Sep 3, 2020

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Press Conference Transcript September 3

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Press Conference Transcript September 3
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsOhio Governor Mike DeWine Press Conference Transcript September 3

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on September 3 to give coronavirus updates. Read the transcript of his news briefing here.

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Mike DeWine: (06:50)
Good afternoon, everybody. The [inaudible 00:06:57] today is from Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. They started in 1920. It’s the first Catholic university for women in Southwestern Ohio. 1986, the university formally declared coeducational. We congratulate them on 100 years. Go Lions. Today is the six month anniversary of the decision to cancel spectators attending the Arnold Classic. Six months, hard to believe. That was certainly a tough decision for us, but I believe it’s set Ohio on a very good path. I want to thank Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther, Columbus Health Director Mysheika Roberts, and of course, then Ohio Director of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, for their work on that decision. It was the right decision. It was a tough decision, but it got us started. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been at this now for six months.

Mike DeWine: (08:16)
We’ve all learned a lot in that period of time. We learned a lot more about this virus. Ohioans from the beginning have stepped up. You have stepped up. And although we have had great tragedy, a number of Ohioans dying, a number of Ohioans getting very sick, a number of Ohioans who have lost their jobs, the fact still remains that Ohioans have done pretty well throughout this, in the sense of stepping up and doing what it took so that we did get in a situation like some other states, at least not so far, where we saw the virus spike up dramatically. We have been able to avoid that, and frankly, that’s a tribute to what each and every one of you has done during that period of time.

Mike DeWine: (09:14)
Labor Day is coming up, Labor Day weekend, and the White House has talked a lot about this. And people may ask, “Well, what’s so important about Labor Day?” What we saw over the 4th of July was a rather dramatic uptick in travel, people getting together, what we would expect people in a normal year to do over the 4th of July weekend. And as a result of that, in some days, weeks after that, we begin seeing the uptick again in number of cases. So, Labor Day is coming. The White House has been very clear about the dangers we face on this Labor Day weekend. Vice President Pence expressed it directly to me, and asked me to share with all of you the message of, “Please, please be careful.”

Mike DeWine: (10:13)
What we do this weekend will really determine what our fall is going to look like, and we’ve got a lot at stake. We’ve got kids back in school, we’ve got college kids back in school. We’ve got a lot of things going for us in Ohio, and we do not want to turn back. What we do, what we don’t do, will certainly determine the fall. We certainly can still have fun. We can get together with family members. Many people will be traveling. The medical experts tell us that it’s really not so much where you go, but rather what you do and how you do it.

Mike DeWine: (10:59)
For example, if you drive an hour to a state park with your family, you’re together, you go out and you hike. You enjoy the great outdoors. That’s one thing, and that’s pretty benign. That’s pretty safe. But if you just walk next door to your neighbor’s who’s having a barbecue with a lot of your friends and neighbors there, but no one social distances, no one wears a mask, even though that’s right next door, it may seem like it’s safe. It’s a lot more dangerous than going to that state park, even though you drove an hour. So it’s not just about how far you go. It’s really about what you do, what we all do, when we get there. I want to show a chart of one of the things that we have seen. We’re going to hear in a moment from Miami University’s president, and a lot on the news, of course national news as well as local news, about our universities coming back in.

Mike DeWine: (12:08)
This chart shows the weekly data from March through the end of August, and it features age groups among Ohioans age 0 to 29. So as you look at this, this is not everybody. This is 0 to 29. And so you start at the bottom with 0 to 4. Next color up, here 5 to 10 years of age, then 11 to 13, and 14 to 17. And then you get up into what I would call orange of sorts, orange yellow, I guess. And that is 18 to 22. And so this is the truly remarkable numbers. And again, universities are back.

Mike DeWine: (12:56)
A lot of our universities are doing, frankly, a very good job in testing. And because of that, you’re seeing that 35% of the cases this past week, 35% of the cases of those tested positive, were in that very fine age group of 18 to 22. So just an interesting chart as we move forward. And to our friends in college, again, we ask you to be careful. Because while all of us when we were your age thought we were invincible, you can pass this on. You can get it and pass it on, and that really is the danger that’s passed on to someone who is older or someone who has a medical problem. And we have seen where those 18 to 22 have in fact certainly have gotten sick.

Mike DeWine: (13:57)
We know that your odds… Mortality is much better odds, obviously, the younger you are. So while many of these college students certainly may not get seriously sick, what we are concerned about is the spread. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that with Miami’s president. Eric, let’s go to the kind of the key indicators today. 1, 345 cases and 50 deaths. So, certainly not good. It’s consistent with what we’ve seen. We’ve sort of hit a plateau, and we certainly can’t drop below 1,000, and we’re around 12, 1300. And that continuous on. The sad note, of course, 50 deaths reported the Department of Health since yesterday. That’s the highest number of deaths reported the Department of Health on a single day since June. We’re also reporting 89 new hospitalizations and 14 new ICU admissions. Eric, let’s go to our top [88 00:15:12] counties.

Mike DeWine: (15:12)
As you recall, we have started doing this a few weeks ago, really just trying to do the snapshot of two weeks to see how many cases each county had, and then we equalize that out by putting it per 100 thousand population. So, we see those counties. Let’s go, Eric, to the 10 if we could. And you’ll see Putnam County and then Montgomery County. Meigs County, Butler County, Jackson, Darke, Shelby, Mercer, Henry, and in Auglaize. And again, most of these counties, 9 of these 10 counties are fairly rural counties. Butler is certainly not a rural county, at least most of it is not. So that really leaves eight that are pretty much rural counties. Let me kind of go through these for a moment.

Mike DeWine: (16:11)
So Eric, let’s go to the map now. So this is the new map. 67 of our counties stay at the same level as they did last week. The greatest movement happened with 12 counties moving down from orange to yellow, like to see that. We now have 39 yellow counties, the highest number we’ve had since July 2nd. The population of Ohioans living in counties… The yellow counties also hit a high today. 26%, a fourth of all Ohioans, are now living in a yellow county, so that’s improvement. Lorain County dropped two levels this week from red to yellow. And frankly, we asked what was going on in Lorain. Local health department officials tell us that more residents are following the protocols or wearing their mask. Residents also are using caution when planning gatherings, or taking the health department’s recommended protocols into consideration when making those plans. Certainly great news, but we still have counties that are red. Seven counties this week, Butler, Lucas, Mercer, Montgomery, Preble, Putnam, and Wayne. Let’s start with Putnam County, which as we said, has the highest rate.

Mike DeWine: (17:24)
268 cases per 100,000, so they are at number one. They’re red for the first time this week. They’ve seen a sustained increase in new cases. During the past two weeks, they’ve had 91 new cases out of a total of 358 cases during the entire pandemic. That’s a quarter of all the cases they’ve had, just in the last two weeks. They’ve increased from an average of 3.6 cases per day on August 15th, to an average of 9.3 cases per day on August 26th. County has also seen a sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illnesses, which of course are the early warning signs. The cases they’re seeing are primarily associated with family gatherings and community spread. Let’s go to Montgomery County. They remain red this week. They’ve had 19.3% of their cases during the past two weeks. That’s 1,191 new cases in two weeks, compared to 6,146 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic. They’re seeing a sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness from an average of 36 visits per day on August 24th, now to 46.3 visits per day.

