CLEVELAND — Amid updates from both the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health in the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuyahoga County remains at a high community level for this week.
The CDC reports that Cuyahoga County has a COVID case rate of 231.32 per 100,000 residents, which is down slightly from last week. The county also posted a rate of 16.5 new COVID-related hospital admissions per capita over the past seven days. This is the third straight week that Cuyahoga County has been in the high or "orange" level.
Lorain County is also high for this week after reporting a COVID-19 case rate of 260.14 and a hospitalization threshold of 16.
The following other Northeast Ohio counties are ranked at the orange level by the CDC, with two moving up into the category this week (noted by an asterisk):
- *Ashland - 289.81 cases per 100K, 13.7 new hospitalizations
- Erie - 329.9 cases per 100K, 16 new hospitalizations
- Huron - 295.2 cases per 100K, 16 new hospitalizations
- Mahoning - 259.75 cases per 100K, 23.5 new hospitalizations
- *Richland - 289.81 cases per 100K, 13.7 new hospitalizations
- Trumbull - 259.12 cases per 100K, 23.5 new hospitalizations
- Tuscarawas - 241.34 cases per 100K, 11.4 new hospitalizations
The CDC is advising that residents of the counties in the high category wear masks while in indoor public spaces, regardless of COVID vaccination status. In addition, those with compromised immune systems are warned to think twice about taking part in non-essential activities due to an increased risk of getting severely ill.
This week's data shows that all of the counties listed above have seen at least 200 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the previous seven days, meaning the hospitalization threshold to get into this "orange" zone is lower. (20.0 is needed when the case figure is below 200).
All counties in the Buckeye State are at either the "yellow" level for medium, or "orange" level for high. Ashtabula, Carroll, Lake, Portage, and Summit are down to medium after being high last week and are joined by Geauga, Holmes, Medina, Stark, and Wayne, which indicates masks aren't recommended for all people but those who are immunocompromised should proceed with more caution.
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.
Also on Wednesday, the CDC announced that it would be relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person. Also, people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff held a briefing as well on Thursday as weekly COVID case numbers continue to surge. The good news is that Dr. Vanderhoff believes this spike of COVID-19 may be on the downfall across Ohio. “It appears that the modest surge in cases recently caused by the omicron variants may have hit its peak or have leveled off,” he said.
ODH reported on Thursday that there have now been more than three million cases of COVID-19 in the state since the pandemic began in March of 2020.