Cuyahoga County held a briefing on October 16, updating residents and the media about the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in the county.
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish began the weekly briefing by announcing a $4 million fund to support the county’s Arts, Culture and Entertainment sector, which provides $1.3 billion in economic impact to the community, employs more than 10,000 people and has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. The funding will be split between two organizations: Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and Arts Cleveland. Two-thirds of the funding will go to Cuyahoga Arts & Culture to support nonprofit arts and culture organizations, and Arts Cleveland will use the remaining one-third to support individual artists and for-profit art organizations. Visit arts-cares.com to learn more.
Next, Budish provided an update on the county’s external citizens’ advisory group tasked with identifying and illuminating structural racism within the community. Starting October 23, in an effort to obtain input on racial issues that affect the community, the group will host virtual community conversations via Zoom. Learn more about these sessions by visiting https://cuyahogacounty.us/fightracism.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m not going to stop talking about this until the election is over. You must get out and vote.
Wrapping up his remarks, Budish highlighted the importance of the upcoming election. More than 320,000 voters have requested mail-in ballots, an increase from previous elections. To date, nearly 80,000 ballots have been returned to the board of elections. More than 15,000 county residents have participated in early voting, which means an average of 50 to 55 voters every 15 minutes. Budish said the process takes between 15-20 minutes to complete the entire process, from check-in to scanning your ballot. Whether you’re planning to vote early at the board of elections or in-person on Election Day, remember to bring a photo ID, a utility bill if your address has changed, and your face mask.
Following Budish, Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) Commissioner Terry Allen opened his remarks with an update on the county’s COVID-19 risk level, which has risen to level three (level red), marking the county as having a very high exposure and spread rate. The level increase means the county has met five of the seven indicators in the advisory system. Cuyahoga County isn’t the only county experiencing a spike in cases. Twenty-nine counties in Ohio have moved to COVID-19 risk level three (red), encompassing two-thirds of the state’s population.
We know people are tired of this virus, I’m tired of this virus.
“We know people are tired of this virus; I’m tired of this virus,” Allen shared as he reminded residents how important it is to maintain smaller social bubbles and stay vigilant in wearing masks and practicing good hygiene (washing hands) as the weather becomes colder and social gatherings move inside.
Next, Jana Rush, director of epidemiology, surveillance and informatics, provided the county’s latest COVID-19 numbers. Reiterating Allen’s comment about the rise in COVID-19 cases, she shared that the rate of positive results has increased to 4 percent, and approximately one-third of the ZIP codes in Cuyahoga County currently have more than 500 cases of COVID-19. There were 12,349 total cases of COVID-19 this week, 1,221 total hospitalizations, 295 total intensive care unit admissions, 561 total deaths since the pandemic began and 11,204 people are presumed to have recovered.
There were 12,349 total cases of COVID-19 this week, 1,221 total hospitalizations, 295 total intensive care unit admissions, 561 total deaths since the pandemic began and 11,204 people are presumed to have recovered.
CCBH Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett followed Rush with an update on community testing, vaccinations and bullying. “It’s really important that testing happens, and it’s done regularly,” Gullett shared as she said how important it is to get a COVID-19 test if CCBH contacts you regarding potential exposure or if you think that you have been exposed. She also stressed how important it is that those who receive a test stay home until they receive the results to help reduce potential spread. Visit clevelandcovidservices.com or CCBH.net for a list of testing sites. She also expressed concern about the number of reports of people being bullied for having COVID-19 or knowing someone—a family member or friend—who had it. “We are all in this together; we are all at risk. This is a community where we need to respect, love and provide privacy to those that have been affected by this infection.”
“This year, if you get influenza, it’s a problem, but if you get influenza and COVID-19, it’s a much bigger problem,” Dr. Gullett remarked as she reiterated Budish and Allen’s pleas that everyone get a flu shot. CCBH is hosting drive-thru flu vaccinations every Wednesday from 9:00-11:30 a.m., or you can find a location near you by visiting Vaccinefinder.org.
This year, if you get influenza, it’s a problem, but if you get influenza and COVID-19, it’s a much bigger problem.
“Yesterday alone, we’ve received more than 90 cases (of COVID-19), the highest we’ve received in a while,” Ramona Brazile, CCBH’s deputy director of prevention and wellness, shared during her remarks. While almost 90 percent of those in the community who have contracted COVID have recovered, she noted that the board saw continued COVID-19 transmission among family and friends who attended parties, weddings and other get-togethers. CCBH has also increased its staff to handle the increase in calls, manage contact tracing and other tasks associated with the pandemic.