Cuyahoga County held a briefing on November 13, 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 thanking the Board of Elections staff and poll workers for a safe election, before expressing his concerns about the pandemic’s direction in the county. If people don’t do what is needed to curb the spread—wear masks properly (over the mouth and nose), continue social distancing, wash their hands, stay home when sick and work remotely if possible— the increase in cases can put the county’s health care system in crisis.
Part of the reason for this surge in cases is because we let our guard down, Budish said. To avoid another shutdown, he asks everyone to take the proper precautions, don’t gather in large groups, and limit exposure by limiting trips to stores. If you go out, Budish said, make sure that the store or restaurant complies with the state’s mask mandate by viewing the mask compliance map, which is at cuyahogacounty.us/masks.
Concerned about capacity and its toll on hospital personnel, county hospitals and health systems are coming together to coordinate the care of COVID-19 patients and share resources necessary to care for people in the county. The county is also extending its emergency fiscal order to June 30, 2021. Still, every visitor must wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose and will be screened upon entry. Also, all public meetings will be conducted remotely.
Part of the reason for this surge in cases is because we let our guard down.
Following Budish’s remarks, Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) Commissioner Terry Allen opened up his remarks with a few highlights from Governor Mike DeWine’s COVID-19 health briefing. Sixty-eight of Ohio’s 88 counties are at risk level three (level red), with two counties—Franklin and Tuscarawas—on the watch list for purple. “It should be clear to all of us that this is very serious business,” he remarked, as he shared that the CCBH call center’s staff took nearly 300 calls from the public the day before, bringing the total number of calls received by the call center to more than 23,000 since the start of the pandemic.
It’s a myth that only older people get seriously sick from COVID-19, symptoms can be severe no matter how old you are.
Since November 1, there have been more than 3,900 reported cases of COVID-19 and 3,200 cases of close contact in the county. On Friday, November 13, the county reported more than 500 cases of COVID-19—the highest single-day number since the start of the pandemic. In the last two weeks, 50 people in the county’s health jurisdiction – which does not include the City of Cleveland – have died. In response to the surge in cases, CCBH has modified its internal processes to keep up with the growing caseload. CCBH has added more shifts to its COVID-19 program and moved staff from other programs to help with contact-tracing case investigations. If COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the potential to max out CCBH staff’s capacity grows, reducing its ability to contact everyone who may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. To assist with this, they ask those diagnosed with the virus to help notify those they have been in contact with—including anyone they’ve been within six feet of for 15 minutes or more. If cases continue to increase, CCBH may have to modify the procedures further by triaging cases and contacting people based on the seriousness of the illness they have been exposed to, Allen stressed. He also reminded residents that if contacted about potential exposure, they need to quarantine for 14 days to help reduce the virus’ spread.
Next, Allen discussed a concerning trend—the large number of social gatherings in the community (weddings, birthday parties, sleepovers). He asked parents and those working in sensitive occupations (long-term care facilities, health care facilities, schools) to be extra diligent in their interactions due to the risks they could pose by bringing COVID-19 into those settings.
In the last two weeks, 50 people in the county’s health jurisdiction – which does not include the City of Cleveland – have died.
Following Allen, Dr. Johnie Rose, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University’s (CWRU) Center for Community Health Integration and the director of the Preventive Medicine Residency Program Director at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center then shared a computer model created by CWRU and the University of Akron. The model is used to project the virus’ spread and highlighted two significant points: what impact asymptomatic transmission has, and how will the virus be affected if people who are infected self-isolate. Referring to the latest data received from the computer model, Dr. Rose pointed out that “at the trajectory, we’re on, we’re expecting to see 1,000 cases a day in the county, and at the end of the month, 2,000 cases a day.”
At the trajectory, we’re on, we’re expecting to see 1,000 cases a day in the county, and at the end of the month, 2,000 cases a day.
Wrapping up the briefing, Jana Rush, CCBH’s director of Epidemiology, Surveillance and Informatics, shared the latest epidemiological brief. As of November 13, there were 16,736 total cases of coronavirus; 1,806 hospitalizations – an increase of 2 percent; 427 intensive care unit admissions; 630 total deaths and 13,525 people are presumed recovered. The highest number of virus cases are among the age group 20-29 and in women.