move on here. (silence) No, we’re still … Let me go now. Dara Pence is an ICU nurse manager at OhioHealth’s Riverside hospital in Columbus. Her unit has cared for COVID patients since mid-March. Dara, are you on there? Hey. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it very, very much. What are you seeing there, as far as your COVID patients and what impact this is having on the hospital?
Dara Pence: (32:34)
First, thank you for having me. So we’ve been here since March on our unit. We were the primary COVID cohort unit for critical care. Obviously, our world, as many others in the hospital system, were [inaudible 00:32:50] with this. Our team came together amazingly well, collaborated, came up with protocols, policies, guidelines to try to work together on this and battling COVID. We have started with, obviously, it hitting us. Then we worked with battling stigmas of COVID, going back to business, and now we’re back again with this surge.
Dara Pence: (33:15)
COVID is unpredictable. It’s throwing curve balls. Much like Stacy said, we’re seeing young, healthy people come, and they are sick and they are passing. Then we see people who check all the boxes of these comorbidities, and they’re being able to roll out. So it’s completely unpredictable, and we still don’t know what the long-term effects are for our patients.
Mike DeWine: (33:43)
So when someone comes in, what you’re saying is it’s almost like you’re playing sort of Russian roulette or something. I mean, you don’t really know. Maybe somebody who think may do well doesn’t and vice versa. Is that what you’re seeing?
Dara Pence: (34:00)
Yeah, correct. Yeah. It definitely does not hold any biases, and it can affect all patients from all backgrounds, definitely.
Mike DeWine: (34:15)
Tell us a little bit about the fact that this is just different. The patients are dying alone. The patients can’t see their loved ones and maybe that impacts you, your nurses, and how that impacts the patients who are there.
Dara Pence: (34:34)
Oh, yeah, definitely. So CDC came out with new guidelines approximately a month or two ago to where we were able to take down our isolation. Prior to that, we were seeing our patients sometimes in isolation 30-plus days. They would be in there 30, 40 days alone in our ICUs and in some of our med surge units. We have the different machines that we are using to be able to have negative airflow, and this is really helpful to be able to do different kind of breathing treatments, have them intubated, have them on BiPAP, CPAP, high flow oxygen. These are just all different kinds of ways that we’re trying to help treat these patients.
Dara Pence: (35:18)
But it’s still lonely in there. They’re still isolated. We’re trying to cluster our care to take care of these patients, but also take care of ourselves and our teams. We do use Zoom. Much like what Stacy said with using Skype, we are using Zoom. But it’s very scary, because a lot of times, this is the last connection that these family members have with their loved ones or the loved ones have with their family members. These patients, we are able to have them come and visit, have visitors, but it’s at the time that we’re doing goals of care. We’re having those hard conversations with the families.
Dara Pence: (35:59)
A lot of times, too, on the other extreme, families don’t want to come in. They’re too afraid. They’re too afraid to come into the hospital. They’re too afraid to be exposed to COVID. So, again, having that disconnect with using Zoom instead of that personal, one-on-one contact, that’s what our nurses are to these patients. They’re also that lifeline to the family members. When the family members aren’t there, we’re making those phone calls, as well as our other healthcare teams. Our doctors are also calling the families to give them updates and have those conversations.
Dara Pence: (36:32)
A lot of times, the families just don’t understand the severity of these feelings, of what’s going on. When we have these conversations with our patients, because we do get to know them, obviously, very well, the ones who aren’t intubated, and we ask them, “What was going on? Where do you think you got COVID? Where were you at? What were you doing?” We’ve heard graduation parties, baby showers, funerals, weddings. Several of them have said, “I had a mask, but I put it in my pocket when I saw that everyone else didn’t have a mask.”
Dara Pence: (37:11)
We have a thing at OhioHealth Now that we’re saying. Our president, Steve Markovich, is really pushing to have COVID courage for our staff and our teams and to wear those masks and show that we are supportive of what is going on in our system and in our communities and trying to educate out there to the community to have that COVID courage and wear those masks.
Mike DeWine: (37:35)
Well, you and nurses across the state who are helping COVID patients, helping them fight for their life, you’re seeing things that the rest of us just don’t see. So what message would you have for people who might be watching this today in regard to what you would like them to do to help you and to help the other nurses who are making a difference?
Dara Pence: (38:07)
Yeah. I think the big thing for us is, I mean, we have our PPE. We are so blessed here to have the PPE, to have all the things that we were scared of not having we now have. Now our biggest fear is preparing for even more of what we’re already seeing. We were asked how do we feel about when we see the community, and honestly, it breaks my heart. If you think about this, we hear the tornado sirens. Now, mind you, we are in Ohio, so we do open the door to actually see if there’s a tornado before we prepare. But with tornadoes, with hurricanes, when you hear those alarms go off, you pack up, you get all your supplies you need, and you take care of yourself and your family. You get to shelter, and you get to safety to make sure that you can honestly live another day. That is, I think, the biggest thing now for us. Run out there and go get your toilet paper. Go get your masks. Go get whatever you need. I would rather see us honestly run out of toilet paper and run out of dishwasher soap then see us run out of ICU beds and out of hospital beds and lose more loved ones. I wish that we could bring people here with us and have them walk through our unit, but then I don’t wish anybody to ever see what we have seen, what our nurses are going through. Our team is amazing. Our team is strong. But everybody is only so strong for so long.
