Lorain County COVID-19 Spread Called "Substantial" By CDC
Lorain County now has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 transmission in Northeast Ohio, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is advising vaccinated people in those counties, which have substantial transmission, to start wearing masks again when indoors in public, but Lorain County public health officials are prioritizing vaccination, not masking.
Erin Murphy, director of health promotion and chronic disease prevention at Lorain County Public Health, said they aren't going to mandate masks again. State lawmakers have sent a signal that county mask mandates would be overturned. Instead, they are focusing on getting more people vaccinated.
“We do have one of the better vaccination rates in the state, it’s over 50 percent, but there’s those individual pockets that we know there are higher rates of not being vaccinated," Murphy said.
Those pockets include the African American and Hispanic communities. Murphy said they have lower vaccination rates in those populations than their white counterparts. The southern part of the county, which is more rural, also has a lower vaccination rate.
To reach them, Murphy said county health officials are trying to reach people where they are. They set up clinics at barber shops and grocery stores to provide information and the COVID-19 vaccine.
She said in general, the news that Lorain County moved from moderate transmission to substantial transmission doesn't surprise her. Murphy said she's also not very concerned, because the cases haven't been as severe as they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Even though cases may be on the rise, we are seeing that hospitalization rates and of course deaths, we’re not necessarily seeing the same trend," she said.
Murphy says it’s possible that vaccinated people may be getting the virus, because the Delta variant is more contagious.Those are called breakthrough cases, and they are typically more mild because the vaccine prevents against severe reactions to COVID-19.
The data changes often, with Medina County also moving from moderate to substantial transmission, and Mahoning and Trumbull counties' risk being downgraded from substantial transmission to moderate. A spokesperson from Mahoning County said a "data dump" from a local hospital caused transmission to seem higher than it actually was.