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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.

COVID-19 Spread and Vaccinations Are Both Up in Cuyahoga County

Alyssa Rambeau receives the COVID-19 vaccine.
Anna Huntsman
Cleveland resident Alyssa Rambeau receives her first dose of the Moderna vaccine during a pop-up clinic at the Rockport Branch of the Cleveland Public Library Aug. 2, 2021. Rambeau, who is Native American, said many people in her community are hesitant to get the shot. She plans to encourage more people to get the vaccine.

COVID-19 spread continues to increase in Cuyahoga County. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed the county's designation from moderate to an area of “substantial transmission".

The designation means community spread is high and residents are advised to wear masks when indoors in public – even if they are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

While all three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. offer high levels of protection against serious illness and death, emerging data shows vaccinated individuals can still contract and spread the highly contagious delta variant due to its high transmissibility, the CDC reports.

But more than 52% of Cuyahoga County’s population is vaccinated, and the recent spike in cases may be contributing to an uptick in vaccinations. The county’s vaccination rate has increased slightly in recent weeks, according to data from county and state health departments.

Hank Harris, a Cleveland resident, decided to get the Moderna vaccine at a pop-up clinic at the Rockport Branch of the Cleveland Public Library Monday. Concern about variants was one of the main reasons Harris decided to get the shot, he said.

“I’m pretty sure ‘E’ and ‘F’ and all of the rest of [the variants] are coming right around the corner, and these variants seem to be getting worse and worse, so I try to protect myself,” Harris said.

Harris was hesitant to get the shot when it first came out because it was a new vaccine, he said, but he ultimately wanted to get the shot to keep himself and his grandchildren safe.

“I just don’t want to be on anybody’s respirator, and I don’t want to be playing with my grandkids and then it’s my fault that they got sick. It’s just peace of mind,” Harris said.

Anna Huntsman
Cleveland resident Hank Harris poses for a picture after receiving his first dose of the Moderna vaccine at a pop-up clinic at Cleveland Public Library's Rockport Branch Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. Harris said he decided to get the shot at the clinic to protect himself and his grandchildren.

Harris decided to finally get the shot Monday because the pop-up clinic, which was held at the library from 10 a.m. to noon, was one of the only clinics that fit with his work schedule, he said.

Another Cleveland resident, Alyssa Rambeau, also cited convenience as her reason for getting the shot at the library. She missed a previous appointment at the Wolstein Center mass vaccination site while traveling out of town, and the library clinic is just down the road from her house.

“When I saw this was in the neighborhood, it was a lot closer,” Rambeau said. “It felt like the right thing to do. My dad has cancer, and he’s unable to get it, so I kind of want to do what I can.”

Rambeau is Native American, and many people in her community are hesitant to get the shot, she said. She has been encouraging people to get the vaccine and will especially reach out now that she has received one dose of the vaccine herself, she said.

“There’s so many people who are against it. They are just very openly not for it,” Rambeau said. “After I did my research, I was open to it.”

The handful of individuals who showed up to the library’s pop-up clinic Monday received free Cleveland Cavaliers merchandise, and Managed Plan Medicaid residents also received $100 in gift cards from the state.

The library is also hosting clinics at other branches over the next two weeks:

  • Glenville on Aug. 4 from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Memorial-Nottingham on Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Rice on  Aug. 9 from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Harvard-Lee on  Aug. 11 from 1 to 3 p.m.

There will also be vaccinations offered as part of a family event at the Walz Branch on Aug. 4 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Registration is preferred but walk-ins are welcome, according to library officials. Those interested can call (216) 231-7700 and select option 2 to make an appointment. 

The clinics are being held in partnership with Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services, Inc. (NEON) and United Healthcare.

Copyright 2021 WCPN. To see more, visit WCPN.