EATON, Ohio (WDTN) – With more than 50 COVID-19 cases linked to an Eaton long-term care facility, the landscape of the pandemic continues to change across the Miami Valley as infection rates rise in rural areas and fall across urban communities.
Montgomery County is now down to an orange Level 2 public health emergency, while Clark, Mercer, and Preble counties are at a red Level 3 on the state’s Public Health Advisory map.
Preble County’s first long-term care facility with a COVID-19 outbreak is the Greenbriar Nursing Center, now with 56 confirmed cases. According to Erik Balster, Preble County health commissioner, the first cases were reported about two weeks ago with two employees.
Since then, the outbreak has grown to 38 residents and 18 staff members, Balster said. Eight of those residents and three employees have been hospitalized, he added. So far, none have been admitted to the ICU.
“As far as could they have done anything better – I don’t necessarily think so,” Balster said. “I think everyone’s doing the best that they can.”
With many staff members at the Greenbriar Nursing Center required to stay home, some members of the Ohio National Guard have come in to help cover their duties, Balster said.
Residents and staff are being tested every few days to ensure anyone with the virus is isolated, Balster said.
“What, in particular, the Greenbriar situation has shown us is that the disease and COVID in general is a very real threat within Preble County, and there are people that are highly susceptible to that,” he said.
As Preble County reaches a red Level 3 public health emergency, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday he’s concerned about the rising number of coronavirus cases in rural areas.
“If they don’t get the numbers down, I think it’s unlikely they’re going to be, frankly, successful in school being open and playing sports,” Gov. DeWine said.
Some Eaton businesses told 2 NEWS many of their customers have complied with the mask mandate and other safety guidelines.
Some say they’re optimistic those precautions are making an impact.
“It’s the law, and so we abide by that so we can get back to work,” said Kathy Clapp, who works at Just Teasin’ Salon.
2 NEWS has reached out to the Greenbriar Nursing Center for comment and we are waiting to hear back.