WSAZ speaks one-on-one with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

Sarah Sager talks one-on-one with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 7:33 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSAZ) - As 2021 wraps up, leaders are looking at the state of COVID vaccines and the economy in their communities.

WSAZ’s Sarah Sager sat down with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for a look at how his state is navigating getting shots into arms, getting people back to work, and bringing new businesses to southeast Ohio.

Sarah: “We are at the one year mark of a vaccine being available to the American public, to the people of Ohio. Overall, 55% of the population of Ohio has received a vaccine. Overall, as a state, how do feel Ohio has done with vaccines?”

Gov. DeWine: “I think the state we are at now, we have to really focus on encouraging people who are already vaccinated to get their booster shot.”

Sarah: “So, is that your strategy? To focus on getting people to get a booster rather than focus on people who so far have not gotten a single dose?”

Gov. DeWine: “Well, we know it’s two things. It is getting people who haven’t had it at all to vaccinate. That’s the most important thing for that individual. Second, we also know our ability to really persuade people and get a lot of people added is with the booster not because we’re dealing with people who have already been vaccinated so we’re not going to give up.”

In WSAZ’s viewing area, some counties have much less vaccination rates than the state of Ohio.

In Vinton County, 37 percent of people are fully vaccinated.

In Lawrence County, 33 percent of people are fully vaccinated.

Gov. DeWine: “This is a free choice that they make. My job, I think, is to make sure that people have all the facts. Here’s a very tragic fact. If you compare counties that are highly vaccinated to those that are in the 30s, we find that the death rate in those counties where the vaccination rate is low is twice as high in death as those that were heavily vaccinated.”

The pandemic is affecting jobs.

Sarah: “We’re seeing high unemployment number, but then our small businesses and businesses in general can’t keep workers. So, how do you address that as the leader of Ohio?”

Gov. DeWine: “We have a real advantage in Ohio compared to other states we have what we call a Jobs Ohio. It’s a prior privatization of our economic development. I appoint the board members. My charge to them was pay attention to southeast Ohio. Pay attention to our Appalachian counties. A job in those counties is so very very powerful and could impact a number of family members. So, if you look at what we’ve done in the last three years, proportionately we have put a lot of emphasis on southeast Ohio. We’ve put money in there and attracted businesses in there.”

Sarah followed up with JobsOhio to see if jobs have been created.

Since 2019, three new businesses have committed to creating jobs in Lawrence, Scioto, and Jackson counties. Sarah asked for the status of each company and have many jobs have been created, and a spokesperson said they are working to get WSAZ that information.

When it comes to expansion, JobsOhio tells us 40 companies have committed to adding 580 jobs in our region.

The spokesperson also told Sarah Sager that 2021 was a record year for JobsOhio.

Gov. DeWine: “Our biggest challenge immediately is also and also in the long run is to make sure we have a trained workforce that can do the job for those companies.”

The governor says education is a key part of his plan to continue working with the need to add workers in Ohio, specifically early education.

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