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'Far worse this year': Local health expert measures pandemic compared to last August

CORONAVIRUS IN OHIO
Posted at 9:24 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 23:09:14-04

CLEVELAND — On Friday, Governor Mike DeWine urged people to get vaccinated as cases rise, describing the risks for those still unvaccinated.

“The best way to keep your family safe is to become vaccinated,” he said.

The nearly hour-long news conference featured a similar flow of words that have echoed throughout the pandemic.

With another school year on the horizon, Governor DeWine’s message for safety comes at a time where Ohio is dealing with a similar number of new positive cases and reported deaths compared to one year ago.

Check out News 5’s article about COVID-19 cases from Aug. 7, 2020.

Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows 1,666 new daily cases reported in the state in the last 24 hours and 24 deaths.

The numbers parallel the 1,204 reported new cases and 34 new deaths on Aug. 7, 2020, but experts told News 5 the data only tells one story.

“I think it's far worse this year,” Donna Skoda, Summit County Health Commissioner, said. “We’re higher than we were last year. If it continues on the same trend, I can't imagine what November, December and January will be like.”

Skoda told News 5 even with available vaccines that mask fatigue, mixed with a more dangerous variant of COVID-19, could mirror the rise we saw in fall 2020.

“If it continues to mutate, and continues to have this horrific spread, we’re going to see deaths go up and we’re going to see the long term disability from COVID-19 increase,” she said.

Skoda explained enforcing social distancing measures in August 2021 is more difficult, especially when it comes to schools, which will reopen with looser COVID-19 restrictions than compared to a year ago.

Summit County Public Health’s weekly COVID-19 report indicates the community transmission level is now considered “substantial.”

SCPD weekly report

“I think individuals want to do things normally,” she said. “We kind of opened up a little bit and got a taste of a little bit with things such as sitting at a restaurant.”

As we look to the rest of 2021, the advice from Skoda is simple: Get vaccinated.

“We can protect ourselves by wearing a mask, staying away from each other, washing your hands, staying home if you're sick, and if you’re sick, get a test,” she said.