Mar 17, 2020
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Coronavirus News Conference Transcript
Read the full transcript of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s press conference on COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio. He defended delaying the Ohio primary election due to coronavirus. Transcript is from March 17, 2020.
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Mike DeWine: (00:00)
… more of that available. At this point, I’m going to turn it over to Dr. Amy Acton, who’s going to talk about this and some of the things that we’re going to be doing. We are going to be issuing an order today that is compliant and is consistent with an understanding about surgeries and other activities in our hospitals, so that again, we can preserve personnel, we can preserve beds, we can preserve the personal equipment, protection equipment, that’s needed as we move forward into a more difficult time. Dr. Acton.
Dr. Amy Acton: (00:47)
Thank you, Governor. Thank you. Good afternoon everyone. There’s so much I want to share with you, but we have a lot, we have our guests here today who will be talking a lot more about why every thing you’re doing, every person and everything we do right now really does matter. And tomorrow I’m going to talk a little bit more, I just had a radio show with my hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. Dan Rivers there, and we talked about how do we get here. I know this is so much for everyone to be taking in. And I’m going to go back through the history of this tomorrow and we are also getting the past Ohio News Network clips of sort of the, what have become a little bit of like public health 101 lectures, all put together for you so you can kind of follow this because I think we each come to this awareness at our own time and in our own way.
Dr. Amy Acton: (01:48)
But again, timing is everything. But, please know we will get through this together. And what I’m about to describe to you is what we see is coming, but when we make these choices we’re making and that the governor’s making, and other governors and leaders throughout the world are making, this really is going to get us through it in a lot sooner, in a sense a lot better way. But, you need to know that what you’re doing is really making a difference. So it’s very important to say that there was an important study that came out in the United Kingdom by Dr. Ferguson, and it was done by the Imperial College, and they’re really taking a look at the very best modeling and data we have. We know that our science changes every day, every hour, but you can see in the press conference the President had yesterday.
Dr. Amy Acton: (02:43)
This is the very same data that his team is using, the models that they are looking at when they came up with some of the new guidance, about 10 people in a room, about social distancing, about really seeking that if you’re over 65, to stay home. And, and this is very important data because it’s going into our curve a little more deeply. So first of all, remember that what we’ve been saying all along is that we’re saving lives. Every one of us that doesn’t spread it to someone else logarithmically with a doubling time of every six days is keeping less of us getting this. It’s so important. But that’s one part of a couple of mitigation strategies. There’s actually four layers. We call it early targeted layered interventions. And I want to talk to you why we have to do all of them. We have to do all of them now. So, if we could bring up a second chart here.
Dr. Amy Acton: (03:42)
Yeah, it might not fit quite right. This was a study that’s been done in the UK and what the study looked like, because you’re going to see it in the media today. And I don’t want people to become overly frightened. Again, we promised so long ago to tell you what we know, when we know it, and tell you the truth. And sometimes this truth is going to be a bit scary. But the point of this is that this study was done looking as if we did nothing. And then it looks very carefully at everything we’re doing and why collectively it will make a difference. So we’ve always been talking about the curve. And if we did nothing, again, and I’ll refer you to the UK study by Ferguson.
Dr. Amy Acton: (04:26)
We would see that various more scary, sharp, steep climb that we saw in Wuhan. And everything we do from doing nothing, to isolating cases, and the careful travel measures and all the things we did originally, to now closing schools and universities and all the things that we’re closing down now to the extreme of what we now see in San Francisco, where my boys yesterday were told to shelter in place. I have two boys, 28 and 26, Jake and Sam, and those measures, because they’re a little bit farther ahead than where Ohio is right now in our spread, all those things start to decrease the time. So we’re actually going to extend this time a little bit. We all want this over quickly, but we have to extend the time and slow the spread, because that decreases the peak.
Dr. Amy Acton: (05:24)
Early on, I told you that some of the early modeling was saying we might peak at late April, mid May. And again, my initial numbers were based on no interventions, which is why we had to do our interventions quickly. And what you’ll see is that peak, you can see the peak starting to spread a little bit. We will slow it down. There’s no scenario now by which we won’t have a surge. But if we did nothing, the estimates were that 2.2 million Americans would die. And if we do these measures in the absolute way they’re intended, again, we have no vaccine, there are no other things. These are our only tools. But if we do them, we can cut that hospital surge by these author’s example, by two-thirds. What we’re doing, every one of us can help contribute to that, and it will decrease our deaths by a half.
Dr. Amy Acton: (06:20)
And as I said, the surges, you’ll hear from the folks about our hospitals, it’s not just about the people who get Coronavirus, it’s about all the rest of us who might need our hospitals to give a birth or if we get in a car accident, if we have a heart attack or a stroke, and it’s more than the hospitals, we’re keeping the workers healthy right now. We’re keeping our firefighters and our frontline responders healthy. If they get sick, then you take out as we did with our one firefighter, who had a case, the whole fire house.
