Summit Co. health officials say spike in COVID-19 cases linked to weddings, funerals, social gatherings

Summit County generic
Posted at 5:14 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 18:48:41-04

AKRON, Ohio — Summit County is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Health officials say it's because of wide community spread, but also because of people being lax with COVID-19 safety guidelines at events like weddings and funerals.

At a virtual press conference Friday, Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda discussed the status of COVID-19 in the county.

“Back in June, we were somewhere around 10 to 20 cases a day. Right now, we're somewhere between 40 to 60 cases a day,” Skoda said.

She said there’s wide community spread in the county, but also attributed the rise to social gatherings - in both private and public spaces.

“Technically all of these things are allowed to occur. But measures such as social distancing, keeping the six feet apart from each other, wearing a mask and limiting your interaction is not happening,” Skoda said.

Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine announced that in half of the state’s new red-level counties there were outbreaks related to weddings and funerals. Skoda said officials are seeing the same thing in Summit County.

“They may hug each other and they may take off their masks and they may not practice social distancing. And what you end up with are individuals who very innocently become ill because nobody thought they were asymptomatic and they didn't even know they were sick,” Skoda said.

Margo Sommerville, the funeral director of Sommerville Funeral Services in Akron, understands how high the stakes are, but also how important these services are for families.

“What we really do is, we make a time in families’ lives, that is a very difficult time - trying to make that process as easy as we possibly can for them,” Sommerville said.

From spacing out chairs, to frequent sanitizing, and mask requirements, she and her staff are making sure families stay safe while they grieve.

“We've had to re-think how we do funerals altogether,” Sommerville said. “Families limit their guests to 50 people. They invite those individuals. What we have been doing for families as a way to help is we have been providing a free live stream for families during the time of COVID, which helps in a tremendous way.”

Skoda is urging people to stick to those guidelines while attending events.

“You have to be diligent and you have to think, what is my risk in this situation? And am I risking others by removing my mask, by getting closer than six feet?” Skoda said.

Sommerville said she and her staff have taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously since it started and are always looking for new ways to improve their safety guidelines.

Skoda encourages anyone attending events such as funerals and weddings to wear a mask and to not engage with other people besides conversation.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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