Sep 1, 2020
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Press Conference Transcript September 1
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on September 1 to give coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of his news briefing here.
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Gov. Mike DeWine: (04:24)
Good afternoon, everyone. Today I’m wearing a tie from Mercy College of Ohio, a Catholic institution located in Toledo and in Youngstown. They’re focused on the health sciences. Today I’d like to start out by talking about traffic safety in Ohio, and we have some pretty alarming data. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, July, 2020 was the deadliest month on Ohio’s road since 2007. A total of 154 of our fellow citizens died. That’s certainly is incredibly sad. Speed was one of the major contributors. The number of motorcyclists killed was up by 52% as compared to the previous July. Fatalities involving pedestrians were up 113%. For August, provisional data shows 122 people were killed. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 94% of serious crashes in the country are due to driver error. So obviously the vast, vast majority of these are preventable. When I became governor, we started really focusing on highway safety. We’ve significantly invested in improving the physical safety of Ohio’s roads through new engineering and construction projects. I thank the General Assembly for the additional money to do this. This includes the launch of a new intersection safety program to improve the safety of 150 rural, urban and suburban intersections across the state of Ohio. And they’re well on their way. We’re also adding high visibility, crosswalks street, lighting, signage, and signals at hundreds of intersections throughout Ohio to make them safer for our pedestrians. Because more than 30% of all crashes involved young drivers, 30%, we developed the Ready, Test, Drive! program to better equip new drivers with crucial driving skills. We also launched a new youthful drivers safety fund to help juvenile courts create advanced driving programs for juvenile traffic offenders. And because distracted driving is such a huge contributor today to auto crashes, to auto fatalities, we’ve created several distracted driving quarters in Ohio, which are high enforcement, low tolerance zones for distracted driving. And finally, one of the things that is not done, we worked with Senators Kunze and O’Brien in the state legislature to introduce the Hands-Free Ohio bill in February, to get tougher on the use of wireless devices while driving, those individuals who are using those devices while driving. That bill is pending. It’s a good bill. It’s supported by every safety group. It should have bipartisan support and I’ve asked the General Assembly to move on that bill. It will save a lot of lives today. I have two announcements that build on this work to make our roads safer.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (08:04)
First, I will be signing an executive order to create the new Ohio Traffic Safety Council which will be led by the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The council be composed of representatives of several state agencies as well as outside groups, including law enforcement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Students Against Destructive Decisions and several others. The role of this group will be to coordinate and monitor all statewide traffic safety initiatives, analyze the results, analyze the trends and advise my office on innovative ways to create safer roads through the four Es of traffic safety; education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency responses. To talk more about this new council and the problems that we’re seeing on our highways is Colonel Richard Fambro who heads the Ohio State Highway patrol. Colonel, thank you very much for joining us.
Col. Richard Fambro: (09:04)
Good afternoon, governor. Thank you for the opportunity to be here and thank you for your support. During the early months of the pandemic, we saw a significant decrease in traffic volume, as well as crashes, fatal crashes in particular. By the end of April 28, fewer people had lost their lives in traffic fatalities on Ohio’s roads as compared to 2019. That’s about a 13% reduction that we were enjoying. April, additionally, was the second lowest month overall for traffic fatalities in over 13 years. As Ohio began to open up, we saw a definite uptick in crashes, fatal crashes, and a significant increase in the speeds at which vehicles were traveling on Ohio’s roads. During the month of… actually, as of today, we have issued over 2200 citations for 100 or more mile per hour on Ohio’s roadways. That is a 61% increase when compared to the same time period in 2019.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (10:14)
Colonel, 2200 citations for people who are driving over a hundred miles per hour.
Col. Richard Fambro: (10:20)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (10:22)
Col. Richard Fambro: (10:23)
As you already indicated, July was the highest month for fatalities at 154 people losing their lives in Ohio’s roadways since 2007. And a third of those fatalities were the result of unsafe speed. And as you so eloquently put it, pedestrian as well as motorcycle fatalities were increasing as well. And since the end of April, that 13% cushion that we enjoyed, we are actually 32 more lives lost as compared to where we were in April. And for that, we are alarmed. The Highway Patrol and our partners, we take very seriously those deaths. Those are family members, loved ones who lost their lives on Ohio’s roadways and we take that personally.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (11:13)
Colonel, talk to me and to our viewers, a little bit about the Highway Safety Council that we’re going to be creating by executive order and how you think that can be of help.
Col. Richard Fambro: (11:23)
Yes, sir. The four Es are significantly important to our quest to provide the safest road ways possible in the state. Bringing together our partners from local state and federal entities that all have a significant amount of knowledge and resources to bring to [inaudible 00:11:42], and partnering with the Department of Public Safety, we feel like that collaboration, that ability to share information and really provide a think tank or us to address of the most significant problems at the state basis where traffic safety is concerned. Some of the things that that council will be taken on are the youthful driver problem that we have. Taking the lead where distracted driving is concerned. Also, combating impaired driving and preparing the State of Ohio for the autonomous vehicle technology that is upon us.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (12:20)
Colonel, talk a little bit about just distracted driving. As I mentioned, there is a bill in General Assembly that you’ve worked on. And I wonder if you could just talk maybe a little bit about the problem connected with distracted driving and what you and the troopers are seeing out there on the roads?
Col. Richard Fambro: (12:39)
Well, current data, the offense of distracted driving is a secondary offense. So you have to actually witness another violation in order to take enforcement action on a distracted driving type of violation. It makes it significantly difficult for law enforcement, not just troopers, but law enforcement in general to get our arms around that problem. I don’t think anyone has to look very far as they’re driving down Ohio’s roadways, whether you in the city or in a rural area and not spot someone that’s distracted, whether it’s via cellular device or some other type of technology. It is a significant problem that we face and one that we need to have the support of the General Assembly to obviously get our arms around that.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (13:28)
Final question Colonel, if you had to tick off three, four or five causes of these crashes, of these fatalities, what would they be? I guess, speed, drunk driving, what else?
Col. Richard Fambro: (13:41)
Yes sir. Speed, distracted driving. Unbelted motorists continue to be a significant problem in our vehicles and those crashes. Obviously, distracted driving as well as we’ve got the motorcycle and pedestrian fatality issues. So all of those are significant issues. Speed continues to be one of the number one causing factors in crashes.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (14:05)
Colonel, thank you very much. Thanks to you and the men and women of the Highway Patrol. Thanks for what you do every day to try to keep us all safe out there. We appreciate it.
Col. Richard Fambro: (14:14)
Thank you governor. Appreciate our partners too.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (14:18)
Another major problem is work zones. We’ve all been through works zones and sometimes we may get upset, it may hold us up a little bit. But what we may not know is how often these work zones are a place where accidents occur. And so we want to talk a little bit about that today. Last year, there were more than 6,500 work zone crashes. This year, there have been 2300 crashes so far, certainly despite fewer cars on the road. Because enforcing traffic laws can be a challenge in work zones, Ohio State Highway Patrol aviation team which already conducts speed checks from the air will now start putting a target focus on crash causing violations in construction zones. So we’re very, very concerned about this. The Ohio Department of Transportation has identified several locations where the aviation team will patrol at a higher rate. ODOT director Jack Marchbanks is here now to talk a little bit about these construction zones and what we’re seeing. Director.
