Mar 26, 2020

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Coronavirus Press Briefing Transcript March 26

Mike DeWine Press Briefing March 26 COVID-19
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsOhio Governor Mike DeWine Coronavirus Press Briefing Transcript March 26

Ohio governor Mike DeWine provided a press briefing on March 26 for COVID-19 in the state. Read the transcript of his speech here.

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Mike DeWine: (00:28)
A video in honor of what’s what’s to come as we all get through this, and a reminder of how important it is for us to do everything we can to reduce the casualties, to reduce the number of people who end up with this. And again, we hope to see baseball again in a few months.

Mike DeWine: (00:50)
I want to talk about a couple of things where I’ve been asked questions, starting with evictions. And this was dealt with a little bit in regard to the bill that we will sign tomorrow that was passed by the general assembly. And I’m just going to walk everybody through this and where we are.

Mike DeWine: (01:15)
First of all, Health Department order, Dr. Acton’s order, we want everybody to stay home. And obviously people have to have a home to stay in. Our courts remain open, only doing the essential things. But I talked to the chief justice a few minutes ago, and she reminded me the courts are open, and they’re open basically across the country. Trying to eliminate congestion, people being close together, but the courts do continue to function.

Mike DeWine: (01:50)
The bill that was passed by the legislature that I intend to sign tomorrow, in section 22.8.10, it provides that all civil, criminal, and administrative time limits, all time limits, are tolled from March 9th to July 30th. And so what this means is that the courts have more flexibility in all cases.

Mike DeWine: (02:21)
So let’s take the question of evictions. An eviction action to evict someone can certainly still be filed, but the courts are relieved of their statutory duty to hear that case within a certain period of time. So again, this will come within the discretion of the court, but the legislature in this bill has relieved them of the obligation to move forward on those particular matters. The court could stay the action, in other words, just not act upon that for a period of time. It’s important that the courts have the flexibility, and that they not be told exactly what to do, because you may have someone that’s a domestic violence case order, where someone’s ordered to move out of a home, you would not want that stayed. The same would be true for someone who’s committed illegal activity, someone who’s doing something, dealing drugs or something. In those rare cases or those unique cases, we certainly want the courts to have the ability to take the appropriate action.

Mike DeWine: (03:39)
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor told me that she will be issuing… After I sign the bill, she then will be issuing instructions to the courts. And so I hope that kind of clarifies where we are, in regard to evictions. And in a moment, I’ll be happy if anyone in the news media wants to ask any questions about that, I’d be happy to try to answer those questions.

Mike DeWine: (04:05)
I’ve been asked to say something about weddings and funerals. These are certainly, certainly, not prohibited under the order. What we ask is that we not have large gatherings. And I know what many families are doing, let’s say, in regard to the weddings, in some cases the funerals, they’re postponing the big ceremony. People are going ahead and getting married, but the big party, they’re going to postpone that until after this is over. Again, something to look forward to, as we try to get through this and work through this every single day.

Mike DeWine: (04:49)
Let me talk a moment about what we’re doing, in regard… as we continue to do in regard to the physical distancing. And again, maybe make a little reference to opening day today in Cincinnati. It’s a big celebration in Cincinnati. Celebration, of course, in Cleveland. But Cincinnati, they pretty much, historically, close everything down, and everybody either goes to the game or parties, and there’s always a big parade. And I think it was very good that the mayor, the officials, made a decision early on to cancel the parade, even before the season was pushed back. Again, a little historical analogy or historical reference. 102 years ago, this was one of the things that, unfortunately, Philadelphia did. They had the parade. And as I recall, I think it was the St. Patrick’s Day parade. But they had the parade. It may have been a parade to sell bonds. It was one of the two. And they had that parade anyway. And that is, historians look back at that and say that was one of the reasons that really kicked up the virus, and more and more people were getting that, it was being spread.

Mike DeWine: (06:13)
I want to talk about the other side of this. And there’s really… as we’ve talked about before, there’s really two sides. And each one relates to the other. And so the social distancing is buying us time. And I’ve been working, a number of our teams, with hospitals across the state, and we continue to work with them. I was on a phone call today that we originated with over a hundred CEOs of hospitals across the state of Ohio. And what we want to make sure is that no matter where you are, when you get sick, what part of Ohio you are, that there’s a mechanism in place, that there’s an orderly process about where you will go. And then if you continue to get worse, where you will go from there. And so we’re trying to tie all that together. We got great cooperation from our hospitals. They’re doing a phenomenal job, both with bigger hospitals and the smaller hospitals. And we’re trying to tie that all together.

