Mar 25, 2020
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Coronavirus Briefing Transcript
Ohio governor Mike DeWine provided a press briefing on March 25 for COVID-19 in the state. Read the transcript of his speech here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
[inaudible 00:00:00] of workers who were sick and then came to work or did they get infected while working with patients and if they’re using PPEs, how did they come in contact with it? Thank you.
Governor Mike DeWine: (00:10)
Let me start. And one of the things that we have done with daycare, because this is only temporary, we want to keep the capacity there, is we have the ability now to be paying daycare to actually stay there and be ready when they reopen again. John, you want to take the other part?
Which part? Which part of the question?
Speaker 1: (00:36)
So the question was are daycares eligible for small business loans and unemployment and does the pandemic daycare license include those who have home and childcare?
The answer whether the daycare worker certainly would be eligible for unemployment. There’s no doubt about that. And as a small business they would be eligible for small business assistance, debt, disaster assistance.
Governor Mike DeWine: (01:00)
So the question was about the healthcare workers of that percentage. I don’t have a breakdown on the actual histories of the healthcare workers. I do think the hospitals are working with their staff. They have to take their temperatures coming in. There’s a lot of processes and procedures and they’re supposed to report any sign of illness right away. But also, we have had health care workers who didn’t know that someone had it before and in that original first days I think there was some of that going on. There were also health care workers in longterm care facilities, so we have a lot of guidance going out.
The most important thing folks can do at home is before you interact with anyone, before you go to see your private doctor if you’re not doing it by telemedicine, before you go to an emergency room, if you can call first, that is a great thing that we all can do as citizens to let them know and then there are a lot of processes in place to minimize that at hospitals. Thank you.
Randy Ludlow: (02:07)
Good afternoon, Governor. Randy Ludlow with the Columbus Dispatch. The controlling board today released millions of federal dollars to local health departments, but still, is that going to be enough money? The state also has a history of poor funding of emergency health preparedness. In fact, the state money in that program was cut 4% this fiscal year. Do we need to take a longer term look at how we fund both state and local health departments?
Governor Mike DeWine: (02:39)
Yes. You know Randy, I’ve said many times that we’ve got to focus a lot more on public health. In Ohio, it’s, we have the state health department, but we also have 113 local departments and so we just, not just in Ohio, but we’ve historically in this country underfunded public health. And I think one of the lessons from this pandemic and when it’s done and we look back and what are the lessons learned? What do we have to do differently? One of the things that’s going to be very, very clear is we’re all going to say, it’s not going to be Democrat or Republican. Everybody’s, there’s going to be a consensus. We’ve got to fund consistently year after year public health and do a much better job.
Governor Mike DeWine: (03:27)
As I’ve indicated, I think to you and others, when I picked Dr. Acton, it was a very conscious decision and what I wanted to make sure we did is to, number one, begin to emphasize public health more. At the same time I realized that if you looked at the issues facing the state and the challenges facing the state, so many of them, from drug addiction to mental health, to other health problems. So many of them are intertwined with health and so many of the challenges that we face.
Governor Mike DeWine: (04:05)
And so I want someone who could be a spokesperson, someone who was articulate and can talk directly to the people of the state. I had no idea obviously that we were going to end up with this and that Dr. Acton was going to be on TV every day at 2:00, but that was my focus on public health. And what Dr. Acton has been working on for the last 13, 14 months since she took that position is to build up public health around the state and build it up from the state’s perspective as well as local. So absolutely we have to invest more and we have to do it consistently year after year.
Randy Ludlow: (04:47)
Okay. One more quick question, you’ll be rid of me. Are you aware of any confirmed or suspected cases in adult or juvenile prisons?
Governor Mike DeWine: (04:56)
I am not. No. No, I’m not.
Julie Carr Smyth: (05:04)
Hi, Governor, Julie Carr Smyth from the Associated Press. I just had a question on the order with regard to essential businesses. It sounds as if the local health departments and local law enforcement and now the call center are being really inundated with questions about this. Could you talk a little bit about why you decided not to be more specific, not to itemize the kinds of businesses you were speaking of in that order?
Governor Mike DeWine: (05:36)
Well, I’ll start the answer. John was directly involved in writing it. There’s a limit to how specific you can be because if you say a certain business, then the question is, well what actually is that business doing within that? Or are they involved in something that is in fact essential. Then you get into the other question, are they involved in the chain that’s leads into that business. So we basically followed what Homeland Security put forward and what they outlined. It was adopted by Illinois, it’s been adopted by other states. It seemed to be the more uniform. We’re trying to get something that’s uniform, not just in Ohio, but in other states. So that’s why we came up with what we did. But it’s like anything, like a lot of things in life, is facts specific and you’ve got to drill down and look at what the facts are.