Dara Pence: (39:44)
I have a friend who is in the military, and we’ve talked quite a bit about this, what we’ve seen. He compares it to basically being in a battle. The things that we are seeing, we are at war. We are at war with this disease, and we’re going to have PTSD. We’re going to be struggling with this. If the community can come together and wear a mask, socially distance, stay at home, stay safe, and that’s what’s going to help get us through in the long run, then, I mean, that’s all we can ask for, because we here at the hospital are no longer the front lines. We’re a last line of defense. The front line now is the community.
Mike DeWine: (40:24)
Wow. Well, thank you very, very much. Thank you for giving us that insight, taking us inside and kind of through your eyes, seeing what you see every day. Thank you so very, very much. Please pass it on to your whole team. We’re very grateful for what you do.
Dara Pence: (40:40)
Mike DeWine: (40:42)
Thanks a lot. I think we’ll go now to Jamie Gear as a nurse and team leader for the COVID unit at Premier Health’s Upper Valley Medical Center in Troy, which is north of Dayton. She’s led a team there for four years. On average, there are nine nurses she supervises each day. In the last three weeks, the increase in patients they’ve seen has been just huge. These patients are sicker than patients were in the spring and summer. Thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it very, very much.
Jamie Gear: (41:20)
Thank you [inaudible 00:41:22].
Mike DeWine: (41:23)
You told us that you’re seeing patients who are just more sick. I mean, what do you mean by that? Maybe just kind of tell us what you are seeing right now.
Jamie Gear: (41:34)
Yeah. So back in March, again, I’m probably echoing a lot of what other people are saying or the other nurses were saying, but so back in March, we were seeing 5, 10, 12 patients, but now it’s evolved into so much more. As one of the other nurses had spoken of before, the patients would come in on that 2 liters of oxygen, and so very quickly, they would require 8 liters, 12 liters, 30 liters, and then onto that BiPAP and CPAP and then ultimately on the ventilator. It happens in such a short amount of time, it’s hard for us to react. So I feel like comparing our patients now, compared to back in March, they are sicker. They don’t necessarily have the comorbidities. We’re seeing healthy individuals come in, and they decline so quickly. I feel like back in March, it was more the elderly population. Now I feel like the COVID population has been getting younger and younger.
Mike DeWine: (42:58)
What would you like to tell people in Miami Valley or people across the state? I mean, you’re seeing this every day. We’ve heard from several other nurses, but what are you seeing that might surprise people, they may not really understand or have a full appreciation for as you deal with this every single day and try to help people, try to save their lives?
Jamie Gear: (43:23)
I tell my husband this a lot. I wish that I could wear a GoPro for just four hours of my day for people to realize the stress that us nurses and the PCTs and our respiratory therapists go through every day. It’s exhausting. It’s emotional. It’s emotionally heartbreaking for the patients. We have an excellent team. So we really carry each other throughout our days. I don’t think the public truly understands what we go through every day, the heartbreak and the emotion and seeing the fear on these patients’ faces. This is no joke. This is very serious, and I just want the public to realize that, I mean, it’s not a hoax. This is real. This is true. Working in the hospital, we’re exhausted. So please, I want everyone to realize that. Just please take this seriously.
Mike DeWine: (44:36)
Well, what’s the hardest thing for you and for the other professionals who are dealing with this every single day?
Jamie Gear: (44:47)
The pain and hurt that I see in my patients’ eyes. When they’re COVID-positive, they’re not allowed to have visitors in the hospital. They can’t have their loved one hold their hand and be by their side in their time of need. You can see the fear on our patients’ faces. That’s heartbreaking. That’s heart-wrenching. So as a nurse, I’m not only a nurse, I’m not only a caregiver, but I’m a friend, and I’m a companion. I try to be in the place as a loved one. I’m not. But I do my best, and I work with a bunch of excellent nurses and a great team. Everybody really works well together, and everybody really helps each other out. That even goes as far as crying on each other’s shoulders and just being there during this stressful situation.
Mike DeWine: (45:52)
Well, thank you very, very much. Thank you is not very adequate for any of you, but thank you so very, very much from all of us for what you do, and thank you for giving us kind of an insight into what you see that the average person just certainly does not see, but you see every single day. So thanks for everything that you do. We’re very grateful. Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (46:20)
I want to go back to Carrie Watkins, nurse at Genacross Nursing Home in the Toledo area. Thank you for joining us again. Thanks for your patience.
Carrie Watkins: (46:34)
Mike DeWine: (46:35)
I’m not really sure where we left off, but what else do you want to tell the people of Ohio regard to kind of what you see as far as your patients and what you worry about every day? I mean, maybe before you answer that, I’ll just kind of summarize, I think, something you said earlier, and that basically is that no matter how good you are, no matter how hard you try, if there’s significant spread in the community, it is darn hard-
Carrie Watkins: (47:05)
It gets in.
Mike DeWine: (47:05)
… to keep it out of your nursing home.
Carrie Watkins: (47:07)
Mike DeWine: (47:07)
So there’s a relationship between the spread in the community and what you see in your nursing home.
Carrie Watkins: (47:13)
It’s directly related. We have seen such an increase in the surge of the cases in the area. Like I said, it is getting into the nursing homes. I’m hearing stories of other nursing homes that are going through very, very difficult times. The staff are overworked, spread very, very thin. We also have turned into an extended family for our residents. Their families aren’t there daily to see them and spend time with them, and the people that they are used to sharing their daily lives with are no longer able to come in to see them any longer. So not only are we being caregivers, we’re becoming the extended family to those residents while their real family can’t be there.