Mike DeWine: (07:17)
We’re working on expanding capacity. We do not know exactly at this point what the capacity will have to be, but we know that it’s going to have to be a lot, lot bigger. I was talking to the governor of Maryland the other day. They’re almost going to double their capacity. I suspect we will be fairly close to that. And that’s what we’ll end up having to do. So it’s a big, big expansion of the number of beds, big, big expansion of getting the infrastructure ready to go.

Mike DeWine: (07:52)
But what you’re doing, every day out there, and the social distancing, and doing the things that you need to do to slow this spread down, buys the hospitals, buys everybody more time, so that we can make sure we’re up and ready to go when this hits. Very, very important.

Mike DeWine: (08:18)
Let me talk about one more thing. So many of you have contacted us, contacted your member of the general assembly, your congressman, and offered to help in any number of ways. Some people have some of the things that we need. And so what we’re doing, what we have created now, is a way for you to go up online and get that in very quickly. And that will be a much easier way for us to process that and take advantage of your generosity, and take advantage of what you want to donate.

Mike DeWine: (08:59)
You can go now to Together@Governor.Ohio.gov. Again, that is Together@Governor.Ohio.gov.

Mike DeWine: (09:19)
Dr. Acton.

Amy Acton: (09:24)
Well, good afternoon, everyone. It’s good to see you again. I don’t know about you, but this time of day, being together with the governor and lieutenant governor have been sort of the anchor for me these days. It’s a flurry of busy-ness before. I spent the morning at the emergency operating center and will continue back there afterwards. And we go away into the evening, but somehow we always end up back here together. So it’s good to see you.

Amy Acton: (09:53)
I’m going to go ahead and start with some of our data and announcements. First of all, I want to share with you today that we have created a new dashboard and a new website-facing feature that is very interactive. I want to thank again… We have just… I’ve been calling them the force, but they are these amazing data analysts and predictive analysts who are working to bring you the kind of data that the governor has promised in trying to be as transparent as possible.

Amy Acton: (10:28)
So you’ll find our new dashboard will be interactive. You’ll be able to see more about county level age demographics. And we’ve also changed how we are showing our cases for the disease detectives and people who are following this. We’re doing the symptom onset date, so the actual date when people have symptoms. That gives us a little better understanding of when the disease was first with us, remember, all the way back in February. Now from the onset of symptoms, as the cases come. So it’s not just the cases, remember, but asking people when they really first were experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus and COVID-19.

Amy Acton: (11:11)
So today, we are announcing that we do have 867 people who have tested positive. Still, again, it’s a lag time. We have lots of labs out and private labs. We know with our lack of testing, we’re not seeing all the cases that are out there, that we’re presuming, especially people in the outpatient setting, we’re presuming to be positive and asking to stay home because we can’t test as much. We’re testing the higher risk folks in hospitals.

Amy Acton: (11:42)
And then our total hospitalizations you see at 223. We know that we have 60 counties in Ohio. We have 88 counties, we now have spread to at least 60 documented counties. And unfortunately, we are now reporting 15 deaths in Ohio. We also know that we are staying around the area of 11% of our cases are ending up in the ICU. Also, on our website, we have information about the age range of folks ending up in the ICU is from 23 years of age to 92 years of age. And next slide please.

Amy Acton: (12:27)
So again, that’s a little bit of our data. We’re updating as best we can, the amount of testing we’ve done. 17,000, over 17,000. And again, we’re highlighting our healthcare workers. We are looking at 17% of those testing positive are in health care workers, and we really are trying to track the impact on our health care capacity, as the governor said, on folks that are on the front line, not just our nurses and our docs, but folks in nursing homes, our EMS, our firefighters, and our police.

Amy Acton: (13:02)
And also I want to say our local health departments. we have 113 local health departments in Ohio. And we can share with you today that one in the Toledo area, and they’ll be sharing more with you through the media, actually had two cases. And much of their health department is now in either isolation or quarantine.

Amy Acton: (13:24)
This is something we’re planning for. It’s something that my team and I are planning for. You have to think a lot about redundancy and backup. We know with 40 to 70% of us eventually getting it over the course of a year, that we have to have backups. And we’re being very strategic about who’s staying at home, in case… Even myself, were I to get sick, who will replace me during those 14 days where I’m staying home before I return. So this has to be part of our contingency planning. So that is news from the front lines. Next slide.

Amy Acton: (14:00)
So once again, we are… Knowing that most people will not be hospitalized, but in Ohio we’re seeing a lot hospitalized still, and we’re starting to be able to look at who’s actually going from hospitalized to the ICU. Next slide.

