CLEVELAND — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline across the Buckeye State, with the Ohio Department of Health reporting its smallest weekly case increase since early May.
Those figures are reflected in the CDC's latest community spread level projections. As of Thursday, only four Northeast Ohio county's remain at the center's "high" level, compared to four a week ago. In addition, five counties in the region are now at the "low" threshold, something that hasn't happened for well over a month.
The CDC has continued to relax its coronavirus guidelines in recent weeks and months, but still recommends masking for people living in "high" counties, regardless of vaccination status. To meet this threshold, counties must either see at least 20 new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in a given week or a combination of both 200 new cases and 10 new hospitalizations per capita.
Lorain County remained high for the second week in a row as it reported 221.09 new cases and 15 new hospitalizations per capita over the last seven days (both increases). Erie was the only local county to rise into the high "orange" zone, reporting vastly similar figures of 222.17 new cases and 15 new hospitalizations.
Two other Northeast Ohio counties remained high:
- Ashtabula - 207.73 cases per 100K, 13.6 new hospitalizations
- Huron - 214.53 cases per 100K, 15 new hospitalizations
However, four counties fell out of the high level from last Thursday, with Richland County falling all the way into the low "green" zone with figures of 184.89 new cases and 8 new hospitalizations per capita. Other newly low counties include Carroll, Holmes, Stark, and Wayne.
Cuyahoga County remained in the medium "yellow" zone for the fourth straight week, with 176.1 new cases and 13.6 new hospitalizations per 100,000 citizens. It was joined by fellow medium counties Ashland, Geauga, Lake, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Trumbull, and Tuscarawas.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did not enact any new mask or health mandates the last time counties went "orange" late in the spring (partly due to a controversial new law limiting his pandemic powers), and is unlikely to do so this time. However, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish did order all employees and visitors to wear face coverings inside government buildings, and private businesses and establishments across the state are still largely free to enact their own policies.