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'This is a very pivotal time' : Cuyahoga Co. health officials say spread of COVID-19 must stop now

Posted at 10:44 AM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 18:37:30-04

PARMA, Ohio — The Cuyahoga County Board of Health is calling right now a “pivotal time” for residents to do their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19 as hospitals and labs report an increase in confirmed cases.

“We have significant increase in number of infections. As we see Influenza A cases going down, we still have a significant report of influenza-like infections. As those rise, we need to presume those cases are COVID-19," Dr. Heidi Gullett said during Wednesday morning's county briefing. "We don’t have widespread testing, so without testing, we have to treat them as such. I am seeing a significant increase of cases in the county and in this state.”

Gullett says since testing is limited, everyone needs to do their part to stay home. She says the trend in cases confirmed in New York City mirrors what is happening in Cuyahoga County.

“You also see an increase in cases in high-density places like NYC. We have travelers from NYC in our community who we have lab-confirmed links to New York. There’s a high number of interdependence in this community, which why it is so important that we stay home," she said.

"We have an increase in cases, and we will continue to see an increase in the number of cases," Gullett added.

The latest numbers revealed Wednesday confirm 19 new cases in Cuyahoga County, which doesn’t include the City of Cleveland.

To date, there are 130 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, with those patients ranging in age from 14-91 years old.

There have been 167 orders of isolation, which is for individuals with presumptive cases of COVID-19 or those who can’t have testing done but are being treated as having it.

In addition, there are 454 orders of quarantine given to those who are close contacts to those patients with COVID-19.

Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan can’t stress enough that the public listen to Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay at home order.

On Tuesday, the county received 500 calls from employees and employers asking what an essential business is. He said the calls increased volume to an already busy line designated as a place the public can ask about medical concerns relating to COVID-19.

RELATED: Is my business 'essential' under Gov. DeWine's stay at home order?

“Each business needs to make good faith decisions about whether their operations are essential or not. The ultimate goal is to slow the spread of the virus,” Allan said.

On a personal level, Gullett shared with the public what her family is doing to take the necessary steps to self-quarantine and protect healthcare workers on the front lines, which includes her and her husband, both of whom are in the medical field. They are living separately for the time being.

"If my husband becomes sick and we are all living under the same roof, then we all have a higher risk for this infection and then we become under quarantine. And then I will not being here driving this particular ship. Then I have the potential of infecting my other public health colleagues. Do you see how this goes? It’s a domino effect," Gullett said.

Helping protect those in the medical field and first responders, the board of health has received supplies and personal protective equipment from research labs, elective surgery offices and other community organizations.

Since March 19, the county has received the following:

  • 95,948 gloves
  • 6,914 N95 masks
  • 1,010 surgical masks
  • 553 face shields
  • 56 gowns
  • 122 containers of disinfecting wipes
  • 169 hand sanitizers

Both Allan and Gullett reiterated the importance of social distancing, washing your hands and stay at home as much as possible.

"We are at critical tipping point. Right here. Right now. Stop interacting," Allan said.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here is everything you need to know about testing for coronavirus in Ohio.

Here's a list of things in Northeast Ohio closed due to coronavirus concerns

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