Community levels of COVID-19 have again reached high or average levels in northeastern Ohio counties, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“In Summit County, our COVID numbers have gone up,” Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said. “We’re seeing this kind of sustained increase.
The high score, which now affects Cuyahoga, Erie, Huron, Lorain, Mahoning, Portage and Trumbull counties, takes into account the number of new cases and hospitalizations per 100,000 people and the percentage of hospital beds occupied by of COVID-19 patients, the CDC said. .
In areas with high community levels, the CDC recommends that people mask up in public places, make sure they’re up to date on vaccines, and get tested if they have symptoms. People at high risk for severe symptoms may want to take extra precautions.
Cuyahoga County officials announced Friday that masks would be required in county buildings regardless of a person’s vaccination status, according to a news release.
Community levels reached the average level in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Medina and Summit counties, the data showed. Carroll and Holmes Stark and Wayne counties are among a handful of counties in the state that remain in the lower category.
Statewide, the weekly number of new cases rose in July from 24,465 in the middle of the month to 29,876 in the week ending Thursday, according to figures from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).
Skoda said it does not believe these numbers reflect the actual number of cases.
“We know it’s vastly underreported because people don’t even get tested because they think they have a summer cold or just their allergies,” she said.
These types of mild symptoms are typical of the new omicron subvariant that health officials say is fueling the current rise in cases across the country. ODH figures show that as of July 16, BA.5 was responsible for almost 66% of all new COVID-19 infections.
“There are a lot of BA.5s floating around,” Skoda said. “It’s very contagious and so people catch it.”
This version of the virus is able to evade the body’s immune system, even in people who have been vaccinated or infected before. But the variant appears less likely to attack the lungs and the body still retains some protection, so fewer people are hospitalized with serious complications compared to those infected with earlier variants, said Dr Keith Armitage, director Medical from the Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine. & Global Health in University Hospitals.
Hospitalizations rose slightly in the middle of the BA.5 wave, according to ODH data. The number of people newly hospitalized with COVID-19 in the seven-day period ending July 14 was 550. In the week ending Thursday, 705 people were admitted to hospitals across the state with the virus.
That’s consistent with what Summit County officials are seeing, Skoda said.
“Now, in terms of hospitalizations and bed utilization, it’s going up a bit,” she said. “The more people who have COVID, the more people you’re going to get sicker.”
Although for most people the symptoms of a BA.5 infection are mild, spread is undesirable because it can lead to new mutations, Skoda said.
“The more people who get it, the more likely it is to continue to mutate and then spread,” she said.