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Cuyahoga County looking at ways to protect healthcare workers from spreading COVID-19

Could set up housing for healthcare workers
Posted at 3:22 PM, Mar 30, 2020

PARMA, Ohio — As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise across Cuyahoga County, health officials said Monday they're looking for ways to stop the spread of the virus among healthcare workers and first responders.

"We know all of our healthcare workers and first responders are exposed on every shift at this point given the high prevalence of infection in our community," said Cuyahoga County Board of Health Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett.

Recent figures released by Cuyahoga County's Board of Health show about a quarter of the county's confirmed COVID-19 cases were healthcare workers. The county said it's also investigating a number of clusters of infection associated with those on the front lines of fighting the pandemic.

On Monday, the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals announced that first responders were being added to the list of people with immediate access to coronavius testing.

"We've got to protect these folks so they can continue to take care of us," said Gullett.

There are continuing concerns about shortages in the amount of personal protective equipment including masks, face shields and protective gowns for healthcare workers across the country.

On Monday, Gullett said talks are underway about new ways to protect caregivers between their shifts and ensure they're not passing the virus to family members.

"We are looking at ways to also see if there are housing opportunities apart from their own houses that would enable them to then not have the risk of bringing the virus home," said Gullett.

Gullett said right now she does not have specifics about those plans, but said there are "on-going conversations at the county level" about the possibility.