Summit County Public Health

a photo of protesters in Akron

Officials with the Summit County Public Health Department say – when it comes to protests – they’re concerned about it leading to community spread of coronavirus.

Northeast Ohio communities have seen a number of protests following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says protesting is their right, but she asks that it be done safely.

a photo illustration of a telehealth visit

Businesses in Ohio are re-opening and schools are making plans for this fall. But you’ve still got questions about the future of telemedicine, and when and how libraries will reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

We answer those questions and more in this week’s edition of “OH Really?

photo of Coronavirus testing

Ohio’s coronavirus testing rate is one of the worst in the country. Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows the per capita rate is about even with Texas and Kansas, and about one-quarter of Rhode Island’s, which tops the list.

photo of Higgins the dog

Ohio businesses continue to re-open this week, and you’ve still got questions about how coronavirus will affect everything from your pets to homeless people.

Entrance, Summit County Courthouse

As some of Ohio’s non-essential businesses reopen, you’ve still got questions about how coronavirus will affect everything from college tuition refunds to child custody hearings.

photo of dental office

As some of Ohio’s nonessential businesses prepare to reopen, you’ve still got questions about how coronavirus will affect everything from dental appointments to funerals.

Listener James Little asked how the current pandemic is affecting mortuary services. To find out, we spoke with Gary Burr, president of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association.

photo of Summit County mass texting program

Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says the health department expects guidance this week from state officials on how and when they can implement expanded coronavirus testing.

During her weekly update Thursday, she also unveiled a mass texting system to provide instant public health notices for residents. Sign up information is here. Skoda says re-opening Ohio will be a gradual process.

The national stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied Ohio with more than 493,000 gloves, 271,000 N95 masks, 675,000 surgical masks and other gear.

But state and local leaders say those shipments weren’t enough to mount a proper defense against the coronavirus pandemic. So local governments have been asking for PPE donations — and in some cases, buying their own gear.

Summit County is emphasizing a need for more tests and education to help protect its African American population from the coronavirus.

African Americans make up 15 percent of the county’s residents but account for 32 percent of its COVID-19 cases. The county is using social media to send out tips on staying safe, said Health Commissioner Donna Skoda, but reaching specific populations is hard under the stay-at-home order.

photo of farm

Gov. Mike DeWine has signaled that Ohio nonessential businesses could start reopening by the end of next week. And you’ve been asking what that means for coronavirus testing, the state’s farmers and even Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Now, Sarah Taylor and Kabir Bhatia from our newsroom answer questions you’ve sent in for “OH Really?”

photo of Summit County COVID-19 cases

Summit County has released data on how many coronavirus cases are in each of its zip codes.  There are 373 confirmed cases as of Thursday.  The most cases are in West Akron, Hudson, and Twinsburg, with between 21 and 30 cases each.

a photo of briefing room at Summit co public health department

Data released in Summit County Wednesday shows that coronavirus is disproportionately impacting African-Americans.

The data shows 15 percent of county residents are black, but 36 percent of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Summit County are African-American.

Summit County Public Health Epidemiologist Joan Hall says her department needs to increase awareness on how to avoid the coronavirus.

photo of Summit County COVID-19 cases

Officials with Summit County Public Health say they’re crunching the data on the county’s 222 cases of COVID-19. As of Thursday, 56 percent of the cases are women. There have been 13 deaths, and 51 people are hospitalized.

Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said epidemiologists plan to release a breakdown of cases by race by the end of this week.

tents  in the the woods

Summit County agencies are working round the clock to create a quarantine facility for the area’s homeless who must be quarantined.

The homeless quarantine center is being set up in the gymnasium at the Chapel in Akron. Officials hope to open it next week.

Leading the effort is the Continuum of Care, a nonprofit of more than 30 agencies that provides services for the homeless.

united way logos
United Way of Summit County

Six Summit County entities have joined together to raise and channel much-needed funding into the community.


For the first time in history, people across the country have been directed to stay home.

Schools and daycares have closed. Bars and resturants are shuttered.

Elder care facilities are in lockdown. Businesses have closed their doors to all but the most essential workers.

Groups cannot gather outside homes, and everyone is expected to stay six feet apart.

photo of Coronavirus blood vial

Life as we knew it in Northeast Ohio has been grinding to a halt because of the coronavirus. You’ve been asking WKSU’s OH Really? about everything from risk factors to home remedies. We've been gathering answers to your questions about the virus.

photo of Donna Skoda

Summit County Public Health is adjusting to life with coronavirus, and it’s impacting the agency’s staffing.

The health department has issued 26 layoff notices, many for clerical positions or for people who worked face-to-face with the public.

Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says about half the agency’s 200 staffmembers have been reassigned to work on the response to coronavirus.

a photo of briefing room at Summit co public health department

Summit County has its first case of COVID-19. A woman in her 50s is currently hospitalized.

Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said this is the first case of community spread detected in Summit County. But she warns that people feeling symptomatic should consult their doctor first.

photo of a lawnmower

Residents living in Summit, Portage, or Medina county looking to switch to greener options to help the environment can start with their lawn mower and possibly get paid to do it.

The Akron Regional Air Quality Management District is offering $100 gift cards to people who switch from a gas-powered mower to a battery powered mower. The district says battery powered lawnmowers release no exhaust, mow quieter and require low maintenance.

Summit County Ups Fight Against Infant Mortality

Nov 27, 2019
Ohio 10-year map of infant mortality
Ohio Department of Health

Summit County is expanding its programs that prevent infant mortality with a nearly $2.5 million state grant. Summit County Public Health is working with 10 other organizations to provide support for new and expecting mothers.

Full Term First Birthday Greater Akron was started by Mayor Dan Horrigan two years ago to assist mothers by providing support groups, counseling, and economic and legal aid. The grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid will also expand aid for housing.

a map of Hepatitis A cases

In a typical year there are fewer than a dozen Hepatitis A cases in Summit County. So far this year there have been 143. The outbreak has been linked to high-risk populations, including the homeless and street drug users. The liver virus is transmitted by fecal matter or close person-to-person contact. But incidents have also been reported among the general population.

Tracy Rodriguez is the communicable diseases supervisor for Summit County Public Health.

Springfield Lake

The village of Lakemore issued an advisory about harmful algal blooms on Springfield Lake.

Recent heavy rain caused more ground water runoff into the lake, which adds nutrients to the water and encourages algae growth. The algae produce toxins.

Summit County’s director of environmental health, Tonia Burford, says people should avoid contact with the water and be sure not to swallow it because that can lead to health problems.

Jennifer Conn / WKSU

The city of Akron and several local agencies have joined forces to use a multifaceted approach to curb youth violence.

The Youth Violence Prevention Strategic Plan calls for a 20 percent reduction in violent crime among young adults 15-24 in Akron by 2023.

The plan was created through research, data collection and community conversations over the past two years. It can be amended as needed going forward, said Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda.


Health agencies are warning Northeast Ohioans of an increase in poisonous mushrooms growing in the area. The humid summer caused mushrooms of all kinds to bloom in large numbers, and the Cleveland Clinic says eating toxic ones can cause serious health problems.