Carrie Watkins: (48:03)
I was telling this story earlier, I know it had cut out, about my nurse that came back from the maternity leave, losing out of 22 of the residents that she called her family … She cared for them for years. Nearly half of them had passed away, and they didn’t get discharged home. They didn’t go to another room. They were gone, and the pain and the emotion that I saw in her face, coming back to that, not being there during that time, was devastating.
Carrie Watkins: (48:35)
We as nurses and caregivers work so hard to take care of our residents and just support one another, and people really need to realize that their actions have unintended consequences. Even if you don’t have a loved one that’s in a nursing home facility, you can start a chain reaction that brings it right into our buildings. The residents we care for are someone’s husband, somebody’s grandparents, someone’s brother. Could possibly be somebody’s child, and these lives are worth protecting. So we really need to take the recommendations seriously. It’s crucial to stop spreading the virus, if we all work together and unite as one to just get this. The vaccine is coming, so hopefully we can look forward to a day where we can reunite their families with their loved ones.
Mike DeWine: (49:38)
Well, thank you. Thank you very, very much. I mean, I would think that because of the long-term nature, many people who you are dealing with who have COVID you’ve known for a long time and your team has known for a long time. I’m sure they become almost like family with that relationship, and for the last eight months-
Mike DeWine: (50:02)
…family with that relationship. And for the last eight months, visitation has been basically cut off. And so, that’s the only family, the only direct connection that they have. So, it must be particularly hard on you as well as on them.
Carrie Watkins: (50:19)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). We’ve also became the support for the family members, because we are their line of communication. We’re not only caring for them, we’re also caring for the residents’ families that are at home, just being supportive and trying to make it through all of this together.
Mike DeWine: (50:39)
Well, thank you very much. And I want to thank everybody who’s working in our care settings or nursing homes or assisted living for what you do out there because you’re the front line as well. You’re dealing with the COVID, and so thank you for doing that.
Carrie Watkins: (50:57)
Thank you very much.
Mike DeWine: (50:58)
[inaudible 00:50:58] much. Thanks for sharing what you’re seeing every single day. We’re ready to go to questions.
Speaker 1: (51:06)
Governor, first question today is from Max Philby at the Columbus Dispatch.
Max Philby: (51:11)
Mike DeWine: (51:13)
Max Philby: (51:15)
As you prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine, I’m curious, are there any short-term or long-term funding needs from the federal government that you’d like to see fulfilled, whether it be with regards to tracking or anything else?
Mike DeWine: (51:28)
Well, we really need a bill and we need Democrats and Republicans to come together, Congress put a bill together. I know a lot of people want to get it done in Congress. The president does, it just needs to happen. Everything from allowing us to roll money over so that we don’t have to make decisions in December when we really need to move that money beyond December and into next year. Unemployment, there’s many needs. I won’t go through them all today, but we need to see a bill come out of Congress. And I’ll talk about this later in the week, but we need a bill and I’m still the optimist. I think there’s a bill to be had, and I hope we can get it done.
Speaker 1: (52:30)
Next question is from Walter Smith Randolph at WKRC in Cincinnati.
Walter Smith Randolph: (52:36)
Hello, governor, this question is about [inaudible 00:52:38]. Will you be willing to waive the accountability standards that go with state testing, like literary assessments? If yes, why? If not, why not?
Mike DeWine: (52:50)
I’m not sure I understand the question. I don’t know whether Andy is still on there or not. Is Andy still on? He’s probably not. Is he still on? Give me that question again.
Walter Smith Randolph: (53:01)
The question was will you be willing to waive the accountability standards that go with state testing, like literary assessments?
Mike DeWine: (53:09)
I don’t know. We’ll have to look at that. Yeah, I just don’t know. We’ll get back to you though. Thank you, good question.
Speaker 1: (53:17)
Next question is from Farnoush Amiri at The Associated Press.
Farnoush Amiri: (53:21)
Hi, governor. Thank you for taking the time today. So, pretty much every single health official that you’ve brought on to this call has mentioned in some way or another how this is the worst things have ever been in Ohio hospitals and throughout the state. And unlike other states like New York and California, who dealt with pretty severe first waves, Ohio’s dealing with this for the first time it seems like, as far as hospitalizations. And the main reason for that is how aggressive you were in the beginning as far as dealing with precautions and setting up lockdowns. And so, I’m wondering where we go from here as things are progressively getting worse. Many of the people on the call said they don’t see an end to this until a vaccine or possibly not even after that. So, as far as any future plans for you in the next few weeks as far as lockdowns or precautions, what are your plans to address this heightened wave?
Mike DeWine: (54:19)
Well, we know the lockdowns can be very detrimental. We’ve seen that in the area of mental health, for example. We see it in overdoses for drugs. There’s all kinds of bad things that go along with a lockdown, and that’s what has to be always weighed. As I said last week, it is a critical time and it’s a time when we need to pull back. There is some indication that Ohioans have pulled back some. They pulled back at Thanksgiving, they pulled back on the day after Thanksgiving and we did not see as much movement as we’ve seen before. So, I’m just asking every Ohioan, pull back more.
Mike DeWine: (55:13)
If you didn’t believe that, just listen to the nurses, listen to people who are at the frontline. There’s a cause and effect here to what we do. We have the ability to pull this thing back, to slow this down, to plateau. The scariest thing is when I talked to the health professionals, as Dr. Thomas said, there’s no indication we plateaued out yet. No indication at all. And even if we plateaued out at this level, it’s still an exceedingly high level. So, we’ve got to actually see these cases start coming down. And there’s a two to three week lag before someone is identified with a case, they test positive, and when they might be going into the hospital, when they might be going into ICU. So, we know that what’s going to happen for the next couple of weeks is baked in already. It’s going to happen.