Mike DeWine: (18:40)
We are seeing, of course, some of this is being driven by what’s going on at the University of Dayton. The university has scheduled remote learning through September 14th to help mitigate the spread. Local health department is working with UD on contact tracing and messaging. Montgomery County also has several longterm care facility outbreaks, which local health department’s working on. Let’s turn to Butler County. Sadly, Butler County returns red this week. They’ve had 841 new cases in the past two weeks, out of 4,300 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s 19% of their total cases have occurred during the last two weeks. They’re also seeing an increase in outpatient visits for COVID- like illness from an average of 58 visits per day on August 21, to 73 visits per day on average on September 1. Miami University is certainly impacting cases for Butler County. They’ve had outbreaks associated with students attending house parties.

Mike DeWine: (19:49)
And again, let me just say, we’re seeing this throughout the state. We’re seeing University of Dayton. We’ve seen Ohio State. We’re seeing Miami. We’re seeing some at UC, and other places. But I think the good news is that when you’re seeing those cases, that means there is testing. That means the university is being aggressive in going after this problem. And as I will talk to Dr. Crawford in a moment, again, our message to college students is the same message that presidents have had for the college students in pretty blunt terms. And that is, if you want to stay here, if you want to stay in class and have a college year, things have to be different. Have to wear masks, have to not go to large parties, have to keep the social distance. Let’s turn to Mercer County. Continues red this week…

Mike DeWine: (20:43)
The county has had 72 new cases during the past two weeks, which is almost 9% of their total cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Mercer County continues to have community spread, so we just ask our friends in Mercer County wear masks and social distance, very important. Preble County remains red this week because they meet the CDC’s threshold for high incidents, 122 cases per 100,000. They’ve had 50 new cases during the past two weeks out of 358 total since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s a 14% increase. Excuse me, that’s 14% of their total cases have occurred in the last two weeks. They’ve had outbreaks in a group home, and have worked hard to control a large outbreak in a long-term care facility. Lucas County. Lucas County remains red this week because they meet the CDC’s threshold for high incidence, which they are at 112 per 100,000 population.

Mike DeWine: (21:43)
They’ve had 481 new cases in the past two weeks. They’ve had several long-term care facility outbreaks that local health department officials are in fact monitoring. Wayne County is red for the first time this week. Cases have increased from an average of 5 1/2 cases per day on August 15th, now to an average of 12.1 cases per day. They’ve had 104 new cases during the past two weeks. You’re also seeing a sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness from an average of 4.6 visits per day on August 25th to 9.6 on September 1. The county has had several outbreaks in business and churches. There also is a large long-term care facility outbreak. Local health department has been working on this, and we continue to keep in touch with them. Let me just talk about… We’ve shared in the past some stories about how we’re seeing, just anecdotally, how we’re seeing the spread. In Cincinnati, multiple off-campus parties with students attending from several universities on August 14 have resulted in at least 78 confirmed cases so far. Up in Wood County-

Mike DeWine: (23:03)
… eight confirmed cases so far. Up in Wood County, there were small social gatherings that led to a few cases, but those who have been exposed have now spread the virus to multiple people. The county has 15 confirmed cases associated with a university move-in day on August 27th. Again, these stories show us how quickly this virus can spread. Again, to emphasize, we can get it from our friends, we can get it from our family because so many people, particularly young people, don’t show signs of it, sometimes it is very difficult to know if they have it. It’s impossible to know. And they don’t know that they have it. That’s why it’s so very important for us to be careful and very important for us to be careful this weekend.

Mike DeWine: (23:54)
Let me turn to another subject. We’ve talked a little bit about this before, but I want to give everyone an update and then we’ll have more information later. And that is waste monitoring network. We’re posting information today @coronavirus.ohio.gov about the Ohio coronavirus wastewater monitoring network. This is a new effort to study wastewater at a number of sewage treatment plants across the state to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The system will provide us with early warning sign of possible COVID-19 cases, increase in any given community where that testing is being done. It will also allow decision makers to move quickly to implement a plan to deal with it. Researchers will look for gene copies or fragments of non-infectious RNA. This is from the virus that causes COVID-19. These can be found in the waste from infected people, both those who have symptoms and those who do not have symptoms, they can be detected in wastewater as many as three to seven days before those infections lead to increases in case counts or hospitalizations in a community.

Mike DeWine: (25:18)
Each wastewater treatment plant covers a specific service area. So these are community level measures that can be used to determine if a local surge in COVID-19 cases might be eminent or may be imminent. Along with allowing communities to take proper precautions, the information also can help us alert healthcare partners about a potential uptick in cases, monitor case data and interventions in potential hot spots. It also will help us target high risk settings like universities, nursing homes, or other congregate settings with additional testing and tracing. Initial sampling sites were located in the state’s major metropolitan areas, and we’ve been steadily adding other locations over the past several weeks. There are currently 22 active sites, including Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Sandusky, Newark, and Lancaster, among others. Sites are being added in medium and smaller cities and communities and will be updated regularly on our dashboard.

Mike DeWine: (26:18)
To help local communities inform residents of the upticks, we’re developing a toolkit that can be used to explain spikes, what they mean, and local response efforts that are needed. This also will be posted on coronavirus.ohio.gov in the coming days. The project is a collaboration between many of our state agencies and others, including the Department of Health, the Ohio EPA, the US EPA, Water Resources Center at Ohio State University and several universities, including Toledo, Kent, State, and Akron.

Mike DeWine: (26:53)
Let me turn to another subject in regard to childcare. Earlier this week, we saw a milestone achieved in our childcare system in Ohio, and we’re happy to announce this. As of Tuesday, all childcare providers in Ohio that serve publicly funded children were required to be rated on Ohio childcare quality rating system called Step Up To Quality. And that has been achieved. When I came to office on January 14th, just 39% of our approximately 2000 providers were Step Up to Quality rated. Now they are all rated. More than 4,400 providers were Step Up to Quality rated. Meaning that just in 20 months, we more than doubled the number that are in fact being rated. By 2025, all providers must be rated three stars or higher on the rating system.

Mike DeWine: (27:50)
And so our goal now, everybody’s on the dashboard, is now to get everybody up and to increase the quality. So I want to thank the staff at the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, our county JFS agencies, our resource referral agencies, and our childcare providers, and all the folks who work there for doing a very, very good job. And thank each and every one of you for taking care of our children so very well every day.

Mike DeWine: (28:22)
Now let me turn to drinking water. Staying with childcare centers, but talking about drinking water. And this has to do with a problem that we’ve talked about before, and that is the lead problem. We know that there are still some childcare facilities in our state, particularly in lower income areas, where through no fault of their own, their drinking water flows through lead pipes. Although lead in water is rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning, many times, of course, it’s coming from the paint. It can significantly increase someone’s total lead exposure, especially infants who drink baby formula or concentrated juices mixed with contaminated water. We launched our H2Ohio initiative last year to tackle a number of water quality issues in this state, particularly focused on water quality in Lake Erie, the algae bloom. But also, we’re working on lead pipes and getting them replaced. And so we’re targeting those that are going into childcare facilities. So we’re making the following announcement. In Cincinnati, officials have identified nearly 200 childcare facilities with lead service lines or fixtures. Today, I’m happy to announce that the Ohio EPA, through the H2Ohio initiative, is awarding Greater Cincinnati Water Works $725,000 to remove and replace those. The Ohio Department of Health is also contributing funding for lead fixture testing through a federal award from the US EPA. Cincinnati has been proactive in working to prevent lead exposure in the city. We’re excited to help them and contribute to these efforts.

