CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and county health leaders have taken the step of issuing a Universal Indoor Masking Advisory for all of Cuyahoga County.
"Our Mask Advisory strongly urges masking in all indoor areas to prevent a crisis of COVID cases, hospitalizations and fatalities," Budish said during a briefing on Wednesday. "We urge our businesses and municipalities to enforce the use of masks in all buildings. And we urge schools to require masks for all students and staff so that kids can stay safe and learning in school."
Budish pointed out that Franklin County, where Columbus is, and Lucas County, which houses Toledo, both have adopted similar advisories recently.
"We must do better. We have to stop the spread of this virus. And time is running out. Wearing masks is a small price to pay to protect our children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. As the weather gets colder, and we’re forced indoors, chances of spread will only increase," Budish cautioned.
During the briefing, Budish was joined by Cuyahoga County Board of Health Commissioner Terry Allan, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's President Patricia M. DePompei, and Board of Health Director of Epidemiology, Surveillance & Informatics Jana Rush.
Wednesday's briefing comes as COVID-19 numbers continue to surge amid the Delta variant. State and local leaders are focusing much of their attention on schools.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Children's Hospitals Association asked all of the state's superintendents to implement mask mandates for their schools -- a request that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine supported. The request comes amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the state following the start of the new school year that the OCHA said could impact its ability to treat children in need across the state. At his press briefing, DeWine reiterated that the best way for students and school staff to decrease the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated (if they are old enough to) or to wear masks while in school.
During a briefing earlier this month, Budish opened the door to a possible return to remote learning in schools.
"I know this sounds like a broken record, but COVID is getting worse, again. All the counties in Ohio except one are experiencing high levels of spread, the highest category given by the CDC," Budish said during the county's COVID-19 briefing on September 1. "While we want kids to be able to go to school in-person, the more our numbers rise, the higher the possibility that school might have to go remote again."
You can watch Wednesday's briefing in the player below