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Ohio Cases Rise With Delta Variant Bringing Back Mask Recommendations and Push For Vaccines

CDC current map of coronavirus transmission rates in Ohio.
CDC current map of coronavirus transmission rates in Ohio.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly all of Ohio’s counties now fall into either substantial or high transmission rate categories for the coronavirus.  The CDC defines substantial spread of the virus at 50 or more cases per 100,000 people.  The agency defines high transmission as more than 100 cases per 100,000 people.

As cases have increased, driven experts say by the delta variant, we have seen a return to recommendations for masks.  The CDC recently shifted course to again recommend masks even for vaccinated people while indoors and in areas of substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus.

 The rise in cases and return of masking recommendations comes after most enjoyed a respite from pandemic restrictions.  The rise also comes as students prepare to return to the classroom.

Last week, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health recommended that students and staff in the county’s schools wear masks indoors regardless of vaccine status and also recommended social distancing.

Ohio governor Mike DeWine held a pandemic briefing last Friday where he described the gulf between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated as “two Ohios.”  Nearly half of Ohioans have started the COVID-19 vaccine. The governor says that vaccination rates are increasing across Ohio.

Later in the program, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a sobering report with a stark warning for humanity.

The nearly 200 scientists involved in creating the report found that climate change is accelerating. The report puts the blame predominantly on human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. The report says there is still a small window of time to avoid catastrophic warming; but only if we find the will to do so - and quickly turn away from burning fossil fuels.

Last month, the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland hosted an interactive, virtual panel discussion that looked specifically at what impact climate change could hold for Lake Erie and for Northeast Ohio.  The discussion remains relevant and timely, given the urgency of the U.N. report. 

 The first of two mayoral debates will be held tonight at the Idea Center. Ideastream Public Media in partnership with the City Club of Cleveland will host the debates and all seven candidates seeking to succeed Frank Jackson will take part. The debates feature questions submitted from voters about the topics important to them. The topics will be divided among the two debates.  The first debate will cover: Racial equity, public safety, housing, transparency in government and health equity.  The debates are made possible by grants from The Cleveland Foundation and The George Gund Foundation.

Heidi Gullett, M.D., Medical Director, Cuyahoga County Board of Health  
Lisa Ryan, Health Reporter, Ideastream Public Media  
Anna Huntsman, Health Reporter, Ideastream Public Media 
Peter Whiting, Ph.D., Professor, Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
Mike Foley, Director of Sustainability, Cuyahoga County
Laura Schapiro, M.D., University Hospitals

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."