Cuyahoga County health leaders struggle to determine infection rate without more tests

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PARMA, Ohio (WJW) – Health leaders in Cuyahoga County are releasing new zip code information Friday for cases in the area.

That information will be posted here.

You can see the map, below:

That data will show where the people live, but not where they were infected, because in many cases they just don’t know how and where the people got sick.

They report 746 cases in Cuyahoga County.

That doesn’t include City of Cleveland numbers.

Thursday night, Cleveland said it had 259 cases.

Lab-confirmed cases a week ago in Cuyahoga County were 513.

20 people have died of coronavirus in Cuyahoga County.

“The infection is everywhere,” Dr. Heidi Gullett said.

Dr. Gullett is the Medical Director for Cuyahoga County.

She continued her call regarding the lack of testing.

Of the people who have been tested, 11 to 13% tested positive for coronavirus.

However, they believe the infection rate is actually much lower, but they have no way of knowing that without community-wide testing or even a larger testing sample.

The only people have been tested in the county are people who were extremely sick or healthcare workers and first responders who were directly exposed, according to Dr. Gullett.

The county also released demographic data.

Dr. Gullett said in Cuyahoga County, the largest group of sick people range in age from 20 to 44.

39% of Cuyahoga County cases are in the black community, while black people only make up 30% of the local population.

They emphasized that shows the black community is disproportionately affected by a variety of things their research looks at in work they have been doing on the health of Cuyahoga County citizens for the last decade.

“A lot of people who need testing in our county haven’t accessed it,” Gullett said.


  • Total lab-confirmed cases – 746
  • Lab-confirmed cases on April 3 in Cuyahoga County were 513
  • Age range 1 week – 101 years-old
  • 20 deaths, 8 females, 12 males
  • 143 cases have been cleared
  • Dr. Heidi Gullett is taking time to explain why they’re releasing demographic information in our community
  • A 2009 report Dr. Gullett is referencing highlights how communities of color are at a disadvantage for health and other opportunities. She says it is important to understand this in relation to COVID-19 and its impact in the community.
  • A 2015 community health improvement plan said eliminating “structural racism” was a priority
  • COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting communities of color in Cuyahoga County and across the country, Dr. Gullet says
  • Dr. Gullet is reminding people the data only shows information on people who have been tested and our community has had a lack of testing
  • The data shows an increasing number of cases across several zip codes
  • “The infection is everywhere,” Dr. Gullett says
  • The zip code data only references where infected people live, it doesn’t indicate where they were infected because the information is unknown
  • 11 – 13% of tests done are positive
  • 33% of people sick in our community are healthcare workers
  • She says those tests are mostly just on people who were extremely sick and healthcare workers and first responders who were directly exposed
  • The largest group of people who are sick in Cuyahoga County are people who are 20-44
  • 10% of cases the race data is unavailable
  • 39% of Cuyahoga County cases are people who are black, while black people make up just 30% of the community
  • 44% of cases are people who are white
  • 7% other races
  • County data on hospital utilization is mostly unchanged from a week ago
  • Romona Brazile, Deputy Dir. of Prevention and Wellness says, “We know that people who need to be tested do not have access to tests”
  • “A lot of people who need testing in our county haven’t accessed it,” Gullett says
  • Cuyahoga County will donate 300 hot spots to CMSD to help provide wi-fi access for free for students who are without, according to county executive Armond Budish
  • They’re also working to provide students Chromebooks to use through the end of the year
  • They’re asking for donations to PCs for People
  • They can take working and non-working devices and refurbish them for use
  • The county is also working on maps to distribute with CMSD meal pickups on where to access free wi-fi
  • The health department says complaints are coming in by the hundreds about non-essential businesses and social gatherings
  • Health Commissioner Terry Allan says the spirit of the Stay-at-Home order is not meant to be punitive but to help save lives
  • “We can’t let up now,” Allan says on social-distancing measures
  • “This point in time is something that we’ll all remember,” Allan says

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