Jack Marchbanks: (15:31)
Governor, thank you for your stalwart leadership throughout this pandemic. What the men and women of ODOT who are on the front lines keeping the system in a state of good repair, a system upon which we all depend, what we’re seeing is that there are still far too many people who are not slowing down and moving over when they go through these construction zones. As the Colonel mentioned, excessive speed and distracted driving appear to be the main causes of these work zone crashes. Thus far this year, even though we’ve had far lower traffic volumes as you mentioned, we have seen 46 serious injury accidents. And tragically 12 precious human beings have lost their lives in these construction zones, five of them being ODOT contractors.
Jack Marchbanks: (16:24)
As you noted, to better protect our employees and our contractors, we’ve partnered with Colonel Fambro and the highway patrol to set up air speed enforcement zones around the state. And they’re going to be lots of them and we’re going to continue them not only this year, but into next year. Some of the airspeed enforcement zones include I-75 in Allen County, US-23 in Wyandotte, I-70 in Clark County, I-71 and I-75 in Hamilton County. In Belmont County and Washington County, I-71. US-33 in [inaudible 00:17:02] County. When people are traveling through these constructions zones, they’re going to see signage alerting them that their speed is going to be patrolled by air. So what we’re about is improving safety, following your direction, your leadership to make Ohio safer when people are traveling on its roadways.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:25)
Well, it must be very scary for construction workers, Jack, who are out there if we’ve lost, did you say five this year?
Jack Marchbanks: (17:36)
Yes, sir. Yes, sir. We have. And these people have to go out again after near misses. We’ve had several near misses and it rattles people who just want to go home to their families every day after work just like you and I do, sir.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (17:53)
Well, thank you for sharing that with us. It’s something I don’t think we really think about when we drive. We see a construction zone and is what it is, but sometimes we forget there are people out there who are building that road or repairing that road and people whose lives are really in our hands and other drivers. And so I guess the message is slow down, stay awake.
Jack Marchbanks: (18:19)
Slow down, move over, stay alert when you’re driving through these construction zones, governor. People’s lives literally depend on it.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (18:26)
Director, thank you. Thank you very much. Appreciate that. Each week, for the last several weeks at least, I’ve been talking about my concern about gun violence in Ohio. An absolutely necessity that we have to strengthen Ohio’s laws in this area, particularly in regard to people who are using guns, who have no right to use a gun, people who are convicted felons, who are not supposed to have guns in the first place. Since last week, at least 39 more people have been shot in Ohio. 15 of them died. From WBNS in Columbus, the headline, 5-year-old girl in stable condition after shooting in South 5th Street. According to reports, this child was at home in bed when someone fired shots into her home and hit her in the back. A five-year-old in her own bed shot. From the Dayton Daily News, 18-year-old Dayton woman shot to death, suspect in jail.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (19:41)
Court records show that the suspect was prohibited from carrying a gun due to previous felony convictions. From WCPO in Cincinnati, Middletown K9 officer and murder suspect shot as police chase ends in Mason. Luckily, report say the officer is expected to recover. Court records show that the suspect was prohibited from carrying a gun due to previous felony convictions. Most gun crimes are committed by people who do not legally have the right to have those guns. There is a bill in the General Assembly today that would allow our judges, give them more discretion, allow them to impose longer sentences at their discretion to deal with people who are violent, repeat offenders, who insist on continuing to travel in their car with guns or have guns on their person.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (20:48)
You can talk to any chief of police in Ohio that will tell you, particularly the bigger cities, that this is a problem, and we have to go after those individuals. So again, I would ask the legislature to move on that bill. Over the weekend, US marshals rescued dozens of missing children across Ohio many of whom were being trafficked. Human trafficking is a tragedy that occurs every day in the United States and sadly, Ohio is no exception. This morning I talked with Pete Elliott, United States Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio about the efforts that he and the men and women of the Marshal Service have carried out in conjunction with local law enforcement. They’ve also had help from their media partners, WTAM 1100 Radio, Fox 8 in Cleveland. Fox 8 TV features local human trafficking survivor, Amanda Berry on their segments on missing children and also help from former Browns quarterback, Bernie Kosar. Great, great effort.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (21:58)
As attorney general, I created a human trafficking task force that supported local law enforcement investigating human trafficking, rescuing survivors and prosecuting johns and other perpetrators. The task force identified hundreds of potential human trafficking victims and successfully connected them with supportive social services. As governor, I was proud to sign Senate Bill 5 last year, which increased penalties for trafficking of minors. It’s important that all Ohioans recognize the signs of human trafficking, young people that often run away, individuals that move often or frequently talk about traveling. If a young person is with someone who’s older, controlling boyfriend, some young person who’s rarely alone, doesn’t appear to be a parent, signs of physical abuse including malnutrition, young people who lack identification.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:00)
-young people who lack identification. We would hope to see this program expanded. I know Marshall Elliot told me that this has been working and working well in the Cleveland area. We would hope to see this expanded throughout the state of Ohio, and as I told Marshall this morning, if there’s anything we can do to help expand that, we will certainly be willing to do it. Not all runaways are trafficked, but a large percentage of those who are trafficked are in fact runaways.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (23:36)
Eric, let’s go to our slides. Sadly, we had a real jump in cases, 1,453 cases, which is our highest number since the end of July. This is a stark reminder that the virus is not going away. We think that a significant part of this is caused by our colleges going back as well as our grade schools and high schools going back. We’re seeing some cases reported out of some of our colleges.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (24:10)
Let me just say this. When it’s reported out of colleges, we should thank the colleges for doing the testing, because just because there are cases there, there may be cases other places if the testing is not, in fact, taking place. We have to do everything we can to protect each other while trying to safely do the things that we all want to do and need to do, work, go to school. Our highest number of cases reported in August was on the 12th, when we had 1,422 cases. So not happy with those numbers. Our hospitalizations, as you’ll see, and deaths are slightly higher than what they have been in recent weeks. Eric, let’s go to our top 88 counties. We’ll put these in order
Gov. Mike DeWine: (25:04)
You can see … We always start at the top. We’ll go the low part. Shout out to Harrison, Noble, Ashland, Muskingum, Carroll, and Guernsey counties. These counties are at the low end of the 88. Eric, let’s go the top ten. We start, again, to remind everyone what this is, two-week period of time, the last two weeks, a snapshot of what’s happened in the last two weeks as far as the number of cases. It is figured by population, 100,000 population. So you’ll see, for example, Putnam is number one. They had 79 cases, actually. But if you do that based on 100,000, that’s 233. So they start off.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (25:55)
So it was Putnam, Darke, Jackson, Meigs, Mercer, Henry, Shelby, Butler, Montgomery, and Auglaize. Again, we’re seeing a real movement into our rural areas. Montgomery is the only county of those top ten that is an urban county.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (26:12)
Putman County Health Department is attributing a lot of the cases to community spread, social settings, family gatherings. Again, we remind everyone, no matter what county they’re in, the wearing of the masks, we’ve seen it. We’ve really seen what it’s been able to do in our urban counties. We know what it can do across the state of Ohio.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (26:40)
I was on a call with the White House yesterday, the Vice President, Vice President Pence, and the folks at the White House who are focused on this every single day. They have a grave concern about Labor Day coming up, and they asked me and the other governors to talk directly to the people of our states about Labor Day. Holidays are when we get together. We have fun. We can get together. We can have fun. But we’ve got to be very, very careful. For many people, it marks the end of summer, kind of a milestone. It’s an opportunity to get together. As we gather with families and friends, we must remember that whenever there’s more activity, we’re going to see more cases.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (27:29)
