Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said Sept. 15 “time is running out” and along with county health leaders has taken the step of issuing a universal masking advisory for residents regardless of vaccination status for all public indoor settings.
Budish joined county Health Commissioner Terry Allan in issuing the advisory for the whole county, aiming to reduce COVID-19 cases before winter. He also "pleaded" residents to get vaccinated.
“Our mask advisory strongly urges masking in all indoor areas to prevent a crisis of COVID cases, hospitalizations and fatalities,” Budish said during a news briefing. “We urge our businesses and municipalities to enforce the use of masks in all buildings. And we urge schools to require masks for all students and staff so that kids can stay safe and learning in school.”
When asked what consequences will come to those who choose not to wear masks, Budish said, “There’s no fines, there’s no criminal penalties. The consequences are people will get sick, and some of them will die.”
The masking recommendation, regardless of vaccination status, came as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Cuyahoga County and across Ohio.
Allan said the current trajectory of cases is rapidly approaching a level of countywide transmission that is four times the threshold identified by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “high transmission.” Additionally, modelers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and The University of Akron have predicted the area could exceed 1,000 cases per day by early next week if person-to-person contacts and transmission stay at the current levels and trajectories.
Allan said these levels would represent the “worst days” from last winter. Area hospitals are reporting reaching 80% of capacity to treat patients.
Staff Reporter Alex Krutchik contributed to this report.