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Several Northeast Ohio counties rise to CDC's 'high' community level for COVID-19

Face masks are now recommended in indoor public spaces in Erie, Huron, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, and Trumbull counties due to rising COVID case and hospital numbers.

CLEVELAND — COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in Ohio for the past month, and it's causing the nation's leading health officials to recommend some stricter health protocols for some areas.

Forty-five of the state's 88 counties are now listed by the CDC as having "high" community levels of the coronavirus, reflecting both a recent increase in case numbers as well as hospitalizations. Six of those counties are in Northeast Ohio:

  • Erie
  • Huron
  • Lorain
  • Mahoning
  • Medina
  • Trumbull

This means the agency is now advising all residents within these counties to 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 is the first time any county in Northeast Ohio has been at the "high" level since early June. All but two of the counties listed 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.

For example, Erie County has 226.21 new positive tests per capita in the last week, meaning its 14.4 new COVID-related hospital admissions per capita during the same time period is enough to make the area "high" (10 or above is the threshold). In addition, Lorain County's figures are 221.73 new cases and 14.4 new hospitalizations, Huron County is at 207.67 and 14.4, and Medina County is at 203.06 and 12.5, respectively.

By contrast, Trumbull County's per capita case number is at just 180.33, which on it's own would put it in the "low" zone. However, the area has also seen at least 20 new coronavirus hospitalizations per capita (21.8, to be exact), which pushed it up to "high." It's the same story in Mahoning County, which is averaging only 175.35 new infections but 21.8 new hospital admissions.

On 11 counties in the Buckeye State are at the lowest "green" level, including Ashland, Carroll, Holmes, Tuscarawas, and Wayne in Northeast Ohio. Cuyahoga (190.19 new cases and 14.4 new hospitalizations per capita) and Summit (144.36 and 12.5) have been at "medium" for each of the last two weeks now, meaning 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 for about a week in June, and private businesses and establishments across the state are still largely free to enact their own policies.

    

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