Mike DeWine: (30:13)
Now let me turn to President Crawford, president of Fran’s alma mater and my alma mater, Miami University. Miami has been aggressive in what it’s been doing. And Dr. Crawford, if we get you up on the screen, are you with us? Dr. Crawford is with us. Well, we’ll see, Eric, if Dr. Crawford is there. If not, we will-

Dr. Crawford: (30:47)
Can you hear me?

Mike DeWine: (30:48)
Yep. We can hear you, doctor.

Dr. Crawford: (30:49)
Can you see me okay?

Mike DeWine: (30:52)
Now we can see you. So Dr. Crawford, thanks for joining us from Oxford. And I know you’ve been aggressive in regard to testing, and kind of tell us where you are. You had kind of a different timetable in regard to starting on, I think you started all online. Is that correct?

Dr. Crawford: (31:13)
That’s correct, sir.

Mike DeWine: (31:14)
And so just kind of walk us through what has been your experience in regard to the COVID virus and how you prepared for it and what you’re, frankly, what you’re seeing right now and where you are.

Dr. Crawford: (31:26)
Sure. Well, thank you so much, Governor DeWine. It’s great to be with you today. And thank you so much for your leadership in keeping Ohioans safe and healthy. We’re deeply grateful for all that you do for all of us. And we are sending our best wishes from Oxford to our first lady, Fran. But let me start off by saying a few things about our gratitude and what we’re doing in collaborating with Chancellor Randy Gardner of the Ohio Department of Higher Ed and with the presidents of our state institutions with the Inner University Council of Ohio and its president, Bruce Johnson.

Dr. Crawford: (31:57)
Through our collaborative efforts with our public university colleagues, a return to campus plan was created with broad input across all the universities. That included 24 categories with baseline health protocols. These protocols included some most recent science information and practices. And at Miami, we incorporated all these into our Healthy Together plan for our reopening strategy. We work collaboratively and frequently with our health commissioner, Jenny Baylor, and her dedicated staff at the Butler County General Health District, our partners at TriHealth, and the city of Oxford to implement our institutional plan and to help protect our university community and the residents of Northwest Butler County.

Dr. Crawford: (32:40)
Well, we began this semester with the vast majority of our undergraduate students being taught remotely. Our first and second year students are not scheduled to begin moving in to the residence halls until September 14th. And then in-person classes and hybrid classes will begin on September 21st. That being said, we currently have a significant number of students living off campus in the Oxford community. And even though our first and second year students have not returned to campus yet, we have seen a spike in COVID cases among our students living off campus. We now report 704 positive COVID cases, and we’re thankful there’s no hospitalizations. But in the short time frame, this surge of cases really demonstrates the aggressive nature of this virus. And in response to this spike and working together with all of our partners, we have increased our testing strategies and have taken other actions. Testing broadly is so important here. In partnership with our TriHealth health provider, we have the capacity to test now over 3000 individuals each week through wide net and surveillance testing. This is in addition to diagnostic testing of persons who are presenting symptoms. These two approaches help identify asymptomatic individuals who are positive or potential clusters of positive cases. The wide net strategy allows us to test individuals who have been potentially exposed to the virus, but perhaps not have been identified as a close contact through the tracing processes. And on the surveillance side, testing identifies a sample of individuals for testing, even though they are not symptomatic or identified as having close contact with a positive individual. So we are also investing in a technology that can provide test results within 15 to 20 minutes. And once operational, it’ll further enhance and advance our testing strategies here in Oxford.

Dr. Crawford: (34:37)
And in addition to all this testing that we’re doing, we are also aggressively applying other strategies to flatten the curve and reverse our trend. First, we are grateful to Butler County Health District for aggregating all of our tests from all testing sites. So not just our healthcare partners, but also to have a more complete count of positive cases across all of our students. That’s very important. Second, Butler County Health District has also hired many more contact tracers. Miami provided 80 of those, 15 more came from the Ohio Department of Health, and more are being trained. And contact tracers really enable us to more quickly quarantine and isolate students to help slow the spread of the virus. And then in conjunction with the advice of the Butler County Health Commissioner, we are emphasizing the importance of staying home this Labor Day weekend. And as you have pointed out, Governor, hunkering down this weekend will greatly minimize the potential for further spread of the virus.

Dr. Crawford: (35:40)
We continue to educate our community on the importance of wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distancing, practicing good hand hygiene, and limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people. And our city of Oxford has passed aggressive ordinances around mask wearing and gathering size. And the city of Oxford has also launched a great video including Miamians on their healthy campaign. Engaging all these strategies consistently, we can help reduce the spread of COVID in our community. We are working very hard to flatten the curve and turn over our current and very concerning upward trend. And our greatest concern is the health of our students, faculty, staff, and community members. And we are doing everything we can to ensure that we are all healthy together. And I want to thank you, Governor, for this opportunity to share this update with the great state of Ohio. Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (36:32)
Well, Dr. Crawford, Fran and I have a grandson who is a first year and a granddaughter who’s second year. And I’m sure they would want me to ask you the question, what’s it looking like for moving in?

Dr. Crawford: (36:51)
So our move-in date is scheduled for September 14th. And then in classes will start on September 21st. And so we notified the community yesterday. We’re going to watch those metrics carefully over the Labor Day weekend. And then we’ll actually let everybody know in the Miami committee no later than next Wednesday on how we’re doing, where we sit, and how we move forward together.

Mike DeWine: (37:14)
Mr. President, I noticed I’m looking at a release from Butler County Health Department. One of the things I kind of underlined here, urging members of the community to be responsible, avoid parties, large gatherings, noting that the state of Ohio saw an increase in cases following Memorial Day holiday weekend. And then it talks about staying put, which I guess is your message. And I know you’ve been communicating a lot directly to your students. Kind of two part question. One, what do you attribute the spread on campus to, or off campus, in Oxford at least? And what’s your message to Miami students?

Dr. Crawford: (38:02)
Yeah. So early on, when students started moving back to Oxford, even though we started online and remote, upperclassmen moved back. And those early weekends in August, we saw an uptick in parties and gatherings. And so I think that’s what’s responsible for the surge today. And so our message to students is we put a lot of protocols in place to keep everybody safe and healthy. And now, as individuals, in order for each of us to be healthy, all of us have to be healthy. And so take the individual responsibility to wearing your mask, do your social distancing, and just be very careful out there. And to be safe and to be healthy, and to know that in order for us to get back to campus and to have a successful semester, we’re going to have to follow all the protocols and guidelines that have been set forth by the state of Ohio and also the CDC.

Mike DeWine: (38:55)
Doctor, thank you very much. We wish you and all your team at Miami University and the students well. Hope you have a great year.

Dr. Crawford: (39:03)
Thank you, Governor.

Mike DeWine: (39:05)
Thank you. Appreciate it.