Dr. Amy Acton: (06:50)
And then they’re all in isolation and quarantine. So it’s all these ripple effects that we’re having. And so that is why what you’re doing makes all the difference. Here in Ohio, right now we have as of this morning, 67 cases. Again, just a little over a week ago, we had our first case. The illness onset range is still from February 7th, again, knowing that we had infectivity before that. And tomorrow, I will go into a whole timeline on that. And the latest onset was March 16th. Our age range in Ohio is 14 to 86 years, now with the median age of 48. And we know that even in 40 to 50-year-olds, the case fatality rate can be one in 250.
Dr. Amy Acton: (07:44)
Sex, it is 26 females and 41 males. Hospitalizations are 17. And there are many ICU hospitalizations included with that. So that’s more sick. And we now know we have 16 of our counties, but some of that County data is including people from other counties that have gone to a more major hospital and we’re working on that data as we speak. So that is the numbers we know. We now have many more in the queue as our testing is going up. A couple of things to say. Thank you to our vets and our dentists. They are already donating their PPE. We’re going to talk today about our order to stop non-essential surgeries or elective surgeries. They are taking those materials to the EMA and you’ll be hearing more about that. Your local EMA station, they’re gearing up to take all your supplies. That’s going to make a world of difference.
Dr. Amy Acton: (08:45)
Those of you out there that have nasal swabs, the actual swab you would do if you have any of those, perhaps vets, that might be equipment you have. Our restaurants and our food services are bringing their latex gloves. Other industries that have gloves supplies. I know schools even have them that aren’t using them. Those might be things that we can be bringing to our EMAs so that we have more supplies. We also received and are budgeting for the first funds that were allotted to us for public health. It was about $15 million that we received from the federal government. 10 million of that will go out to our local partners. We have 113 health departments. We’re a very decentralized state in Ohio. They’re on the front lines right now doing these disease detective investigations and that money will be going for their work, their monitoring investigation, their containment efforts and their mitigation efforts.
Dr. Amy Acton: (09:41)
The Ohio Department of Health, my 1,100 amazing employees, many of whom are working from home right now. Some of that will go for the work we’re doing in surveillance and monitoring and running this investigation. I want us to do a special call out to our call center, our 833-4- ASCO-DH number. This is a massive undertaking. Again, this is a lot like a war and we set up a call center and we set up a website a couple of weeks ago when life looked a lot differently, and I know there are people who have called, there’ve been stories about calling and being put on hold. I want you to know that this is a massive volunteer and employee work that is going on. We are scaling that up, we’re getting professional private sector advice on scaling that the same way a major business would operate a call center, but that takes a few days and we’re gearing that up, but we’re here for you.
Dr. Amy Acton: (10:38)
Those workers are answering your calls as fast as they can, but that will be the one stop shop so that everyone knows one place to go. Our website, coronavirus.ohio.gov, still has some of the best information and we’re posting new things. We listened to parents and pediatricians and there’s a lot more guidance for family on there today. And we are, for our local partners, we’re redeveloping it so it’s easier to find our orders and easier to find the tools that will help you do your work. But I just want to thank those workers as well. So one last thing.
Dr. Amy Acton: (11:18)
As the governor has always said, this is the big one. This is the 1918 scenario of the Spanish Flu, where we know we lost many more people in this country, by far, than we lost in the war. And that a difference of two weeks and the absolute blessing that we have in the state of Ohio to have these two weeks when we see our peers around the world making life and death decisions about who gets a ventilator. When we see our sister cities in places like San Francisco, places where my boys are sheltering in place, we see what’s happening in New York and other cities.
Dr. Amy Acton: (11:59)
Everything we do here in Ohio keeps us in St. Louis. We’re blessed to have that colleague of mine, Bridget Harrison, from Cleveland Catholic Family, St. Patrick’s Day is everything. She reminded me that St. Patrick was the God of keeping all the snakes and the pests away and that her family has a 90 year history and one of the oldest parishes of this day. They’re missing their parade. She’s here working and not with her family. That’s a call out from her to you. But this is the difference. This is the difference this will make. We want to be St. Louis and we want to do the things that the two weeks that we have and what the hospitals were telling you about. So, next I’d like to introduce Mike Abrams. He is the CEO and President of the Ohio Hospital Association. We have a gift in the state. Our hospitals are amazing. They’re going to come together. They’re doing this work together in unprecedented ways to help keep you safe through this search. Mike.
Mike Abrams: (13:02)
Thank you Dr. Acton And Governor DeWine. My office is right across the [inaudible 00:13:12], we contemplated the same thing the governor started his comments with, and that is, it was barely two weeks ago that the governor made his announcement about the Arnold. And I can remember thinking that, A, it was the right thing to do, but B, it was such a dramatic measure. And I thought maybe that would be the most dramatic measure we would need to take. And clearly, that feels like an eternity ago. We’ve come so far just in the last 12, 14 days. I also will start my remarks by observing that I was, as I do every morning, I was reading The Wall Street Journal and I was so proud of the commentary from a columnist this morning in the journal who really lauded our governor and called him out individually as one of the true leaders in the nation doing a great job for our state, called him prescient, at one point.
