May 12, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Speech Address Transcript May 12
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the state on May 12, 2021 to provide an update on COVID-19. Read the transcript of the speech here.
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Mike DeWine: (04:17)
Good evening. In March of 2020, we faced tremendous unknowns as the first Coronavirus case was confirmed in our state. We didn’t know how quickly it would spread. We didn’t know the best way to test for it or how to treat it. We didn’t know if it would overrun our healthcare system. And we certainly did not know the enormity of the impact it would ultimately have on all of our lives. But what we did know is Ohioans are strong, caring, and resilient, and that we would be in this together. Ohioans dug deep. You showed grit, determination, and such great compassion. Our exhausted beleaguered nurses, healthcare workers acted so heroically. Ohioans encouraged each other and looked out for each other from flying the American flag to kids creating heartfelt chalk drawings on driveways, reminding us to do our part to our Ohio national guard members helping at food banks.
Mike DeWine: (05:25)
Ohio’s greatest natural and economic resource is and always has been our people. Early in this pandemic, I knew we would save our economy only by first saving lives, the most important thing. And by staying apart in those early months, Ohioans actually came together, saving countless lives. Then the vaccine arrived. I’ll never forget that feeling of great joy and relief as early on a cold December morning, Fran and I watched a delivery truck bring the first precious doses of vaccine to our state. Now at first demand far outstrips supply, we all remember that. We’ve prioritized our most vulnerable Ohioans, the elderly, our healthcare workers, those born with serious medical conditions, and those with the developmental disabilities. Initially, we made the vaccine available throughout Ohio and over 650 separate providers around the state. We now have more than 1,900 locations where you can get the vaccine. We did this so any eligible Ohioan would have easy access and could get their shots close to home.
Mike DeWine: (06:52)
We also made a priority to get our kids back in school. And we did that by vaccinating Ohio’s teachers and school personnel. We set a goal to get our kids back to in-person learning by March 1, and we did just that. So where are we today? Cases have dropped in Ohio. A while ago, we set a goal and we’re moving towards that goal. As more and more eligible Ohioans get vaccinated, we’re seeing more and more signs that the tide of this pandemic is finally turning in our favor. Today, we’re moving rapidly toward our goal of getting down to an average of 50 cases per 100,000 over a two week period. In December, that number topped more than 800. Four weeks ago, it was 200. Two weeks ago, it was 155. And today it is down to 123. Lately, if you look at each day, this number has been dropping about two to three points per day.
Mike DeWine: (08:09)
So how are we doing in comparison to our neighboring states in regard to case numbers? I always have looked to see how we’re doing in relationship to our neighboring states. Each state’s different, each has different challenges. And we have at times, frankly, been behind some of our neighboring states on different metrics, but here’s where we stand today. According to the CDC, Ohio’s cases per 100,000 as averaged over the past week are the lowest of all our neighboring states, and that is great news. More good news. More good news is that fewer Ohioans are in the hospital for COVID today than they were in the days before we had the vaccine. In fact, we have seen more than a 75% drop in our COVID-19 hospitalization counts since we first got the vaccine. On January 10th, there were over 4,200 of our fellow citizens in our hospitals who had COVID. Today, that number is down to 964.
Mike DeWine: (09:21)
We’ve also made great progress in protecting our vulnerable Ohioans in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. When we first got the vaccine, we prioritized our nursing home residents. In the months since, we have it made sure that all nursing homes and all assisted living facilities continue to be supplied each week with vaccine. And the results have been amazing. While at one time we had over 2,800 new cases per week in our nursing homes, today, we’re averaging less than 200 new cases per week. Further, as of today, 78% of Ohioans who are 65 years of age and older have now been vaccinated. And great news today, we can also rejoice that the FDA, CDC are completing the process of making the Pfizer vaccine available for our 12 to 15-year-olds. We will start vaccinating these children in Ohio tomorrow morning. Fran and I have several grandchildren that age and we are so happy that they too now will be able to get the vaccine.
Mike DeWine: (10:43)
And this is so important. According to Dr. Sherman Alter, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Dayton Children’s, vaccinating children will help us beat back the virus even further. And I quote, “The way we’re really going to control this pandemic,” the doctor says, “Is to vaccinate a higher number of individuals, including children.” While generally is a milder illness, some of these kids can get very sick.” He went on to say that, and I quote, “The risk of this vaccine of an adverse side effect is so minimal compared to the benefit of preventing a potentially serious and/or life threatening disease.” The doctor continues, “To me, he says, “This vaccine always wins out.” In preparation for the vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds, Ohio’s Children’s hospitals and pediatricians are already working with local groups to make the vaccine available to their patients and members of their community. These vaccines for our kids cannot come soon enough. In April, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Children’s Hospital Association reported that cases in children represented more than 22% of all new cases now. Getting these children vaccinated is just so vitally important.
Mike DeWine: (12:22)
According to an article in today’s Cincinnati Enquirer, children now make up a quarter of cases for COVID-19 in Hamilton County. And some children are sick enough there for hospital stays. According to Dr. Patty Manning, chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s, and I quote, “Every day we have children hospitalized for COVID. They can become quite ill,” end of quote. And so now let’s talk about the health orders. For a year, Ohioans have made sacrifices to save lives and keep our state moving forward. What you have done has truly worked. Now we have a powerful weapon that is almost 100% effective in beating this virus. The vaccine is here. It’s stronger and better than medical experts ever imagined.