Mike DeWine: (56:10)
But that should be even more incentive for all of us to really pull back, stay at home, go out when you need to go out, limit your activities. Every county in this state is at three times high incidence level. So, we’ve not seen anything like this in the state. Haven’t seen anything like this for 100 years. So, that’s really what needs to happen, we need to pull back. And as I said, there’s some indication that that has started and that people are pulling back. We just need to continue to do that and to do it even more.
Speaker 1: (56:52)
Next question is from Danny Eldridge at Hannah News Service.
Danny Eldridge: (56:57)
Hello, governor. Representative Becker and a few other House Republicans have introduced articles of impeachment against you. Can you just comment on-
Mike DeWine: (57:07)
Yeah, I’d like for them to watch what we just watched. I’d like for them to go in and talk to some nurses who are frontline nurses, who are dealing with people who are dying. I’d like for them to go talk to some family members, maybe a family that didn’t believe that this could happen. Now, at Christmas there’ll be one less person at their table or more. So, at some point, this foolishness has got to stop and we’ve just got to get… And I’m not talking about most Ohioans, it’s just a small number of people who just continue for whatever reason to think that this is and act as if this is some big joke and that this is all some fantasy. And I don’t know how you watch these nurses or talk to them and hear them without understanding that. The vast majority of Ohioans do. There’s a small number of people out there who are making a lot of noise. And I just wish that they would go spend some time talking to somebody who’s suffered through this, someone who sees the suffering every day.
Speaker 1: (58:26)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.
Laura Hancock: (58:29)
Hi, governor. I have two questions. My first question goes back to this verification, antigen positive cases. You’ve said that people are making extra calls. So, what is being asked on these calls? Is there another round of testing? Can you explain what confirmation is? And then, my second question is, I know Dr. Thomas is no longer on the call, but does anybody know more about the hospital that ordered the refrigerated truck, where it’s located, what its name is, anything like that? Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (59:03)
Let me see if Andy is still on there. He’s off now, okay. So, I can’t tell you that. We’ll see what we can find out. The verification, and I’ll go through this later in the week or next week in more detail, but the verification that takes place, it is a verification in regard to whether this person for example had symptoms. So, it is a personal contact that initially was felt was the proper way to do this when early on antigen tests were not being used as much, and we didn’t have the experience with these tests. There was this added layer of verification besides the positive test. The CDC has now said or said some time ago that no longer do you have to do that. So, we will be at some point in the very near future shifting over from that protocol that we had kept with out of caution, even though the CDC had moved on. We will now be adopting, the next few days, the CDC’s guidelines, which is that these cases go in there automatically. And again, that’s consistent with what most States are doing, it’s consistent with what the CDC is doing.
Laura Hancock: (01:00:34)
Really quick, being that you had a false positive task from an antigen test, do you feel comfortable with the CDC’s new guidance?
Mike DeWine: (01:00:43)
Yeah, I do, but I’m not the expert and we’ll get someone on here next time to give you more details about why the CDC did this and why the CDC and why our medical people feel confident about that. But they do, and again, it’s the majority of states are doing that and the CDC did this a number of weeks ago, but what we’ll give you more when we’ve got a medical expert on here.
Speaker 1: (01:01:13)
Next question is from John London at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Mike DeWine: (01:01:17)
John London: (01:01:19)
Hi, governor. I had some questions scribbled down here, but after listening to Stacy Morris, the nurse up at the Cleveland Clinic, she said we need the help of the people to fight this. So, I’ve been thinking about that since you started taking questions. You say pull back more. You’ve got the holidays coming up, people are making travel plans. So, I guess the question to you quite simply is what must we do in December?
Mike DeWine: (01:01:46)
Yeah. Well, everybody probably could make their own list of what we all need to do. Look, number one, don’t travel. It certainly increases the risk. If you fly, you go to an airport, it’s not being in the plane. That may be part of the risk, but there’s a risk you’re coming in contact with a lot of different people when you’re in that airport. A lot of people coming together. It just seems to me, I think most medical experts would say that that is a very high risk proposition. So, that’s number one. That’s the easiest one. Easy one to say, it’s not easy to do in the sense if you’re pulling back, you haven’t seen your grandchild for six months or something. I’m not minimizing that at all. Very difficult, but that’s certainly one.
Mike DeWine: (01:02:43)
I think just pulling back on what you do every day, and I talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but if everybody could take down by 20% or 25% just the contacts that they have. We’re seeing in retail, and there’s some good news, we’re seeing people wear masks. Our team was out last week, they’re out again this week. I don’t have the report this week, of course, but last week they were saying 91 to 92% of the people in retail establishments on an average throughout Ohio were wearing masks. It’s very good, and it’s much higher than we had it before. So, if people are wearing mask, the additional thing is just to lower the contacts. Make the grocery list and go once a week, whatever, instead of two or three times that you might run out and pick up something. Just reduce those contacts.
Mike DeWine: (01:03:38)
I think further, we’re seeing kids in school that are wearing masks every day. Congratulations to all our young people who are doing that. We’re seeing the teachers do that, but then sometimes we’re seeing that guard come down. Parents allow a sleepover at their house, something like that. So, I guess I prefer to look at it as how do you do things positively for the next few months? Look at all the things we can do to stay in contact with our loved ones. Which with Fran I did over Thanksgiving, we dropped off meals at two of our daughter’s house. Fran mailed pies to two of our sons, and we had other ones come in and pick up food. And we were outside, we had masks on. Snow outside today, wouldn’t be great today. But you just try to do those things and you have more contact with letters, you have more contact with FaceTime.
