'We've got to continue to' wear masks to fight pandemic: Gov. Mike DeWine

Martha Raddatz interviews Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on "This Week."
5:36 | 03/07/21

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Transcript for 'We've got to continue to' wear masks to fight pandemic: Gov. Mike DeWine
governors to relax coronavirus restrictions. This morning, our new ABC news/ipsos poll shows more than half of Americans think relaxing mask mandates is happening too quickly, but as the pace of vaccinations picks up and cases and hospitalizations keep falling, governors are speeding up reopenings. Ohio's governor Mike dewine joins me now to discuss his approach. I want to get what you're doing in Ohio in a moment, governor, but I want to first talk about what's happening with your fellow governors in Texas, Mississippi, who are ending their mask mandates, opening up the states' businesses, restaurants to 100% despite advice from the CDC, are they making a mistake? Well, Martha, I have a great deal of respect for my colleagues in Texas and Mississippi. You know, we're trying to do it the Ohio way. And you know with the vaccine we're now on the offense, that's the great thing. But in Ohio, we can't give up the defense, we have found that these masks work exceedingly well, schools are a prime example, we've seen it in retail, 93% of Ohioans when they go into a retail establishment are wearing masks, so they've done a phenomenal job. Our teachers have done a phenomenal job in school. Kids wearing masks every single day. We know that this makes a huge, huge difference. So, as we push forward to vaccinate as people as we can, as of close of business tomorrow, we'll probably be over 2 million Ohioans who have gotten the first dose and we're moving quickly in regard to that. Every day it gets better and better. But as we're doing that, we can't give up the defense and so we've got to, you know, continue to do that. We've set a metric, we put a goal out there, when we got to 50 cases per 100,000 for every two weeks, that's what the epidemiologists that we consulted with said, when we get down to that figure we'll be able to take the orders off. Governor, I want to ask you whether it was a political decision by governor Abbott to do what he's done? Martha, I can't, I don't know what's going on in Texas. I got one state to worry about, that's Ohio, and that's a full-time job. Okay, well, let's talk about that. You've also faced pressure to end the mask mandate. You're a conservative. Your constituents know the risks now. What's wrong with the argument that people will make up their own minds? Martha, throughout this we have really learned a lot, when this started a year ago no one had a clue how effective these masks were, we have seen it, we actually tested it in schools, you know we've seen it even when kids are closer than 6 feet apart in schools, when they're all wearing a mask, virtually no spread in that school and that classroom, so we know it. When we put the mask order on and actually started enforcing it, we saw a significant drop in cases. A slowdown. So we've seen it throughout this last year, these mask really, really work and we're still at a, you know, fairly high level, we're at 179 cases per 100,000 for two weeks, that is over the high incident level according to CDC is 100 cases. Now we've come down a lot. In December, we were over 700 so I'm optimistic about where we're going. Governor, I want to talk about schools. In Ohio, all teachers and staff qualify to be vaccinated and 95% of students are back in the classroom now, but in Cleveland, where students haven't been in the classroom in a year, the teachers union just voted to continue remote learning even though all teachers and personnel who wanted to be vaccinated have been. They were given priority over others because of their jobs and yet still don't want to go back to the classroom, what are you doing to resolve that? Well, Martha, I talked to the CEO two days ago, you know, he believes that this will get worked out, I think it's going to get worked out. I like to look at the glass as 95% full, because, you know, if you go back to the beginning of this year half of our kids in Ohio were totally remote. Today 95% of them are in class. So we're excited about where we are. We made a deal, you said it correctly, we told the schools, if you will go back by March 1, and lot of schools have been in all year long, but I'm talking about, some of our urban kids have been out of school for one whole year, we had to get them back. Absolutely urgent that we did. Frankly we made a deal, look, if you'll go back into school and we made them all sign a paper, we made the superintendents and CEOs sign a paper, and if go back to school by March 1st, we'll vaccinate everyone in your school who wants to. It's worked exceedingly well. Okay, thanks so much for joining us again this morning, gvernor, always good to see you. Thank you, Martha.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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