I’d like to take a look at what we’ve seen from previous long weekends this summer and what we’ve been seeing recently in our communities. We saw a lot of movement around the state over the 4th of July weekend, and then after that, we saw a significant spread of the virus. Many of this comes out of what you’d expect over the 4th of July, family gatherings, being with friends to celebrate the holiday. We know it takes about a week or maybe two for people to develop symptoms after coming into contact with someone who is contagious. We should remember that some people may not show symptoms of being sick at all, and they can be contagious.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (28:11)
Cases and positivity were already going up in June after we reopened. As people got together, though, during the 4th of July, we saw our cases increase even more. By mid-July, we were averaging close to 1,500 cases per day, and our positivity rate was an average of 6.5%.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (28:32)
Eric, let’s look at this slide. This is a slide we showed you before. We talked about this case before. I want to show you again as an example of just how what would seem to be a benign, happy trip to a lake resulted in significant community spread. A couple with their daughter and a family friend rode in the same vehicle on a 40-minute trip to a lake in Ohio. The family friend had COVID-19, but she did not know it at the time. As you can see from this graphic, that case led to an additional nine cases. It also led to the temporary closing of three businesses. A vacationing employee from one of those businesses was quarantined in a hotel room, and another was told on her wedding day that she faced possible quarantine. The daughter from the car ride, who was trying to get her first teaching job, had her hiring process delayed.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (29:27)
More recently, other cases. Just in the past few weeks, we’ve heard from several of our local health departments about spread associated, again, with family, friends gathering together. For example, in Lake County, a parent traveled out of state and came home the day before a birthday party that included high school athletes from multiple jurisdictions. The parent got sick the day after the party, and now there are four confirmed cases associated with that party.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (29:55)
Another Lake County example, a group of teens who worked together at a grocery store attended a birthday party together in mid-August. There are now three associated cases to date and one person who does not have symptoms who’s waiting for test results. The attendees at the party have said that there were no masks, no social distancing taking place at the party.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:21)
Another case, a neighbor attended a family card game in Trumbull County with three members of the same family. The neighbor got sick the day after the card game, and now all the family members are positive. Two of the family members passed it along to their spouses. Putnam County, there are now ten cases associated with a large golf outing held on August 21st.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (30:45)
But certainly not everything we’re hearing is bad. A lot of good things that are, in fact, going on. I’ll just share a couple stories in regard to that. First of all, let me just say I truly believe that our schools, our K through 12 schools, our colleges, our universities planned for this, and they’re doing a very, very good job. I talked this morning to Russia school superintendent Steve Rose, who told me that their 7th to 12th grade is now going remote, gone remote because they had a case. They had one student who tested positive, and that was due to community spread.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (31:32)
As we’ve said before, schools are going to have cases. They’re going to have positive cases, because they’re in the community and they reflect the community. When there is widespread community spread, there’s going to be spread within those schools. We should understand that when the data is published and when you see in the paper. Last night, I saw on Dayton TV about Russia. So I called the superintendent this morning to see about that. But what that really means is they’re doing their job. They’re following protocol. They’re following their plan. So in this case, Russia folks did a very, very good job, did exactly what they should do.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (32:16)
That’s, I think, something we should all remember when we see that there is a case in a school. All that means is that school’s focused on it and they’re doing the tracing and they’re doing what they need to do.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (32:29)
Another example, in Youngstown, there are two Catholic high schools that use Youngstown State facilities for football games. Tickets for recent games were all pre-purchased only by families and loved ones of players, cheerleaders, and band members. The school sent daily reminders to parents about social distancing and masking. The Youngstown City Health District purchased large signs to reinforce masking and social distancing, and Health Department staff, including the Health Commissioner, the Environmental Health Director, and others work during games, offering free masks to anyone who did not have one and greeting fans with handouts and a message. “Welcome. Mask on, game on, and please remember to social distance when in their stadium.” They also reinforced the message in the stands and the concession areas. During games, schools used the scoreboard and made numerous announcements to remind fans about social distancing and mask warring. One coach assigned players designated spots on the sidelines to ensure social distancing. So from both of these schools as well as the public schools that they hosted, that was just really, really great news. They followed the guidelines that they should follow.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (33:50)
In Canton, a local football team had two players who were confirmed to have COVID-19. The players and coaches quickly isolated the players and notified the local health department. The health department quickly quarantined those who had been in close contact with the two positive cases. The outbreak … and this is something that is significant. The outbreak was limited to those two players with five people quarantined as a precaution. The school had already implemented the recommended guidelines for player practices involving social distancing, wearing a face covering, and more. This is a great example of a school having a proper plan in place and executing that plan and cooperating with the local health officials to keep COVID-19 in check. Again, having a plan, carrying out the plan, and the cooperation can result in fewer people being quarantined. We’ve seen examples occasionally when there’s not the cooperation, and you see a lot more people end up getting quarantined.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (34:52)
The Toledo Lucas County Health Department, like so many of our health departments, has worked with schools to send consistent messaging that students should not be attending mass gatherings. So we thank them for that. In one instance, a party was attended by students, including athletes from two school districts. The school said they would halt athletics if those in attendance did not come forward. It was a clear message to everyone in the community. Holding or allowing parties is a liability to academics, athletics, and the spread of COVID-19. Another such party that had been planned and promoted on social media did not go forward. Life is full of trade-offs, and if we want our kids in school, which we do, we want our school playing athletics, which we do, we want them doing other extracurricular activities, then the way to do that is for us to slow the spread down.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (35:47)
Speaking of schools, I want to turn to our education order. The education order will be issued in the next several days. Last week, I talked about issuing the order on reporting COVID-19 in our schools. As I said, we’re still working on the exact language of the order, and we’ll get it out shortly. When it’s complete, we will, of course, post it on our coronavirus.ohio so everyone can read it. But let me reiterate a couple of the goals or three of the goals that we have.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (36:21)
Number one, if you have a child in school and your child has come into contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID within the relevant period of time, then you have every right to know that. So the school should notify you and will notify you of that fact. Second, we want parents to know if there’s anyone in their child’s school building who has, in fact, tested positive. So, again, not the specific names, of course, in any of these, but we want the schools to first, of course, contact the parents if they have come in contact with that child, and they can work then with the local health department. Second though, if you’re just in the school building itself, we want the school to notify the parents. Third, we want to notify the public once this has occurred. So that will be a report that will be issued by the state health department once a week.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (37:34)
Our goal is to be as open, as transparent as possible so families can be informed. If there are cases in a school, again, it doesn’t mean that anybody did anything wrong. If they found the cases and are acting accordingly, it means they did it right. You’re going to see many, many cases. You’re going to see many times when there are cases in schools, just because of what we’re seeing in the community.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (38:04)
Let’s turn to our colleges. In July, we put out our guidance for Ohio state public and private colleges, universities, and technical institutions to open in the safest way possible. Administrators have been planning and taking steps to allow for social distancing, provide more living space on campuses, and other measures. Now that students are returning to classes, both in person and virtually, we thought we would invite some students to share their experiences on campus. First, I’d like to introduce Nicholas, Juan, Xavi Boes, [inaudible 00:38:42] Boes. Excuse me. Xavi, how you doing?
