Rise in coronavirus infections in Cuyahoga County related to people returning to work

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – The Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) updated the county’s response to coronavirus Friday morning.

CCBH reports 2,254 cases.

That’s an increase of 257 COVID-19 cases in one week.

That jump is due, at least in part, to people returning to the workplace, according to CCBH director Dr. Heidi Gullett.

“We’re seeing a lot more infections in workplace settings over the last week,” Dr. Gullett said Friday.

“This week as we’ve done more case interviews and more contact tracing, we have found that people who have returned to work have been engaging with their coworkers outside of work,” Dr. Gullett said. 

“That has led to new transmissions, that then result in infections coming back into the workplace.”

Ohio’s Stay-at-Home order was extended through May 29, however, dentists reopened May 1, as nonessential medical procedures were allowed once again. 

May 4, general office settings and manufacturing and construction businesses also opened. 

For retailers and other businesses that opened this week, we won’t begin to see the impact likely for two weeks.

That’s because the incubation period for COVID-19 is up to 14 days. That’s the time between exposure to the virus and the symptom onset, although some people show symptoms in a matter of days, according to the World Health Organization.

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CCBH lists 472 of its cases as “probable,” which means they have had direct exposure and coronavirus symptoms but have not been able to get a test.

CCBH lists 762 people as recovered.

The death toll stands at 129.

That’s an increase of 24 lives lost since last week.

More than 14,000 people were tested in the county over the last week, according to CCBH. 

That’s an increase of about 4,000 tests from the week prior.

6.5% of those people tested positive for COVID-19.

Click here for more on who is receiving those tests

Press conference updates

  • County Executive Armond Budish, CCBH commissioner Terry Allan, and CCBH Director Dr. Heidi Gullett are scheduled to speak
  • Dr. Thomas Gilson, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner is also scheduled to speak
  • Budish says 1400 businesses have applied for the second round of small business loans
  • Budish says businesses can apply for PPP loans here
  • Budish is encouraging people who are unemployed to log onto Ohio Means Jobs
  • (216)801-2778 is the number to call for the Early Childhood Mental Health program
  • Dr. Gilson says most coronavirus deaths don’t come under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner’s office
  • Dr. Gilson says we’ve seen a 10% increase in fatalities in the last month over previous years
  • Dr. Gilson is addressing what constitutes classifying a coronavirus death
  • “We’re not hiding deaths, we’re not overreporting deaths,” Dr. Gilson says
  • The CDC gave guidance for classifying and tracking coronavirus deaths, which the county is following
  • “Many of the people who have passed away had underlying illnesses,” Gilson says
  • “Our testing has been a repeated stumbling block,” Dr. Gilson says
  • “It would be foolish if someone who died in a car accident who also tested positive for COVID-19 was classified as COVID-19 death,” Dr. Gilson says
  • “Misinformation is worse than no information,” Dr. Gilson says
  • “It’s a serious disease. Thousands of people in our country have died from COVID-19,” Dr. Gilson says
  • “We are preparing for the possibility of a fall surge,” Allan says
  • Allan is talking about the effort to get more testing in Cuyahoga County
  • Dr. Gullett says there have been new transmissions since people have started returning to the workplace
  • “We’re seeing a lot more infections in workplace settings over the last week,” Dr. Gullett says
  • Lab-confirmed cases are 1,782, probable cases are at 472
  • Date of illness onset is from February 28 through May 13
  • 762 people have recovered
  • 21% of CCBH coronavirus cases are healthcare workers
  • 40% of patients report pre-existing conditions
  • 129 people have died, the most recent death is May 12
  • Hospital usage numbers have stayed ‘relatively stable’ according to Dr. Gullett
  • 14,088 people have been tested in the last week; 6.5% tested have positive tests

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