CLEVELAND — With Thanksgiving winding down and holiday shopping right around the corner, health experts are reminding everyone to take extra steps to protect themselves as people continue to congregate.
It comes as health leaders see a recent rise in new confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“What we know is what we're facing right now, and we are heading into the winter with very high levels of disease transmission,” Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff with the Ohio Department of Health said. “And over the last couple of weeks, a definite upturn in the number of cases and the number of hospitalizations. So essentially, we're heading into the winter already in a surge. When will this surge peak? And when will it begin to decline? We really are not able to answer that.”
Data from the Ohio Department of Health does show a correlation to a rise in cases occurring shortly after a holiday where families typically congregate.
“We've seen over the course of this pandemic that about two to three weeks after every holiday, we tend to see an increase in cases,” Wood County Health Commissioner Benjamin Robison said.
One of the biggest precautions experts shared ahead of Thanksgiving was getting at-home rapid coronavirus tests before the family gathered around the table.
Advice that checked out for many in the area, as libraries saw their supply of tests disappear in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
“We have people coming up that are requesting a large quantity of kits because they have family coming to town and they want to be able to test so they can gather safely,” Hallie Rich of the Cuyahoga County Public Library recently told News 5.
With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror and more family bonding and shopping to come, experts say the key now is watching your symptoms and where you’re hanging out with others.
“The key with getting together with people is ventilation,” MetroHealth Division Director of Internal Medicine Dr. David Margolius said. “If you're inside, [that means] opening windows, keeping the fans on, if you can. If you're in close quarters and you're not eating, you can wear a mask. I don't suspect many people will if they're there with family, so ventilation will be a big part of that.”
To date, Ohio has reported more than 1.6 million positive COVID-19 cases, which equals almost 15% of the statewide population.