CLEVELAND — Two Northeast Ohio counties are now listed as having “high” community levels of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This comes as cases have continued to climb in Ohio for several weeks.
"We have two counties in our area that are at high level spread. This is our warning. Now’s the time to act to keep it from getting worse," cautions Dr. Amy Edwards, infectious disease specialist for University Hospitals.
The CDC has listed both Ashtabula and Lorain counties as having "high" community levels of COVID-19. This means health experts are advising residents in those counties to wear face masks while in indoor public spaces.
"While hearing it’s a high rate of spread may not bother me or you depending on how healthy you are or if you’re vaccinated, but it may affect your neighbor or the person sitting next to you on a bus," expains Dr. Edwards.
The CDC’s community levels are based on factors like rising COVID cases and new hospital admissions. In Lorain County, the CDC reports a 16 percent increase in cases from last week. Lorain County’s Health Department says there are about 30 people hospitalized with COVID in the county.
"I think just like we’ve seen in Michigan and the Northeast and surrounding states, we’re probably going to see it spread in Ohio. So we will see more hospitalizations. We already have a lot of people being infected. For most of us, we know more people being infected now than anytime since the pandemic started," adds Cleveland Clinic Chief Medical Operations Officer Dr. Robert Wyllie.
As COVID cases are monitored – so are vaccines. Pfizer says it’ll seek emergency use authorization for a three-dose course of its COVID vaccine for ages 6 months to 5 years old. It comes after they say its latest study shows that its vaccine, which is one tenth the dose of adults, was well tolerated and was more than 80 percent effective.
"I think those really young kids, 6 months to 3 years, where we have to worry about them being admitted for complications to COVID, it’ll be really nice because nobody wants their kid in the hospital," Dr. Edwards says.
As far as whether more counties will reach high community levels of COVID here in Northeast Ohio and across the state, health experts say it’s likely as cases continue to rise.