CLEVELAND — For the second week in a row, Cuyahoga County residents will not need to mask up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Cuyahoga County remains in the CDC's medium community spread level for COVID-19, meaning case numbers and hospitalizations are not high enough for health experts to recommend face coverings for those in indoor public spaces.
The CDC has continues 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 moved back into the "orange" level by virtue of having 221.41 cases per 100,000 residents and 13.6 new hospitalizations per capita. Portage County is now also orange with 208.66 cases per 100K and 11.4 new hospitalizations. Stark County moved into the high level with 216.13 cases per 100K and 12.3 new hospitalizations
Other Northeast Ohio counties at the high "orange" level are:
- Ashtabula - 210.82 cases per 100K, 17.1 new hospitalizations
- Erie - 203.32 cases per 100K, 14 new hospitalizations
- Mahoning - 202.46 cases per 100K, 13.2 new hospitalizations
- Trumbull - 200.53 cases per 100K, 13.2 new hospitalizations
- Tuscarawas - 221.77 cases per 100K, 12.3 new hospitalizations
- Wayne - 217.79 cases per 100K, 12.3 new hospitalizations
By comparison, Cuyahoga County saw a case rate of 195 per 100K and a new hospitalization figure of 17.1 Health leaders still advise those with compromised immune systems to wear masks and get tested for COVID-19 in certain situations while living in those areas, which in addition to the counties listed above include Ashland, Geauga, Holmes, Huron, Lake, Medina, Richland and Summit.
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.
The Ohio Department of Health reported more than 21,000 new cases of COVID-19 over the past seven days on Thursday. It was a decrease of about 4,000 cases from a week ago. All counties except seven (including all in Northeast Ohio) are at either the "yellow" level for medium, or "orange" level for high.
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