MANGUM, Okla. (TNN) - Four people have now died after 32 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Greer County and we’re learning many of the cases are coming from a nursing home.
"We have a nursing home that has several cases in that nursing home, we’re looking at upwards of 30 cases just associated with the nursing home and it’s hard to say that they’re in Greer County because there are employees that live in different counties that go into the nursing home to work,” Regional Director of the Greer County Health Department Brandie Combs.
Mangum Mayor Mary Jane Scott says they took all of the precautions, but never expected this many cases to pop up in Greer County.
"When this started it was like a bomb shell hit us. Being in rural America, rural Oklahoma we didn’t anticipate anything that was going to happen to us like this. You cannot look forward, you’ve got to take it one minute at a time, one day at a time and say what do I need to do to help my people to make sure they understand this is important. This has come to rural Oklahoma and we’re going to fight it just like the people in New York and Los Angeles and Chicago,” Scott said.
The virus is known to have made it into the nursing home but at this point, there’s still questions about how, exactly, it got in.
“The idea is that there was a particular church service in our community that had a person who came down from Tulsa. This particular pastor was there, he preached a service, he went to the home of a lady that was part of the congregation, he goes back to Tulsa and then within a week or so he passes away from the coronavirus,” Scott said.
”We’re kind of living out what we’ve said about this virus, the virus doesn’t move but people move. It takes one person visiting a nursing home maybe in another community, getting infected and coming back and working. Or maybe it’s you go to church and you get infected by someone there and then you go to work. Or maybe it’s a family member visited who had just come to Washington and they visited the nursing home. We don’t know exactly where it came from,” Combs said.
Regardless of how it got into the community, big changes are required to stop the spread before it gets worse. In Mangum, those changes came in the form of a curfew, wearing masks when in public and, of course, social distancing.
"We’ve been talking about that for months and months and we encourage everyone to continue to social distance. We know Easter is coming up, we know that’s a time that people want to gather with family or friends or your congregation but please, we ask that you keep in mind that this virus is still in our communities and we need to practice social distancing the very most we possibly can,” Combs said.
Combs said everyone, from the health department to the nursing home itself, is doing everything they can to help prevent further spreading.