Mike DeWine: (01:04:52)
And look, the good news is for the first time we know when this help is coming. We think that this is coming December 15th. Now, it may be off a day, something may happen, but the best information we can have is we’re going to get the first batch somewhere around the middle of December. We hope the second company is going to come in about a week after that and we’re moving. Now, it’s going to take a while to get us any immunity, we know that, but within the first month we’re going to cover a lot of our most vulnerable people and take that second month until they get the second shot.
Mike DeWine: (01:05:33)
So, they’re not covered really until you get the second shot, but help us on the way. So, we got to get across this bridge and I just think instead of me listing all the things that people shouldn’t do, I just think it’s more of let’s be creative and figure out the things we can do that are safe and things that enable us to stay in touch with our loved ones, enable us to do what things that we should be doing. I think that is really the key.
Speaker 1: (01:06:07)
Next question is from Haley Nelson at WSYX in Columbus.
Haley Nelson: (01:06:12)
Governor, thank you for your time. I know you mentioned you would talk a little bit more about the vaccine and the rollout here in Ohio a little later on in the week, but I was thinking a lot about the vaccine of kids here in Ohio. I don’t know if there’s any information you could share with us about work being done there, how this might roll out with children, any special efforts going on there, because I know certainly the science can be different when we’re talking about vaccines and children, and just how important it is to keep kids healthy and safe. Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (01:06:41)
Yeah. I think the most important thing for kids is to make sure they’re up to speed on all their shots, which includes flu. Those are things that can happen today. Any parent out there watching this can make sure that that child is up to date completely. I would not be fearful of going into a doctor’s office, I would not be fearful of going into wherever you get these shots, whether it’s your pharmacy or wherever it is. I think that’s something that people can do today. Now, I’m not the medical expert. My understanding is if these have not been tested yet for children and that will be coming. So, my understanding is that children are not the most vulnerable and they’re generally not frontline health workers. So, we’ll start with the most vulnerable and the frontline health workers, is where we think that we will actually end up starting. Children, certainly we hope at some point they’re going to get, should get, vaccinated, but I don’t have that information, at what point we might see that.
Speaker 1: (01:07:52)
Next question is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.
Alex Ebert: (01:07:56)
Good afternoon, governor.
Mike DeWine: (01:07:58)
Alex Ebert: (01:07:59)
38 States told the Government Accountability Office that they were concerned about having enough supplies to distribute and administer the vaccines, according to a report that came out of the Government Accountability Office today. Where is Ohio in that level of concern? Are we going to lack some supplies that we need to administer the vaccines? And what did Vice-President Pence tell you today on the call about what the federal government is going to do to assuage some of those concerns? Thanks.
Mike DeWine: (01:08:28)
Well, the Vice-President was very optimistic. Very happy that this was coming, as he should be. Every doctor, Dr. Fauci and others who were on the call were all very optimistic. So, as I said, it was a happy call. Now, we can’t start putting shots in people’s arms until we get it, but all indications are that this is coming and it’s coming within two weeks, roughly. So, we’re still assessing if we have any particular needs. The one thing that the Vice-President always says on these calls is, “Whatever your needs are, let us know and we can help you.” So, we think we’re moving forward. We think we have a plan. I’ll discuss this in much more detail on Thursday, but we think things are moving. We’re optimistic about it.
Speaker 1: (01:09:27)
Next question is from Adrian Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrian Robbins: (01:09:32)
Mike DeWine: (01:09:34)
Adrian Robbins: (01:09:35)
Today, New York announced that they were initiating emergency hospital measures, such as directing hospitals to identify retired staff, making plans to have 50% capacity and confirming a 90 day PPE stockpile. It sounds like our hospitals are approaching a dire place. Are these things that our hospitals are working on or are they working on other things to prepare for the surge that we could be seeing over the next month?
Mike DeWine: (01:10:02)
Yeah, we work very closely with our hospitals. One of the things that happened early on was the relationship between us and the hospital association and all the different hospital organizations around the state. We have someone on the call every morning at 6:30, I’m on often, where we go through that. So, we have direct communication with the hospitals. The zone system that I don’t think somebody outside looking in may not fully understand this, but it was a new system we put together with the hospital association. They have eight of the state basically, and we took three zones that cover the entire state. And there’s a hospital lead, and their job is to know what’s going on within their region, and if there is deficiencies, if there’s PPE problem, that gets worked out. So, I was on the phone with Matt Damschroder today talking about PPE and other things who does this for us, who’s taken that since the very beginning in March. So, we’re in constant contact with them. Now, look, that does not mean you can’t have a shortage, that does not mean you can’t have a problem at some point, but they continue to tell me that the biggest shortage they see is people.
Mike DeWine: (01:11:37)
And they’re doing everything they can to pull people in, they’re doing everything they can to move people over from other parts of the hospital into the COVID unit. And they’re working very hard on that, but the number one problem, the number one challenge they tell me is people and that’s what they worry about every single day.
Max Philby: (01:11:59)
Next question is from Jim Otte WHIO in Dayton.
Mike DeWine: (01:12:03)
Jim Otte: (01:12:04)
Governor, I’m wondering where you might be able to get help. We’ve heard that some of the children’s hospitals around the state have been able to help and take some patients. I’m wondering in the Miami Valley if you’ve had the opportunity to turn either to their facility or to their personnel for help, but two great facilities locally, that’s the hospital at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the VA Medical Center there. Can you work across the federal boundary there and get help, or is that not available?
