Positive tests affect businesses as Butler County remains Level 3 for coronavirus

As Butler County is possibly on the verge of moving to a Level 4 public health emergency — the highest as Ohio fights the novel coronavirus — employees at two popular stops tested positive last week.

The Fairfield Lane Library shut down Saturday and will remain closed until Wednesday morning after a staff member tested positive for the novel coronavirus. That employee last worked on July 6.

On July 9, Flub’s Dariette in Hamilton told its patrons one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to the ice cream shop’s website. That employee last worked on July 5.

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Butler County General Health District Health Promotion Director Erin Smiley declined to comment, saying “We are not able to give any statements today due to the COVID response and capacity.”

Butler County is one of seven counties in Ohio listed as a Level 3 Public Emergency as there has been “very high exposure and spread,” according to the state. Ohio health officials say those counties at Level 3 should have limited activities as much as possible. People in the seven Level 3 counties are required to wear a mask inside public buildings, such as government buildings and shopping facilities, and in crowded public spaces.

There have been nearly 1,800 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Butler County since the first confirmed reported case on March 11, according to the health department. There are nearly three dozen additional probable cases. Fairfield Lane Library, 1485 Corydale Drive, is in the heart of downtown Fairfield, and the city’s ZIP code (45014) is the most affected within Butler County, according to the county’s latest epidemiology report.

More than 25 percent of the county’s reported COVID-19 cases are from 45014, which includes parts of Fairfield, Ross and West Chester townships. The second-most affected ZIP code is 45011 (20.3 percent), which is most of Hamilton, as well as Fairfield Twp. The city of Hamilton is the seat of Butler County government and the county’s largest city.

Library officials posted on its Facebook page on Saturday afternoon that the Fairfield location was closed “effective immediately,” and are working with the Butler County General Health District on reopening plans. They’re set to reopen on Wednesday, said Lane Library spokeswoman Carrie Mancuso.

She said the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 came in close contact for 1o or more minutes with three employees. Those three employees, who have displayed no symptoms, will not return to the library until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

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Flub’s owner Brian Connaughton said they were never mandated by the City of Hamilton Health Department to shut down. He said the shop has a daily cleaning regiment by the staff, and a nightly process by a professional cleaner. Connaughton said he was told “there was no reason for us to actually shut down.” He said 11 employees are being quarantined for 14 days out of precaution.

Patrons who were known to be at the Fairfield library on July 6 were notified by email of their employee’s positive test, said Mancuso. She said information was posted on the library’s website and Facebook page because not all who visited that day made a transaction.

Mancuso said everyone was out of the Fairfield library and the building was shut down within an hour of being notified on Saturday, July 11, said Mancuso.

“We keep a daily cleaning schedule of the whole building and an hourly schedule of disinfecting all high touch areas so, between that and the fact that the library has been closed since Saturday, we will be ready to safely reopen according to the guidelines,” Mancuso said.

Mancuso said there have been some questions about material holds set to expire, and those will be extended until this Saturday, July 18.

As for expiring books, people can return them to any of the Lane Library buildings, or a community book drop, including at the Fairfield Lane Library.

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