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As Cuyahoga County approaches the highest COVID-19 level in Ohio, could another shutdown be coming?

"The surge is catastrophic and we are right in the thick of it here," says County Executive Armond Budish.

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County is approaching the highest level in the state when it comes to coronavirus cases and transmission. County leaders say we have to act now so we stop the spread in the future.

County Health Commissioner Terry Allan detailed the alarming rise, noting that although more coronavirus testing is taking place, the positivity rate increase from just 3.7% on June 23 to 8.8% this past Tuesday. In addition, 80% of county adult hospital beds and 59% of pediatric beds are now occupied, the highest levels since the pandemic began.

"We need to remember that our young people are not invincible," Allan said. "Their actions have consequences for our seniors, our grandparents, their grandparents and for the child down the street who may be battling Leukemia."

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said we must take action immediately.

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"The surge is catastrophic and we are right in the thick of it here,” said Budish. "Our cases are skyrocketing, our emergency room visits are skyrocketing, hospitalization admissions are going up, things are getting worse. We've got real trouble."

Cuyahoga County is in red level three and going in the wrong direction towards level four or purple, according to the state’s map. If we enter into level four, Cuyahoga County will fall into the highest level in the state, meaning severe exposure and spread. The state says people should only leave their homes for supplies and services when reaching level four.

According to Cuyahoga County Medical Director, Dr. Heidi Gullett, intensive care unit occupancy is increasing and now stands at 82%, which is a 5% increase from one week ago.

"That crests over the threshold of 80% as one of the criterion for moving to the next level for us that's the purple level,” said Dr. Gullett.

The question was asked via a Zoom conference: What happens if Cuyahoga County hits the highest level of exposure? Do bars and restaurants shut down again?

Allan answered saying, "I think we have to look at what the trending looks like. I think the system is designed to do that relative to rating. Having said that, this is a new issue this morning and what it does is highlights the reason why we are talking to you today about the importance of masking."

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