CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cuyahoga County Board of Health is now publicly reporting six-day-old totals for coronavirus infections in the suburbs instead of the more current one-day-old totals previously released each Friday.
At this Friday’s media briefing, Health Director Terry Allan did disclose the total infections for the day had topped 500, a record. But the totals posted on the board’s website reflect infections for the week of Nov. 1 through 7.
The switch to reporting dated infection totals comes at a potentially crucial time, when modeling projects 1,000 new cases a day in the county as early as next week if people continue to ignore practices that reduce the spread of the virus.
By the end of November, the model shows the county could experience more than 2,000 cases a day if public behavior doesn’t change, Dr. Johnie Rose, a Case Western Reserve School of Medicine epidemiologist, said at the briefing.
“This is not a sustainable level of cases. No healthcare system in the world can absorb this,” Rose said. “So clearly something needs to change about our behavior.”
The same modeling, done by CWRU and the University of Akron, projected a similar spike in cases back in March and April, but that never happened, and new cases sharply dropped after Gov. Mike DeWine issued the stay-at-home order, Rose said.
During the briefing, Allan also reported that hospital utilization rates among hospitals in the county are on the rise. As of Friday, 82% of intensive-care unit beds were occupied, 79% of regular hospital beds were occupied and 40% of ventilators were in use.
Rose said it is hard to determine when the hospitals may reach capacity, as that largely depends on the rate that COVID-19 patients require intensive care, and the level of sickness that spreads among health-care workers.
“But I think few would dispute that if we hit the level of 2,400 (daily) cases by the end of the month, it’s going to be a tremendous challenge to prevent bad outcomes from happening,” Rose said.
Prior to the briefing, Board of Health spokesman Kevin Brennan told cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer that the county is now releasing more dated numbers to align with reporting timeframes set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That will leave people looking for current numbers to turn to the Ohio Department of Health, which updates current countywide data (inclusive of the city of Cleveland) every day on its website, www.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Here is the data released Friday, current through Nov. 7:
* 1,489 new weekly coronavirus cases among suburban residents, and 15,247 cases total since the pandemic began.
* 28 new weekly deaths, and 630 total since the pandemic began.
*Positivity rates among tests administered at MetroHealth, Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals jumped to 14.9%, up from the 9.3% recorded between Oct. 25 and Oct. 31.
Of total cases reported from the start of the pandemic through Nov. 7:
*61% are health-care workers. (At the same time last month, 51% of total cases were healthcare workers.)
*45% have pre-existing conditions. (Last month, 37% had preexisting conditions.)
*52% are white, 30% are Black, and 3% identify as Latino. (Last month, white people comprised 49% of total cases, Black people comprised 36%, and 3% identified as Latino.)
Allan said “stark inequities” continue to be seen between white COVID-19 patients and Black patients. Black residents in the county’s suburbs are now two times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 and 3.5 times more likely to be hospitalized than white residents, Allan said.
View the whole briefing here.