Mike DeWine: (01:12:30)
No, we’ve certainly been in touch with them and that certainly, Jim, is a possibility as we move forward. You talked about children’s hospitals. I want to give a shout out to Deb Feldman at Dayton Children’s. They got involved with us very early in setting up a whole unit in regard to testing. And so, they are really part of our internal testing system in the state and they’ve been very helpful, but every one of our hospitals in your viewing area and across the state have been helpful and they’ve worked very hard, and we have that very close working relationship with all of them.
Speaker 1: (01:13:14)
Next question is from Jake Zuckerman at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Jake Zuckerman: (01:13:19)
Hi, governor. Can we just get some clarity on data backlog with COVID cases, like how large it is, when it’ll patch up and whether it’s an ODH problem or an external problem? I know the website warns of an unprecedented volume of cases and thousands of reports pending review. How can we understand what’s going on if there’s a massive hole in the data set and how will this improve when infection rates and testing numbers are only increasing?
Mike DeWine: (01:13:45)
Sure. First of all, there’s not a massive hole. Here’s where it stands now as of today. The backlog is I believe around 7,500. We’ll check those numbers. And Eric, if someone wants to tell me those numbers are wrong or Michael, they can do that very quickly. It’s about 7,500. We looked at it today and the backlog does continue to grow, but as soon as the systems are switched over, basically these are going to be put in directly into the system. So, the count will then go up. You’ll have a one day surge, an artificial surge. We are adding to the backlog every day, so when you look at the figures, they are an understatement of the figures of cases for that day. Somewhere between 500 and 1000 under, so you can take those numbers every day and add 500 to 1000 and not be too far off, but this is something that will get switched over as soon as the data team and the tech team, IT team, have got that worked out. There’ll be switch over sometime in the next 10 days, and-
Mike DeWine: (01:15:03)
… that worked out. There’ll be switch over sometime in the next 10 days. It will no longer be a backlog and we will be going under the CDC guidance instead of the enhanced guidance that we were going under.
Speaker 2: (01:15:14)
Thank you. Those 7,500 reports, are those all antigen tests?
Mike DeWine: (01:15:19)
Yeah, these are antigen tests. I’m sorry. These are antigen tests that we’re talking about.
Speaker 3: (01:15:26)
Next question is from Jessie Balmert at the Cincinnati Inquirer.
Jesse Baumert: (01:15:30)
Mike DeWine: (01:15:32)
Jesse Baumert: (01:15:33)
My question is from your call with Dr. Fauci and the vice president, how confident are you that this vaccine will be effective and how quickly will the state be able to ramp up so the average Ohioan has access to the vaccine?
Mike DeWine: (01:15:46)
Well, the answer to the second is I don’t know, it depends on how fast they get it to us. They’re very optimistic. What they told us is that for one of the vaccines, for example, while it looks to be about 95% effective in preventing it, it’s a hundred percent effective in regard to significantly improving outcome. So even if it didn’t prevent it, it would improve the outcome. That’s pretty exciting. Early on when we talked to some of these same doctors they were telling us, “We don’t know what percentage it will be effective.” And I’ve had doctors tell me 70% to 80% would be good. So I think when we saw the 95% numbers, 94%, 95% numbers, I think everyone in the medical community, at least that I have talked to, is very happy with those numbers. So we’re very optimistic about this.
Mike DeWine: (01:16:57)
And look, it’s been a phenomenal, as Dr. Fauci said, an extraordinary occurrence in this period of time, they could come up with vaccines that are this effective. And he went out of his way, and you’ll hear this on TV, different points I’m sure as they talk about it, but he went out of his way to talk about the safety of it. And that this is something that once it’s approved, American people should feel very, very safe in taking.
Speaker 3: (01:17:32)
Next question is from Bennett Haeberle at WBNS in Columbus.
Bennett Haeberle: (01:17:37)
Hey Governor, good afternoon?
Mike DeWine: (01:17:39)
Bennett Haeberle: (01:17:40)
Hey, I have two quick questions. One, dovetailing off what Alex had said, I wasn’t clear, was Ohio one of those states that had expressed concern about the inability or the concern that the government might not get the vaccine out?
Mike DeWine: (01:17:53)
Bennett Haeberle: (01:17:54)
And then second-
Mike DeWine: (01:17:56)
Let me just answer that, I’m not aware that we express that concern.
Bennett Haeberle: (01:18:00)
Okay. Second question, Governor, is, obviously, I think there’ll be a number of peoples struck by what the nurses had to say today, but there are still people out there who don’t believe in the efficacy of masks, there were some discrepancies in some of the hospital data on what the state reported versus what a nonprofit journalistic group had been able to uncover, all of that threatens to undermine what people believe. What are you as governor doing to resolve that?
Mike DeWine: (01:18:29)
Look, we’ve been as transparent as we could. The first press conference we held back in March, I said that my commitment to the people of Ohio was to tell them everything we knew when we knew it. Sometimes we have to tell you it’s incomplete, sometimes we have to tell you that the medical experts are evolving, but we’ve been very open about that. I would say to anybody who doesn’t believe, the cases, they’re very accurate, but if people don’t want to believe them, don’t believe them. Believe the hospital numbers. Go look at the number of people that are in the hospital from COVID.
Mike DeWine: (01:19:13)
Now, unless you think Andy Thomas is a liar, unless people think that these other people are liars and that every hospital in the state is in some big conspiracy and that all these people who are in there really don’t have COVID, that’s it. Just look at the hospitalizations. You don’t have to look at anything else. Look at the hospitalizations and understand that they are a lagging indicator, that it’s what we’re doing today which will impact where people are in a couple a couple of weeks.