Amy Acton: (14:21)
So this is new, and I’m telling you this is something I want everyone at home to pay attention to, because this is the effect of what you’re doing. This is our first look at Ohio’s curves, similar to the curves I’ve always been showing you. And it’s very important to say that everything you have been doing, this would have been us by our projections, and again, this is beginning data. The more testing the better these models get, but from what we can tell, and we have some great modelers coming out of the Cleveland Clinic, and OSU, and all our faculty working with my team, this would have been the peak of our surge had we not taken the decisive and important actions. I can’t tell you enough, this is so important. We’ve got to even clamp down more. We have got to stay at home and we can’t go the other direction right now, because you can actually see a shift.

Amy Acton: (15:18)
But what we’re seeing, and you can see how it’s a shaded ranged area… This will be on our website. This is our curve in Ohio based on the mitigation that we have done. And you can see it’s a range. So the better we do, the more we push it out, the more we lower that curve. Remember that we have a hospital capacity line somewhere in here. We have, through our collective work together in Ohio, decreased that impact on our healthcare system by anywhere from 50 to 75%. That’s crucial.

Amy Acton: (15:53)
But we’ve got to do it even more, because we are buying time, as the governor said. The further we spread out that spread of infection, the more time our hospitals are getting ready in doubling their capacity. But also, I need you to know that it’s not if but when, we will surge. At our peak surge, we may be as high as 6,000 to 8,000 new cases a day. So we’re trying to keep that number, we’re fending that off as long as possible. Our hospitals are gearing up more capacity. We’re also lowering that curve and less people are getting infected. So that is going to make all the difference in our ability to handle this. We will exceed our capacity, but we’ve really been minimizing that amount. So Ohio, what you’re doing absolutely is saving lives.

Amy Acton: (16:50)
With this, we see our peak is moving out toward… that surge is moving out toward the end of April. We’d like to get it even further out toward the beginning of May because it will keep shrinking each time we do that. I want to add that Dr. Fauci shared some preliminary research. I was reminded of it when the governor shared the old St. Louis and Philadelphia curve. We know that they’re going to be kind of different high points. It’s not going to be a smooth curve. We don’t yet know the effect of seasonality on it. We do not think it will go away completely, but anytime we let up on these measures right now, we can actually see surges again, so it’s very, very important we follow those directions. Next slide.

Amy Acton: (17:36)
I want to talk a little bit about our need for PPE. This is also so crucial, and the moves you’re making now by seeing at home are actually helping us maximize the protective gear our frontline workers have. Right now out in the field, this slide shows what a typical month usage is by our hospital system and our nursing homes. And we know already, mitigated versus unmitigated, if we had done nothing, we would already be way exceeding. But because we’re doing things, we’re staying real close to what we have. But we know still that we’re going to need extra, both of gloves, gowns, and surgical masks, but the moves you’re making are making our supplies go longer.

Amy Acton: (18:17)
The big one we’re looking at are those N95 respirators. Those are the specialized masks for hospital personnel, not the surgical ones or the ones we might even make it home to not spread infection. But it is a specialized mask. We know even with the efforts we’re making, we’re going to need millions more. But we would have need 65 times as many as our typical usage. We’ve lowered that down to 40 times as much, so again, everything we’re doing is making all our gear last longer. Next slide.

Amy Acton: (18:50)
Our hospital capacity, we’ve been told, is at about 60% with our heavy flu season. But I want to talk a little bit more about the specialized parts of hospitals. This slide will show you what we have available is in the light blue, what we’re utilizing right now in our hospitals based on OHA hospital association data. These are negative airflow rooms that allow us to keep that infection from spreading in the hospital. ECMO, which is a basic type of oxygenation for very, very sick, our sickest people, ECMO it’s called, we’re only using about 13% of that right now. We have more capacity in light blue, but what our numbers are showing is that we know that we are going to either almost double what we need above this. So we’re going to have room to use right now, but as that surge comes, we’re actually building out more capacity because we know we’re going to go up above what our hospitals normally have as their capacity.

Amy Acton: (19:50)
This is ICU beds, our medical surgical beds, and our ventilators. So we have capacity. We need more. We’re doing unique things about repurposing anesthesia machines, repurposing something called C-PAP, positive airway pressure machines. We’re doing new tubing where more than one person can be on a ventilator at one time. We are inventing things. We are building out hospitals in existing building structures, but we know we will need more. Next slide.

