Lou Maglio goes one-on-one with Governor DeWine as he leads Ohio’s coronavirus battle

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Fox 8’s Own Lou Maglio had a one-on-one interview with Governor Mike DeWine Friday to discuss the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

We asked you to share your virus-related questions with us so Lou could then pass them along to Governor DeWine.

Governor DeWine shares insight into his daily routine, the state’s decision-making process and how they expect the virus impact to change as the state begins to reopen.

Here’s a breakdown of our Q&A with the governor:

Lou Maglio: How are you holding up?

Governor DeWine: “I’m holding up well. Very different time. Worldwide crisis, but we’re well. Ohioans are working their way through this and will continue to do that.”

Lou Maglio: What is your day like now?

Governor DeWine: “I get up at 6 and I want to have coffee, eat and start working. Rolling by 6:15 a.m. really. Read stories from overnight and then start planning for the day. At 8 o’clock we have a conference call with all our key people who are focused on the virus and really focus on the virus. The days we do a press conference I leave Cedarville about 12:30 p.m. to go into Columbus, do the press conference, sometimes I’ll do interviews, then sometimes at night, here at home, I’ll do a national interview. So it’s a full day – 95% of my time as governor is spent on the virus – maybe 95 is a little high, maybe 85% – we are focused on the budget – revenue down dramatically. Mostly I’m working from home – on conference calls all day.”

Lou Maglio: You canceled the Arnold Classic – what were you hearing at that point that raised red flags?

Governor DeWine: “That was a tough decision. It looks like a no brainer looking back at it. For me at the time, it was tough. No one had closed anything nationwide to speak of. This is a big event. It has a ton of spectators, 60,000 people show up for it from 80 different countries. So, I talked to Dr. Acton — my health director. We talked to the Columbus Health Director. Mayor Ginter and I spent a lot of time talking about it trying to figure out what we should do. We finally came to the conclusion that 60,000 people over a four-day period of time bunched into close together made absolutely no sense and was going to be a disaster. So we made the difficult decision to have the event but no spectators.”

Lou Maglio: What is your reaction to protestors at statehouse calling you a dictator and many others names?

Governor DeWine: “I understand protests. I’ve been in different offices a long time and I’ve had protests at my house, had protestors right outside my door here – so people have every right to do that. What I have asked the protestors is to leave my health director, Dr. Acton alone, so don’t go to her house and protest in front of her family. You have every right to do that, but why don’t you just protest against me – I’m the officeholder, I’m the one who is ultimately responsible. I understand people’s anger. I understand their frustration. What I’m trying to do is carry out a very tough balance of how we open the economy in a responsible way so we don’t have to look back, to not cause a huge spike in number of coronavirus, people who test positive and people who ended up in a hospital. So we’re trying to balance those things, we’re in this for the long run. This virus is not going to go away for a while, so we have to learn to live with it, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Lou Maglio: When you see people in other states gathering so closely together, what goes through your mind?

Governor DeWine: “What goes through my mind is they just don’t get it. I understand that too – it’s spring, people want to get out, they’ve been cooped up for too long. And this virus is not something that you see, so unless you know someone who has died from it or know someone who has really been hit, it may not have impacted your life yet. But the reality is, it’s out there – many people are vulnerable because of their age, medical conditions, so I guess the message I have for people who are throwing caution to the wind is – you can make that decision for yourself, but you’re also making it for your grandmother or someone you casually know. We are all in this together, it’s become kind of a phrase, but what one person does, impacts the other people – and we’ve made real progress. We started we thought replication rate – in other words, how many people does one person infect? We were at 2.6x – we’re now down to 1-to-1 and that’s a major accomplishment, but we’d like to get below 1-to-1 because then you’re starting to move downhill. So what we do in the weeks ahead will determine what kind of fall we’ll have… I get the question about schools a lot and the answer is, ‘I don’t know.’ I think schools need to plan, I was on phone this morning with superintendents from Lorain county and had a great conversation. But one of the things I told them the plan was to go back – do the best you can in regards to social distancing, the best you can to keep students separate, so one does not infect another – how we do collectively in the next several months is going to determine what kind of fall we have. And if people will continue to stay apart six feet and continue to wear a mask, I know some people don’t like to wear masks, but we can have fun – Fran made this (Browns mask) for my son-in-law who is a longtime Browns fan, we can have fun with it – but we wear it to protect others. So, when you go out, you don’t do that. Distance matters, this protection matters, if we all do that, we can get through this. We’re in this for the long run, not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We want to have as much of a normal life as we can for our kids, grandkids – don’t want them to miss out on too much. What we do the next few months is going to determine that.”

