MEDINA, Ohio — Medina County Health Commissioner Krista Wasowski said she has not make a county-wide recommendation yet on whether students should start the school year in-person or remotely.
"I'll make a recommendation if I feel there needs to be a recommendation, most certainly," Wasowski said.
Her comments came one day after Cuyahoga County Board of Health recommended that schools in that county start the school year remotely and sports and other extracurricular activities should be discontinued.
The state has labeled both counties as red Level 3 on the color-coded Public Health Advisory System, meaning there is a high exposure and spread of COVID-19.
Cuyahoga County has seen about 140 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks. Medina County has recorded about 51 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the same time period.
Counties are flagged if more than 50 new cases are reported per 100,000 people. New cases are just one of the indicators used to determine if a county is labeled yellow, orange, red or purple.
"I was not surprised that we remained red for an additional week. We're seeing an uptick in use of emergency room departments and outpatient visits for COVID-related illnesses," Wasowski said.
Currently, Ohio has 13 red counties, fewer than last week. But Gov. Mike DeWine also said there is a trend of rural counties jumping from yellow to orange.
Wasowski said just because Cuyahoga County made a recommendation to start remotely doesn't mean she will recommend the same.
She pointed out that Medina County is doing a little better when it comes to COVID-19 numbers.
A few weeks ago, 93 new cases were reported in a seven-day period. That number dropped to 86 last week. This week, there have been 59 cases so far.
Wasowski said she hasn't set a deadline for making a possible recommendation to school districts.
"I know that parents are anxious. There's a lot of things that have to happen in order for a school to be in session full or hybrid or online," Wasowski said. "I would make a recommendation as soon as I am able to, so they can make a planning decision."
Wasowski said the rise in coronavirus cases was due, in part, to group and family gatherings as well vacationing residents returning from hot zone states.
While she's encouraged that Medina County could return to orange in the coming weeks, the virus and numbers each week are difficult to predict.
"There is a testing lag and that's why I'm a little hesitant to really say that I'm confident that we're going to move out of red because of that testing lag that we have," she said.
The county's health leader is urging visitors and residents to mask up in order to do their part to stop the spread.
"I'd love to see people putting on that mask and really be conscientious about doing it anytime within close proximity to someone."