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Health officials 'cautiously optimistic' as weekly COVID-19 cases in Cuyahoga County continue to decrease

July numbers still far exceed previous months
Cuyahoga County COVID-19
Posted at 4:48 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 16:48:23-04

CLEVELAND — While Cuyahoga County has seen fewer weekly COVID-19 cases over the last three weeks, health officials said they are remaining cautiously optimistic as the weekly cases reported in July have still exceeded any numbers reported in March, April, May or June.

Cuyahoga County Board of Health Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullett said that although the number of cases reported over the last three weeks have declined, the total number of new cases each week remains high.

“Our July numbers far exceed anything we could have thought would happen in March through June. So while this is improving, I want folks to have cautious optimism about where we are,” Gullett said. “This is still a very high number of cases and what that really means is that there’s a significant amount of spread called community transmission, meaning a lot of COVID is spreading in people outside the hospital, person to person.”

Gullett also reported that the number of coronavirus-related deaths reported this week is lower than the previous week, with seven new reported deaths, but said that data involving fatalities does lag behind case data.

“Typically we will find deaths from two to four, sometimes six weeks later when they’re reported to us so when we talk about loss of life with regard to COVID, oftentimes what we present to you week-to-week may reflect what happened in the prior month or month and a half,” Dr. Gullett said.

More than 80% of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Cuyahoga County have traced their transmission back to non-congregate settings in the community, with clusters popping up in child care settings, long term care facilities, backyard and house parties, sporting events, weddings and funerals, according to Health Commissioner Terry Allan.

Allan said that the county has also seen multiple reports of young people testing positive for COVID-19 who have visited numerous bars and restaurants within the community, Allan said.

Gullett said that 38% of the positive COVID-19 cases since March are in patients between the ages of 20 and 39, with 22% between the ages of 20 and 29.

The surge in young people testing positive for COVID-19 is also noted as a statewide trend, which prompted Gov. Mike DeWine to take action and order the sale of alcohol to end at 10 p.m., hoping to thin out the large groups of young people who are out at bars and restaurants and not adhering to social distancing as the evening progresses, according to Allan.

RELATED: Ohio Liquor Board adopts rule to stop alcohol sales at bars after 10 p.m.

“We really want everyone to be vigilant,” Gullett said. “I know that even folks who may get this and they’re younger and don’t have any medical problems will probably fare well, given the numbers we’ve seen nationally, but our concern is your ability to spread this to those who you love and who are around you and who are particularly susceptible or at risk for complications.”

Gullett said it’s important to understand that the transmission of the virus is happening in settings all over the county, and in surrounding counties. She said with many people working outside of the county they live in, moving across county lines regularly and subsequently spreading the virus across communities, makes it important for all Ohioans to follow best practices such as wearing a mask, frequent hand washing and sanitation and adhering to social distancing.

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