Cuyahoga County was placed on the COVID-19 "watch list" on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, according to data released Dec. 3.
The county qualifies for the purple level – the highest level on the system – but must stay on the watch list for two straight weeks before it is moved up.
The county was last put on the watch list Oct. 22 and dropped back to the red level – the second highest level on the system.
Joining Cuyahoga County on the watch list are Madison and Fairfield counties.
Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark and Summit counties were deemed purple this week, joining Lake, Lorain and Montgomery from the previous week.
For the first week since April, Ohio’s positivity rate for COVID-19 has increased above 15%. The state’s travel advisory, which says not to travel to other states that have a positivity rate of 15% or more, recommends Ohioans stay home except for necessary trips for supplies as well as consistent mask wearing and frequent hand washing.
“Ohio's positivity rate of 15% should be a wake-up call,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the chief medical officer at the Ohio Department of Health. “This virus spreads between people when we're near each other. For a little while, we need to stay apart.”
He added people have to wear a mask when going out to help slow the spread until the vaccine arrives. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Ohio is expected to receive 98,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine around Dec. 15.
Hospitals continue to feel the stress of the surge with many expanding routine bed space. However, increasing capacity in the intensive care unit is more difficult to do.
Non-COVID-19 patients are being crowded out of the system and will not be able to get the care they need to stay healthy if hospitalizations stay at the rate they’re at.
“We're in crisis,” said Dr. Nora Colburn, Associate Medical Director for Clinical Epidemiology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Hospitals across Ohio are running out of beds. Healthcare workers are burned out and stretched thin. Our hospitals are stressed to the extreme and we haven't even seen the infections resulting from Thanksgiving.”
Ohio has had 446,849 total cases of COVID-19 and 6,753 total deaths, the Ohio Department of Health reported Dec. 3. Because of unprecedented volume, the data is incomplete as thousands of reports are pending review.
The number of reported cases increased by 8,921 from Dec. 2, though the data is incomplete.
The individuals who have tested positive range in age of less than a year to 109 years old; the median age is 42.
The total number of individuals who have been tested in Ohio is 6,246,787. The daily percent positivity is 16.1%, with a seven-day moving average of 15.4%, according to data from Dec. 1.
The number of reported deaths in Ohio increased by 82 from Dec. 2 – the second straight day with over 100 deaths reported – though the data is incomplete. The median age of those who have died is 80.
The ODH reports 28,281 cumulative hospitalizations, and 4,814 individuals have been admitted to the ICU due to the coronavirus, though the data is incomplete. The median age of those hospitalized is 66.
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reported in the last 24 hours is 396, with 33 ICU admissions, though the data is incomplete. There are currently 5,142 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus – 1,204 are in the ICU, and 708 are on ventilators.
The ODH reports 298,332 individuals are presumed recovered – defined as cases with a symptom onset over 21 days prior who are not deceased.
Cuyahoga County accounts for 43,640 of the cases, 3,455 hospitalizations and 768 deaths, though the data is incomplete.
This is a developing story.
If you have questions regarding COVID-19, call 833-4ASKODH (833-427-5634) or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.