Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley Contracts COVID-19

The mayor had come into contact with someone who had tested positive for the highly transmissible virus.

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Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley

Days after warning Cincinnati that COVID-19 continues to spread heavily and steadily throughout the region, Mayor John Cranley has contracted the virus himself.

Through an emailed statement on Dec. 24, Cranley's team says that earlier this week, the mayor had come into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19, and Cranley has since also tested positive.

The mayor says that he has been vaccinated and has received a booster shot. He is experiencing mild symptoms, he says, and his wife and son do not have the virus.

"I have reached out to everyone I came into contact with this week encouraging them to get tested," Cranley says. "Please wear your masks, get vaccinated, and get boosted. I urge everyone to exercise caution this holiday season."

On Dec. 21, Cranley, Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore and Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval jointly urged residents to take COVID-19 precautions and to make difficult decisions about gathering indoors with family and friends as Christmas and New Year's Eve — two major holidays — approach, even declining invitations.

"Christmas is coming, and we know what it looked like last year, where we were doing what I consider 'drive-by Christmas' and 'drive-by Thanksgiving.' We were talking about having our windows raised or being outdoors to celebrate," Moore said. "Well, we're there again because we want you to protect your loved ones."

Cincinnati's coronavirus cases have increased in December, which is largely attributed to the virus spreading during indoor Thanksgiving gatherings. According to city data, cases spiked with the Delta variant from July until October before going down for a few weeks and rising again this month as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads.

Doctors have warned that gathering indoors — particularly with unvaccinated individuals, without masking and without social distancing — increases the likelihood to both spread and get COVID-19.

Moore said that 69% of the Cincinnati region has been vaccinated, but breakthrough COVID-19 cases do occur because of the large number of unvaccinated individuals who can easily transmit the virus and because the virus continues to mutate (according to the Ohio Department of Health, 62% of Hamilton County residents have started or completed a COVID-19 vaccine series).

"It is becoming less severe, but it's becoming more contagious. So please exercise personal responsibility," Cranley said.

Leaders at regional hospital systems have been saying for months that they're under great strain with a rise in patients and a decrease in staff, thanks largely to burnout or retirement. Healthcare workers are fearful of another COVID-19 spike like the one that devastated the country last winter.

During a Dec. 15 media briefing with Hamilton County officials, Dr. Richard Lofgren, UC Health's president and CEO, said that COVID-19 continues to be a big threat within the region.  

"If there's any message I have that's highlighted in the data, it's that this pandemic is not over. It is active and alive and is actually overwhelming our health systems," Lofgren said.

Moore, Cincinnati's health commissioner, recommended COVID testing before gathering with loved ones and to consider declining invitations.

"If you get tested with a rapid test and it's positive, that means you might have to change your plans," Moore said. "You'd rather change your plans than have someone ill."

During a recent briefing with media, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus and Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman stressed that the county provides free COVID-19 vaccinations as well as free on-site and at-home testing kits.

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