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COVID-19 cases are rising, but many in Northeast Ohio are done with masking and other preventions

epi curve cuyahoga county.JPG
Cuyahoga County Board of Health
This image shows how COVID-19 cases are starting to rise recently, but nowhere near the surge we saw over the holidays and the beginning of 2022.

COVID-19 cases are up in Northeast Ohio again, but with no mask mandate or other guidance from health officials, what should you be doing to keep safe?

“Cases are going up right now. It’s not quite as steep a curve as past surges have been, so it kind of feels like a slow burn,” said Dr. David Margolius, division director of internal medicine at MetroHealth.

Many in the Cleveland and Akron area communities, however, have stopped masking and other precautions because they are tired of the pandemic, said Dr. Claudia Hoyen, pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals.

"People are done with it. You hope that if they're done with it, they've been vaccinated," she said.

Hospitalizations remain low. That's an important distinction because we don't want to overwhelm hospitals again, Hoyen said.

"I know there have been several schools in the Cleveland area that have gone back to masking, which is good because what we really want to do is continue with our lives and keep each other safe," she said.

Hoyen recommends wearing a mask in public places, even though there is no current mask mandate.

Wearing a mask is still an easy way to protect yourself, said Dr. Margolius, but Margolius does not want the government to impose more mask mandates.

"Health is more than just the absence of COVID, and some of the lockdowns that are happening in other countries right now are putting people at risk for other negative health effects like isolation, depression, loneliness," he said.

Evidence over the last two years of the pandemic has shown mask mandates don't always work as intended, Margolius said.

"I think that tools like lockdowns and mask mandates are no longer beneficial for where we are in the pandemic," Margolius said. "Vaccines, good ventilation, spending time outdoors, those are all the things that can be really helpful for folks to reduce their chances of getting severe disease."

Getting vaccinated has made COVID less severe for most people, which is why it's one of the best defenses against the virus, Margolius said.

According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, about 67 percent of residents have gotten at least one COVID shot.