CLEVELAND — Face masks will once again be required for all employees and visitors inside Cuyahoga County government buildings beginning this Wednesday, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
County Executive Armond Budish signed an order Tuesday issuing the mandate. This comes as the CDC has placed Cuyahoga into the "high" threshold for coronavirus community levels, meaning cases and hospitalizations are on the rise and masks are recommended for everyone in indoor public spaces.
Besides the coverings, workers and visitors will also be asked to keep a distance of at least six feet apart, and no more than four people will be allowed inside elevators at one time. Budish released the following statement:
"COVID-19 cases are increasing again in Cuyahoga County, and we do not want to get back to where we were in December of last year. I know nobody wants to go back to mask mandates, but this executive order is a necessary measure to help keep both visitors to our buildings and our employees better protected against the virus. The best way to beat COVID is by getting vaccinated, so I encourage residents that are still unvaccinated to get the shot and stay up to date on boosters. This will better protect you, your loved ones, and the community. We will overcome this virus together."
Cuyahoga County entered the "high" zone last Thursday by virtue of having more than 200 new COVID cases and upwards of 10 new hospitalizations per capita over the previous seven days. Despite the extra precautions, total active hospitalizations remain relatively low, with less than 4% of county hospital beds currently occupied by a COVID patient.
Ashtabula and Lorain counties have been in the high level for the last two weeks. A new state law makes it highly unlikely county leaders or Gov. Mike DeWine will impose any mask mandates for privately-owned buildings, but such establishments can still issue guidelines under their own volition.
NOTE: The video below is from last week, before Cuyahoga County moved into the "high" zone: