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Cuyahoga County officials warn residents to avoid large holiday gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge

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Posted at 8:53 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-15 09:24:02-05

CLEVELAND — As COVID-19 hit a new record in Ohio, Cuyahoga County's leaders issued a plea for residents to avoid large gatherings with the holidays fast approaching.

More than 8,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the state of Ohio Friday, more than 700 of which were from Cuyahoga County.

Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan said that because of the number of cases contact tracers are overwhelmed and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find all close contacts.

“We are now modifying our processes internally, given the surge to keep up with cases as best as possible, based on our capacity, we may not be able to reach out to all contacts. We're asking people diagnosed with COVID to help us by informing their close contacts,” Allen said.

With Thanksgiving getting closer, and the December holidays following, county officials are asking residents to avoid holding large celebrations this year in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“A lot of people have extended families, big families. And that's dangerous. It's real dangerous. If you keep [the holidays] to yourself and spouse, maybe a child that's living with you, hopefully, that'll be okay. But when you start talking about extended families, close friends start to get numbers. It's dangerous,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.

Dr. Baruch Fertel with the Cleveland Clinic said no one is saying to cancel all holiday celebrations, but rather do them in a way that is safe.

“Think about their holiday plans. Not saying don’t celebrate the holidays but do it responsibly, do it safely. Let’s do a job as a community of getting those numbers down a little,” Fertel said.

Health experts in Cuyahoga County have said projections show that if the number of cases continues to grow at this current rate, the county alone could see over 2,000 new cases a day by the end of the month—a rate they have said no health system is able to handle.

RELATED: Ohio reports 8,071 new COVID-19 cases, 42 new coronavirus-related deaths