Mike Abrams: (14:00)
But I do, really am very, very grateful for all of the great leadership that governor DeWine and his team have offered to this difficult situation. Well, one of the things I think that’s happened over the last couple of weeks since the original announcement is the public’s understanding of the gravity of the situation has increased. And I would like to observe that I share the public’s concern as Dr. Acton pointed out. But what I want is for the public to share my optimism that while this is a difficult situation, the healthcare infrastructure in the state of Ohio is quite strong. So you have read across the state, many hospitals, very large systems and small hospitals alike have announced that they are delaying procedures that can safely be delayed. And the Chair Elect of the OHA is the President of University of Cincinnati Health, Dr. Rick Lofgren. And he always observes when we talk about that issue is that the public should fully understand that those procedures are being delayed, not because hospitals are unsafe places to be.
Mike Abrams: (15:13)
They are being delayed because of the importance of allocating resources in a way that allows us to focus on priority cases. And so, that is something that we need to consistently and constantly kind of remind ourselves. At the Ohio Hospital Association, we deployed a process whereby we asked some of the foremost experts in the state and throughout the country how we could establish guardrails between which our hospitals could operate so that they could apply some guidelines consistently throughout the state, from community to community, from system to system, and I think what that resulted in is some very, very credible guidelines that hospitals will follow no matter if you’re in Toledo or Dayton or in anywhere in the state. We also consulted kind of learn it organizations like the American College of Surgeons and other groups that have given a great deal of scholarly attention to how policies like this should look.
Mike Abrams: (16:16)
As a matter of routine, hospital leaders regularly evaluate situations and contingency plans because unique situations, if you just think about the reading the local media from time to time, unique situations pop up somewhat regularly. It wasn’t that long ago that hospitals in Ohio were dealing with tornadoes. It was just a couple of years ago that Lancaster was dealing with the botulism situation. So hospitals are regularly kind of pressure testing their own infrastructure for their community to make sure that they are capable of surging when that needs to occur and relaxing back when that surge can safely relax back. Every year in Ohio hospitals there are 36 million encounters with Ohio hospitals throughout the state. And at the Ohio Hospital Association, we have data on all of them. And we can deploy that data to kind of do analytics and figure out some proper public policies and make some proper observations about where things are likely to occur.
Mike Abrams: (17:21)
The situation today is that hospitals in our state are about a little less than 75% at capacity, inpatient wise, which is about normal for this time of year. Often, it’s a little heavier this time of year because of influenza. And so that is to say that we can safely surge another 25% without doing anything extraordinary at all. Let me give you an example. I was talking to a hospital leader just earlier today, who right now staffs for about 60 beds in his hospital, and without much effort he could surge that to 90 beds. He has the ability, the rooms that he could open, and the infrastructure to surge from 60 to 90. Last night, his inpatient count was in the low 50s, so essentially he could add an additional 30 without doing anything particularly extraordinary, but if he and other hospitals throughout the state did need to take extraordinary measures, there are those options.
Mike Abrams: (18:20)
I want to give you just a couple of examples. Hospitals have been, for example, in discussion with local nursing homes where you might be able to have either a wing of a nursing home or a building that is owned by a nursing home that could accept a certain number of non-infectious patients safely where those patients could safely be cared for. So you’re essentially turning a section of a nursing home into an area that could provide more traditional hospital services. What that would do is open up the more traditional hospital building for surge ability in case they had a COVID-19 or other patients that required hospital care. We have hospitals throughout our state-
Mike Abrams: (19:03)
… hospital care. We have hospitals throughout our state who have talked to local hotels. They could actually redeploy a floor of a hotel to bring in non-infectious patients who could safely be cared for in a hotel and, again, freeing up space in the more traditional hospital. I have talked to hospital leaders throughout our state who have been in communication with their local leaders to talk about reopening hospitals that have recently closed. If we need to do that, that’s something we could do. Those are, in many cases, appropriate buildings to open up and that could do various things that would be helpful.
Mike Abrams: (19:43)
We have 33 critical access hospitals in our state and, traditionally, those hospitals are limited by federal law to have only 25 beds and have only a 96-hour stay. The federal government has already relaxed that rule, so we can surge into critical access hospitals beyond 25 beds with stays longer than 96 hours.
Mike Abrams: (20:04)
If you go to several hospitals throughout our state today, you will maybe see tents outside the ER. One hospital leader called that a respiratory waiting room. Typically, that is an area of the hospital that has been set up in the last few days to essentially do triage, to do an assessment of a patient in a safer area so they can tell whether this patient needs to proceed more into the traditional emergency department and maybe into the hospital or if they could be safely cared for outside of the hospital. So, when you drive by a hospital today and you see tents going up, I just wanted you to have some familiarity with what’s happening in that tent.
