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Cleveland Health Department Can't Keep Up With COVID-19 Spike

The Cleveland Department of Public Health can't provide daily COVID-19 data because of the remarkably high number of coronavirus cases over recent days, said Mayor Frank Jackson.

Jackson addressed the issue in a news conference Tuesday.

He said there has been an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, and staff couldn’t analyze the data in time to release it daily, which is their usual schedule.

"This is a reflection of this spike and how severe this spike is, and we are redeploying resources and adding resources,” Jackson said.

The city health department is training internal staff and trying to hire more staff to meet the demands of the spike, so the city can continue to report accurate COVID-19 data,  Jackson said.  

City officials were prepared for a spike, but it wasn’t enough, he said.

“The pace of the spike outpaced our ramp up,” he said. “We need those additional resources."

According to the mayor, the health department’s recent reorganization did not affect its ability to report daily data.

“The reorganization did not hamper this or in any way impede it,” he said. “This is a severe spike, and it would not have mattered whether we reorganized or not… we didn’t have the capacity to handle the rapidness of this spike.”

The city receives case information from the state, Jackson said, but then city staff verifies that each case is from Cleveland, which takes time, he said.

Cleveland usually releases updated numbers daily, but many other jurisdictions, such as Cuyahoga County, release data on a weekly basis, Jackson said.

The city last reported 151 new cases on Thursday. Cleveland has had more than 8,600 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 153 deaths.

Cuyahoga County reports data separately, and county health officials reported 500 new cases on Friday, the highest number ever reported on a single day.

Because of the spike, the city is investigating and citing businesses for not following the coronavirus state mandate requiring face masks and social distancing.

Some businesses, like VSP Lounge, received a warning for not requiring customers to wear masks. But some businesses were fined thousands of dollars, like Barley House and The V Lounge.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also announced Tuesday a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Thursday and lasting for 21 days in the effort to slow rising COVID-19 cases.

The governor also continued to implore Ohioans to wear masks and have fewer in-person contacts with those outside their households.

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