Rural counties face increasing COVID-19 cases, less adherence to guidelines

Local News

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – Two rural valley health departments, Mercer and Darke Counties, are facing similar issues with rapidly increasing coronavirus cases, more hospitalizations and people reluctant to follow the guidelines.

“It spiked pretty quick, it doesn’t seem gradual and it seems to be fairly sustained,” Mercer County Health District Administrator Jason Menchhofer said.

“Our weekly average has been in the teens,” Darke County Health Commissioner Terrence Holman said. “Then last week and this week, we’ve made a big jump.

As of Thursday, Mercer County ranks number one in the state for highest occurrence of COVID-19 and Darke County switched from orange Level 2 to red Level 3 health advisory.

Darke County has 279 active cases of COVID-19 and 1,944 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Mercer County has 418 active cases and 2,680 total cases.

Health officials in both counties said the spread is happening is households and close friend groups, and many aren’t following guidelines.

“There’s a pretty significant portion of our population who is very resistant to a lot of the orders and recommendations,” Menchhofer said.

Holman said one issue Darke County faces is 31% of those with COVID-19 in the county won’t cooperate with the health department.

“It cuts down on our ability to find out possible spread of it,” Holman said. “If they give us the information of who they are around and what not, we can see whether we want to quarantine them, isolate them, or make recommendations to them.”

As the holidays near, both are concerned there will be another spike as families ignore guidance and celebrate together.

“If you are getting together, consider one more thing that you haven’t already been doing to try to prevent the spread,” Menchhofer said. “If you wouldn’t normally wear a mask around people from outside of your household, maybe consider doing it.”

2 NEWS also spoke with Wayne HealthCare in Darke County and they have seen an increase in ER visits, and some hospitalizations, but most of those patients have been released. They have reinstated a no visitor policy as a precaution.

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