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Cuyahoga County health officials recommend masks be worn by everyone indoors

County employees and the public will be required to wear masks in county buildings starting Aug. 5

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health is holding a virtual briefing today to talk about the COVID-19 pandemic.

CCBH is now recommending that masks be worn by everyone in the county while indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

"Based on recent CDC research showing that vaccinated individuals can spread the disease if they become infected, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health is providing notice that it supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance recommending the use of face masks while indoors and near others, regardless of vaccination status, in areas of substantial or high transmission, which now include Cuyahoga County. This guidance applies to all individuals 2 years of age and older," CCBH wrote in a release prior to the briefing.

"This is not summertime anymore folks. Things are changing. This variant spreads very easily and quickly and presents an increased risk to everyone," cautioned Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan. 

Cuyahoga County's recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals include:

  • All those who are medically able to do so should wear a face mask in public indoor settings when near others, regardless of vaccination status
  • The use of face masks is recommended for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Everyone with a known contact to someone with confirmed COVID-19 disease should get tested 3-5 days following exposure
  • Isolate if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

Budish also stated that he is signing an executive order stating that employees and the public, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear masks in all county buildings, effective August 5. 

"For your family, for your friends, for your neighbors, for the most vulnerable person you know, please get vaccinated. And please wear a mask," Budish pleaded.

You can read the CCBH masking recommendation below:

Wednesday's briefing comes as the county and the state are seeing a new surge of COVID-19 cases due to the rapidly-spreading Delta variant. The Centers for Disease Control reported Wednesday that 93% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are caused by the Delta variant.

Recently, Cuyahoga County and surrounding counties moved up to the "substantial" spread category, as determined by the CDC. That triggered a recommendation that everyone, including those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, wear masks while indoors. It is not a mandate, only a recommendation. 

Cuyahoga County and the state do not have mask mandates in effect at this time. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently said he would not enact a new mask mandate, saying that vaccinating against the virus was the reason behind that decision. He also recently said he will not put one into effect for schools, leaving it up to individual districts to come up with their own plans of action.

"Let me be quite candid: I do not believe that I have the authority today to mandate that," DeWine said last week, of a potential mask mandate for classrooms.

When asked why not, DeWine replied with a smile, "I could make a smart comment, but I won't," a likely reference to Ohio lawmakers passing and overriding a veto on Senate Bill 22, which gives the state's General Assembly the ability to be able to reject any of the governor’s or health department’s health orders.

"Last year we did not see spread in schools, That's because almost everyone was wearing a mask," DeWine said. 

Following the CCBH new guidance, the Maple Heights school district will consider a mask requirement when students return to school in two weeks.

"We know that it changes on a regular basis," said Charlie Keenan, superintendent of Maple Heights City School District. "I think that families understand, especially from last year, that we have to be flexible when new guidance comes out. There's new science and data that tells us different things; we have to take a look at it and make good decisions based on those recommendations."

You can see which districts have made the decision on mandating masks HERE.