Cuyahoga County officials stress vaccinations, indoor masking as cases surge


CLEVELAND (WJW)– Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health provided an update on COVID-19 during a virtual news conference on Wednesday.

Health Commissioner Terry Allan said there’s been a surge, driven by the delta variant, since late July as we head into respiratory illness season. He said new hospitalizations and ventilator use are also rising, while they brace for the possibility of more fatalities.

“The delta variant is no joke. It spreads very easily and quickly, presenting an increased risk to everyone, especially those who remain unvaccinated,” Allan said. “If you’re vaccinated and unmasked indoors and around others, you can also get infected with the delta variant and spread it to others.

Allan called vaccinations the only way out of the pandemic. He also reminded residents of the recommendation to wear masks indoors. He said it’s particularly important in the school setting, while Budish echoed the importance of keeping kids in schools.

“I know this sounds like a broken record, but COVID’s getting worse again,” Budish said. “While we want kids to be able to go to school in person, the more our numbers rise the higher the possibility that school might have to go remote again. And it’s not just schools, businesses, restaurants, concerts, nightlife, all of these things again are going to be affected if our positive cases don’t start going down.”

Director of epidemiology Jana Rush said the Cuyahoga County Board of Health has seen cases double about every two weeks since the start of last month. Projections show those numbers will continue to increase, she said.

She also highlighted a new trend compared to last fall. She said children 0 to 19, and adults 20 to 29 represent the largest portion of COVID-19 cases reported in the last 30 days. Prior to vaccination, those 50 and older were the largest portion, Rush said.

There have been more than 124,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 7,600 hospitalizations, and 2,200 deaths in Cuyahoga County since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Ohio Department of Health. About 57 percent of the population in the county have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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