Dr. Crawford: (39:06)
Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (39:08)
Today, we’re issuing a COVID-19 order in regard to K through 12 schools. We have already announced that we’d be issuing an order. It really is encouraging three things. One, for parents to notify a school if their child tests positive for COVID-19. Two, our order will encourage the school to notify parents if there is a positive case in their child’s school building. And finally, the order will make the information about cases available to the public on our coronavirus website. So today we’ll be putting that on the website. It will go into effect on September 8th. And let me just say before I kind of read through here, most schools are already doing this. I’ve talked to superintendents and received emails from them. And by the way, thank you for those who have sent me emails and kept me up to date on what’s going on. And congratulations to everything that you’ve been doing. And I want to thank your teams, all the superintendents and all your teams. Thank you for what you’re doing.

Mike DeWine: (40:17)
But beginning September 8th, the order will go into effect on September 8th, parents or guardians of school staff should notify their school within 24 hours of receiving a positive test or a clinical diagnosis. Obviously, the faster, the better. But certainly no later than 24 hours. Within 24 hours after receiving the notification, the school should notify parents or guardians about that case in writing, providing as much information as possible without releasing protected health information. There’ll be templates available on the coronavirus website. School must also notify their local health department.

Mike DeWine: (40:51)
Beginning September 15th, local health departments will report the number of newly reported and cumulative cases to the Ohio Department of Health every Tuesday. There will be a template on the coronavirus website for this reporting as well. The Ohio Department of Health will publish this data by school or school district, including a breakdown by students and staff every Thursday. In addition, a school district or school will identify for their local health department a COVID-19 coordinator to facilitate the reporting of case information. And upon request, schools or buildings are required to provide the local health department a copy of their pandemic plan. We understand that there’s always this balance between right to know and privacy. We do not intend for protected health information to be released in our efforts to provide information to Ohioans, but that information is releasing as much as we can is very important.

Mike DeWine: (41:54)
And I want to say this again, just because a school may have positive cases among their students or their staff does not mean the school did anything wrong. In fact, if there are cases, they are reporting them, they’re doing what they should be doing. They may have done absolutely everything possible to prevent the spread within their buildings. But schools can not control what happens out in the local community. And what happens in the local community as far as the spread will be reflected in that school. Let me go now to the Lieutenant Governor, Jon.

Jon: (42:32)
Thanks, Governor. I want to give a quick update today, a little economic news and then a thank you. I think many people saw that Ohio was ranked number two in the 2020, I guess I’ll hold it up here, we’re ranked number two in the 2020 aerospace manufacturing attractiveness rating, I should say. We got high scores for our tax policy and our infrastructure. But another piece of good news that also is tangential to this is something that our development services agency led. The US Department of Defense designated Ohio one of six states as a defense manufacturing community. It’s a designation that supports long term community investments in strengthening national security innovation and expanding capabilities of defense manufacturing. Really important for our economy because we know how much of our economy relies on aerospace and defense and manufacturing. All of these fit together.

Jon: (43:39)
This really is a signal to innovators, contractors, businesses that Ohio, as it’s seen through the Department of Defense, is a great place to invest. And this puts us in position to secure more federal dollars, which the Development Services Agency will attempt to seek grants for, to help manufacturers invest in modernizing their manufacturing process and also upskilling their workforce. So this is another nice win for us as a state to show that we have our aerospace, our manufacturing, and our activity surrounding that in line and primed to continue to be a driver of our economic recovery in the economy of the state.

Jon: (44:33)
And then additionally, I want to share a thank you. As everyone will recall, during the beginning stages of the virus and the economic challenges that people faced, we had a real challenge at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services on processing unemployment claims. And we never got a chance to thank some of the people behind the scenes who stepped forward. And Progressive insurance, I want to thank them because they sent us a bunch of their employees free of charge, 100 of them, to step up and be part of the early response to the pandemic to help us put folks in the call center to process calls and help people navigate that system. And Progressive did that for us free of charge to try to pitch in during a difficult time. And we want to thank them for that.

Jon: (45:26)
And then also, Governor, something I know that you and I talked about earlier in the week that I’ll say that the Ohio High School Athletic Association, they have been a great partner to us as we’ve reopened sports for competition in the state of Ohio. And they have had, want to reassure folks, they have had observers out there at games and competitions to try to make sure that we’re creating a safe environment for our student athletes and for the fans. And I want to thank them for that effort as they help schools navigate this process, to make sure that they’re following the rules. They had great compliance in week one.

Jon: (46:03)
… make sure that they’re following the rules. They had great compliance in week one. A lot of teaching and learning still can go on there, particularly among excited student athletes who may want to congregate and get together. But the Ohio High School Athletic Association is out there. They’re helping our schools comply and trying to create a safe environment for sports and competition. So with those three updates, governor, I just will turn it back over to you.

Mike DeWine: (46:25)
All right, John, thank you very much. One other item before we go to questions, Dr. Sophia Tolliver is a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She treats families at Ohio State East, OSU East, she’s had a heart for service and community health. She’s a proud graduate of the medical program at OSU where she also did her residency. She’s a passionate advocate for the health of her patients and all Ohioans, which is why we ask her to help us with some public service announcements. And here is one of them.

Sophia Tolliver: (47:03)
Hi [inaudible 00:47:05] Tolliver. As a family doctor, I know the health threat of the coronavirus is very real. And I also know that one of the best preventative measures you and I can take against it is to wear a mask. A mask protects you when you wear it, and it protects others as well. Along with social distancing and frequent hand washing, wearing a mask can help stop the spread. It’s really pretty simple. We’re all in this together.

Mike DeWine: (47:30)
Let me just do one more announcement, then we will go to questions. In early August, I announced that Ohio received a donation from FEMA. More than two million masks that we delivered to state education service centers to distribute to students and teachers in K through 12. Since then, we received word of more donations today. We’re announcing that FEMA will donate an additional nine million masks in the next few weeks. We’ll be distributing four million of those masks to students and teachers at schools across the state, including public, private, charter, parochial and career centers.

Mike DeWine: (48:09)
In addition, 144,000 masks will go to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to distribute to daycare centers. An additional two million masks will go to programs and organizations that help underserved individuals. Finally, we’re designating one million masks to higher education institutions across the state of Ohio. Remaining masks will be stored until they are needed. I want to thank FEMA for that donation and Ohio EMA, the Departments of Education, Job, and Family Services and Higher Education that will help with that distribution. We’ll now go to questions.

Speaker 1: (48:47)
Governor, your first question today is from Laura Hancock at cleveland.com.

Laura Hancock: (48:51)
Hey, Governor DeWine. My question is about the vaccine. You’ve said at every juncture that your chief concern in your decision making is the safety of the people of Ohio. So given everything you know about coronavirus, would you or your Health Department advice people take a vaccine that’s not been fully tested in accordance to generally accepted protocols?

Mike DeWine: (49:19)
Well, this is not out yet. We do not have all the information. I have the same information, really, that most Ohioans do about this. So we’re waiting and you know, frankly what we need to do, what Ohioans need to do is to listen to medical experts when this vaccine comes out. I am sure that they will not bring this vaccine out and make it available to the public unless enough testing has been done, but every Ohioan will be able to watch the news and see, as this progresses over the next few weeks. Look, we’re all in a hurry to get a vaccine, but we all also want it to be right. And so Ohioans will have the opportunity to watch the news. They’ll have the opportunity to listen to what the White House says. They’ll have the opportunity to listen to what medical experts say as this vaccine comes on the market.

