Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Urges Against New Year's Eve Gatherings as Local Covid Numbers Spike

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click to enlarge University Hospitals has recently seen a record number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients - Courtesy University Hospitals
Courtesy University Hospitals
University Hospitals has recently seen a record number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients

Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan yesterday urged local residents, especially the 500,000 unvaccinated ones, to avoid large New Year's Eve gatherings and parties as Cuyahoga County's Covid numbers continue to spike.

“Cuyahoga County is experiencing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases and our medical systems are sadly suffering the effects. Over the last 7 days, our case rate has been over 17 times the CDC threshold for high transmission and our positivity rate has reached 34%," he said in a statement. "These are historic highs for our community since the start of the pandemic. We are off the charts, even when compared to our brutal COVID-19 winter surge in 2020. We’re sounding the alarm, urging our community to take every precaution to prevent further transmission that could pile on to our hospitals systems, which are already bursting at the seams."

While various reports have suggested the effects of the Omicron variant are milder than those from Delta, local hospital systems are still dealing with near-capacity levels of Covid patients, the vast majority of which are unvaccinated. The Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and University Hospitals have all in recent weeks postponed some non-urgent surgeries to make more in-patient beds available during the current surge.

In the last seven days, Cuyahoga ranks 9th worst nationally for daily Covid cases, 13th worst for Covid hospitalization rates, and 12th worst for daily deaths.

"About 60% of the county is currently vaccinated, leaving almost 500,000 Cuyahoga County residents still vulnerable to serious health effects from the virus. Only about 24% of our children aged 5-11 have started vaccination and about 43% of our vaccinated population has received an additional or booster dose. We can and must do better," Allan said in the statment. "The Omicron variant, which is highly contagious, is spreading widely and quickly, in addition to Delta. It is anticipated that Omicron will become the dominant strain in Ohio and elsewhere, even as Influenza cases are increasing. Our community is staring this 'triple threat' right in the face. This is serious business.

"Unvaccinated and unmasked means that you will be exposed to the virus in the coming days. Gathering with large groups of people for New Year’s celebrations only compounds these formidable risks. We are urging you to avoid these large gatherings, get vaccinated, get boosted and mask up to protect the ones you love. Our choices over the next 48 hours will mean the difference between life and death for some of our residents. Help us work toward a brighter 2022, for everyone.”

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