CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County officials announced Wednesday that a Mask Advisory has been issued to protect residents from COVID-19 and the delta variant ravaging the country and Ohio.
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announced the advisory during the board of health's weekly news conference.
"So, in partnership with the County Board of Health, effective immediately, we are implementing a Mask Advisory for all Cuyahoga County residents, regardless of their vaccination status," Budish said.
Budish said other metropolitan areas in Ohio such as Columbus in Franklin County and Toledo in Lucas County have issued similar guidance.
"It's to protect our parents and grandparents and other vulnerable populations. And to protect the nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers who have been risking their lives since day one. We’re doing it for them," Budish said. "Wearing masks is a small price to pay to protect our children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated."
While the adivsory is not a mandate, Budish said he urges all local businesses and communities within the county to enforce the use of masks in all buildings. "And we urge schools to require masks for all students and staff so that kids can stay safe and learning in school," he said.
Budish pointed to the season change as a possible catalyst for further infections.
"We must do better. We have to stop the spread of this virus. And time is running out. As the weather gets colder, and we’re forced indoors, chances of spread will only increase," Budish said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been 131,120 COVID-19 cases in Cuyahoga County since the pandemic began. Nearly 8,000 people have been hospitalized and more than 2,300 have died.
Across Ohio, there have been a total of 1,319,265 cases and nearly 70,000 hospitalizations. More than 21,000 people have died from the virus.
"We are well into our third wave, thanks unfortunately to the delta variant. If we want to keep our schools and workplaces open and more of our residents from getting COVID, we need more people to get vaccinated," Budish said.
Budish also touched on the vaccine mandate issued by President Joe Biden recently that states companies with more than 100 employees are required to be vaccinated or have weekly testing done.
"We’re looking at possibilities for County employees, but keep in mind we have more than 30 unions to discuss this with," Budish said. "In the meantime, we’re offering $100 as an incentive for our employees to get vaccinated."
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