Coronavirus Transmissions Up Slightly In Cuyahoga County

Cuyahoga County Medical Director, Dr. Heidi Gullett, speaking at the county media briefing May 15, 2020
Cuyahoga County Medical Director, Dr. Heidi Gullett, speaking at the county media briefing on May 15, 2020 [CCBH]

Cuyahoga County health officials say as people are returning to work, the rate of spread of the coronavirus is also up slightly.

Ohio is beginning to ease stay-at-home restrictions, and each week more businesses are being allowed to reopen. Health officials are worried that even though most employers are following guidelines in the workplace, some after work interactions between employees are leading to more transmissions of the coronavirus.

Through contact tracing, where health officials reach out to people who had close contact with a person who had COVID-19, they found some people are getting the virus in after work situations, said Dr. Heidi Gullett, the county medical director.

“You think, 'I’ve been at work with this person all day. We’ve been wearing masks, staying apart. I’m going to jump in the car with them and we can let our masks off,' because you are just trying to relax and that’s where the spread happened,” Gullett said.

The increase in infections this week were from people who were exposed in the prior two to fourteen days, so those people worked in businesses that recently opened and some that have never closed, Gullett said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted on Thursday announced a slew of openings for various industries that have been closed for nearly two months during the coronavirus pandemic.

They include the following:

  • Campgrounds on May 21
  • Horse-racing on May 22, though only at tracks, without spectators, and racinos remain closed
  • Ohio Bureaus of Motor Vehicles on May 26
  • Gyms, fitness centers, athletic clubs and pools on May 26, with limited contact or no-contact sports leagues
  • Day camps on May 31, along with daycare centers.

Gullett spoke at the county’s weekly briefing about the local impact of the coronavirus.

The county health commissioner, Terry Allan, also shared a sobering statistic from a Health Policy Institute of Ohio report on deaths from the disease.

“COVID-19 deaths have already surpassed the number of motor vehicle deaths for all of 2018 and could soon overtake suicide,” Allan said.

He also urged businesses who can to allow employees to continue to work from home and to support workers staying home if they are sick.

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