Xavi Boes: (38:48)
Great. How are you doing, Governor?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (38:49)
I’m good. Thanks for joining us. Where are you from?
Xavi Boes: (38:53)
Yeah, so I’m from Carey, Ohio. So I graduated from Carey High School in Wyandot County.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (38:58)
You’re going to school where now?
Xavi Boes: (39:00)
Bowling Green State University.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (39:02)
All right. You want to tell us a little bit about the experience this year? It’s a little different than past experiences.
Xavi Boes: (39:09)
Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely been a different change from my previous three years at BGSU. With the densification of our campus, there’s a lot less students on our campus, which has been I think the biggest change in my experience. However, I know the things that we’ve done as BGSU in our return to campus plan has been for the benefit to help us have this in-person instruction and experience that we want the closest to a traditional college experience as we can. So it’s definitely been a different change, but I think from my experience and discussions with my peers, it’s been going very well, and it’s been an effective change to continue. We have 13 weeks left, and we are all in this together as BGSU. I hope we can continue to do that, moving forward.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (40:02)
Well, I see that you’re the Student Body Vice President. You all managed to have an election somehow, right?
Xavi Boes: (40:08)
Yes. That was definitely a change as well. A lot of not just the Undergraduate Student Government, but organizations in general, with everything changing, back in March had to do a lot of quick changes in relation to getting their new presidents, new leadership in the organization, so a lot as classes as well all went virtual. So we did our best as student leaders to be able to facilitate that in the most effective way.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (40:38)
So tell me, Xavi, tell me a little bit about kind of the student attitude on campus. I mean, how are people dealing with this? I mean, it’s just different. But, I mean, what’s the attitude, you think, among most of the students?
Xavi Boes: (40:56)
I think it’s been relatively positive from a majority, if not all of the students. The constant communication from whether it’s professors and faculty members or the higher administration at our institution, it’s been a constant reassurance that we as students are first in mind when it comes to decisions that are being made.
Xavi Boes: (41:20)
I know there’s been a little bit of a change within student activities and student involvement, but we have done everything we possibly can while maintaining compliance to continue that traditional experience with being able to meet in person as long as it’s a maximum of ten individuals, six feet physical distancing, and facial coverings at all times. We’ve created spaces where that can be done effectively to be able to have that in-person experience. It’s just a lot of change, as you noted. But I think the overall attitude has been pretty positive, because we have done very well as an institution to really maintain that traditional experience.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (42:05)
So are you taking some courses online?
Xavi Boes: (42:09)
I am. Yes. So BGSU went with three different course delivery methods, and so that’s strictly online, which is an asynchronous course. It’s a self-paced course. We have a remote option, which is a synchronous course, so you meet at a certain time, just at a remote location. Then we have an in-person and hybrid course delivery method as well, which is a little bit of both, where we go to class, maintaining all the compliance set by our university and health organizations, but still able to have that in-person educational experience.
Xavi Boes: (42:45)
So I have one in the hybrid method, and it’s going, I would say, very well. We wipe our desks down after each class, and then when the next course comes in, they will wipe the desk down again to ensure that it was cleaned properly. So we’re taking all the necessary steps to be able to have that traditional educational experience as well.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (43:06)
So Xavi, college experience, part of the experience of college is socialization, meeting new people, going to parties, going to bars, doing all kinds of things. So how do you balance that? That can’t be easy. You’ve got the threat of spread of the virus just on campus, just like you do anyplace else else. How do you balance that?
Xavi Boes: (43:36)
I think it comes down to just continuation of programming that the institution can put on. So I know last evening, we did an alpha art activity, where you could go create your name, put different types of letters that were pictures that were taken just from a lot of different locations. So being able to be involved within specifically on campus, because we can guarantee as an institution that this on-campus experience is going to be safe, right? So how can we ensure that the safety is going to happen off-campus? Really, it comes down to you as an individual. It’s how can you do your part to maintain the safety of your peers and the individuals around you?
Xavi Boes: (44:20)
So we have implemented a Falcon commitment. We have provided options. If you didn’t feel safe to attend campus, you could have taken your classes completely online and done it from a remote location, whether it’s at home or simply from your apartment bedroom. However, for those who decided to come in person and have that close to traditional experience, we have these really expectations set in place that we continue to push forward to make sure you’re doing your part to help us get through these 13 weeks together.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (44:57)
Xavi, thank you very much. I forgot to say you’re a communication major, right?
Xavi Boes: (45:03)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:04)
Good. You’re doing a good job communicating today.
Xavi Boes: (45:07)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:08)
We appreciate it, and good luck to you and the other students at Bowling Green. Appreciate it very, very much. We’ll turn out to Ohio State. With us is Onan Shaw, originally from Centerville and majoring in biomedical research. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Onan Shaw: (45:27)
Thank you for having me, Governor DeWine.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (45:30)
How’s the experience this year?
Onan Shaw: (45:32)
The experience has definitely been something different, but I think it’s been exciting to return. I mean, every year, it’s exciting to come back to campus, and I think this year has been exciting for definitely a couple of different reasons. I think being able to walk around campus, you get to see the way that students are responding to the pandemic. I think there’s a level of perseverance, hope, and optimism about the ability for us to work together to be able to take our campus and to be able to stay on campus. I mean, when it comes to what I thought when I was going to come back, it was, “Are students actually going to wear masks? Are students”-
Onan Shaw: (46:03)
… I thought when I was going to come back, it was our students actually going to wear masks? Are students actually going to stay socially distant? Are students going to be within their parties of less than 10? And I think it’s been interesting to see that in a time and an interesting paradox where, and at time when we’re supposed to be physically distant and apart, I think the campus has come more together than I’ve ever seen. And so that comes not only when you look at people on the oval who are sitting in their independent circles, six feet apart, when you see people working out in the ARPAC, which is a recreational facility and they’re working out in a physical distanced environment. Even when you just walk around campus, I think there’s 30,000 kids that are walking around our campus every day, and it’s amazing to be able to see the amount of kids that have their masks on, everybody, walking physically distant and making sure to stay safe. So it’s been a very exciting time, I would say. I have a lot of hope and I’ve really seen that we’ve really come together as Buckeyes and I think we’ve found our why is really just trying to make sure we can have our opportunity to stay here as long as possible.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (47:02)
So Ohio State’s doing a lot of testing, a significant amount of testing, they’re putting it up on a webpage. You’ve been back on campus how long?
Onan Shaw: (47:16)
I’ve been back on campus for about, this is my second week. So we’ve been back on campus for about four days.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (47:22)
So yeah. So any difference between when you came on campus the first day and now? Are more people were in masks? Same? Any kind of difference in attitude as you talk to students?
