COLUMBUS, Ohio — During a press conference Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine said despite conflicting stances from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, he will remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 through encouraging Ohioans to continue to wear masks and continuing to increase testing across the state.
DeWine was asked earlier in the week if he would ask Pence to wear a mask during his visit to the state Thursday and he said it was not his job to tell Pence what to do.
When asked during Thursday’s press conference why the vice president doesn’t seem to have the same responsibility to his fellow citizens to prevent the spread of the virus, DeWine praised the work Pence has done during the pandemic while at the same time addressing the importance of masks.
“I’m not going to get on the phone call and tell him what to do. He’s certainly well aware of everything connected with this and as I said, he’s done a phenomenal job in calls with governors. You don’t hear the calls but they’re an hour, an hour half, two hours, he does an absolutely phenomenal job,” DeWine said.
DeWine followed up by outlining his trip to Lordstown Wednesday, where Pence visited Thursday, describing how he, his wife Fran and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted wore a mask through the tour and practiced social distancing during the press conference. “So we continue to urge Ohioans to do this, is the right thing to do and it’s the courteous thing to do.”
Pence, however, did not wear a mask during his visit to Lordstown.
Immediately after being asked about Pence and his dismissive stance of wearing masks or face coverings in public, DeWine was asked about his stance on testing in relation to Trump’s statements at his Tulsa rally where he said he had ordered health experts to "slow down" testing to limit the number of newly reported infections.
Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020
The Trump administration also said that it plans to end funding to 13 COVID-19 testing sites in Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Texas at the end of the month.
DeWine said that he asked the administration and Pence specifically about the federal money allocated to Ohio for testing, as well as the five states that will apparently no longer receive funding, and told him the importance of the testing in every state.
“We’re going to stay a strong advocate for that. It’s made a difference,” DeWine said. “We need certainly for that to continue.”
DeWine then said that he won’t comment on everything Trump says because "we could do that every day" and his job as the Ohio governor is to “talk to the people of the state of Ohio about the issues that are important.”
The governor said that there is no doubt in his position, or in what medical science says, about how important wearing masks in public is and about how important continuing to increase testing is.
“We can get through this, Ohioans. We can see the other side, we can be here to have another Fourth of July and another Christmas and whatever we celebrate but we’ve got to keep this virus down,” DeWine said. “But we can control that and the way we control that is: wear a mask out in public.”
DeWine said that the other thing that will help keep the virus in control is the continuous increase in testing.
“We’re going to do everything within our power to do that because the testing and the tracing that goes with it is what we can do to keep this down,” DeWine said.
The governor said that he encourages all Ohioans to get tested, regardless of how the importance of testing is perceived by the Trump administration, because it helps the state fight the spread of the virus.
“It’s the right thing to do, it’s the patriotic thing to do. It’s the thing that’s going to keep the spread down,” DeWine said. “There’s a lot of things I could comment about, with the president, I could comment about other governors, I could talk about—that’s not where my focus is. We have to get through this and we have to stay focused and I try to stay focused every day.”