CLEVELAND, Ohio – For the first time Friday, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health disclosed that at least eight suburban school districts have cases of the deadly coronavirus, but refused to identify the districts.
Health Commissioner Terry Allan cited privacy concerns Friday, when asked by cleveland.com for the names of the districts where he reported during a weekly briefing that a total of 19 students and four faculty are infected.
Allan also said his board is monitoring an unspecified number of additional cases, and again withheld the names of the districts.
All of the cases at the eight districts are related to sports activities, he said, adding that the board will continue to keep tabs on transmission among students and school staff as students head back to class this fall.
Last week, county health officials warned that some students were not cooperating with contact-tracing efforts because they didn’t want to be barred from participating in extracurriculars and other school activities.
Asked on Friday whether that continues to be a problem, Allan said people generally cooperate with contact-tracers, but some exceptions exist.
The cases affecting students and faculty are among the 10,689 lab-confirmed or probable coronavirus cases reported in suburban Cuyahoga County since the pandemic began.
This week, the board reported 529 new cases, continuing a six-week downward trend from a mid-July weekly high of 919.
Of the 10,689 cases reported so far, 22% are among people between 20 and 29 years old, the age group with the highest number of cases. Forty-six percent of patients are white, 29% are Black, and 3% are Hispanic. People without preexisting conditions comprise 34% of cases to date, while 37% have preexisting cases. (Medical history is unknown for 30% of cases.)
The 32 coronavirus deaths among suburban residents this week more than doubled last week’s total of 14.
The positivity rate of tests conducted by Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and University Hospitals was 4.3% this week, up from 4% the previous week. Board Medical Director Dr. Heidi Gullet said the board is pleased that rate has remained low in recent weeks, but noted the board is keeping an eye on whether it continues to remain at that level.
About 86% of intensive-care unit beds in Cuyahoga County hospitals are occupied, the highest rate since the pandemic began. But Gullet said only about 10% of those beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, a percentage that she said has remained relatively steady over time.