Mike DeWine: (50:22)
So we in Ohio are doing what we can do and what we can do is get ready for whenever that day is. It can’t come soon enough, but we obviously want it done right. But whenever that day comes, we will be ready. So we’ve already started working, pulling people together, figuring out how we would distribute it and looking at priorities of how it should be distributed. So that’s something that we would imagine that the federal government will give us guidance on, but we also are looking at the same thing ourselves. So we’re getting ready. We’re doing what we can do. We’re ready to go.

Speaker 1: (50:59)
Next question is from Jack Windsor at WMFD in Mansfield.

Mike DeWine: (51:04)
Hey, Jack.

Jack Windsor: (51:05)
Hi, Governor. The order released on August 31st and signed by Lance Himes is a second amended order for non-congregate sheltering to be used throughout Ohio. The order states that FEMA sheltering will be utilized throughout the state for those who are unable to safely self-quarantine at home. Governor, who decides whether a resident is safe for self-quarantine? What are the determinants? Does this apply to the entire Ohio population? And what authority do you have to remove people from their homes?

Mike DeWine: (51:38)
Well, [inaudible 00:51:39] primarily Jack, that’s going to be determined by individuals who think they’re not safe at home. I’ll get more information on that and I’ll report back, but that would be my take on it.

Laura Hancock: (51:54)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.

Mike DeWine: (52:00)
( silence).

Mike DeWine: (52:00)
Hey, Kevin.

Speaker 1: (52:07)
I think we might be having some technical difficulty with Kevin, so we will move to [inaudible 00:52:18] Cincinnati Enquirer.

Speaker 2: (52:22)
Good afternoon. Governor, how much should the university student spread that we’re seeing concern others in the rest of the city or county surrounding campus? Should outbreaks that you see, for example, effect whether Cincinnati kids go to school?

Mike DeWine: (52:43)
Well, I think it certainly is always concerning when you see spread in any community. There is some interplay, obviously, between UC students and Cincinnati residents. There’s some interplay between Oxford residents in Miami and University of Dayton in Dayton or any other university. So sure, it is something that should be concerning. I think if I was a resident, my concern would be focused on, is the university on this? Are they on top of it? Are they doing the testing? Are they doing the quarantining? Are they doing what they need to do? But sure, it certainly is concerning and should be somewhat concerning.

Speaker 1: (53:35)
We’re still having issues with Kevin. So we’ll go to Jim Otte at WHIO in Dayton.

Jim Otte: (53:42)
Governor, I want to go back to the vaccine question. Do you have in your mind’s eye a system for distribution of these vaccines? Who decides where they go, when they go, what is the order of prioritization of this? Where do you begin in determining what the setting will be? Will this be through the hospital systems or will it be a more general? In other words, urgent cares, fire stations, local health departments, setting up their own systems. How might this work?

Mike DeWine: (54:12)
Jim, probably all of the above. I mean, you’ve outlined the logical places for it to go, but we don’t have any announcement on that yet. The team is working on that, trying to figure out exactly where that should be. And again, we’re sure that we’re going to get guidance from the federal government on that, but we don’t want to wait for that. We want to move ahead and have our plan in place. As far as priorities, again, we’re going to see what the guidance comes down from the federal government. But we’re looking at setting the priorities, we’re going to rely on doctors and health experts, but two groups of people that you would assume are going to be early on are those who are most at risk, which would be older people, people certainly in nursing homes, but we also would not want to forget our first responders who are out there every day and people who are in the front line.

Mike DeWine: (55:07)
So those will be two kind of big groups that I think we would [inaudible 00:55:12] looking at as likely to start this off with, but again, we don’t have anything to announce yet. We don’t know when this is coming, but our job is to get ready and to try to come up with what we think are the best practices. When your goal is going to be twofold, saving lives and cutting off the spread. And those are two main goals I think you would have in any kind of determination about where a vaccine would go.

Speaker 1: (55:45)
The next question is from Andrew Welsh-Huggins at the Associated Press.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins: (55:53)
Hi, Governor. Thanks for doing this as always. We saw today that initial claims for unemployment, while far below the record highs back in April, they’ve stagnated at about 19,000 a week, continuing unemployment claims are slowly inching down, but they’re still at higher levels than the Great Recession. So six months into the pandemic and after several federal stimulus infusions, where do you stand on the need for even more federal stimulus dollars to help bolster Ohio’s economy and assist our unemployed workers? And what conversations, if any, have you had with the State’s congressional delegation in terms of passing additional federal relief?

Mike DeWine: (56:40)
Yeah, I mean, we stay in touch with the congressional delegation. We obviously have a Washington office, but I also do this by phone talking to the two senators, talking to the representatives. They email me with ideas and thoughts as well, but yes, we needed an additional bill. I know that’s going to get worked out. I’m still optimistic that this gets worked out, but yes, we certainly do. Look, we’ve come back. We’ve not come back as much, obviously, as we want to, we want to continue to move forward. Again, this is why it is so important to keep the virus down. We don’t have a fire extinguisher to put that fire out, but if we can keep it tamped down, that means that our businesses can come back.

Mike DeWine: (57:31)
So I don’t know, John, if you want to add anything to that, you’ve been monitoring, I know, the unemployment numbers as we all have, but I don’t know if you want to add anything to that or not.

Jon: (57:41)
Yeah, thanks governor. Just a reminder that President Trump did sign the executive order that made available $300 per employee, that we have federal approval for through FEMA. And that, that will go out to Ohioans who are eligible in the coming weeks. It will be retroactive to the date that they were eligible. So that will serve as both support for people who are in need and have a stimulus effect to some extent. But as the governor mentioned, there are bigger issues. Small business, I mean, we know a lot of small businesses like restaurants and people like that are struggling. That another round of PPP funding is something that they think that they need.

Jon: (58:31)
We know that some funding for our first responders and people like that who went with local budgets that are being strained. All of those things are important things to consider. And we have been actively engaged and we know our congressional delegation is engaged, making sure that we’re doing this. And I might mention that the legislature yesterday took action on passing another round of CARES Act dollars will be released to local governments. So we’re working on those things from our side and what we can do, but we do need the federal government to give us a thoughtful proposal that we can really target it to things where we need it the most.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins: (59:14)
Thank you.

Speaker 1: (59:17)
Next question is from Jim Provance at the Toledo Blade.

Jim Provance: (59:20)
Hello, Governor, thanks again for doing this. Lawmakers this week sent you House Bill 272, that would restrict [inaudible 00:59:27] and any public official, including your health director, from interfering with the date of an election or to order places of worship closed due to a pandemic. You recently vetoed another bill that would have undermined health orders issued during a pandemic. Well this bill meet that same fate?

Mike DeWine: (59:45)
You know, I’ve not looked at the language, I’m going to look at the language, but I think the most important thing to tell the people, the state of Ohio is one, we have never closed our churches. We have no intention of closing our churches. This is something that we think is sacred. And so never had a thought about closing our churches. The only thing we’ve really done in restrict in regard to churches is because we’ve seen outbreaks come out of churches is ask everyone to wear a mask when they go into church. So we’ve never done that.