Mike Abrams: (20:45)
Speaking of creativity, our son, Thomas, is a junior at the University of Dayton and he is probably enjoying a little bit the extra time off from University of Dayton, although I have to put a shout-out to the Flyers, who I feel terribly sorry for about the basketball season.
Mike Abrams: (21:01)
But Premier Health has partnered with the University of Dayton. So, now at UD Arena, instead of seeing a basketball game, you might see safe testing going on. And that is because they wanted to do that offsite from the hospital.
Mike Abrams: (21:14)
So, there is a lot of innovation and creativity being offered to the healthcare infrastructure right now to make sure that we can safely prepare for a surge that we believe we will need to be prepared for.
Mike Abrams: (21:26)
And with that, I will turn it over to Dr. Andy Thomas to provide more detail around the process that we went through and what that process resulted in in terms of elective procedures. Thank you.
Andy Thomas: (21:40)
Thank you, Mike. I’m Andy Thomas, chief clinical officer from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. I have the pleasure to represent the medical advisory group from the OHA that’s been working with the governor’s office over the past a couple of weeks.
Andy Thomas: (21:54)
As Mike said, we worked really on some direction that came from the American College of Surgeons, the U.S. Surgeon General. What we’re seeing going on in the state of Washington and now in the state of New York and other states to try and get ahead of the curve, as Dr. Acton has been explaining to us now for a few weeks.
Andy Thomas: (22:12)
The medical advisory group put together a group of surgical leaders from our hospitals across the state to work to determine what cases would be safe to delay either surgeries or procedures and how could we provide guidance that could be used uniformly across the state so that we’re not creating a new problem by solving one.
Andy Thomas: (22:34)
And we don’t want to harm any patients who need surgery, but we want to be able to define which cases could be safely delayed so that they could be done two weeks, four weeks, six weeks from now with no harm to the patient.
Andy Thomas: (22:48)
So, our group has worked over the last week to put together a set of principles that have been agreed to by the Ohio Hospital Association board and been shared with the governor’s office in the state about how we’ll proceed.
Andy Thomas: (23:02)
Basically, what we did is create criteria to make something not elective. We could have tried to define what is elective or tried to define what is not elective. And we chose the latter.
Andy Thomas: (23:14)
So, the way that we will define things that are not elective are a surgery or a procedure that is lifesaving, a surgery or a procedure that preserves the function of an organ or preserves a limb for a patient, a surgery that will reduce the risk of metastasis or progression of disease for cancer or other condition and a surgery that will reduce the risk of progression to severe symptoms for the patient.
Andy Thomas: (23:43)
So, we want to make sure that anything that fits into those four categories, preservation of life, preservation of organs or limb, preventing progression of disease or metastasis for cancer or progression to severe symptoms. Anything that fits into those four categories will still be able to be done in a routine basis as it’s been scheduled or potentially even moved up because other elective things are removed from the schedule.
Andy Thomas: (24:09)
We feel that this step will do a number of things for us. First, it does help us with social distancing at the hospital. Fewer people in waiting rooms, fewer people coming into our facilities is most likely better to reduce the spread of infection. But really the goal of this is to preserve personal protective equipment that would be used in those surgeries. It’s also to preserve critical care beds or even routine hospital beds that might be taken up by those patients when they’re recovering from surgery. Also, it preserves key equipment. So ventilators, it allows us to free up staff to perform other functions, whether that’s screening, swabbing, or really caring for more and more patients that we’re getting in our hospitals that are being ruled out for coronavirus.
Andy Thomas: (24:56)
So, it was a very collegial process, a good agreement both at the surgical level, the chief medical officer level, and then amongst the hospital board leadership for the Ohio Hospital Association and we feel it’s a good process that we’ve been through and that it will make sure to preserve safety and quality of care in the state of Ohio.
Mike DeWine: (25:16)
Tamara McBride: (25:22)
I’m Tamara McBride. I’m the Chief of Health Preparedness at the Ohio Department of Health. My remarks today will be brief, but to follow up with Dr. Thomas and what Mike Abrams have talked about in terms of steps that are in place in order to maintain the surge that we anticipate seeing, it’s important to recognize that conservation of PPE is paramount. If we don’t do conservation steps now, we will not have healthcare workers that are protected to care for the most sick.
Tamara McBride: (25:47)
So, one of the things that the governor announced a few days ago was that we did indeed receive our allocation for the Strategic National Stockpile. What that means is that the federal government has allocated for each of the states a certain amount based on population that we will receive. We have received the full allocation for Ohio. That, though, is not enough.
Tamara McBride: (26:10)
And so, what we are asking for is all of the industries who are now taking on elective surgery, postponements, or cancellations to please contact your local EMA to ensure that that personal protective equipment is available so that healthcare workers, EMS, first responders have what they need in order to care for sick patients and to protect themselves.