Mike DeWine: (01:19:46)
So this is not fantasy and this is not made up. These are real nurses. These are real doctors. These are real people reporting. I would say anybody has any doubts, just look at what’s happening to the hospitals. Better yet, pick up the phone. If you’ve got a friend who works in a hospital, call him at night, call her at night, call the hospital… I don’t want the hospital administrators flooded, but just watch what they say on TV when they’re interviewed, how they describe it.
Speaker 3: (01:20:15)
Next question is from Jim Provance at the Toledo Blade.
Jim Provance: (01:20:19)
Hi governor, thanks again for doing this. [crosstalk 01:20:22] So far, the deaths that we’ve been seeing have not been keeping pace with the increase in new cases. This surge now to a certain extent is about two months old and yet we still have not seen a corresponding surge in deaths. Do you still expect that to come? And why haven’t we seen it so far?
Mike DeWine: (01:20:41)
Look, I can only tell you what I know. And again, medical experts are the ones to talk about that. What they have told me is that the length of stay in a hospital has gone down. The average length of stay is going down. There are new treatments, there are no cures, but there are better ways of getting better outcomes. And I think that has impacted the deaths. I’ll look at the data, Jim. I mean, we’re running a lot of deaths. It may not be in the same proportion. I would not expect it to be in the same proportion as the number of cases because of the improvement in the medical care and just what doctors now know and drugs they have available that they did not know before.
Mike DeWine: (01:21:42)
What is new is doctors understanding of the other problems connected with people who have COVID and who get out of the hospital, they’re no longer a part of the data, they were case but they don’t show up in the hospital because they’re not there anymore and they don’t show up on desks because they didn’t die, but they are still on oxygen at home and these other things. I think that’s something that, again, is a story that many times we don’t tell it very well because it doesn’t show up in any kind of data, but I think people should… That is part of the story that is out there.
Speaker 3: (01:22:25)
Next question is from Mike Livingston at Gongwer News Service.
Mike Livingston: (01:22:29)
Mike DeWine: (01:22:30)
Mike Livingston: (01:22:30)
I’m just wondering, when are we going to see your veto of Senate Bill 311? And also, just how concerned are you about further attempts to restrict your authority moving forward, especially as we hit the peak of lame duck here very soon? Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (01:22:43)
Well, again, I would just ask anybody to just look at what’s going on in our hospitals. This is certainly not a time that we want to be taken away the Health Department’s authority to deal with a crisis. This is just not the time to do that. This is serious. This is very, very serious.
Speaker 3: (01:23:09)
Next question is from Ben Schwartz at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Mike DeWine: (01:23:14)
Ben Schwartz: (01:23:15)
Hi Governor, to stay on the articles of impeachment really quickly, I’m just wondering, has the backlash from some members of the Ohio legislature regarding COVID restrictions had any effect on your decision making during the pandemic? And with these articles of impeachment being filed, do you see it having any effect moving forward? Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (01:23:40)
No. No. Look, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand that. Legislators are equal branch of government and I consult with them and I talk with them. I talked to a legislator right before I came on here. I’m going to talk to a couple more of when I finish the press conference. So it doesn’t mean that we don’t consult, we don’t talk, but I have to make these decisions based upon what I think is best. That’s my sworn duty.
Speaker 3: (01:24:21)
Next question is from email@example.com.
Mike DeWine: (01:24:30)
As you’ve said repeatedly, most Ohioans and most businesses are following the rules. I’ve got a question about a business that isn’t, though. A top-notch diner in Cortland currently displays a sign informing customers that it does not enforce the mask mandate for customers or employees. The diner was also the site of a civil disobedience rally Saturday attended by about 30 people protesting your ” tyrannical public health measures.” The diner further pledged to stay open until 11:00 PM Saturday, in direct violation of the curfew.
The Trimble County combined health district has received 45 complaints about the diner being in violation of pandemic-related health issues, yet on Saturday police did nothing and the prosecutor did not step in. Why should businesses follow your directives if there are no effective penalties, especially in this case? And what do you say to your critics who are following the rules and local health officials who are frustrated by lack of cooperation with situations like these?
Mike DeWine: (01:25:39)
Well, I guess what I would say to businesses that are following the rules, I’d say thank you. And what they are doing is saving lives. That’s number one. That’s the most important reason to do it, it saves lives, not because the Health Department orders, that I order, most important is because it clearly saves lives. As far as this particular establishment we’ll talk Trimble County Health Department and we’ll deal with it.
Speaker 3: (01:26:04)
The next question is from Pete Grieve at Spectrum News.
Pete Grieve : (01:26:12)
Governor, Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday, I quote, “Close the bars and keep the schools open.” That seems to be as guidance to New York but also to other states given the surge in cases nationally. It occurs to me that in many parts of Ohio, we had the opposite situation where the bars are open and the schools either never opened for in personal learning, or have had to scale back due to the rise in cases. I’m wondering if you can sort of react to Dr. Fauci’s comments and is it time to close the bars in Ohio?
Mike DeWine: (01:26:46)
I don’t have any comment about that today. As far as Dr. Fauci, I have a great deal of respect for him. Whenever comes on TV, I listen to him, see what he has to say as I do other experts who are on. We have a lot of conversations with experts all across the country. What’s happening with schools thus far is that we are seeing more schools that are going remote. Department of Education takes the survey every Thursday, once a week. And when we looked at the last data, as you would expect, we’re seeing is this virus continues to flare up just as nursing homes can’t keep it out of nursing homes or have a hard time doing it. When you’re 10 times the high incidence rate or even three or four half times, it’s the same problem with schools. And schools are doing a good job. Teachers are doing good job. Administrators, office personnel, the kids are doing a good job, but it is very hard to keep it out of schools.