Amy Acton: (20:24)
So that is sort of a summary of some of the data. We’re going to have more for you every day. As the governor said, we’re working closely with our hospitals in a regional model to build out our capacity. We’ll have more on that for you.

Amy Acton: (20:38)
One thing I’d like to touch on. A hospitalized patient is in a hospital with coronavirus, with COVID-19, for up to 20 days. Remember I told you about, by the time you’re diagnosed, remember from when you’re first infected, it might be five to 14 days before you show symptoms. It’s another nine to 12 days between someone who actually has a disease might need hospitalized. It’s another week or more before they might end up in an ICU. And our fatalities, our deaths, follow those ICUs by up to four weeks. So everything we’re seeing is lagging. And it’s a lot like restaurants. They try to guess how many tables they’ll need for a night, and whether we realize it or not, they’re trying to flip those tables every hour to hour and a half, and that’s how they staff, and that’s how they know how many tables will be able to fill.

Amy Acton: (21:35)
what we’re looking at is more like a long four course meal. Even though our hospitals have capacity that they usually gear up for, they’re often looking at staying times of three days. But we know that we’re going to hit peak capacity that we’ve never seen before in this country and that folks are staying longer. And so that’s why we know we really need to increase our capacity in our hospitals. Everything you’re doing matters. It’s life and death. And folks, please pay attention. You see what’s happening in New York. You see what’s happening in places like Louisiana. This is real and everything each of us is doing matters.

Amy Acton: (22:12)
Last night, I had a phone call with my husband. My husband Eric has been a school teacher for 35 years, most of it an elementary first grade teacher. He’s also a coach. He works a lot with people driving the school buses, and we got a call from a close colleague. And Jennifer, I’m thinking of you. She, here in Franklin County, lost her father yesterday. She called to ask, again, about funerals and what her and her family could do. These are very, very tough times, and we talk through… You definitely need to know that how we mourn and how we celebrate things like weddings is going to be different. You don’t want these events to be the thing that got other people in your family sick or have somebody die. And we talk through how a small amount of our family that’s healthy could talk and be together that night. But how folks are postponing things, doing celebrations of life later, because they just don’t want to put others in their family at risk. And these are very, very sad and very hard things we’re going through together. But we are together.

Amy Acton: (23:20)
Stay home, Ohio. Stay strong, stay together. Stay at home. Reach out to each other. Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (23:32)
Jon?

Jon Husted: (23:34)
Thank you, Amy. Thank you, Governor. One of the things that we try to do here every day is respond to the questions that you have. I can tell you that the three of us in our entire team feel so responsible to you, that when we’re going through this difficult time that we want to make sure that everything that we can do on our end to ease the burden in your lives is a top priority for us. Every day, I have worked with our folks at the unemployment compensation system, the ODJFS, Director Kim Hall and her team who are working diligently to try to respond to your needs. You know that today, it was released, the unemployment claims nationwide, give you a little window into what we’re talking about here in Ohio and what it means to our system.

Jon Husted: (24:23)
The weekend in March 21st, we had 187,780 claims. To put this in perspective, in all of 2019, we had 369,594. So as you can see, the burden on the system, the number of people that filed, is an amazing number. If you look at that period in February, we had 112,000 calls to the call center. In the period that I just described through March 21, we had 1.7 million calls to our call center. And as far as the website, they’re adding servers and building capacity to make sure that we are serving you.

Jon Husted: (25:12)
We know that not everybody is getting served at the pace that the demand requires. But you should know that they are working through that and that the team is trying to build that capacity. An important thing to know, that if you do not get through and you’re worried about the timing of your benefits and not getting paid the full amount that you qualify for, they will make that retroactive. So just because you don’t get through today or if there was a delay, know that they will make the benefit retroactive to the time that you qualified for it. So we want to ease your minds, at least to know that while you may not be able to get through the system in the time frame that you’re trying to do, that your benefits will not be affected by it.

Jon Husted: (26:01)
It’s like a rush hour on the highway. The highway system is built for a certain capacity and when we exceed that capacity, the system can’t handle it. It’s happening at two ends. It’s happening at the state end, where the data is being received. But it’s also happening sometimes in your home, in your neighborhood, that… You’re maybe in your-

Eric Holcomb: (26:46)
Good afternoon. We have just a few updates for you before we all take any questions that you might have. And I’ll say at the outset, once again, same place, same time, same channel, whatever you’re on, here tomorrow.

Eric Holcomb: (27:08)
Dr. Box will give us a update on our cases and how we’re tracking, to [Nicky’s 00:27:17] question yesterday, that formula, the things that we’re looking at, as we’re tracking all the steps that we’re needing to take to-