Tamara McBride: (26:33)
Conservation in this entire situation is paramount. We have to take those steps. It’s one of the critical mitigation steps that we have to take to ensure that we have the healthcare professionals in place to be able to go into leverage those hospitals or those hotels that Mike Abrams talked about. We need to make sure that they are protected for the gunshot wounds that the director talked about as well as the births that are still going to happen every single day. Those risks are still there. Those infectious diseases and those control practices are still very much real in spite of COVID-19. So, ensuring that everyone is protected from our first responders to our healthcare workers is really, really critical.
Tamara McBride: (27:20)
Again, I just want to reiterate that Ohio has received our full allocation of the stockpile. It is what we are going to get for now. I don’t anticipate us receiving anything additional. They have communicated that as such. So, we are just going to have to work together on those conservation steps. Thank you very much.
Mike DeWine: (27:38)
Jon Husted: (27:41)
Thank you, governor. I want to give an update on a couple of things that we’ve been talking about the last couple of days, particularly as it relates to unemployment benefits. We have expedited the process for allowing someone to qualify for unemployment benefits. We asked yesterday that people not use the phone number but use unemployment.ohio.gov. Thank you for responding to that, because up until yesterday we had a 95-minute wait on the phones. Now, we’ve transitioned about 90% of that to the internet and the wait time on the phone was down to 53 minutes, only 13 minutes on the website.
Jon Husted: (28:25)
So, we’re getting quite a high number of people who are being displaced in the economy due to the actions that are being taken to control the spread of the coronavirus. We very much appreciate everybody cooperating and trying to use the tools that we’re providing you in the most efficient way.
Jon Husted: (28:50)
A reminder to employers. We get calls every day about concerns about what type of employers might be shut down. Look, you can help yourselves here by making sure that if you have an employee who is ill or exhibiting signs, that you send them home, that you self-quarantine them, at that point, if you do not have a paid leave program, they would be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Jon Husted: (29:18)
We’re trying to build that support system around people to make good decisions. We know, as I mentioned, that there are employers and their workforce who are struggling. There also are some employers who are hiring. There are employers who have a great demand because of the nature of how the supply chain is working.
Jon Husted: (29:42)
For example, Amazon has announced that they will hire 4,600 new people just in Ohio alone in warehouse, drivers, customer service jobs so that are good paying jobs. We encourage people to look at those options. Again, I will reiterate, the restaurants in this state are available for carry-out dining and delivery. These institutions, these restaurants could really use your support during this difficult time. If you can use their services, they would really appreciate it.
Jon Husted: (30:26)
Let me also add a bit of new information. I’ve been on the phone, as you might imagine, a lot with Secretary of State Frank LaRose. We really appreciate his work and support of the health crisis that we are all facing. He made it known to me that the Madison County Board of Elections voted today to close the board offices because a poll worker who had been in the office over the past few days for training and picking up supplies and who was at a polling location exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus and the poll worker is now being tested.
Jon Husted: (31:10)
These are the reasons that the Director of Health and the governor made the decision that was made because we want to protect people. I know that my telephone lit up last night from some of my elected official colleagues from around the state who felt that the disappointment of an extension of the voting period for elections.
Jon Husted: (31:40)
I think this is a great opportunity for them to demonstrate that they’re public servants, that we are putting the public’s health interests ahead of our near-term political interests and making sure that individuals get a chance to vote and they can do so without putting their health in jeopardy. Those are the kinds of things that public servants with the public servant heart should really focus on trying to exhibit during these difficult times.
Jon Husted: (32:15)
I would also add that one of the things Secretary LaRose emphasized last night is that it would be impossible for him to have run the election this morning because of the fact that poll workers who wouldn’t show up, that would create a big disruption. That is indeed what happened in the states where they did try to conduct elections today. In many cases, poll workers just didn’t show up. The polling locations couldn’t open. We didn’t have to experience that today and we will, working with the general assembly and the courts, identify a way to make sure that we have an orderly opportunity, a safe opportunity for people to vote in this state. Thank you, governor.
Mike DeWine: (33:07)
Before we get to questions, one more comment in regard to hospitals. Hospitals have contacted us in regard to their workforce and have requested permission to be able to set up childcare facilities right there. We know from what has happened in other countries, what’s happened in the past is that a virus like this can also hit very heavily in regard to our healthcare workers. We know we need them. The hospitals understand that.
Mike DeWine: (33:42)
We also have the situation where school is out and you have people who are working who have to have their children taken care of. So, we will be making an announcement on that, but we certainly will be taking care of that as we move forward.
Mike DeWine: (33:59)
Also, in regard to Jon’s comments about carry-out, my granddaughter Caroline and Izzy and I will be picking up some Irish food tonight and we’ll be taking it back to their home and also taking it to their grandmother, my wife Fran.
Mike DeWine: (34:18)
And so, we encourage other people to do that. This is a way that we can support the restaurants. It’s also great food. It’s a way that we can try to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in a special way that we have to celebrate it today. Thank you.