Mike DeWine: (13:23)
And now everyone 12 and over can use it to protect themselves to put an invisible shield of protection around them. Everyone can now control their own health. Everyone can now control their own destiny. So it is time. It’s time to end the health orders. It’s been a year. You followed the protocols, you’ve done what we’ve asked you to do. You’ve bravely fought this virus. Now our cases are down and we have a tested and proven weapon in this vaccine that all Ohioans, 12 and over, can now utilize.
Mike DeWine: (14:16)
Now while we have this great weapon, the danger of remaining un-vaccinated is crystal clear. The virus is still here. Now our cases are down, but that’s only because 42% of our entire population has now been vaccinated. And those individuals who are vaccinated can no longer get the virus and could no longer spread it. The vaccinated among us feel liberated. Fran and I have talked to so many of them right after they’ve been vaccinated at over 40 locations all over Ohio. They’ve told us that they can hug their grandkids, they can go out to eat, they can go to a ball game, they can live their life, and they can do it all without fear.
Mike DeWine: (15:05)
But now for those who are not vaccinated, the virus is just as dangerous as ever. In fact, because the new variant is more contagious, the virus is really more dangerous than ever for those who are not vaccinated. Vaccination is clearly safer regardless of age than running the risk of getting COVID. In fact, thanks to a very recent study from the Cleveland Clinic, we now have evidence from right here in Ohio just how powerful these vaccines really are. Between January 1st and April 13th of this year, of all the people hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic for COVID-19, 99.75% of them had not been vaccinated. Let me repeat that. Nearly 100% of those hospitalized for COVID occurred among those not vaccinated. This is powerful. This is real world evidence from our Buckeye state that vaccinations do in fact save lives. Each person now has access to a mighty weapon that they can use to get 100% protection. And it’s now up to each Ohio citizen whether to use it or not. There comes a time when individual responsibility simply must take over.
Mike DeWine: (16:45)
Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud will remove all pandemic health orders except those for nursing homes and assisted living facilities effective three weeks from today on June 2nd. This time will give anyone, anyone who has not been vaccinated time to get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or the first dose of Pfizer, or Moderna, and be well on the way to full immunity for themselves. Now lifting these orders does not mean the virus is gone. It does not mean that we’re all safe. Each Ohio citizen will make their own decision about wearing a mask, social distancing, how to protect themselves, and when for them those actions are appropriate. Ohio businesses and schools as well will make their own decisions about how to best keep their customers, their employees, and their students safe. Lifting these health orders will not prevent a business from imposing his own requirements. In fact, based upon the experience of other states, we expect that many stores or businesses may require social distancing and may require masking.
Mike DeWine: (18:13)
The number of Ohioans who get the vaccine will determine frankly what our future looks like and particularly what our winter will look like. Everyone has a stake in moral Ohioans getting vaccinated. And so tonight, I’m asking businesses across Ohio to reach out, offer incentives to get more people vaccinated. The Reds and Indians are offering discounts on tickets to their games. Minor league teams are doing it as well. With a vaccine, White Castle is offering free butter cakes on a step. Kroger is offering employees $100 dollars in cash and Scotts Miracle-Gro, Worthington Industries, Marathon, and many others have provided clinics at their work sites for their employees and for their families.
Mike DeWine: (19:03)
We need more businesses to offer these kinds of incentives. I want to return to our 12 to 17-year-olds. Getting them vaccinated is so important that we will have a separate incentive for them. Two weeks from tonight, on Wednesday May 26, we will announce the winner of a drawing of all those 17 year olds under who have been vaccinated. And the winner will receive a full four year scholarship to any one of our state universities. This will include tuition, room and board, and books.
Mike DeWine: (19:53)
Next Tuesday, on the 18th, an electronic portal will be opened up for young people who have been vaccinated to be able to register. And we will do this every Wednesday for five straight Wednesdays. Each time randomly selecting one student to receive the full four year scholarship. Now let’s talk about adults. Two weeks from tonight, on May 26th, we’ll announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults, adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks. And the winner each Wednesday will receive $1 million. The pool of names for the Ohio vaccine million drawing will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State’s publicly available voter registration database. Further, we will make available a webpage for people to sign up for the drawings if they’re not in a database that we’re using. The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them.
Mike DeWine: (21:07)
The money will come from existing federal Coronavirus relief funds. To be eligible to win, you must be at least 18 years of age or older on the day of the drawing. You must be an Ohio resident and you must be vaccinated before the drawing. We’ll have further specific details tomorrow and in the days ahead. I know that some of you are now shaking your head and say, “That Mike DeWine, he’s crazy. This million dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.” But truly the real waste at this point in the pandemic, when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it, the real waste is a life that is lost now to COVID-19
Mike DeWine: (21:58)
My fellow Ohioans, you got us to where we are today. You sacrificed, you persevered, and many times you have set the bar for the rest of the nation. So let’s show the rest of the country what Ohio is made of. Let’s show the nation the same grit and determination in our efforts to get the rest of Ohio vaccinated. Yes, we’ve achieved a lot, we are safer today. And the future of Ohio, in my opinion, has never been brighter because of your efforts in fighting this pandemic. But our work is not yet done. We now have an abundance of the vaccine and we must continue every effort to make it available and accessible to every single Ohioan who wants it.
Mike DeWine: (22:51)
Those who are not vaccinated remain prey to this virus. We hope for a good summer, but we also have to be able to get through the dark days of winter safely as well. And to do that, we need a much higher percentage of Ohioans than we have today to be vaccinated. This is our time and vaccines are our opportunity. So my fellow citizens, let’s do this, Ohio. Let’s get it done. Let’s get everyone vaccinated, because we are Ohioans, we’re Buckeyes, we’re strong, and we will finish the job. Thank you very much and have a good evening.