PARMA, Ohio — For the first time since the county began reporting positive COVID-19 cases, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health has released a map of cases by zip code.
The map shows the frequency of cases by zip code, one that will be updated every Friday as cases are expected to increase.
"I can tell you we had more cases since this map. If you see this frequency of infections, everywhere you go in our community we have COVID-19. So you should expect to have the potential to be exposed if you are out and about," said Dr. Heidi Gullett, medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.
Gullett reports 5% of COVID-19 tests have been positive for the virus and 26% of the county’s positive cases are healthcare workers.
The most recent data released on Friday revealed 204 positive COVID-19 cases in the county, with age of patients infected ranging from 14 to 93. The date of illness onset was Feb. 29 to March 20.
"When you identify cases, you begin to learn about their lives. And where they have been and that is why it is such a privilege and something we take very seriously that they are sharing the details of their lives for the greater good," Gullett said.
Gullett said in that process you begin to identify what we call potential clusters, meaning people they have been in contact with who have become symptomatic or have been sick themselves.
"The county’s disease investigation team tracks them down, so when we identify clusters, we go in every direction and have doctors assigned to be leads of the clusters," she said.
The team of doctors then decide when it's the right time to sample. Gullett said there are not enough testing kits to sample everyone in a cluster, so they only test when appropriate.
"There are dozens of clusters we have investigated and continue to investigate," Gullett said.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health reiterates the importance of social distancing to flatten the curve as much as possible.
Because there is not widespread testing and health experts are only using estimates based on current models from those who are tested, Gullett said it's difficult to know when hospitals will reach or exceed capacity.
"None of us can predict where this is headed. Without widespread testing, we are crippled at understanding the assumptions of the models because we don't know the level of infection in the community. We know it is high. If I am showing you this map and you see infections everywhere with limited testing, you can only imagine the actual number of infections," Gullett said.
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