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New COVID-19 cases continue spiking in suburban Cuyahoga County

Third straight week of new record highs
Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 18:46:27-04

PARMA, Ohio — For a third straight week in July, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County suburbs set a record high, according to county health officials.

At a briefing Friday afternoon, Cuyahoga County's Board of Health, which covers all of suburban Cuyahoga County but not the city of Cleveland, reported 919 new coronavirus cases. That's an increase of 172 cases over last week's report.

"Every week in July has brought a higher number of new cases and this week is no exception," said Ramona Brazile, Co-Director of Prevention and Wellness.

Health officials said much of the increase was driven by a continuing rise in cases in patients under 40 years old.

"We see people at parties, at dinners, some from the Fourth of July cookouts," Brazile said. "We're also starting to see some travel and people who are returning sick or traveled with people who ended up being sick as continued work exposures."

While CCBH data shows the number of people tested last week rose, so did the percentage of people who tested positive according to the county's medical director.

"What we know is there is a lot of spread happening," Dr. Heidi Gullett said.

Hospital utilization numbers and the number of deaths tied to COVID-19 stayed relatively flat since last week, but the county's health commissioner warned those numbers are not a reason for hope.

In fact, health officials said those number did not include seven deaths reported to the health department Friday morning.

"People can take a week or two perhaps, or even longer, to become ill enough to then be admitted and then unfortunately can continue to go down the wrong path and we have fatalities as a result," said Health Commissioner Terry Allan.

The county also announced it's received 1,400 complaints about violations of the governor's mask mandate in the last week.

Officials repeatedly stressed they hope to educate people of the need to wear masks while out in public, rather than punish them for violating the order, but warned they will take action against businesses repeatedly found in violation.

"We find most people are trying to comply," Allan said. "But where we see places that clearly they are not, we're going to make referrals and work with our partners to addresses those."