Mike DeWine: (01:00:23)
As far as the election, this is a federal election. I don’t have the authority to interfere with it. We’re not going to interfere with it. There will be an election on election day, and we just urge everyone to, if you’re not going to vote in person and you want to vote absentee, now’s the time. You can go ahead and ask for the application and then fill out that application and they’ll send it into you at the appropriate time. So we just urge anybody who’s doing it that way, do it early. And it’ll work well. So whatever I do on this bill, I got look at it, but it’s not going to impact in any way what I do in regard to this election or what I do in regard to churches.

Speaker 1: (01:01:13)
Next question is from Jo Ingles at Ohio Public Radio and Television.

Mike DeWine: (01:01:20)
Hey, Jo.

Jo Ingles: (01:01:20)
Hello, Governor, how are you today?

Mike DeWine: (01:01:22)
Yeah, I’m good, thank you.

Jo Ingles: (01:01:24)
Thank you for taking my question. There are still a lot of people out there who are kind of falling through the cracks. We’re hearing from people who can’t get unemployment and they’ve been waiting for months for it. We’re hearing from small businesses that have been closed for months, or they’ve been restricted so much that they’re afraid that they’re going to go out of business. It seems like there are groups of people who are falling through the cracks. What can you do and what should the state do to try to help those people move along? Because if they’re not making any money and they can’t be able to exist, that’s a problem.

Mike DeWine: (01:02:06)
Look, Jo, we still have people who, as you point out so well, who are hurting, who are hurting very, very much. Either because they have a business and their business is down or they closed it, they can’t open it back up or they open it, but their businesses is a fraction of maybe what it was before. You know, for some people, the $300 that John just talked about will be helpful. We know it’s not helpful to everyone, but we want to get that out just as quickly as we can. So we’re going to continue to do everything that we can from kind of the macro point of view. You know, what we do to keep this virus down is going to enable people to come back up and business to come up.

Mike DeWine: (01:03:01)
If that flares up, if we had a situation like we saw in Florida, a situation like we’ve seen in Mississippi recently, or earlier in New York, everything just shuts down. It doesn’t matter whether the governor orders something or doesn’t, but when people are scared to go out, they’re not going to go to a store. They’re not going to buy, they’re not going to go to a restaurant. So it’s so important for us to do everything that we can to keep that fire down so that business has a chance to grow. But we understand that there are still people who are hurting and who are not where they should be or where we would want them to be. John, you want to add anything to that?

Jon: (01:03:46)
The only thing that I would add to that, Governor, is that through OhioMeansJobs and our local partners, we’re working to help people navigate who maybe have lost the job to find one of the, I believe there’s over 180,000 jobs now posted on OhioMeansJobs. Most of those pay $50,000 a year or more. And so we’re really working with our local partners to help people who’ve maybe been displaced in one particular industry, find a job in another industry, and to make sure that they have the support services and the job training to help make sure that they can get access.

Jon: (01:04:23)
Because one of the things that’s happened during the pandemic is it’s shifted the nature of work in some cases where anybody, for example, that’s in the hospitality industry, that industry’s been hit very hard while there are others that in, for example, in logistics, in a lot of consumer services, they’re hiring. And so we need to help folks navigate that shift. And there are a lot of resources available at OhioMeansJobs. And we’re going to be making some announcements soon that we’ll talk about even more enhanced efforts that we’re going to make to try to help them get ahead in this economy.

Mike DeWine: (01:05:05)
Thanks, Jo.

Speaker 1: (01:05:07)
Kevin Landers submitted his question on writing due to his microphone issue. Kevin Landers writes, “PCR tests are considered the gold standard, but the New York Times reports huge numbers of people who may be carrying insignificant amounts of the virus, meaning most are considered not to be contagious, but are testing positive. Are those people being added to the state’s positive cases? If so, why? And are you concerned that that statistic may be painting an inaccurate picture in the state of Ohio?”

Mike DeWine: (01:05:39)
Well, I don’t know if it’s a painting an inaccurate picture, but we continue to evolve in regard to testing. You know, we never had enough testing, we’ve fought for more testing, we’ve doubled it, we tripled it, but we’re still not where we need to be. But as we learn more and companies develop tests, one of the things that we’re seeing is exactly what Kevin said, and some articles have pointed out and some of the doctors that I’ve talked to in the last few weeks, that a PCR test is the gold standard. But it’s so good that sometimes it is picking up a small amount of the virus load long after that person is contagious. So what you’re seeing coming on the market is quicker tests. And you’re seeing coming on tests that if you are testing more frequently, you can do a better job at hitting when that person is contagious. I mean, that’s the ultimate goal here is to figure out when that person is contagious.

Mike DeWine: (01:06:57)
And some of these articles have pointed out and I’ve asked my team to examine this and get me a report, but some of the tests have the ability, although sometimes they’re not reported this way, but they have the ability to tell the virus load. And so, as we refine this, using those tests, which will tell you where that virus load is, and then being able to see if it is within the range of where the experts say that person is contagious, is going to allow us to have fewer people who have to be quarantined. And you’re only going to be quarantined and ultimately those people who are in fact contagious and only cover that period of time when they’re contagious. Now that’s aspirational.

Mike DeWine: (01:07:48)
That’s where we want to be. We’re not there yet today, but the question is spot on and we are evolving. The experts are evolving, the free enterprise system is evolving in what they are producing. But being able to find out exactly that virus load and then make your determination based on that is going to give us a more accurate ability to get the results we want. The results we want are separating that person during the time that they’re contagious. Doesn’t mean the PCR tests are not accurate. They’re highly accurate, but sometimes they’re not giving… They’re showing someone that is still has the virus or has cells, but is not maybe still contagious. So a good question, and we’re moving in that direction.

Speaker 1: (01:08:47)
Next question is from Geoff Redick at WYSX in Columbus.

Geoff Redick: (01:08:53)
Hi, Governor.

Mike DeWine: (01:08:53)
Hey, Geoff.

Geoff Redick: (01:08:53)
I wonder about the data for Franklin County today on the public health advisory alert system. We’ve remained in the orange, even though case…

Jeff: (01:09:03)
… system, we’ve remained in the orange, even though cases per 100,000 have jumped way up above 100. We’re now at 113.9 cases per 100,000. Previously, it was my understanding that if we jumped above 100, we flagged on the CDC level and that flagged us automatically to red. Is that the longer the case? Has the map’s guideline changed?

Mike DeWine: (01:09:25)
Jeff, I may be wrong about this. And, if I am, someone will call John right away, I’m sure, and tell him we will correct it. But my recollection is the way the system was set up was that you would have to be at that level above 100, 100 or above for two straight weeks. Again, I can be corrected on that. And I’m sure someone will correct me quickly if I’m wrong, but that’s what I recall.

Jeff: (01:09:52)
It would stand to say then that there’s a warning here. We’re well above 100, if we stay there.

Mike DeWine: (01:09:57)
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Look, I mean, there’s no doubt about it. And I think the mayor has been very clear. We’re not out of the woods yet. We’ve tried to be clear. The health director of both the city and the county have made that very, very clear. So, we still got to be alert.

