County Officials Say Employees From Trump Event Positive For COVID

County officials address weekly COVID-19 data in a media briefing August 7, 2020. Clockwise from top left: Health Commissioner Terry Allan, Executive Armond Budish and Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett. [Cuyahoga County Board of Health]
County officials address the latest COVID-19 data in a media briefing August 7, 2020. Clockwise from top left: Health Commissioner Terry Allan, Executive Armond Budish and Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett. [Cuyahoga County Board of Health]

Six employees from the Shoreby Club in Bratenahl, where President Trump held a campaign fundraiser Thursday, tested positive for the coronavirus through a rapid antigen test, said Cuyahoga County Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett. 

“These are not cases – these are rapid positive antigen tests that are concerning, so we recommend people who have one of those be isolated immediately,” Dr. Gullett said at a news conference Friday.

Employees were told to isolate get a PCR test, which is the more standard test given in Ohio, Gullett said.  The health board has not received those results yet, she said.

The employees were told to go home Thursday afternoon, along with four others that were in close contact with the potential positives, she said.

Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan also said Friday that the board stands by its recommendation that school districts opt for remote learning to start the year.

Health officials have received hundreds of emails and phone over calls over the past week about their recommendations about the upcoming school year, which include calling for schools to suspend sports and other extracurricular activities.

The response from county school districts has been mixed. Some schools are permitting sports, while others have chosen to suspend in-person learning and activities altogether.

The recommendations are not orders, Allan said, but the board stands by its suggestions, particularly because of testing limitations in the county.

“It’s difficult to be tested if you’re asymptomatic, and generally it’s very difficult to be tested if you’re a child,” Allan said. “I can’t emphasize enough our concerns about the ability to test children in the community during a situation where we’d need to have rapid testing, quickly.”

The board may consider modifying its recommendations if testing positivity rates and numbers of new cases in the county go down for a sustained amount of time, he said.

This past week, Cuyahoga County saw a decrease in COVID-19 cases but an increase in reported deaths, health officials said. Cuyahoga County data does not include the city of Cleveland. The city health department collects that information separately.

Twenty-two deaths were reported, up from seven deaths the week before.

Overall, the county is approaching nearly 500 total deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, said Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett. That number includes deaths reported in the city of Cleveland, she said.

“We need to do everything we can to minimize further loss of life, and that includes masking and staying six feet away,” she said. “People get tired of that, and we understand that, but the reality is that you are preventing other people from dying by doing these simple actions.”

Hospitalization numbers have remained stable since last week, with a slight increase in patients needing ventilators, Gullett said.

New cases reached a new high in July, and since then, they seem to be a downward trend, according to county data.

“The goal is that we try to flatten this increased surge that we had in the beginning of July, and our hope is that it remains that we can flatten it and not get any higher than we were in July. But that is a threat, and we have to be careful with that,” Gullett said.

Area hospitals reported an average percent positive test rate of 5.4 percent, Gullett said, which is down from 6.5 percent last week.

 

 

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