Mike DeWine: (34:36)
Questions. And let me just indicate to our viewers, I don’t think I did this. I am actually looking at members of the press corp, the news corp. They will be asking questions. I will actually be looking at them. Those of you on TV, you will not be able to see them but you will be able to hear them as they’re speaking right directly into a mic. I’ve got one room over here and one room over here and again I’m looking at the TV cameras and their rooms, they’re also in the capitol building here.
Speaker 1: (35:11)
Hi. I can hear you.
Mike DeWine: (35:12)
Lu Ann Stoia: (35:12)
Hello. Happy Saint Patty’s Day everyone.
Mike DeWine: (35:15)
Lu Ann Stoia: (35:16)
Lu Ann Stoia, ABC 6/FOX 28, Columbus. Governor, could you please give some direction? We’ve had viewers and funeral directors asking us for more direction on funerals. I think people are congregating in larger numbers and wanting to pay their respects, but they are reaching out and wondering if there’s going to be further guidance on funerals and memorial services.
Mike DeWine: (35:41)
Well, this is certainly very difficult for families. I can tell you, we were contacted by a friend of mine who, his family who died. They were talking about, “How do we deal with this? How do we deal with a big funeral?” They came to the conclusion that they would have their own service, but they would postpone the public service until later.
Mike DeWine: (36:08)
Look, the sun’s going to come out again. We are going to get back to normal. So, we would just ask people and that’s a very difficult situation. The same thing with weddings. People have planned weddings for a long, long time. Again, we would just ask them to figure out a way to celebrate the wedding but maybe postpone the big celebration. The last thing that any of us want is for a funeral or a wedding to be the cause of someone else dying. Very happy occasion as far as the wedding. You don’t want someone in the family to get sick. Obviously it’s difficult for relatives from out of state now to get in.
Mike DeWine: (36:49)
So again, I think just common sense, try to work your way through this. It’s not easy and I fully understand that, but your actions will impact the safety of your family, your loved ones, and those who you don’t even know.
Molly Martinez: (37:08)
Hi, governor. Molly Martinez, Spectrum News. I’m wondering if you could just talk a little bit about last night and sort of the constitutionality in making that call and making that health emergency and pushing back the election. Sort of what were your options and what was your line of thinking last night?
Mike DeWine: (37:23)
Well, we felt initially, as I indicated yesterday about this time, that there would be a lawsuit filed [inaudible 00:37:32] basically extending the election to allow ample, ample, ample time for absentee voting, and then the election itself on June 2nd. That did not happen. We had a judge in Franklin County who made a different decision and we were faced at 10:00 last night when we made the final decision with the situation that …
Mike DeWine: (38:03)
… night when we made the final decision with the situation that we needed to signal very quickly to poll workers, to voters, what the situation was. And it was clear that in the courts we could have appealed it, but that would have occurred over the nighttime. And even if we were lucky that decision may have been made in early morning, people would not had much notice.
Mike DeWine: (38:26)
We had an imminent health crisis we had to deal with. The director of health based upon everything she knows, based upon all the evidence, based upon consultation with Frank LaRose about how this would come down if in fact there was a election as we normally would have anticipated it and she made that decision. I fully, fully support that decision, and we were able to get that out I think by some of the 10 o’clock news about 10:15, 10:20; and then of course for the 11 o’clock news, I think everybody across the state had the story. Those of you who on the print side, were putting those stories up.
Mike DeWine: (39:11)
We did what we need to do to protect the people, the state of Ohio, and so it was a decision that I fully support. It was the right decision. Now our goal must be to allow people, what we said yesterday, allow people to vote, give them ample opportunity to vote either through the state legislature or through the courts. I’m confident that that will happen.
Andy Thomas: (39:34)
Governor, Jim Otte from WHIO-TV here in Dayton. Thanks. So far across the board it appears that pretty much everybody across the state, although they may not like what everything you’re doing and they are complying with it. Yet, last night when you went to delay the election, a couple of lawmakers including one from the Miami Valley actually tried to stop you and have this election actually occur today, does that concern you, your reaction? And going forward, do you have any assurance that the legislature will go along with you, with your plan to have this election on June 2nd? What’s next?
Mike DeWine: (40:07)
Well, we are open certainly to discuss that. There’s nothing magic about June 2nd. The date was picked because it would give ample opportunity for people to have absentee ballots and to vote. It would also, the secretary of state felt it was within the time in which we would have to pick delegates. So the Democrats would pick their delegates, the Republicans would pick their delegates and that would be in time. There’s nothing magical about that date.
Mike DeWine: (40:37)
But what is important as we discussed this is that people have an opportunity to vote over an extended period of time, and I say that because this is extraordinary circumstances. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, as she talked about World War II, she said, “This is no ordinary time.” This is no ordinary time in Ohio. This is no ordinary time in the United States. And so we have to preserve all the constitutional rights. It would have been wrong to compel people to make a decision today whether they were going to risk their health, people who have compromised health risk their health to exercise their constitutional right. That is wrong. And so I think Democrats, Republicans, Independents, whoever you are, we all should be in favor of ample opportunity for every Ohio citizen to vote. That’s kind of the bottom line as we talk to the state legislature as we talked to the courts, that’s what we think is very, very important. And I am confident that we can protect people’s rights and give them that time.
