CLEVELAND — In Ohio, Cuyahoga County has the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. Nationwide, the county ranks among the top five places for COVID-19 cases, according to data from Covid Act Now, a nonprofit organization focused on providing accurate data about COVID-19.

What You Need To Know

  • Cuyahoga County has the most COVID-19 cases in the state, according to data from Covid Act Now

  • Cuyahoga County is among the top five counties across the nation for COVID spread

  • Health officials say getting vaccinated and wearing masks are the keys to lowering the number of cases and hospitalizations

  • The result of rising cases has put a strain on health care workers

"We are ground zero for omicron in Ohio and the numbers are incredible," said Cuyahoga County Board of Health Commissioner Terry Allan. "We're seeing numbers 12 to 13 times the CDC threshold for high transmission."

The rapid COVID-19 spread isn't just happening in Cuyahoga County. Also, in neighboring Summit County, cases are the highest they've ever been.

"We're seeing about 700 cases a day, which is the highest we've ever seen during the pandemic. We're seeing it among younger folks, as well, being hospitalized," said Donna Skoda, Summit County Health Commissioner.

Covid Act Now reports Ohio is at a severe risk level for COVID-19 cases. Skoda explained what it means.

"That positivity rate is very high. You know, we were closely approaching 20% of our tests that were given were positive; to be safe in a community it needs to be somewhere around 2 or 3%, so that is very, very significant risk in a community circulating," said Skoda.

Both Skoda and Allan said the majority of people hospitalized right now are unvaccinated.  

"We're full. The hospitals full. It's bad. The (emergency departments) are overwhelmed. I'm exhausted," said Dr. Amy Edwards, pediatric infectious disease physician at University Hospitals of Cleveland Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Edwards said the hospitals haven't reached the point yet where people who are coming for other care such as heart attacks or car accidents are not admitted, but emphasizes that could be a reality if hospitalizations continue to increase.

Allan said that's something people should keep in mind when it comes to mask-wearing and vaccinations.

"We may not have room if you have a heart attack, or your father has a heart attack, or your mother, or your grandmother. We might not have anywhere to put them. That's new," said Allan.

Community spread and relaxed mask mandates are just a couple of the reasons why the virus is spreading as fast as it is, according to health experts. Edwards, Skoda and Allan all said vaccination is key to getting through this period.

"Get your shot. It's safe. It's effective. Get your booster if you're six months or more out from your first set of shots. There's data that shows it works very well against omicron," said Edwards.