Mike DeWine: (01:10:20)
It’s funny, if I could just digress for a moment, but I did interviews yesterday with I think seven different TV stations. Some of the reporters have asked some questions today. But I think almost in every TV station, when I did an interview, they said that the most frequently asked question from their listeners, their viewers was, when can we take masks off? And I had to kind of smile because we all want to take our masks off. Look, I mean, we get hot. No one wants to wear these things. But we got to do it.

Mike DeWine: (01:11:01)
And, while we’ve made great progress, this thing is not over. It’s not over till it’s over. And it’s not over. And we’re going to have to continue to do things like wearing masks and keeping social distance until we get through the tunnel, until we see the light of day. And again, the goal… I’m optimistic we’re making it through this. And there’s a bright future out there. But we got to get through it and we’ve got to go put up with the annoyance of wearing a mask and the inconvenience of staying distanced from people and doing the different things that we’re doing.

Mike DeWine: (01:11:37)
But I think when you see what’s happening in Franklin County and some of the other counties, each one has got a story, but we’re not through this. And we’re a long ways from being through it. I mean, a huge number of people die today or were reported. We got reports of their death today. And you look at our cases, they’re not coming down. So, we got to hang in there. And Ohioans are tough and we’ll do it.

Speaker 1: (01:12:05)
Next question is from Ben Schwartz at WCPO in Cincinnati.

Ben Schwartz: (01:12:11)
Hi, Governor.

Speaker 1: (01:12:12)
Hi, Ben.

Ben Schwartz: (01:12:13)
I’d like to ask about the plan, that soccer game between FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew this weekend. The teams are planning on allowing just 1,500 fans to spectate. I’m wondering if you can tell us if this is allowed under the current health order? And, with just 1,500 fans, it should be easy to socially distance. But can you say whether or not fans will be required to wear masks during this entire game, at least under your health order?

Mike DeWine: (01:12:41)
Yeah. I believe our health order, it does allow 1,500 spectators. And they’re basically, as far as I can tell, following the health order. Now, they’ve got to work with the local health department, obviously, but that was a general order that applies to any outdoor sporting event. So, they should be able to do that.

Mike DeWine: (01:13:09)
I mean, the order… I don’t know the capacity. And I guess I’d have to figure out the capacity. It’s 15% or 1,500, whichever is lower. And that’s what the order says. There is a possibility, as we go forward, as I’ve mentioned before, that when you look at other sports, if they come with a plan and that plan gets approved by the local health department, that plan gets approved by the state health department, you conceivably could see more fans at soccer, or you could see more fans at an NFL football game, or baseball game, or something else. But that’s the general order they would be trying. I assume they’re trying to come under the general order. But again it’s 15%, 1,500, whichever is less.

Jon: (01:13:59)
Governor, just an update on the last question regarding the Franklin County 100 cases per 100,000 number, it’s just a reminder to folks who may remember we have seven categories. And you must hit at least four triggers before you go red, regardless of where you are on the per capita number, on the 100,000. So, Franklin County does not hit those four triggers. And that’s why they’re not red.

Mike DeWine: (01:14:25)
Okay. All right. John got the truth there. I misstated it. So, I mean, that’s what it is. So, sorry for being wrong about that. Who is next?

Jon: (01:14:40)
It’s hard to keep up with it all.

Speaker 1: (01:14:44)
Next question is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.

Alex Ebert: (01:14:48)
Good afternoon, Governor. Pretty simple question, but pretty hard answer, I’m sure. How do we stop young adults from partying? The college tradition of going out, meeting your friends, experimenting maybe a little bit, and maybe getting into some bad but fun trouble, how do we stop that so that we can stem the spread here? Thanks.

Mike DeWine: (01:15:11)
Well, it’s certainly not something the governor can do, just to state the obvious. What colleges have done, they made pretty clear to students, if the spread continues, the spread goes up at some point we’re going to have to go totally remote. We won’t be able to be in class. And I think there’s some pressure there. I think there’s some peer pressure with students who want to be in class, who want to have a year at whatever college or university that they’re going to. They’re paying money for it. They want to be able to have that. So, it really is, as many presidents have told me, it’s really going to be up to the students and what they do.

Mike DeWine: (01:15:59)
And look, this is not any different than the rest of us who are no longer in college. It’s all judgments that we make, decisions that we make. Do we go out and socialize? And, if we do, how do we do it? And so, no one is telling students to hibernate for nine months of the school year, or the whole school year, or whatever. But I think we’re saying, look, this is a reality. If the numbers get too high and the spread is too much, the schools are going to have absolutely no choice but to pull back. And we’re seeing this across the country.

Mike DeWine: (01:16:42)
So, it’s that kind of, I think, pressure, that kind of a reward. There is a reward there. And the reward is that you get a school year. It may not be quite the same as it’s been in the past or it would have been, but it’s a school year and you’re getting your education. And you can still socialize. You can still have parties, but again, people have to make choices. Inside or outside? This time of year, you need to be outside. Whatever you got to do, do it outside. Wear a mask. Do these things.

Mike DeWine: (01:17:18)
And I think, if you go back and you talk to the college presidents, and you talk to the deans, and you talk to people who have followed what’s going on, what they’re going to tell you is, well, there was this party over here. There was this party over here. And then, this happened and that spread out from there. And they can pretty much trace it. But that’s, again, no different than what happens with adults. So, we’re not picking on college students. We all have this responsibility.

Speaker 1: (01:17:46)
Next question is from Dustin Ensinger at Gongwer News Service. All right. We’ll skip Dustin. Next question is from Justin Dennis at MahoningMatters.com.

Justin Dennis: (01:18:11)
Good afternoon, Governor. I would like to know if federal prosecutors coordinated with your administration on Operation Red Zone, which promises federal charges for illegal firearm possession and is expected to take places weekend in Toledo, Canton, and here in Youngstown. We kind of want to get a sense of your thoughts about the program and also how you feel this aligns with your proposals to strengthen penalties for illegal firearm possession.

Mike DeWine: (01:18:37)
Yeah. I’m not aware of any contact with our department or any of our departments. I’m not aware of that. Now, you want to tell me more about the program?

Justin Dennis: (01:18:49)
Yeah. One moment. So, this federal prosecutors are going to be working with local law enforcement to find felons or misdemeanor offenders who have been possession of firearms. If they’re on disability, they’ll face a federal charges as well. That’s a program that’s happening in Toledo, Canton, Youngstown this weekend.

Mike DeWine: (01:19:13)
Well, I’m happy to see the priority. I mean, quite candidly, I’ve lived through a lot of different Justice Departments. And sometimes it’s a priority. Sometimes it’s not a priority. And the federal prosecutors have a significant advantage today over local county prosecutors in Ohio in the area of what we call weapons under disability, which is one of the things you all have heard me say kind of week after week, as we see violence in our cities. I’ve said, look, one of the things we can do is increase the penalties for people who have a gun but are a felon and have no right to have that gun.

Mike DeWine: (01:19:53)
And so, but our law today in Ohio is not nearly as tough as the federal law is. So, we depend, prosecutors, if they get a case like that and they want to get a heavier penalty, they walk across the street or whatever it might be and go see the U.S. attorney and see if the U.S. attorney will be willing to file those charges.

