CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County's Health Commissioner said Thursday a surge in the number of newly-diagnosed coronavirus cases is not just a matter of increased testing.
"There's no doubt in the eyes of everyone knee-deep in this in public health, that clearly youth right now are driving the increases in positivity rates," said Terry Allan, Health Commissioner for Cuyahoga County's Board of Health.
Since the pandemic began, state records show the number of new COVID-19 cases topped 150 only two days prior to July 1. Already in July, new daily case counts topped 150 on seven different days.
On Wednesday, the city of Cleveland reported 100 new cases, the first time the city recorded 100 or more new cases since the pandemic began.
Allan admits, the number of people testing is increasing but said the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is also climbing.
"Going back a week or so from 3.7%, now to almost 6% and climbing in terms of positivtiy rates," said Allan.
He believes an increase in interactions between people is causing the virus to spread.
Now that the governor has mandated the use of masks in the county, Allan is hopeful the surge in cases will stop.
However, he said the health department is keeping a close eye on the number of people hospitalized and the number of deaths from the virus since those can often lag weeks behind a climb in the number of cases.
He hinted more restrictions could be put in place if hospital capacity drops.
"I think right now we need to understand whether or not this surge is resulting in additional pressures on the hospital systems and hospital systems in the region," said Allan, "and if it does, then we're going to need to have a hard discussion about what other steps need to be taken."