Health experts now recommend wearing face masks in indoor public spaces for residents in Erie, Huron, Lorain, Mahoning, and Trumbull counties.
CLEVELAND — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are beginning to increase across Northeast Ohio, and health experts are now urging stricter health measures for some residents in the region.
According to the CDC, Erie, Huron, Lorain, Mahoning, and Trumbull are now back up to a high community level for COVID-19 after more than a month of all counties in the area being either “medium” or “low.” This means officials are now recommending wearing face masks for all people in those counties while in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
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To meet the high “orange” threshold, counties must either see at least 20 new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in a given week or a combination of both 200 new cases and 10 new hospitalizations per capita. In this latest instance, the alerts appear to come from a spike in patients being in the hospital with the coronavirus, with the numbers in the five aforementioned counties shaking out as follows:
- Erie: 150.81 cases per 100K, 21.4 new hospitalizations
- Huron: 130.44 cases per 100K, 21.4 new hospitalizations
- Lorain: 137.17 cases per 100K, 21.4 new hospitalizations
- Mahoning: 105.39 cases per 100K, 22.8 new hospitalizations
- Trumbull: 94.48 cases per 100K, 22.8 new hospitalizations
Cuyahoga County remains at a medium level with 118.13 new cases and 14.9 new hospitalizations per capita in the past seven days, and is joined in the “yellow” zone by Ashtabula, Geauga, and Lake counties. All other counties in Northeast Ohio are at the low “green” level, including Summit County with 93.9 new cases and just 9.6 hospitalizations.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did not enact any new mask or health mandates all the previous times counties went “orange” in the spring and summer (partly due to a controversial new law limiting his pandemic powers), and is unlikely to do so this time. However, private businesses and establishments across the state are still largely free to enact their own policies, and experts do say those in “yellow” zones may want to think about masking if either they or someone they regularly interact with is immunocompromised.
The state of Ohio reported more than 12,000 new coronavirus cases in the last week, the largest increase since late September. Active COVID hospitalizations are also at their highest statewide level in more than a month.