Cuyahoga County held a briefing on February 5, updating residents and the media about the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in the county.
We know that access to business is one of the things that’s unequal throughout our community.
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish opened the weekly briefing on February 5 with an update on how that county is working to address the impacts of structural racism and racial inequity on the community. Based on the recommendations from the county’s internal and external equity commissions, the county will commit to:
- Provide Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI) training for all county employees.
- Propose legislation to create an Office of Diversity with a cabinet-level director position, whose immediate focus will be to look at the county’s procurement procedures.
- Propose legislation to define “equity zones,” which will focus on areas with significant infrastructure and income disparities, which all county departments will use to evaluate how services and funding are being directed. An example of how this would work is the upcoming public works road projects targeting economically impacted cities like Bedford, Warrensville Heights and East Cleveland.
Ninety percent of available COVID-19 vaccines are going to white residents.
Next, Budish discussed disparities among county residents receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. Ninety percent of available COVID-19 vaccines are going to white residents. Some of the reasons Budish said may be contributing to this are the lack of availability of vaccines in minority areas and lack of trust in its safety. To address this, Budish is joining Dr. Sherrie Williams, Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s (CCBH) diversity committee chair, in asking the state and federal governments to allow the county to:
- Allocate at least 20 percent of vaccines for communities of color.
- Target vaccines to strategic locations in underserved minority areas with community partners, like the work currently happening around COVID testing sites.
- Use trusted community leaders (faith leaders, trusted community members) to educate and encourage more minorities to get vaccinated
Information on vaccination availability, eligibility and resources can be found at https://cuyahogacounty.us/vax or by calling United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 2-1-1.
Following Budish’s remarks, CCBH’s Commissioner Terry Allen provided an update on the vaccine eligibility roll-out. As of February 1, Ohioans older than age 70, employees of schools and others in the Phase 1B recipient group became eligible for vaccination. On February 8, Ohioans age 65 and older are eligible for the vaccine.
On February 8, Ohioans age 65 and older are eligible for the vaccine.
Continuing his update, Allen provided a brief recap of Governor Mike DeWine’s Thursday briefing, in which the Governor shared that the state will stay at the current 1B vaccination level to reach as many older adults as possible. The Governor also shared that the coronavirus vaccine providers—Pfizer and Moderna—are planning to increase the level of shipments and number of doses provided to the state and then there will potentially be an increase in vaccination locations in the next few months.
“We need reliable data in order to focus our efforts, make sure everyone has access to it,” Allen remarked as he discussed some of the concerns regarding equity in vaccine distribution. Currently, 10 percent of the data the county receives from providers is missing race and 25 percent is missing ethnicity. The county is working closely with providers to close data reporting gaps in order to support an equitable vaccine plan. By Sunday, February 7, the county had provided 13,200 vaccinations to about 9,300 people, using 80 percent of its first dose supply. The difference between the number of vaccinations and people vaccinated is due to the county working on second doses for the Phase 1A group and while also working on their list of almost 2,000 people eligible under Phase 1A, which leads to overlap between Phase 1A and Phase 1B vaccination-eligible groups. Residents who are Phase 1B eligible for the vaccine and would like to schedule it will need to contact providers directly. More information regarding Phase 1B can be found at https://www.ccbh.net/covid-19-phase-1b/.
Currently, 10 percent of the data the county receives from providers is missing race and 25 percent is missing ethnicity.
The county is also urging providers to help address some of the barriers that residents may encounter in accessing the vaccine (transportation, language) by offering flexible-hours vaccination clinics, creating advertisements in different languages, and partnering with community leaders and organizations to help provide outreach and address myths and concerns about the vaccine.
While coronavirus cases are going down, and the county is still at a high transmission risk level according to the Centers for Disease and Control’s COVID-19 risk-level chart, the county will not extend its stay-at-home advisory. He also stressed the importance of residents continuing to follow COVID-19 safety guidance—wear a mask, practice good hygiene (washing hands, cleaning high-touch surfaces) and stay home when feeling sick.
As of the end of January, 91,536 had started vaccination, a little more than 7 percent of the county’s population.
Wrapping up the briefing, Jana Rush, CCBH’s Director of Epidemiology, reviewed the latest epidemiological brief. As of February 5, there were 62,588 total coronavirus cases, 3,649 total hospitalizations, 724 total intensive care unit admissions, 1,228 deaths and 56,739 people presumed recovered in the county. The average daily cases reported has declined from nearly 600 daily in November to 270 in the last few weeks.
The data brief also included new data about the vaccination rate. As of the end of January, 91,536 had started vaccination, a little more than 7 percent of the county’s population. The county will continue to monitor and add this to the data brief as the data becomes available.