Mike DeWine: (41:51)
And again, I want to emphasize why that extra time is really, really necessary. And it is necessary because this virus infection is going to continue to hit Ohioans, and so we don’t want anyone in a situation where they cannot vote. We want to give them plenty of time, as much time as humanly possible, understanding that this is a primary and we’re going to have ample time for people to campaign for the November election.
Jim Provance: (42:25)
Governor, Jim Provance with the Toledo Blade.
Mike DeWine: (42:27)
Jim Provance: (42:28)
Last night, one of the reasons you didn’t get the decision you wanted from the judge was because you hadn’t called in the legislature to consider this first. Was there discussion yesterday about doing that and was there ever in your mind the idea that the legislature should be subject to your 50 and fewer when it comes to mass gatherings?
Mike DeWine: (42:47)
No. If you look at the orders, we exempted out businesses. We exempted out people would go into work basically. They’re certainly going to work. We also excluded out the exercise of the First Amendment. Again, they would have to determine how they could do that and I will not infringe upon their separate branch of government. But there certainly are ways if they wanted to spread out, they could do that. As they voted, they could vote. Some people come in and vote.
Mike DeWine: (43:20)
My experiences is in United States Congress where sometimes over a 30-minute period of time people come in and vote and so you never have a huge number of people in the chamber. There’s ways of working that out, but we would not infringe upon their rights and we excluded them out anyway. I would just assume that the Speaker and the Senate president and the Democrat leaders would want to protect their members as well, and I’m sure that they would do that.
Jim Provance: (43:48)
Did you consider calling the legislature in last night?
Mike DeWine: (43:51)
We considered about everything. It’s a question of time. And we would have appeal this and worked its way through the courts, but we felt that we had to tell people by 10 o’clock. We also felt that we had a public health emergency. We have a public health crisis. We could not let this happen. We could not have people show up to the polls. We could not have poll workers show up. And so we made the decision, the director made the decision, which I fully, fully support.
Andy Chow: (44:25)
Governor, Andy Chow with Ohio Public Radio and Television State House News Bureau. With all the different issues coming up with bars and restaurants closing and companies dealing with all sorts of issues, we’ve heard you talk about the issue of lost wages and lost revenue. Do you foresee at some point you dipping into the rainy day fund to sort of offset some of the issues and do you think that this gives you the authority because of all the things that are happening? Does this give you the authority to dip into the rainy day fund?
Mike DeWine: (44:53)
Well, this is a crisis of monumental proportions so that money is available. It was set aside by the legislature and the previous governor, Governor Kasich, for purposes like this. And so we’re going to be very prudent about how we do that. We’ve not made that decision to dip into it, but that money is available. It was set aside for difficult circumstances and certainly were in very difficult circumstances, so that money is certainly available. This is something that, obviously, we do in consultation with everyone, certainly including the legislative leaders, but that money is available.
Kevin Landers: (45:40)
Hello, Governor, Kevin Landers WBNS-TV. Dr. Acton, you said that there is, “There was no scenario that we don’t have a surge.” In order to flatten that curve, and you have broad powers as a health director, at what point, at what threshold do you decide to shelter in place for our community?
Dr. Amy Acton: (46:01)
Thank you so much for that question, Kevin. It will be a very complicated set of factors and some essences, and in talking to my sons in San Francisco, what we’ve said before, you will be able to get food even in China, even in Italy. People are getting out, we’re going to keep the stores stocked and we’re going to be able to get medicines and those basic necessities.
Dr. Amy Acton: (46:27)
So while people, even in San Francisco are sheltering in place, and shelter in place was a very hard term as a mom to hear, but it actually is a term that’s used in their emergency management system. For them that is the word. You probably won’t use hear me use that word. But in effect, that’s kind of what we are doing in Ohio in a very gentle way. But again, if we see that beginning rise on our resources, on our health system, if we see you know worsening ICU unit use, that does start to press a threat on us. It’s going to be an amalgam of factors, but that we would ask even more strict restrictions.
Dr. Amy Acton: (47:10)
Again, we really are in Ohio right now at a place where we’re asking people to really ask those questions. Is this essential in everything you do? And that includes work. And I know many, many people are figuring out ways to work from home. That’s not all possible and there are essential workers and a lot of labor situations.
Dr. Amy Acton: (47:28)
We were just hearing about Amazon and we’re going to be getting packages of things out to people. That supply chain’s still going. We’re going to need to keep those folks out there and really keep, the few… Even in my team we, we are taking turns being here. We’re doing every call we can by conference call. Also that we don’t have to pull any more of those, what we call triggers. We’ll keep you abreast as we make every decision and we’ll let you know our thinking as we make that. It will happen gradually. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be something sudden.
