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Combating the COVID surge: Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb addresses vaccinations, testing, in-person learning in schools

Mayor Bibb and city health leaders participated in a briefing alongside Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval.

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval joined forces Tuesday for a multi-city virtual press conference focused on COVID testing statewide, mask supply and “what can be done to increase precautions against the omicron variant.”

"The biggest thing we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to make sure our residents get vaccinated," Bibb said during his remarks. "Right now in the city of Cleveland, only 45% of our residents are vaccinated. That's not good enough."

Cleveland Department of Health Interim Director Brian Kimball reported that the city had over 5,000 COVID-19 cases last week. 

Bibb added that he is urging "caution and concern" for the city's hardest hit areas, particularly the communities of color. "It's important that we focus our efforts to make sure our residents feel confident in the vaccine and confident in the importance of the science," he stated.

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During the briefing, Bibb was asked about the importance of keeping Cleveland's school students in the classrooms in the time of COVID-19. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District returned to in-person classes on Monday after a week of remote learning. 

"I think it's very clear, having our children in school is critical," he stated. "The more we can do to make our schools are safe, that our teachers are safe, to get our children to school is critical. Bibb added that he has been in close contact with CMSD CEO Eric Gordon. 

"We have all the tools in our toolbox to fix this and stop this pandemic, but we need to make sure that the access to these tools are equitable all across our city, and all across our state," Bibb said.

One group canvassing neighborhoods handing out COVID test kits and promoting the vaccine is the Young Latino Network. Bibb says he appreciates the grassroots efforts, but needs more that that, specifically the help of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

DeWine on Tuesday told Cleveland.com he looks forward to working with the mayors, adding about tests, "It's not just a question of the Biden administration buying these and getting them out. We have to have more made."

Others who joined Bibb and Pureval for the press conference included:

  • Dr. Karen Cooper, Medical Director, Cleveland Department of Health
  • Brian Kimball, Interim Health Director, Cleveland Department of Health
  • Domonic Hopson, Assistant Health Commissioner, Cincinnati Health Department

The COVID-focused press conference comes just one week after Bibb officially took office. You can watch the briefing in the player below:

RELATED: Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb to announce new city COVID-19 policy, reveals team members on COVID task force

Mayor Bibb plans to officially launch his COVID-19 task force on Wednesday, which features a group of hospital CEOs, public health officials and more. The list includes:

  • Terry Allan (Cuyahoga County Board of Health)
  • Elise Hara Auvil (City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office)
  • Dr. Akram Boutros (MetroHealth Medical Center)
  • Armond Budish (Cuyahoga County)
  • Nicole Carlton (Emergency Medical Services)
  • Dr. Karen Cooper (Department of Public Health)
  • Bradford Davy (City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office)
  • Eric Gordon (Cleveland Municipal School District)
  • Blaine Griffin (Cleveland City Council)
  • Mark Griffin (City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office)
  • Karrie D. Howard (Department of Public Safety)
  • Sarah Johnson (City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office)
  • Pernel Jones (County Council President)
  • Dr. Larry Macon, Sr. (Mount Zion Church of Oakwood Village)
  • Dr. Cliff Megerian (University Hospitals)
  • Dr. Tom Mijahlevic (Cleveland Clinic)
  • Selina Pagan (Young Latino Network)
  • Paul Patton (City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office)
  • Ryan Puente (City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office)
  • Elaine Tso (Asian Services In Action, Inc.)
  • Dr. Bob Wiley (Cleveland Clinic)

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