Mike DeWine: (01:27:55)
What’s happening is at schools, we’ve left to the schools and to the parents to make the decision about what the kids and whether they go remote or hybrid or where they go in person. But what’s happened is for the long we go in the last few weeks, more and more schools have pulled back either for a week, two weeks or sometimes until after the first of the year. And they’ve done so because they can’t put teachers in a classroom, they can’t put bus drivers driving buses, or they’ve got a whole bunch of kids who are quarantined. So this is something that is naturally organically happening around the state, not based on our orders, but rather on the reality that these schools are seeing.
Speaker 3: (01:28:38)
The next question is from Karen Kasler at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Mike DeWine: (01:28:45)
Speaker 3: (01:29:00)
We’ll come back to Karen. Last question is from Louis Gill at Ohio Latino Television.
Mike DeWine: (01:29:07)
Louis Gill: (01:29:08)
Hello Governor, how are you?
Mike DeWine: (01:29:10)
I’m well, sir. Thank you.
Louis Gill: (01:29:11)
Good. Governor, if I may, I would like to make a statement because this situation that we have in our state and the country is very serious. I had taken it serious from the beginning, but you take it more serious when you see friends and you see family members going through this terrible thing. And you see friends within a week, they lose 10 to 15 pounds because they feel that they don’t want to eat, they feel chills, they feel families… I mean, there are so many things. I also spoke with a friend of mine that has a [inaudible 01:29:49] university doing a PhD. And Dr. D indicated that this virus so horrible, intelligent, that it will launch into your body on your weakest part of your health so it will be complicated. And those are the things that you pay attention when it comes to close friends, close family members and so on.
Louis Gill: (01:30:09)
So those are the things that I would like to listen to the nurses in all this stuff. It verifies everything you’ve been saying and that you would like to do. I personally have overcharged overdrive my use of mask, my distance, my air hugs with friends. So in that way, I can protect myself and protect them at the same time. And you minimize visitors and stuff like that because even though it is true, but if it wasn’t true, why not take care of yourself? Why not help each other and so on. So that was a little statement that I would like to make, Governor, because it is a fine line that you’re working. It’s hard to please a lot of people. And those are things that I pray for you there, you’ll come up with good answers every time you have this press conference because it’s not easy. I understand that.
Louis Gill: (01:31:03)
I do have a question, Governor. The super spreaders, those meetings, those weddings and funerals and the students, how transparent are those tests that you do to the young people? Because this doctor they indicated to me that he’s seen 28, 32 forties, fifties, all dying and he resides in Miami. So how transparent are those numbers on the super spreaders here in Ohio of those students, the young people? That perhaps those are the things that we need to focus because I do see business trying to do the best they can, even though I’ve heard that report in indicating one business and doing the things that you must do to cooperate. Those are the things that people are asking.
Mike DeWine: (01:32:00)
Thank you very much. Thanks for this statement. Super spreader events, in those we can tell where it occurred. What we normally see now, though, so widespread in the community, is we see many times that they can’t figure out, the person doesn’t know where they got it. The super spreader events, what they generally have in common is they’re inside and people are crying, singing, talking loud, something like that. And they’re in together for an extended period of time. As far as kids, what we’re seeing in regard to kids, we’re doing testing now in schools. We hope within a week or so to have some data back, at least preliminary data, to show what is actually occurring inside the classroom. And so we’ll have some more information on that.
Mike DeWine: (01:32:58)
Let me close. November has been National Adoption month. In Ohio, we have over 3000 children who are eligible for adoption and are waiting for a family to love them. Alex, who you’re going to hear from right now, is one of them.
My name is Alex and I’m looking for a forever family. [inaudible 01:33:35] I like coloring. My favorite subject is math.
Speaker 4: (01:33:40)
Alex is a really good kid. He’s a very articulate child. He’s really intelligent.
[inaudible 01:33:46] hard.
Speaker 4: (01:33:47)
He likes school. He’s very inquisitive, he likes to learn things, he likes to know about things. Right now we have 37 children that are in the permanent custody of the agency that we are searching for family for an adoptive home for them.
It’s recording camera, one, two, three, four.
Speaker 4: (01:34:03)
They’re all really good kids. And they all come from places of trauma and that affects their behaviors, but they’re good kids. They’re just like normal kids. And at the end of the day, all they really want is a family to love them. This family that he had been with since he was 14 months old wanted to adopt him and they did adopt him, but as Alex grew older, his behaviors increased.
I feel like my old family did not really understand why [inaudible 01:34:34] them, why I did the things I did. I want a family that I’ll have a long time with, I want a family that cares, that [inaudible 01:34:43] to help me, I want a family that would go places. And I know I’m going to have problems, but I hope you understand, I’m just looking for someone because I’ve been looking in other places.
Speaker 4: (01:34:57)
Every child deserves a chance. And when you look to adopt or foster these kids, you are giving them an opportunity to grow to be a wonderful adult. So ultimately our goal for Alex is adoption. So he’s ready. He’s ready to move into a family that will love him and care for him.
I want a family that I want to live for the rest of my life.
Mike DeWine: (01:35:19)
[inaudible 01:35:19] Well, Alex, thank you very, very much for sharing your story with us. We’re very, very grateful. If you’re interested in fostering or adopting a child, please visit fosterandadopt.jfs.ohio.gov. That’s fosterandadopt.jfs.ohio.gov. Thank you all very much.