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MENTOR, Ohio (WJW)– One Northeast Ohio county ranks near the top for the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the past two weeks.

“These are astronomical numbers… If you look at the top five, these numbers are just shocking,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

Lake County stands at number four on the state’s list of counties ranked by highest occurrence of COVID-19 cases.

“This is really a time that we have to double down and go all in on some of these protective measures,” said Ron Graham, commissioner for the Lake County General Health District.

“When you cram eight months’ worth of cases that we’ve seen thus far into two weeks, it’s obviously gonna drive that incidence rate, you know, through the roof, which it did,” said Matt Nichols, director of Office of Health Policy and Performance Improvement.

Lake County Health officials said just in the last two weeks, they’ve reported more than 2,600 COVID-19 cases. That’s more than the county reported from March 17 through Nov. 3.

“Three of our zip codes are actually in the top 10 as of today,” Nichols said.

In fact, the 44060 zip code for Mentor has the highest number of cases reported for the past two weeks of any zip code in the state. Zip code 44094 for Willoughby comes in at number 7, followed by 44077 for parts of Mentor, Painesville and Concord at number 8.

Health officials said with limited contact tracing available, it’s hard to know the reason for the spike, other than rapid community spread.

“We don’t have anywhere near the data we would like to see… Why Lake County is different… There is no major outbreak that’s been identified,” Graham said.

Lake County health officials are pleading with residents to wear masks, social distance and follow all of the important safety guidelines. They encouraged working from home, if possible. 

They said in three weeks, the number of hospital workers in the county infected with COVID-19 has grown from two cases to 54, and they fear more first responders like police or firefighters could soon be sidelined with COVID-19 too.

“Those individuals that really don’t want to put on that mask, I’m very afraid and very concerned it’s gonna come back to haunt them. It’s gonna be bad news for everybody, if we can’t get some compliance,” Graham said.

The Lake County health commissioner is also urging people to be creative, celebrating the upcoming holidays and not hold large family gatherings. He said even if everyone follows the safety measures, COVID-19 case numbers will continue to be high for the next two or three weeks.

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