PARMA, OH — With two weeks to go until Ohio plans to ease restrictions put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus, health officials in Cuyahoga County said Friday there were still a number of issues that need to be figured out.
"We need to be creative about how we understand the safest way to conduct business," said Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan. "So we will follow the governor's playbook and Dr. (Amy) Acton's playbook. It has served us well."
Cuyahoga County's 1,383 COVID-19 cases are the most of any county in the state. 48 deaths in the county have been blamed on the virus.
"We will continue to work with our state leaders around what we are seeing on the ground," said Dr. Heidi Gullett, medical director for the county's board of health. "But the message for our community today is we can't let up and continue to see what happens over the the next few weeks. But I'm articulating to you today that I'm still seeing transmission, our team still sees transmission, and our team still sees people who are ill."
Because of that, health officials said people should plan to wear masks when they leave their home, should continue to practice social distancing, including working remotely, and avoid gathering in groups when restrictions are eased May 1st.
"This is a long-term proposition for all of us," said Gullett. "This is a marathon, not a sprint."
Health officials also warned it's likely the county will continue to see the number of COVID-19 cases as testing spreads.
"As we seek, we will find," said Allan. "More testing, means more cases, we need to understand that."
So are easing restrictions in two weeks a good idea?
When asked directly, health officials again repeated that they're working with the state to develop protocols to reduce the risk of transmission.
"I don't know what the exact date is," said Allan. "We're going to do the best we can to assure that we can continue to work here to continue to reduce the potential risk in the community."