Cuyahoga County No Longer At Red Alert Level For COVID-19
Updated: 5:25 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020
Cuyahoga County dropped from the red alert level to orange in Ohio’s coronavirus public health advisory system, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday.
The county spent seven weeks in the red, or Level 3, with what is considered by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to be “very high exposure and spread” risk.
Cuyahoga County is now listed as Level 2, or orange, for the first time since the four-tier pandemic alert system was launched July 2.
“Montgomery and Cuyahoga have been on that red list every single week. They now drop off and so that is great,” DeWine said.
Neighboring Lorain County, however, climbed from Level 2 to Level 3 on Thursday, according to ODH statistics. The governor attributed the county’s change in status to a rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases per day and an increase in outpatient visits to healthcare facilities.
“Of particular note is their outpatient visits grew from an average of 20 a day on Aug. 7 to almost 28 within a week. Their cases per day went from an average of 18 on Aug. 4 to 24 on Aug. 11,” DeWine said. “They are seeing fewer workplace outbreaks but they're continuing to see community spread. This spread is primarily, we're seeing, in social situations, family gatherings where people are unmasked and in close contact and basically let their guard down.”
Nearby Trumbull County also increased to Level 3, as did Clark and Preble counties in Southwest Ohio.
Erie County remains red as well.
“Erie meets two indicators but they continue to meet the CDC's threshold for high incidence. They are at 129 [cases per 100,000 population]. They had 96 cases during the past two weeks,” DeWine said. “A large outbreak at a long-term care facility is responsible for a significant number of cases, however there does continue to be community spread.”
As of Thursday, Ohio has reported 112,003 cumulative COVID-19 cases and 3,929 deaths. The state saw an increase of 1,122 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths in the last 24 hours.
"Ohio continues to see a shift in virus spread. In urban areas, where residents have been wearing masks longer, we're seeing spread decline, but rural areas are seeing more spread," DeWine said. "The best ways to stop the virus continue to be staying home when you can, wearing your mask and social distancing when you go out, and washing your hands often."
The governor also announced that adult day care centers and senior centers – which have been closed by a state health order since March 23 – can reopen at reduced capacity beginning Sept. 21, provided the facilities are able to meet the state’s latest safety requirements.
"We can do two things at once. We can be safe. We can be protective," DeWine said. "But we can try to get back to normal and so it's important to do it."
The governor said the late September start date will allow adult and senior facilities time to determine their ability to open and to prepare for reopening.
A variety of factors need to be considered, including case status in the surrounding community, risk level in the county, access to testing and local hospital capacity, he said.
In order to open facilities will be required to:
- Open with a limited capacity based on safe social distancing.
- Limit entry to the facility to those who are necessary for the safe operation of programs.
- Screen all participants and staff and keep a daily log.
- Conduct baseline and repeat testing of staff and participants.
- Require all staff and participants to wear face coverings, with limited exceptions.
- Use cohorting of participants when possible and alter schedules to reduce contact.
- Implement CDC guidance for cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing.
Efforts are also underway to offer baseline saliva testing at the state’s 765 assisted living facilities to all staff and residents, at no cost. The tests can be self-performed and can provide results within 48 hours of being received by the lab, he said.
"Our focus has been and remains protecting Ohioans while navigating this pandemic," DeWine said. "To achieve this, we must have 100 percent participation of all assisted living facilities in Ohio."
WYSO's Leila Goldstein contributed to this report.