Onan Shaw: (47:37)
Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s a greater understanding. I think day by day, there’s a greater and greater recognition that the ability for our campus to stay open and the ability for our campus to stay healthy is really the hands of the students that are here. We make up the largest population of anybody who’s on our campus, and it really comes down to making sure that we can follow those rules, stay with the guidelines. And I think an attitude has definitely changed. I think coming back to campus, there was an understanding that mask wearing is a thing and that we need to have fewer than 10 gatherings, but I think with help from the university, help with student leadership, we’ve been really able to have those beliefs widespread. And I think the amount of mask wearing has definitely increased. I think people understand that with some of the numbers, as you had mentioned earlier, that the rate in Ohio, the pandemic is an ongoing thing and it’s something that isn’t going away anytime soon. And I think that’s something that students are really starting to recognize as they have a very tangible piece of the puzzle and without them, and without being able to follow those guidelines, it’s not going to be something where we’ll be able to enjoy senior year, freshman year, et cetera. So absolutely.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (48:44)
Ownership, maybe, of the destiny, you see that?
Onan Shaw: (48:48)
Absolutely. Absolutely. I would say that students have really taken it from the horns. And I think that expands kind of how, and Nicholas was saying, where we have student organizations all across campus who have really started to buy in and have bought in from day one to be able to make sure that the causes that we’ve had across campus all come back to making sure that we stay together as Buckeyes, to be able to make sure that every student organization can continue to run, all students have the ability to then still participate. And I think it comes down to programming as well. When we look at things like BuckeyeThon, an organization who’s raising money for pediatric cancer, typically an in person event every single year.
Onan Shaw: (49:27)
I think you’ve seen organizations like that transform an entire dance marathon to being completely online and recognizing that we can still have the exact same impact, where we can transform and innovate in a greater sense across our campus. And I think that, not only for BuckeyeThon, but across all student organizations, we’ve seen a very, very pivotal shift, but one that I think is utilizing innovation to make the best out of the situation, and not only that, making innovative moves where I think even outside of the pandemic will be beneficial for students.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (49:59)
Thanks for joining us. Good luck to everybody at Ohio State. I want to thank you. We appreciate it very much. We’ll go now to Lieutenant Governor.
Lt. Governor Husted: (50:10)
Good afternoon, Governor. I have four items today. Three of them are on broadband and one of them is a public service announcement that we’ll go over.
Lt. Governor Husted: (50:20)
I want to take folks back to the Broadband Connectivity Grant that we announced on July the 28th. This was $50 million of CARES Act funding that we were making available to schools and their students to supply or meet the urgent need that they had for high speed internet so they could continue their education during the pandemic. Today, we are making the awards of those grants, we’ll be informing 951 schools, school facilities, that their grant requests have been approved, and this will go towards hotspots and internet enabled devices for broadband connectivity.
Lt. Governor Husted: (51:06)
We had $83 million in requests for the $50 million that we had. And so the way we handled this is that for the smaller requests, under $20,000, they will get the entire requested amount for those who qualify. And for schools that went above the $20,000, they will get the entire 20,000, first 20,000. And then above that they will get 60% of their requested amount for qualifying purchases. And this will enable, there’s the good news, bottom line, this will enable 121,000 students to gain access to high speed internet in their homes. And thanks to the devices that will be provided with this grant. So that’s super important.
Lt. Governor Husted: (51:56)
Additionally, there are areas where there are barriers to take home devices. The grant will also support the creation of new public wifi and mobile wifi spaces to help students connect to the internet. And this will enable up to 645,000 students in schools that are increasing their public wifi or mobile use wifi. These students will have places to go. The bottom line is to connect to the internet if they don’t have access to it in their homes. And by the end of the week, all of the schools will receive the notifications of this and they can begin to purchase the items that they need. So good news for hundreds of thousands of students who needed improved access to the internet. We’re getting that out to them this week.
Lt. Governor Husted: (52:47)
Another broadband, if you go back to the telehealth pilot project, we actually announced this in March. I remember it distinctly because it was the first day that we had our first case of COVID-19 that we reported, as you recall, Governor, you and I announced this telehealth pilot project with the Switzerland of Ohio School District, which is in Monroe County. I know both of us have been there. It’s a very rural part of the state down in Southeast Ohio, Switzerland of Ohio was chosen because of that fact, they were a very difficult use case for this.
Lt. Governor Husted: (53:26)
And we believe that if we could improve the situation there, we could provide a strong blueprint for other schools to use who may find themselves in a similar situation. Just to review, Switzerland of Ohio is extremely rural. The district covers all of Monroe County, has significant poverty issues and had serious cases of mental illness, mental health issues, I should say, among students and their families in the last school year. As promised, this project has yielded a lot of really important lessons that we hope will help other school districts. A couple of those lessons. First of all, we now understand the regulation, the regulation restrictions and complications that can come particularly regarding HIPAA rules. So we have been able to work through those. We understand better the facilities and infrastructures needed to provide private telehealth services to students.
Lt. Governor Husted: (54:32)
We understand the staff resources that are necessary, particularly on the IT side. And we understand how a school, what they can do to leverage a relationship with an area health care provider. So the takeaway, frankly, for students, teachers, and school leaders, if you think you could benefit from this telehealth program, and we know a lot of schools can, particularly for mental health services, this pilot project will provide the blueprint for that. And we’ll continue to learn from it. You can find the blueprint at innovate.ohio.gov/broadband. That’s innovate.ohio.gov/broadband. So any school district that wants to understand how they can do this, the information is there, and if that’s not enough, you just call my office and we will make sure we get you to the correct resources.
Lt. Governor Husted: (55:29)
An additional broadband update. This is with the CSI, the Common Sense Initiative AI tool. We announced not too long ago that we have acquired the licenses for an artificial intelligence tool to go through all of the Ohio revised code and administrative code to streamline it. And this research idea came from the telecommunications industry itself because in many cases they find regulatory challenges and it’s confusing to them sometimes on how they can expand broadband as regulated entities. And the CSI team took a big look at this, they took a look using the new artificial intelligence tool. They noticed that there were a lot of common definitions, but this is an interesting thing that they found. There were 303 definitions in Ohio on rules and statutes across 25 different agencies regulating broadband. For example, there are 16 definitions of public utility in Ohio law, across five different agencies. Now, all of this in some way connected to broadband.
Lt. Governor Husted: (56:37)
So we want to streamline this. We want to make it easier for these telecom entities and agencies to help expand broadband across the state. And this is one regulatory reform we can do to help with that. To put this in perspective what the new AI tool does for us, it literally would have taken a team of people a month in their subject areas to get this done, the AI tool took it on in two days, and now we’re going to get those subject matter experts to work with us on getting this streamlined. So these are the ways we’re trying to use technology to innovate and make it easier to provide the services in the private sector to the public that needs it.
Lt. Governor Husted: (57:24)
And then finally, we have a PSA, a public service announcement that we’re making today. And I really need to give you a little bit of background to put this in context. A few months ago, I heard a story about a World War II veteran. I was on a phone call. I heard about the story of a World War II veteran, who when asked about the idea of wearing a mask to fight the war against the spread of the coronavirus, he simply said, “Well, when I was young, they asked me to go to Normandy and fight the Germans. And it seems like wearing a mask is a pretty easy alternative to that.” Well, that’s hard to argue with. And I remember thinking at the time when I heard that story, that just the small sacrifices we’re being asked to make, this story really puts it in perspective. And so I asked if we could meet this gentlemen and see if he might share some thoughts with this.
