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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Cuyahoga County COVID-19 Cases, Vaccinations Dropping

an image of Cuyahoga County COVID-19 data
Cuyahoga County Board of Health
Vaccination data from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health shows thousands of individuals have received a COVID-19 vaccine through the health department's clinics. Countywide, 38 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

Cuyahoga County’s COVID-19 numbers are improving, although vaccination rates have slowed, according to health officials.

The county is averaging about 120 new COVID-19 cases per day, and hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions have remained stagnant, said Jana Rush, the county’s director of epidemiology, in a Friday press conference.

“We are continuing to go in the right direction,” Rush said.

The testing positivity rate, which measures the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive in county hospitals, has dropped to 5 percent, down from 6 percent at the beginning of April, she added.

While the county’s incidence rate has continued to decrease, it remains the second highest in the state at 216 cases per 100,000 residents, said Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan. The statewide average is 140.2 per 100,000, according to state data.

The county’s rate is higher than the state average, however, for COVID-19 vaccinations. About 45 percent of county residents have received one dose of the vaccine, and 38 percent are fully vaccinated, County Executive Armond Budish said Friday.

Statewide, 41 percent of Ohioans have started the vaccine series, and just over 34 percent have received both doses, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

But as in other counties, demand for the vaccine is waning in Cuyahoga County, Budish added.

“On March 31, 13,000 residents received a vaccine that day. This week, we’re under 1,500 a day,” Budish said.

Allan added that vaccine scarcity is no longer an issue and there are more than 136 providers offering COVID-19 vaccines countywide. Many clinics are taking walk-ins, he said, now including the Wolstein Center mass vaccination site in Downtown Cleveland.

“It’s now easier than ever to get that shot,” Allan said.

Individuals who need help with transportation or registering for a COVID-19 shot are encouraged to call United Way’s 211 helpline, he added.

Children ages 12 to 15 may also be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines soon, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for this age group in the coming days, Allan said.

While details are still being finalized for the rollout of vaccines for that age group, Allan said, the Educational Service Center in Cuyahoga County will help coordinate vaccinations in schools.

Rent relief funds may increase amid possible eviction moratorium changes
Following news that the federal moratorium on evictions may be lifted, Budish is asking the Cuyahoga County Council to add another $10 million to the county’s rent relief fund. The fund, which was started last year to help individuals with emergency rental assistance during the pandemic, would then total $30 million, he said.

“The potential for a wave of mass evictions is a looming disaster,” Budish said. “We know there's a need for this in the community and we're working to meet that need and keep residents in their home.”

At that increased funding level, Budish said the program would be able to help about 8,000 Cuyahoga County residents.

County funding new tree planting projects, Parma nursery
More trees will be planted across Cuyahoga County as part of increased funds for the Healthy Tree Canopy program, Budish also said Friday.

The county plans to invest $950,000 for 25 new planting and planning projects in cities, neighborhoods and nonprofits, including 20 planting projects and a new tree nursery at Stearns Farm in Parma, Budish said.

More than 4,000 trees will be planted this cycle, which is the second phase of the program, bringing the total number of trees planted across both phases over 5,400.

“Projects that align with our equity and vulnerability goals were given special consideration, so that they can continue to reduce the effects of climate change in their communities,” Budish said.

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