PARMA, Ohio — Officials at the Cuyahoga County Board of Public Health continued to recommend remote learning for the upcoming school year, and said in order to recommend any in-person learning, there would need to be sustained decline in positivity rates below 5%.
Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan defined a sustained decline in positivity rates as below 5% over multiple weeks.
“We need to know that we aren't bouncing back and forth and we have a sense that we're headed in a clear direction, in a positive direction,” he said.
There also needs to be a sustained decline in new cases over a month-long period. Allan said the county is still coming down from its peak at around 900 cases in mid-June and mid-July.
Another determinant when considering any modifications to its current return to school recommendations, the county said it would need to stay at an orange level or below over multiple weeks. On Thursday, Cuyahoga County dropped to a Level 2 in the state’s Public Advisory Health System for the first time since it was created.
One aspect that remains a challenge for the county health officials is the increase in testing capacity among children, one that will only increase when the school year begins.
Cuyahoga County Board of Health Medical Director Heidi Gullet called widespread testing, particularly for children, “very much a work in progress.”
The lack of testing capacity for children is a challenge, Allan said.
"It dramatically complicates our outbreak response in the school setting and the lack of testing limits our response to a symptom-based investigation. We face these significant challenges even as flu season is just around the corner and we anticipate that COVID-19 and flu will circulate in our community at the same time, if there ever was a year to get a flu shot, this would be it,” Allan said.
Gullett said the board has shared their concerns with a lack of pediatric testing capacity with the state and governor's office. She said at this point, the board is handling testing on a "case by case basis" when it comes to cluster investigations involving children.
"Our community health centers have stepped up in a remarkable way in order to offer some pediatric testing availability. But they also are not labs. They are simply people who can collect the order, the test, and collect it. But it still has to be run at one of the hospital labs," she said.
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.
Rebound Northeast Ohio News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:
Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.
Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.
Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.
Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.
We're Open! Northeast Ohio is place created by News 5 to open us up to new ways of thinking, new ways of gathering and new ways of supporting each other.
Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Ohio, a timeline of Governor Mike DeWine's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Northeast Ohio, and link to more information from the Ohio Department of Health, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the CDC and the WHO.
See data visualizations showing the impact of coronavirus in Ohio, including county-by-county maps, charts showing the spread of the disease, and more.
The CDC and the Ohio Department of Health are now recommending the use of cloth face coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.