Mike DeWine: (01:20:13)
The problem is that you, as attorney, can only file so many cases. They can only handle so many cases through the federal court system. So, what we have proposed and what is in front of the state legislature is something that will change that. It won’t change what the feds do, but it will allow our local prosecutors, our ADA county prosecuting attorneys in Ohio, to go after these violent repeat offenders who are carrying a gun. And, if they get one with a gun, I can literally throw the book at them and then give the judge more discretion on a sentence. So, that going after particularly the… again, I don’t know a lot this program, but it sounds like it is focusing on people who are repeat offenders and people who should not have a gun, have no legal right to have a gun at all.

Speaker 1: (01:21:06)
Next question, again, is from a Dustin Ensinger at a Gongwer News Service. Dustin, please unmute your line.

Dustin Ensinger: (01:21:13)
Hi, Governor.

Speaker 1: (01:21:14)
Hi, Dustin.

Dustin Ensinger: (01:21:14)
We haven’t heard much lately about the situation in the state’s prisons. Could you provide us with an update on that? And is your administration still releasing more medically vulnerable prisoners with 90 days or less remaining on their sentences?

Mike DeWine: (01:21:27)
The answer to the last question is, yes. What we’re doing is we put a screening process in. So, certain offenses… we’re not going to let a sex offender out one day early, not one day. But other offenses, if they’re not a violent offense, not a sex offender, et cetera, once they get within the 90 day window of when they’re going to come out anyway, yes. If they meet the criteria, we are releasing them.

Mike DeWine: (01:21:56)
Now, as I recall, we’re testing them for COVID to make sure we’re not turning someone loose who has COVID. So, we are doing that. That is taking down the prison population to some extent. It’s the lowest it’s been in a few years. But, what I will do on Tuesday, I’ll give you a report. We’ll either have the director by Skype or I’ll give a summary of exactly where we are in regard to our prisons.

Speaker 1: (01:22:28)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.

Adrienne Robbins: (01:22:33)
Hi, Governor. Thank you for doing this. There’s obviously concerns surrounding Labor Day. And that seems to stem from what we saw after the 4th of July. But are you concerned that a spike at this time could be more severe just because of other factors that are in play like schools and colleges being open, and obviously we’re getting much closer to flu season?

Mike DeWine: (01:22:53)
Yes. Absolutely. You’re absolutely spot on. You said it. I couldn’t say it better. We’re concerned. We’ve got colleges coming back. We’ve got schools coming back. We want our kids to be in school. Parents are making those choices. We want them to have those choices. We want kids to be able to play extracurricular things, athletics, et cetera. But we know that that increases the risk. And so, it’s very important that the rest of us who are out there who are making choices every day make the right ones. And life is full of trade offs. If we want our kids to go to school in person, then we have to wear a mask. We have to keep a social distance. We have to slow the spread down. So, yeah. I mean, if this Labor Day is like the 4th of July or worse, from the point of view of people getting together and spreading, you couple that with colleges, you couple that with K through 12, yeah. I worry about it. I worry a lot about it.

Mike DeWine: (01:23:51)
And eventually it’s going to get cold. And the experts tell us that the odds are, when it gets cold, people go inside. We know being outside is a lot safer than inside. So, when we’re all inside, we’re all inside. It’s certainly more dangerous. You got the flu season coming on. Now, we don’t know what’s going to happen with flu. It’s important for everyone to get their flu shot. Very, very, very important. That’s not going to protect you against COVID, but it protects you against the flu, or at least it gives you a better shot in regard to the flu. So, we encourage people to do that as possible. And my understanding from what I’ve read in some of the Southern hemisphere countries with people wearing masks that did cut down on the flu spread. So, we can hope that people continue to wear masks and that we hope that will cut down on the flu spread. But yeah, I’m worried. I’m worried about all these things coming together.

Speaker 1: (01:24:50)
Next question is from Shane Stegmiller at Hannah News Service. We’ll skip Shane. Next question is from Jake Zuckerman at Ohio Capital Journal.

Shane Stegmiller: (01:25:06)
Hi, Governor. Good afternoon. [crosstalk 00:01:25:11]. If a person has been in close contact with an infected person but does not show symptoms themselves, should that person seek testing?

Mike DeWine: (01:25:19)
Yes.

Shane Stegmiller: (01:25:23)
Okay.

Mike DeWine: (01:25:23)
Look, what we do, we follow the CDC guidelines. I looked at them. I looked at them this morning. I didn’t look at them as far as your question, but I looked at them in response to some inquiries we had in regard to schools and kids sitting next to each other and what should be the protocol. But I would say they should get tested.

Speaker 1: (01:25:47)
Next question is from Max Filby at the Columbus Dispatch.

Max Filby: (01:25:54)
Hey, governor.

Mike DeWine: (01:25:55)
Hi, Max.

Max Filby: (01:25:56)
Got a two parter for you today. Will schools that are doing fully remote learning this fall still be required to report any cases in their student population? And secondly, when your administration started reporting cases at longterm care facilities, I remember there being some issues and the data was pulled down briefly. What safeguards are in place to prevent some of those issues from occurring with the school reporting?

Mike DeWine: (01:26:23)
Well, Max, look. Mistakes can happen. And I can’t guarantee you that no mistakes are going to be made. I can’t guarantee you that there won’t be a glitch in the system. Our folks are working on that to make sure that doesn’t happen, but things like that do, in fact, happen.

Mike DeWine: (01:26:42)
As far as a school’s obligation to report, I never looked at that as an obligation for a school that’s fully remote. So, that’s not what I intended. And I don’t think that’s what the order says.

Speaker 1: (01:27:02)
Next question. We’re going back to Shane Stegmiller at Hannah News Service. Shane, please unmute your line. All right. I think we lost Shane again, but we have one more question for you, governor. And the last question will be Luis Gil from Ohio Latino TV.

Luis Gil: (01:27:32)
Yeah, Governor, can you hear me?

Mike DeWine: (01:27:33)
I can hear you. I can see you too.

Luis Gil: (01:27:34)
Hello. Thank you, governor. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for doing this, Governor. I have two easy questions, I think. One for you is, Governor, let’s say the November 1st comes and the virus works. It’s a miracle virus. Vaccine. I’m sorry. It’s a miracle vaccine and everything works perfectly. How long would it take you to open the state pre-COVID 19?

Mike DeWine: (01:28:00)
The answer is, I don’t know. I mean, first of all, we don’t know how much of the vaccine we would get. Let’s assume we get it on the first. Let’s assume we got great reports and all the validation. We don’t know how much we’ll get. So, my understanding is that that could be spread out over a period of time. So, the answer to the question is, I just don’t know.

Jon: (01:28:26)
Governor, I wanted to add something in on the online school piece to make sure that we had that right. There may be schools that are fully online, but also have sports activities and other activities where the student athletes are getting together. And, for those that have that, they do need to report that information.

Mike DeWine: (01:28:45)
Okay. Thanks, John. Well, thanks everybody. We look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday, two o’clock. We’re going to close with something fun. Earlier we had on Miami University president Crawford. To end today, I wanted to show the Miami University marching band playing the fight song in a socially distant way. Love and honor to Miami. We thank the Miami band and we’ll see you all next Tuesday. Thank you.