Governor Mike DeWine: (06:34)
And if you just do it by category or if you try to get too specific, then you’re really going to be misleading people. And what we’ve asked people to do is look at it and look, they should start by the assumption the business is closed. But then there’s significant exceptions in there and they’re written in there so we can continue to eat, so we can continue to live. And just conscious decisions were made about who could be open. I will tell you, before Attorney John, we’re starting to take action today against a company and it will not be, I suspect it will not be the last company where people who clearly cannot function or does not come under the category of essential are staying in business. We can’t have that. Look, we hope everybody’s back in business shortly, but we also know this thing is not going to even peak, we don’t think, until May 1. So I don’t want to mislead anybody. This is not going to occur overnight. We have got to slow this thing down and the only way we slow it down is through the social, the distancing, the physical distancing is probably a better way of saying it, than social distances, we want people to stay connected, but we want to physically separate people. And so that’s the only way that this is going to take place and people, we need everybody to do this. John.
Yeah. Julie, this is a difficult…
Governor Mike DeWine: (08:03)
Yeah. Julie, you know this is a difficult one because you’re relying on people to follow this order and the reason that we base this on the best available information from people who’ve worked on this issue through the Department of Homeland Security. Also realizing the limited resources that we have to enforce it. We tried to write it plainly recognizing that the supply chain is a difficult thing to define. You may make, for example, pallets or cardboard boxes and someone would say, “Well that’s not part of the essential supply chain.” Well if it, if you’re putting food in it, if you’re putting medical supplies in it, if you’re putting other things in, it will, it certainly part an essential part of the supply chain. It’s impossible to get that deep into the definition and to write something like that out into in a very short period of time.
So we use the Homeland security CISA form as guidance. We talked with the Ohio business community across the board from large to small businesses to try to provide as much clarification as we could. And we’ve been working with our local officials to try to get the enforcement right. The one thing that’s in our order that I haven’t seen in any other states’ orders is the item 18 piece about how businesses have to operate. They must apply the safety health standards that are in that order or they are subject to closure, even if they are an essential business, and I want to emphasize this again because it’s Dr. Acton will often emphasize that getting this mostly right is really helpful. If businesses, if we can, if we can isolate the number of people who are interacting only to essential interactions and any of those interactions are healthy at a social or physical distance, taking all the precautions to wash hands to clean surfaces, to not create congregations of people, then we will have a dramatic impact in driving down the spread and that’s what we’re all after.
We’re trying to find that balance between what we need to be healthy and safe to slow the spreads. We don’t overwhelm our hospital system or healthcare system and that we provide the basic infrastructure in the economy that’s necessary to serve people. It’s not an easy balance. This was an informed decision based on Homeland Security and talking with the business community and the enforcement community about how it could work and we will continue to provide guidance on it, but enforcement is coming. We can’t people who are violating this because it’s not fair. We’re not trying to crack down on anybody, but it’s not fair for one business to do the right thing in one industry sector and another business in that industry sector not to do the right thing. So the enforcement is out there.
Speaker 2: (11:14)
Molly Martinez: (11:18)
Hi everyone. This is Molly Martinez with Spectrum News. I have a viewer question today from Michael Lawrence. He says he is the development director of a homeless shelter, the only emergency homeless shelter in Lake County. He’s wondering what the plan is. He says he’s in charge of 50 people a night, sort of in the same room. Will funding be unlocked to help the homeless and what is the plan for them?
Governor Mike DeWine: (11:42)
Well, it’s clearly a problem when you have that many people together, but you also can’t just turn them out. So we are, we are working on that and we’ll have more coming but it is a unique challenge. Amy.
Yeah. Well I just want to add to that one of my colleagues, as I said, we have a whole host of me and director, Lori Chris and a few others have taken on this mantle. You know, this is one of my closest topics and all the people I know in the field have been reaching out. You know, it’s been very hard for homeless people with medical conditions ongoing … this has been ongoing thing we were fighting to address in our communities. And so that is definitely top of mind. All of the social determinants of health, what our nonprofit communities are doing, that is all coming to bear. And as we go through these days will be as soon as we have a standard policy or something we can share with you or best practices. We are doing that, but there’s a ton of behind the scenes work by some of the most amazing people and leaders in the field. Thank you.