Mike DeWine: (48:02)
Let me just add to that. I know people who are already doing that. People who have made it made a decision because of their health situation, because of their age to do that. And they’re voluntarily doing that. Certainly, we recommend anybody who can do that, particularly people who have a particular health reason, to really, really limit the number of people that they come in contact with.
Mike DeWine: (48:27)
And again, I would just say to my fellow Ohioans, we’re all in this together. If you’ve got a neighbor who’s elderly, if you’ve got a neighbor who has a particular health issue, get them some food, help them out. We’ve got to take care of each other. But Ohioans are doing this and Ohioans who particularly are those in that situation really need to be very, very, very careful.
Randy Ludlow: (48:55)
Good afternoon, Governor. Randy Ludlow the Columbus Dispatch. The CDC issued its guidance revised on Sunday to limit mass gatherings to 50 people. Why not cast the public health order to close the polls on Sunday night or Monday morning to avoid casting your lot with the uncertainty of the courts and the ensuing chaos?
Mike DeWine: (49:19)
Well, Randy, that’s a good question. Look, we were trying to take these things one at a time. Would it have been preferable to have that decision made before it was made? Yes, absolutely. But you had a lot of things starting to come together that morning, on Monday morning. And let me just recite a couple of them.
Mike DeWine: (49:43)
One, of course, was first time we started seeing that the CDC, while it was issued the night before, we looked at it. That’s important. But the other thing that when we started talking to the Frank LaRose, and the Lieutenant governor and I both started receiving on Monday morning indications from people as they contemplated what they were going to do the next day. At this point, they no longer could get an absentee ballot. And people were saying, it was just starting to sink into some people with all the things that swirling around, that it was not good for them to go vote.
Mike DeWine: (50:28)
If you looked at the news Monday morning, first thing I saw coming up on the news on TV that morning, the message was coming out very, very hard to people. If you have a compromised medical situation or if you’re older, really you shouldn’t be going out at all. And so then we started looking at this and said, “Look, there’s two messages coming out.” Message is vote. We want everybody to vote. Message at the same time is, many people should be staying home. And so how do you put those two messages together, and we’re sending mixed signals to people and they were getting those mixed signals throughout, not just from us but from everybody nationwide. And they then had to make a decision, which do I do?
Mike DeWine: (51:15)
That is not helpful for people being able to exercise their constitutional rights. That is it really the messages they were getting and no one intended it this way, but the messages they were getting was that was vote suppression and that was going to tamp down the vote. But the most important thing is for those individuals, they were being presented with a very, very difficult choice. The more we looked at it and the more we looked at that day, came to the conclusion that this election just as normally set could not take place and preserve the safety of the people of the state of Ohio. And so should it have been made earlier? Look, we can all look back and say, ” I wish I had done that. I wish I’d made it earlier.” But that’s when we made that decision and that’s where we are today.
Laura Bischoff: (52:12)
Hi, Governor. This is Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News. Back in October of 2014 during the Ebola scare, Ohio purchased some 23,000 sets of PPE. I’m wondering if that material is still available, what happened to it? And if Ms. McBride might be able to give us some more information, more details on the national stockpile release? How much did we receive and you know what percentage of the need is filled by that?
Tamara McBride: (52:41)
Yeah, so we do have the cash, and even some from H1N1 to be quite honest. So the limited amount that was purchased during H1N1 as well as during Ebola, those resources are also available, but they are in limited quantities based on the cascading impacts that we are anticipating. That’s why the conservation is really very important because even that small amount will not really fill the entire gap of what we can anticipate based on the modeling that has been provided, what the healthcare industry and our EMS providers and our long-term care going to see.
Tamara McBride: (53:18)
Those resources are available. We are working together to try to figure out a way to allocate those resources out to make sure that all of our workforces are being taken care of. But again, it certainly isn’t enough to remedy the problem, which is what is going to happen when the surge occurs in our healthcare system.
Laura Bischoff: (53:38)
And the national stockpile, can you tell us some numbers?
Tamara McBride: (53:45)
The strategic national stockpile allocated to all of the states 25% of what they had, and so we received our full allocation of what was identified for Ohio. I can get more specific numbers for you at another time.
Laura Bischoff: (54:00)
Dr. Amy Acton: (54:01)
Yeah. We’ll try to provide more of that as well as we do, we have regional coordinators who kind of do an assessment on a weekly basis as well. I want to say on those numbers, Laura, they were in the hundreds of thousands, not in the millions so it is a very, very small-
Speaker 2: (54:21)
… and development command’s cutting-edge COVID-19 response. And then I visited the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to learn about its ongoing experimentation and testing. The Army’s work on a vaccine is one of the many ways the Department of Defense is supporting President Trump’s whole of government approach to fight the virus and substantially slow its spread. Many of the policies and guidelines we’ve released go hand in hand with the president’s 15-day plan. We have issued international and domestic travel restrictions to all DOD personnel and families that should dramatically reduce potential exposure to the virus inside. The Pentagon, we are-