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Barry & Eaton County Health Officials Say They Are Overwhelmed By COVID-19 Cases

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department is warning that due to the extreme increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the area, contact tracing will now be prioritized based on risk.



In Eaton County the COVID-19 infection rate is ten times higher than it was in September. In Barry County, numbers are 17 times as high as two months ago. 


Anne Barna, an official with the Barry-Eaton District Health Department, said they cannot keep up with all the outbreaks.


“We're seeing upwards of 100 new cases a day. And for our staff, we have 55 staff total. It's becoming incredibly difficult for us to keep up with that volume,” Barna said.


In the last two weeks, several large outbreaks in the area have been connected to indoor gatherings where people were not wearing masks or social distancing.


"Our most recent outbreak was essentially a super spreader event in Grand Ledge at Liberty Church," Barna said. "We received reports that masks were not required for attendance at various of the church's events." 


While Barna said an increase in COVID-19 cases was expected as the weather cooled down, she believes this exponential increase in cases is due to most businesses and public spaces remaining open. 


"Even if they're open in a reduced capacity, they're still open," she explained. "And so what that means is that people are able to go out and have contact with people, much more than they did early on in the pandemic."


According to Barna, transmission risk for COVID-19 is significantly reduced in places where social distancing is promoted and masks are required.


"We aren't seeing many large outbreaks in schools where teachers and students are required to wear their masks and when there is an outbreak they are able to trace it and contain it," she added. 



For now, the department said it only has the capacity to make contact with high priority COVID-19 cases, like those happening in nursing homes or schools.


“Our focus is going to be on identifying outbreaks. And then working with those businesses or organizations to stop them as quickly as we can,” Barna said.


The department is recommending all Eaton and Barry County residents stay home if they are sick and to quarantine for a minimum of two weeks if they hear they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. 

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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