Lt. Governor Husted: (58:22)
And he certainly was willing to do that. And I want to introduce to you World War II veteran Jim “Peewee” Martin, and he is a 99 year old, Jim Martin is, who lives in Sugar Creek township, which is in Greene County, a County that’s near and dear to the governor. He’s one of Ohio and America’s true heroes in my opinion. And Jim, just get a little more background on him. He volunteered to be a World War II paratrooper and an original member of Company G, Third battalion 506th Parachute infantry regiment in the 101st Airborne Division. And his nickname Peewee was earned because he was 106 pounds, which was the smallest and lightest guy in his company. And in 1944, Jim jumped into France over Utah Beach the night prior to D-Day. And he fought 33 days in the Normandy campaign. And he also fought in Holland, Belgium, and Germany and among his awards, Jim earned the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his great work. A true American hero. And during this time when we’re fighting the war against the coronavirus, Jim has a little message that he recorded for us that we’d like to share right now.
Jim Martin: (59:50)
Hi, I’m Jim “Peewee” Martin, I served as a paratrooper in World War II. As a World War II veteran, a lot of us did our duty during that war. In this war against the Coronavirus, I will wear my mask to protect others. It seems pretty easy. Very little to ask, please do your part and thank you for your service.
Lt. Governor Husted: (01:00:23)
Yeah, he’s an American treasure. And I will just say in conclusion, Governor, makes me want to wear a mask to protect people like Jim “Peewee” Martin who sacrificed for us. And it’s a small thing to ask of others. And so we all should hear Jim’s call and service to one another during this difficult time. So I’ll turn it back over to you, Governor.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:00:45)
Lieutenant Governor. Thank you. Jim Martin has been a friend of our families for a long, long time. The one thing that Lieutenant Governor did not tell you is he’s made a few more jumps and did that not too long ago, actually. So Jim’s a treasure, national treasure. We’re very, very proud that he is from Greene County, but we’re just proud of him. Thanks, Jim. Appreciate it very much. Ready for questions.
Speaker 1: (01:01:16)
Governor, your first question is from Molly Martinez at Spectrum News.
Molly Martinez: (01:01:21)
Hi Governor. Thanks so much for doing this. The legislature met today to discuss HB-6 and former Speaker of the House Larry Householder was there, do you still support HB-6 as law given everything surrounding it? And what does it mean that he was on the floor today? Speaking about householder.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:01:43)
Well, I think I’ve been pretty clear that HB-6 needs to be repealed. We need to start over again. And it needs to be replaced. We’ve got jobs at stake. We’ve also, for the foreseeable future, the vast, vast, vast majority of our non-carbon generating electricity is nuclear. And so if we lose the nuclear, we’ve lost most of that, but we need to start over. So we got to repeal it, legislature. We’re happy to work with the legislature to figure out where we go from here. But I think HB-6 has been so tainted by what came out and what was disclosed that it needs to be repealed. As far as a former Speaker being on the floor, he is still a member, so he has a right to be there. That’s just his call.
Speaker 1: (01:02:58)
Next question is from Tom Gallic at Gongwer News Service.
Tom Gallic: (01:03:03)
Hi Governor. It looks like you might be getting a civil immunity legislation on your desk pretty soon. And you’ve talked about the importance of your Strong Ohio plan. I wondered, what else would you like to see from the legislature in the coming weeks and months?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:03:16)
Well, we’ve got significant reform bill in regard to police, a bill that begins to treat police like the professional job that it really is, which means there’ll be a board, an oversight board, just like for a nurse, just like for a doctor. I think that’s very important. I think it’s important to put in statute that when there is a police shooting that that needs to be, where a police officer shoots someone, that investigation that always takes place, but that investigation needs to be done outside that particular police department. I think that is appropriate. So there’s a lot of other things in this bill, but it’s a bill that really has been worked on by the FOP, Fraternal Order of Police, by local law enforcement, by community members. And it’s really the right thing to do. And as we continue to see cases across the country that draw a lot of attention and tragic, tragic cases, I think we need to remember that there is a bill in Ohio and that we can pass this bill.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:04:35)
Won’t solve every problem, but I think it will certainly deal with some problems and there’s no police officer I’ve ever found who didn’t think it was a profession and we need to treat it that way. And there’s no police officer I’ve ever talked to, going back to when I was a prosecuting attorney, who didn’t think that more training was better. And so these are some of the things with this that this bill does. And I would think the timing is certainly right and the legislature should take that bill on and pass it.
Speaker 1: (01:05:13)
Next question is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.
Alex Ebert: (01:05:18)
Good afternoon, Governor. Thanks so much for having us. Yesterday, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority delayed both its vote on the largest state clawback in US history, 60 million for GM shuttering a Chevy Cruz facility and a vote on incentives for the joint battery facility in Lordstown with LG and GM. Is GM threatening to scale back developments in Ohio if the state goes forward with the clawback? And if not, what is holding up the negotiations? Thank you, sir.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:05:45)
The answer is no, I’m not aware of any threat coming from General Motors. What we have talked about with the Lieutenant Governor, I’ve talked about when we have been in Lordstown, when I’ve been in Mahoning Valley, any place in the Valley, and at these press conferences is that General Motors has been a good partner with the state of Ohio, with the people of the state of Ohio. They have many plants here. We hope they continue to invest here. They employ many workers here. So while they do owe this money, because they did not carry out all the terms of what they said they were going to do, we’re looking for an avenue whereby we can encourage more investment in Ohio. And whereby that we can reach some agreement with General Motors. So I talked to some members of the legislature about this from the Mahoning Valley.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:06:46)
One of the things that they told us was, “Will you go back and see if you can work something out?” And so we’re doing that. We think it’s the right thing to do. We don’t know what that will be, but we hope that there’ll be a win-win. A win for the people of the state of Ohio, where we can see more jobs created, and a win for General Motors. If we can’t get an agreement, then we can’t get an agreement. We’ll have plenty of time to go after them in regard to the money. But it would be best if we can work something out and we’re going to try to do that.
Lt. Governor Husted: (01:07:23)
Governor, just wanted to add that we’re having regular productive conversations with them. We recognize our mutual obligation. They have an obligation to the taxpayers of the state of Ohio, and we have an obligation to them as well. And at the same time we want them to be successful and we want GM to have a successful partnership with the state of Ohio and more so continue to create jobs for the people of the state of Ohio and that constructive dialogue is ongoing.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:08:00)
Speaker 1: (01:08:02)
Next question is from Scott Hallis at the Xenia Daily Gazette.
Scott Hallis: (01:08:08)
Oops, had to unmute, Hey governor, how are you doing today?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:08:11)
Scott Hallis: (01:08:11)
Kind of a two part question. I had a phone call with Mike Turner early today to talk a little bit about a Space Command. And he said Greene County in Ohio is going to put together a really good bid trying to land it here. He said he was working with the state to have a good unified bid. So what exactly is the state doing to help bring that to Ohio? And then what would it mean to Greene County to land something like this with 1400 more jobs and some good high paying jobs?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:08:43)
Well, we have been working with Mike Turner. I know Mike has really taken the lead on this and doing a very, very good job. He has a big vision, as we do. We think that this is an opportunity. We think that we should be not only competitive, but we ought to win this. We’ve got so many things going for us right pat.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:09:02)
Well, we’ve got so many things going for us at it, Wright Pat. One of the first things I did when I became Governor is asked Joe Zees, who has real experience at Wright Patterson Air Force Base to join our team, to be focused on aerospace. He has been working on, on this as well. We think we’re, very, very competitive. We think this is where, those jobs belong. We’re in the game.
