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Masks now recommended in Cuyahoga County. COVID-19 reaches high level, the CDC says

COVID-19 Community Levels are rising in Northeast Ohio just before Memorial Day weekend, CDC data show.
Stephanie Czekalinski
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
COVID-19 Community Levels are rising in Northeast Ohio just before Memorial Day weekend, CDC data show.

People should now wear a mask when in indoor, public settings in Cuyahoga County, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That's because the levels of COVID-19 in Cuyahoga, along with Ashtabula, Lorain, Lucas and Wood counties have now reached the high COVID-19 Community Level, according to the CDC. Several other counties in Northeast and central Ohio now meet the agency's criteria for medium Community Levels of the virus.

The agency takes into consideration hospital admissions, how many hospital beds are devoted to COVID-19 patients and the number of new COVID-19 infections in the county when determining the level of the virus in a given community, explained County Board of Health Commissioner Roderick Harris.

In the past week, the number of new cases has rise 28% across the Cuyahoga County, Harris said. But that number is likely underreported, he added, because many people are using rapid at-home tests.

Although the data show that deaths and hospitalizations are still low in the county, Harris said it's important to take steps to stop the virus from spreading further.

Test if you’re feeling sick or before going into a group setting, stay up to date on your vaccines and get a booster if your eligible, he said.

“There is hope that we can get back down to a low community level if we all do our own parts to keep ourselves safe,” Harris said.

Last week, the CDC expanded guidelines for COVID-19 booster shot eligibility.

The agency now recommends that children ages 5 to 11 should get a booster five months after their initial Pfizer vaccine series. Additionally, the CDC strengthened its recommendation that those 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those 50 and older should get a second booster dose four months after their first.

The CDC recommends the following precautions when COVID-19 reaches the high level:

The CDC recommendations for areas that have medium levels are:

Check your county’s COVID-19 Community Level here. See the CDC’s full recommendations for action at all COVID-19 Community Levels here.

Stephanie is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.