Ben Schwartz: (12:54)
Good afternoon everybody. I’m Ben Schwartz from WCPO in Cincinnati. Governor DeWine, I know you and your administration have explained the actions you’ve taken as they’ve come, but now with where we’re at now, I’m wondering if you can speak on the early kind of drastic actions you took compared to other governors and even the federal government and what led you to that and how you feel about them today?
Governor Mike DeWine: (13:22)
Well, all our decisions have really been based on the best information that we could get. I will tell you throughout my career in public service, as I look back on it, the biggest mistakes I’ve made have come about because I didn’t get enough facts. I didn’t drill down deeply enough. I didn’t ask enough questions. I didn’t ask the right people. And so we saw this coming as everybody did. And I started asking the questions. I’ve got as can see, I’ve got an amazing director of health. We also put together a group of 14 doctors around the state of Ohio who we call upon to get advice from. In addition to that, we reach out beyond Ohio to doctors and people who are doing the modeling experts on pandemics. So we just gathering all this information as we could get it.
Governor Mike DeWine: (14:22)
And the decisions we made were really based on that. You know, I think the essential job of government is to protect people, particularly the most vulnerable. And so these decisions, I’m not going to say they were easy, but they were decisions that we made based upon how do we protect people’s lives and how do we set Ohio up for the future. The first, I guess big decision we made had to do with the Arnold Classic here in Columbus. And you know, look, this is a huge, huge impact on the economy in central Ohio. We worked with the mayor and Mayor Ginther was great. His health director was great. It was a real partnership with us. And we went through this and tried to examine, you know, what’s the downside? What’s the upside? We know what the upside is, but what happens if this takes place?
Governor Mike DeWine: (15:22)
And we just consulted people and came to the conclusion that having 60,000 people from 80 … as spectators, 60,000 people in relatively small area for four straight days from 80 countries made absolutely no sense in regard to what we knew was coming. And so that was a tough decision. But we look back on that now and I think, “Gee, that was a kind of almost like a no brainer.” That was not … shouldn’t have been a hard decision. But it was the first decision we made and we were out there, and I don’t know that anybody else had closed much around the country. So, you know, that always makes it a little more difficult too. But that’s kind of what goes into our-
Governor Mike DeWine: (16:03)
… makes it a little more difficult too, but that’s kind of what goes into our process. Again, what we try to do is reach out and talk to the best people we can find. In the last 24 hours since we were here, I’ve been on the phone with different people, governors and others, talking about how are we going to expand the capacity of our hospitals. Our hospitals are planning and they’re working, but we also have to make sure that we coordinate this from the state level because we want, no matter where you live, whether you’re in Monroe County or Noble County or Vinton County or wherever you live, we want you to have access. If you come down with this, we want you to be able to have access. Then if you get worse, we need for you to be able to go into one of the larger hospitals. Again, that’s just pulling all the information we can, finding out, getting everybody’s ideas and then coming up with a plan and that’s kind of how we do it.
Speaker 3: (17:03)
Governor Mike DeWine: (17:04)
Randy Ludlow: (17:09)
Tom Bosco with ABC Six here in Columbus.
Randy Ludlow: (17:11)
Is there any thought being given or is there any relief available for people who are self-employed, contractors, people who would get a 1099, those kinds of people? Of course there are small business loans, but what about for some of those people who don’t really own their own business but are more contract workers?
Governor Mike DeWine: (17:28)
Randy Ludlow: (17:28)
Availability for unemployment for them at all?
Governor Mike DeWine: (17:30)
Well, again, the unemployment, since most of those folks do not pay into it, they don’t get it, but we also know they’re out there hurting and, with some federal dollars, we may be able to add them as well.
Governor Mike DeWine: (17:49)
I think John’s worked on it. You got anything else, John?
A couple of points here on unemployment compensation. The package that’s moving through the Congress right now would have some relief for those 1099 business owners, small business people, self-employed, so we don’t know the details around that. The bill hasn’t completely been finalized yet, but we will seek those details and be prepared to implement it as soon as we can.
I want to touch on the issue regarding our unemployment compensation system because when I got the question from Giamatti that it hadn’t been running, I was very disturbed by that. I’ve immediately texted the director right from here and she has assured me that all day today that system has been up and running. There have been no shutdowns of it. Unemployment.ohio.gov is up and running where you can apply for unemployment. She assures me that there have been no failures in the system today.
Randy Ludlow: (18:48)
That’s one of the big questions we’re getting from our viewers is about the unemployment system. But back to the 1099 workers, I know you just said that you have no details. Any idea if that looks like a one-time check or something like that?
I wouldn’t want to speculate on that because one of the things that we really try to do is to give things that are accurate and I wouldn’t want to speculate and create a false expectation. We’ll get that out to you as soon as we know it.