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (01:09:38)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:09:40)
Kevin Landers: (01:09:41)
Ohioans are conflicted by the medical information they’re receiving. There are questions about the effectiveness of masks, questions about the true number of deaths related directly to COVID-19. There are also questions about what Ohio’s end game is of a vaccine is not found soon. All of these questions are happening without a Director of the Department of Health. Are you concerned about the science you’re being fed? What is the status of replacing Dr. Amy Acton?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:10:10)
Thank you very much. We are vigorously searching for that person, but this is an important job and we have to have the right person. When I filled the position originally with Dr. Acton, she was the last member of the cabinet to be picked. It was not that we didn’t have other good candidates. We did, but I felt that the role was so essential. Obviously, the role is even more essential today in the pandemic. We have some leads. We are talking to some people, but nothing yet to announce.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:10:44)
I’m impatient about this, as I am about a lot of things. We would like to get that individual on board, but we’re not quite there yet. As far as the issues that you talked about, that where there is a, as you described it, a dispute. With all due respect, I’m not sure there’s a lot of dispute. A mask, the jury, as we used to say, when I was a prosecutor, the jury’s reached a verdict. Masks by every credible person in the medical field, is saying that masks are in fact, important.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:11:24)
We can point to the date when we started mask at our urban areas in the state of Ohio, and you can go forward a week or two weeks, and you started to see numbers change, when the mask compliance went up, you see results. We have seen that in our urban areas. We hope to see more of it in the rural. We’re seeing some out in the rural. We’re seeing people being more compliant, and we know that will make a huge, huge difference. As long as you, as you say, as long as you don’t have a vaccine, the mask and the social distancing are absolutely, the key things that are important.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:12:10)
The other is sanitation. Wash your hands. The other is being outside. I mean, those are all variables and we know each one does, in fact, work. As far as the number of deaths, I saw, I’ve seen stuff on the internet. I saw what was put out, out of Washington. All that really means is, that once someone dies, I think they had 6% were only listed as coronavirus. The other ones had other causes on there. Look, that should not surprise any of us, that people have other medical problems. If they have another medical problem, that problem will get listed on the death certificate. I don’t think that, that shouldn’t be a shock to anybody.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:13:02)
We’ve known in Ohio, the older of a person gets, their possibilities of survival is still good, even at a high age, but it goes down and we know it goes down and statistically, we have seen that. We also know statistically, that as people get older, they pick up more, other medical problems. That’s just a fact of, of life. These numbers, I don’t think, change anything as far as what, what we know about COVID-19 and what we know about the deaths.
Next question is from Jessie Balmert at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Jessie Balmert: (01:13:45)
Hello Governor. My question is, the Cincinnati Police Chief wrote in a letter that there had been some unintended consequences from the early bar closure, things like multiple shootings and assaults at unprecedented levels in the City of Cincinnati. Would you respond to those concerns?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:14:06)
Yeah. I’ve talked Mayor Cranley today about that. I talked to mayor Cranley about that last week as well. And he expressed that to me. So, what the Chief said in his letter to me was not a, not a surprise. We value our close working relationships with local government. They’re the ones who are on the scene. Other mayors in Ohio, because I’ve specifically asked them. Mayor Ginther, Mayor Whaley, for example, have told me that they adamantly feel that the 10 o’clock shut-off of liquor is very important to their communities, and to their cities.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:14:53)
We’re at this point, consulting our lawyers to see, is it possible to carve out Cincinnati out of a statewide order? Frankly, our lawyers, the initial read they gave us was, they were very skeptical if we legally could do that, but they’re going to research it and we’re going to see what they come up with. Again, we believe that overall in the state, it’s worked well, but we respect the mayor in Cincinnati, Mayor Cranley, and we respect the Chief. They have described unintended consequences, basically where people leave the bar and then, because I can’t drink there anymore and they go off to a park or someplace else.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:15:43)
We, we understand that, but I think, clearly the majority of mayors in the state by far, believe just the opposite and they believe that the 10 o’clock has been very, very helpful. We think statewide, it has been helpful as well. We’re going to see what we can do for Cincinnati. We can’t promise anything. Again, we’ve consulted the lawyers to see if there’s something we can do here.
Next question is from Andy Chow at Ohio Public Radio and Television.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:16:16)
Andy Chow: (01:16:18)
Hi, Governor. Just wanted to ask about, just your take on the latest lawsuit filed against the State, now in Federal Court, just going against the different orders that they say, keep Ohio shut down, although we know that a lot of businesses are reopened. Do you have any take on the latest lawsuit?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:16:38)
No. Not really. Not really. You know, we’ve, I’ve been sued many, many times over this. The Health Department’s been sued many, many times. I mean, I don’t know how many. They’ve been in many different counties and going into Federal Court, I suppose, is something that we would have expected. So, no, I don’t have any comment about it. I mean, we’re doing what we know will make a difference. We know that this economy cannot move forward, that people cannot have jobs unless we keep the virus down. We’ve got to keep the virus down.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:17:14)
We’ve been, I think, very thoughtful about what we have done. The State is basically open. There are some restrictions. There’s restrictions we just talked about, for example, in regard to liquor. We’ve tried to take cases for example, and come up with a responsible way to approach them. High school football, high school, other sports, cross-country. We know there’s some danger to that in spread, but we also know there’s really good reasons why young people need to be able to participate. We’ve come up with a compromise, where we don’t have any spectators other than the families and we let the athletes play.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:17:56)
We try to work this thing out. One of the things I think we sometimes forget, is none of these decisions are made in a vacuum. That’s true, not only for the decisions I make as governor. That’s also true for individuals as Ohio citizens, 11.7 million Ohioans. We’re making decisions every day, and none of those decisions could be made in a vacuum. We want to live with this virus, but we don’t want to see the virus come up and consume us. So, it’s trying to find that sweet spot, that happy medium, that we strive for every single day. The lawsuits, I’m sure if people continue to Sue us, but look, I just have to stay focused on what we need to be doing in Ohio.
Next question is from Ben Schwartz at WCPO in Cincinnati.
Ben Schwartz: (01:18:51)
Hi, Governor. I’d like to just quickly ask a followup to what you were recently asked by the Enquirer, about Police Chief Elliott of Cincinnati’s letter to you. Is it safe to say that Ohioans shouldn’t expect a statewide change in the order regarding bars and restaurants closing at 10 o’clock, anytime soon?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:19:12)
We are going to … I mean, we took this seriously. I mean, this isn’t anything we’re blowing off. This is something that, when a Chief says something, we take it seriously. When a Mayor says something, we take it seriously. We’re trying to see if there, is there a way that we can do that? The preliminary conversation I had with our lawyer today was, it’s going to be difficult, but they’re going to look at it and they’re going to get back to me. I’ll certainly share that with everyone, with the public and with the Mayor and with the Chief.
Next question is from Angela Ingram at WKRC in Cincinnati. We’ll come back to Angela. Next question is from Spencer Hickey at Hannah News Service.