Lou Maglio: Our viewer Cheryl Wade asked the following question — I would like to know how reducing the school week next year would actually help? If you can go two days a week how is that any different from being exposed for five days? These kids need to build up their immune systems not make them weaker. Working parents don’t have the means/time required to work and teach at adequate levels.

Governor DeWine: “Number one, I never said we’re going to go two days. Some superintendents talked about it on a call I happened to be on, but the reason – I think we have to get back to the science. The reason schools get shut early on in a pandemic is not really because you’re concerned about the individual child. Statistically, the people you worry about have a medical problem, people over 60 – but if you look at spread, just think about class of 30 kids – all intermingling over the lunch hour – so if there’s one child who does not show symptoms – that’s one of the problems with this coronavirus – that child comes to school, now you’ve got 30 kids from classroom infected, maybe more from lunch room – then they all go back to their individual homes, that’s why the decision was made. That’s why every expert says shut schools early on – same with daycare. We’ve come up with a plan to make day care as safe as we can make it. We’ve reduced class size, frankly, we’ve done some things we’ve never done before – but that’s why schools were shut down at the beginning. That’s why we did it and it clearly was the right decision. We were able to slow this thing down, that was one of the main decision points. Fran and I have 8 kids, we have 24 grandkids. You don’t want to see your kids or grandkids miss another significant period of time in school. The goal is to get back in school by the fall. I can’t guarantee we’re going to be back in school, no one can guarantee that. We don’t know where this is going to be. We’ll make that decision as we get to mid-August with starting of school.”

Lou Maglio: Our viewer Jennifer DePrato asked the following question Will parents have a choice to continue remote learning next year if they don’t feel comfortable sending them back to school?

Governor DeWine: “We just don’t know and we’re at a point in the pandemic where it’s not the decisions I make or my health director makes – but it’s going to come down to individual decisions. Just as an example, we’ve opened restaurants – next week people are going to make a choice. Do I go out to a restaurant? A lot of it will be based on how safe they feel. Same with retail – it now comes down to individual choices that people have to make. When you talk about going back to school, I think a lot of it is going to depend on what people are seeing – what do they see in mid-August when they’re making those decisions? What does that individual parent do? These are all individual decisions – what we’re trying to do is make all decisions as safe as we can. For example – everything we’ve opened up, we’ve opened up in consultation with that business or profession, along with medical and health professionals. We put these groups together to have best practices – we put barbers in there, people who run beauty salons, because they’re the ones who know how their industry works. We tried to make everything as safe as we can make it.”

Lou: Our viewer Jessica Rogers asked the following question Do you have any details yet on social gatherings such as weddings, grad parties, etc.?

Governor DeWine: “It all does come down to the distance. I know that sounds simplistic. It’s not rocket science. I didn’t get very good grades in science. So my wife thinks it’s funny I’m doing all this. It really comes down to distancing – wearing a mask, so if events can take place in the future with the right distance, then perhaps we can move to the next phase. We’re not there yet. We don’t want gatherings of more than 10 people basically, so if you go to a restaurant with 10 people, they’ll seat you together. We’re trying to keep people in their own separate group, but there certainly could come a time when we don’t have that limitation but as long as this virus is here – limitation to space and PPE is a key to the whole thing.”

Earlier this year, FOX 8 also went one-on-one with Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton to discuss her role in the state’s fight against COVID-19. Click here for our interview with Dr. Amy Acton.

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