How long will we be wearing masks and social distancing? Cuyahoga County’s top doctor addresses common question

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

CCBH reports 3,694 total cases. That’s 266 new cases from this time last week.

However, it is a decrease in the total number of new infections compared to the previous week by nearly 100.

The newest infections were reported Tuesday.

CCBH reports 242 total deaths.

The most recent death was reported Friday morning.

That’s 27 more than this time last week.

The City of Cleveland reports its numbers separately with 1,789 total cases and 71 deaths.

“This is going to be with us for a while,” CCBH Director Dr. Heidi Gullett said.

Overall, however, the new infections are on the decline.

Many people want to know how long we’ll maintain social distancing measures and be asked to wear masks.

Dr. Gullett addressed that Friday.

“Until we have enough immunity in the community to ensure we’re safe. So even though you see infections go down, until we have a vaccine that protects a large proportion of us, we must remain vigilant because there’s a chance these cases could continue to go back and they most likely will in the fall as flu comes around.”

Scientists from labs around the world are working on a vaccine, but there is no vaccine for coronavirus at this time.

Once a vaccine is found to be effective, it could be another 12 to 18 months before it’s available to the public, according to the World Health Organization.

The increased testing in the community is also giving health leaders a clearer picture of the COVID-19 infection rate.

A minimum of 10,000 people a week have been tested since May 8 in Cuyahoga County when the county received more tests from additional funding, according to CCBH.

From those tests, the current rate of infection is 3.7%

After the first week of increased tests, the infection rate was 6.5%, so it shows how more testing is giving the medical community more data about COVID-19.

Ohio Gov. Mike announced yesterday that anyone in Ohio who wanted a coronavirus test could now get one.

**You can watch that part of his press conference, below**

Click here to find a location if you want to get tested

Since testing is now widely available to more people, health leaders will have a better picture of who is infected beyond the sickest people in the community.

Press conference updates

  • Dr. Johnie Rose, MD, PhD is a special guest speaker at this week’s briefing. He’s going to discuss new research on coronavirus. He’s an assistant professor at Case Western University School of Medicine.
  • County Executive Armond Budish says he’s recommending community leaders to evaluate equity in community issues
  • Cuyahoga County is also looking at ways to better serve everyone in the community
  • Budish is talking about establishing a Diversion Center for people with mental health issues or who are addicted to drugs instead of incarcerating them
  • “We take the health of our inmates very seriously,” Budish says of the Cuyahoga County Jail.
  • There are 2 positive COVID-19 cases currently in the 1100 people who are incarcerated in the Cuyahoga County Jail
  • Budish says there is a “Rent Relief Program” that has been introduced to the County Council
  • Local unemployment hit 23% in April
  • The money would be provided for income-eligible applicants and checks written directly to landlords
  • Budish says to call 211 to get in line if you need help for rent assistance
  • Applications will be accepted starting July 1
  • Coronavirusohio.gov has a list of locations where you can get a COVID-19 test. Everyone is eligible now, according to an announcement from Gov. DeWine Thursday
  • “We will be forever grateful…for all you’ve done,” Dr. Heidi Gullet says of Dr. Acton. Gov. DeWine announced yesterday she would be leaving her post as the state’s top doctor with the Ohio Department of Health
  • Most recent infections were detected June 9
  • 1,441 people are listed as recovered
  • There have been two pediatric hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Cuyahoga County
  • 156 people have required ICU treatment for coronavirus
  • “This is going to be with us for a while,” Dr. Gullett says
  • Dr. Gullett is showing a decrease of week to week cases
  • Dr. Gullett says they are encouraged by 99 fewer infections this week over last
  • Until enough people in the community have immunity, we’ll need to wear masks, Dr. Gullett says
  • About 21% of the cases are healthcare workers
  • 43% of cases are people with preexisting conditions
  • 49% of all people who have been hospitalized due to coronavirus in Cuyahoga County are black
  • 51% of people who required intensive care are black
  • The most recent death was reported in the community Friday morning (June 12)
  • Critical care adult bed use is up 6% over last week
  • 13,326 people have been tested over the last week
  • That’s down 2,023 from the last week
  • Overall positive tests is about 3.7%
  • If you’ve followed the numbers over time, you’ll note that infection rate is much lower than in previous weeks, reflecting more people being tested
  • Dr. Rose is going to present data on coronavirus transmission 
  • Their model predictions for the remainder of June show a steady decline
  • They do not have a long-range forecast
  • Model prediction shows beyond a surge capacity had no measures been taken
  • “This is a success story. We’ve been winning a lot of battles in the war against COVID, but the war is definitely not over,” Dr. Rose says
  • CCBH will not be holding weekly briefings anymore
  • “Lives have been saved,” Terry Allan says

Click here for continuing coverage on coronavirus in Ohio

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