Spencer Hickey: (01:20:06)
Thank you. Governor, just following up on the bars, we’ve seen a number of ones that were cited by the State Patrols, Ohio Investigative Unit in some cases, multiple times for violating the health orders. I was just wondering if you had any comment on some of that?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:20:31)
No, not really. I mean, there’s a process, as you know. They go in front of the Liquor Control Commission. The Liquor Control Commission hears the evidence and they make a decision. They have made some decisions. There’s more cases pending, and I’m sure they’ll continue to process those cases. But the Investigative Unit will continue to do what they do, which is to go out and make sure the laws are being enforced.
Next question is from Jim Otte, at WHIO in Dayton.
Jim Otte: (01:21:10)
Governor, what level of detail will you be requiring for K through 12 schools, for the reporting of coronavirus cases, but still protecting privacy? Then secondly, who’s going to be doing the contact tracing in these schools?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:21:24)
Contact tracing is going to be done by, at the County level. We are there to back the back them up. We have contact tracers, if a County needs it. We have a number of counties where we have contact tracers who are assisting them. It really depends on the size of the outbreak, but this is what we’ve encouraged, and what we’ve seen, is a very close working relationship between the local health department and the local school. I jokingly told the superintendents a few months ago, I said, “If you don’t know your health director, you will. Get to know them very well.” Look, I’m just very proud of what Ohio superintendents and principals and teachers have done across the state. Very difficult circumstances. They’re doing something they really never had to do before.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:22:09)
Some doing it remotely, some doing it in-person, some doing hybrid, but they’ve all worked at, they’ve all looked at it. Part of that preparation is working very closely with their local health department. Jim, second part of your, first part of your question, had to do was, what kind of specificity are we going to require? Look, we’ve got to balance this. What we, the law does not allow you to give up information that clearly pinpoints medical information and clearly pinpoints who that particular person is. Many times people will certainly know who that person is, but that we have to be careful to follow the law in that area.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:22:52)
In all likelihood, for example, the information, first of all, if you’re a parent and you’ve got a child who’s come in contact in school with someone who now the school knows has COVID, the school will inform you as that parent. That’s what I think as parents or grandparents, we would all expect. Second, if you’ve got a child in the building, in a building where someone who’s had COVID, even if they have not been in contact with your particular child, then just, you will be notified. Everybody who has a child in that building will be notified that in fact, there’s somebody in that building who had COVID. Then third, it’s a bigger, bigger picture. These are going to be reported in all likelihood, by school district, such and such a district, every week, has so many cases. That’s, in all likely … We haven’t got it totally worked out yet, but that’s in all likelihood the way it’s going to work with those three levels.
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus,
Adrienne Robbins: (01:24:04)
Governor, thank you for doing this. You talked about today’s case numbers rising and possibly that being due to cases and testing on our college campuses. Are you looking at these cases through a different lens than our general case count, like we have with nursing homes and prisons? Have you thought about separating those cases out on the dashboard so that people can see how just how many cases are coming from our universities?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:24:31)
I don’t think that would be a good idea. I think that, if you’re talking about prisons, then there’s always a relevance to the community, even with prisons, because you have people from the community who are bringing it in, and then people who were going, who work there, who may be taking it out too. So, there’s a relevance to the community, but a prison is a static population. Not static. They come in and out, but it’s because they’re released. But most of the people are there and not mingling into that community. But when you talk about a college, students at Miami University, students at OU, students at Ohio State, Bowling Green, Kent State, they’re in those communities, they’re uptown.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:25:15)
You know, they may work someplace there. They, many of them don’t even live on campus. They live out in the community. I think it would be mistake. It’s interesting. I think, we try to figure out, okay, why are our numbers up? I mean, we’ve seen our positivity numbers go up in the last eight, nine days. We don’t like them. Why are they going up? Why are the cases remaining high, over 1400 today? That’s not good. We try to at least understand it and drill down and figure it out. But even then, it’s not particularly easy.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:25:54)
You basically, could take the number put out by the school and then you could see those numbers are showing up in your numbers, so you know that those are separate and anybody could do that. I mean, anybody picking up the paper in Dayton can figure out what UD’s doing. Ohio state, they can figure out in Columbus and on and on. But to separate them would indicate they’re not part of the community, I think that would be a mistake because they are part of the community.
Next question is from Jeff Radich at WSYX in Columbus.
Jeff Radich: (01:26:29)
Thanks Governor. To piggyback on that question, and with respect to [inaudible 01:26:36] Shaw, who spoke earlier, it seemed to be a bit of a real picture for Ohio State University, which at last report was nearing a 6% positivity rate. Knowing that, that’s a source of cases in the community, how would it be before your administration is driven to act beyond what the University might do?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:26:57)
Well, we’re certainly … I had the opportunity to talk with the new President, who I think, starts officially today or yesterday. A new President, we talked, had a nice conversation over the weekend just about that, frankly, about the rising positivity. If I remember correctly, when the students came back, it was about six-tenths of 1%. A little above, one half of 1% positivity, just as they were coming in. We’ve seen that number go up. As you see that number go up, it’s, just like we see any numbers go up, that’s not good. If that positivity number keeps going up, obviously something’s going to have to be done. But, the college Presidents are very much on top of this. I can tell you, Ohio State’s is. UD’s is. Miami’s is. Bowling Green.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:27:56)
I could go through, because I’ve been talking to a lot of them and they’re they’re all over this. I’m not sure it’s going to be my decision. It’s probably initially, it’s probably is going to be a decision made by that school. But let’s hope. Let’s hope that students at Ohio State, students at every other university in the state or college in the state, recognize that their ability to stay on campus, their ability to stay in class, is solely within, collectively, within their own hands. They really control that and the school can do everything that it can do.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:28:32)
Again, just like our K through 12 schools, our colleges and universities have spent a significant amount of money and time. I have every confidence that these kids are as safe as they could be. We’re adults, in class, in the library, even in, usually in the dorm, but it is what students do other times. It’s what they do that simply, can’t be controlled by the university. We all remember when we were that age, what we did and people like to party. They like to get together. That’s part of the college experience, but doing it with a mask is just vitally important today and doing it with social distancing is vitally important.
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:29:17)
Doing it outside, if you can do it outside. So much safer outside. Again, I would say to our K through 12, anytime you can have those kids outside, when you think it’s safe outside and there’s not a storm or something, if you can get them outside, that is going to be a safer environment than inside, just by definition. We’ve learned that so very, very much in the last few months. College Presidents are on this. They’re focused on it. They’re watching the numbers and they’re doing what they can.
Governor, your next question is your last question, and it belongs to Max Filby, of the Columbus Dispatch.
Max Filby: (01:29:59)
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:30:00)
Max Filby: (01:30:01)
Given your concern about Labor Day Weekend, and the fact that cases rose over July 4th weekend, and also the fact that we’ve got a number of holidays coming up toward the end of the year, this year that are on Fridays, Saturdays, that’ll give us some long weekends. Have you given any thought to implementing any sort of COVID restrictions limited to holiday weekends and why or why not?
Gov. Mike DeWine: (01:30:25)
Max, I thought about a lot of different things and frankly, I continue to think about what else can we do? What else can we do when we’re seeing the positivity go up? What else can we do? We know colleges are coming back. They’re in. There’s a lot of mixing, just naturally. The same thing with K through 12. Yeah, I think about things a lot. I’ve not made any decision to do that, but I’ve certainly thought about it. Eric is telling me that we are done. I guess that’s the last question. We will, barring something unforeseen, we will see you all here, two o’clock on Thursday. Thank you very much.