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Cuyahoga, Lorain, Ashtabula counties at CDC's 'high' community level of COVID-19: What that means for you

The CDC recommends that masks be worn in indoor public spaces in the three affected counties.
Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CLEVELAND — The recent surge in COVID-19 cases continues to impact Northeast Ohio. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added Cuyahoga County to the list of those at a 'high' community level. Lorain and Ashtabula counties are also at that threshold for the second consecutive week. 

Those counties at a high COVID-19 community level are advised to wear a mask indoors in public and on public transportation

Following a surge in cases last winter caused by the highly contagious omicron variant, the CDC updated its guidelines to better account for coronavirus hospitalizations after originally using case numbers as the overriding factor. While new infections per capita still play a role, new hospital admissions now help determine if doctors recommend face coverings or not, especially in counties where infections are under 200 per 100,000 residents in the past week. The threshold of new hospitalizations per capita is at 10 for those counties with more than 200 new COVID-19 cases per capita over the last seven days.

The CDC reports Cuyahoga County has a case rate of 240.15 per 100,000 residents with a 11.9 hospitalizations per 100,000. Lorain County sits at 267.89 cases per 100,000 with hospital admissions at 11.8, while Ashtabula County is at 240.64 cases and hospital admissions at 11.9.

 Another indicator that could put counties with such levels of spread in the "high" zone is if at least 10% of all hospital beds are occupied by COVID patients over an average of seven days. All three Northeast Ohio counties are at 4% or lower.

In "high" counties, those who are immunocompromised or who have close contact with such individuals are also advised to avoid high-risk areas or gatherings, if possible. In addition, nine other Northeast Ohio counties have risen to "medium" risk for COVID-19, meaning masks could be the best option for high-risk individuals:

  • Erie
  • Geauga
  • Huron
  • Lake
  • Medina
  • Mahoning
  • Portage
  • Summit
  • Trumbull

Earlier this week, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Dr. Roderick Harris reported that COVID-19 cases in the county have increased by 76% in the last two weeks, with an average of 424 cases per day.

In new numbers released Thursday, Ohio reported more than 19,000 new coronavirus cases in the past week, compared to just over 3,000 eight weeks prior. Active hospitalizations have also been creeping up, but still sit at just 687, or less than 3% of all available beds. Nearly all of the state's cases are now caused by the omicron BA.2 or BA.2.12.1 variants.

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