Randy Ludlow: (19:13)
Isaac Dryer: (19:17)
Isaac Dryer from WHIZ News. This is actually a question for Dr. Acton.
Isaac Dryer: (19:26)
Hi. This is about the numbers reporting that you were talking about, the effort to create more and more possibly real-time number reporting. Do you know if that, those numbers, will become available via a digital API or something like that for private aggregators or somebody that’s interested in taking information from Ohio and other states?
Yeah. We have a big data warehouse. We’re actually a part of something called Innovate Ohio, which is this really amazing data lake and platform. We’ve been an early adopter of that, set about 70 data sets loose for researchers and the public this year. As we sort through this, there will eventually, and I’m not sure all what is available now, but public data sets available. We have a lot to learn from what we’re doing here. Eventually there’ll be, as I mentioned before, a whole postmortem or a after action. A lot of other researchers I know would love to look at some of this data. I’ll give you more up on that.
I want to tell you that we’re working with people all over the country, even over the world, but we have within Ohio, this group of data scientists, data analytics and modelers both on the health side but also on the health economic side and then the general economic side. There’s a group of them getting together. I’ve even told them to reach out to some of the media folks who really love numbers too. But I have a nickname for them now, I’m calling them The Force because we ended a call once and the modelers said, “May The Force be with you.” Being of a certain age, I guess that’s all ages now, I’m calling them The Force.
Isaac Dryer: (21:11)
Adrian Robbins: (21:16)
Adrian Robbins, NBC Foreign. I have a couple of questions for Dr. Acton. One being the numbers you talk about are healthcare workers and the percentage of the cases we’re seeing from them. Is there a certain percentage or a number of healthcare workers where you’re going to be concerned about the level of care that people will be able to get?
Adrian Robbins: (21:36)
I was wondering too, if you could just clarify, a lot of people are making masks and it’s great to see them wanting to help, can people actually use those masks or should they be spending their time doing other things?
Yeah. I want to, first of all, start with the first. Healthcare workers, our frontline responders, they are precious to us right now. Remember, most of us will get sick. Healthcare workers will go home and be around their kids who might’ve been exposed or someone in their family might have traveled. We’ll expect that a certain amount of healthcare workers will get sick. Again, like the 80% of us, stay at home. That’s the most important thing is that they’re honest about it and they stay at home and they recover and get back in.
From a workforce issue, we are looking. That’s more to come. In the days to come, I will talk to you about how we’re expanding our workforce from retired people. We have a medical corps. Each state has one. We have retired Ohio Department of Health workers. We are redeploying student nurses and med students and others. We’re creating a new amateur epi-force that we will train up, just in time training. Staffing is going to be an issue. If we’re talking about needing to by 50 to 100% increase our ICU capacity. It’s not just beds, like a physical bed and the buildings that we are going to be talking about in the days to come, but it’s the people who man that. It’s the doctors. Maybe the doctors who might be doing more of an elective surgery will now be redeployed and taught the things they need to be on the frontlines. It is a massive moving puzzle piece of staffing that I’m thinking about.
Now the masks are fascinating to me. I’ve told you, this is an unprecedented time for us. I want to be honest with people at home. When we don’t have enough PPE, we are going by the old playbooks, the old but true things, and that includes in war situations when you’ve seen people use bandanas, the CDC actually has guidance on using all sorts of things to protect yourself. We’re not to that stage for the frontline healthcare worker doing an invasive procedure, but we are conserving, hospitals have a lot going on right now to conserve. But wearing a mask like you see in places like Asia where it is actually common courtesy when people are s-
… Asia, where it is actually common courtesy. When people are sick, they actually wear a mask so that they’re not spreading those respiratory droplets. That works. That mesh is not going to keep out, like an N95, a microscopic virus from coming in, but will certainly protect someone from sneezing on someone else. And so, masks will play a role and I think we’ll see them used in clever ways. And so, I really applaud the efforts of people who are, again, each and every one of us can do some part of this massive puzzle piece. I’m glad that we have folks already working on that here. We have the industry already working on masks and we have industry working on sterilizing masks with steam and UV. So there’s all sorts of innovation happening. Thank you.
Adrian Robbins: (24:48)
And then a quick question for the Lieutenant Governor. With the Senate bill, obviously, absentee voting is looking like it will be a smaller window than originally the Governor and the Secretary of State wanted to see. As a former Secretary of State, do you believe that’s enough time for voters?
Speaker 4: (25:06)
Well, we would prefer a longer period of time. We think that a longer period of time would have been better for the voters of the state of Ohio, but the legislature has decided-