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Officials: Police have spoken to out-of-state campers

ELKINS — Randolph County officials said Wednesday that law enforcement officers have spoken to out-of-state campers who have come to this county during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The West Virginia State Police in this county have been in contact with some of the campers that have been an issue,” Randolph County Office of Emergency Management Executive Director Cindy Hart said during a conference call among county leaders Wednesday afternoon.

“The problem we had was that they were driving out in back roads, and if there was enough room to pull a camper over, they were just pulling over and setting up.”

“I know that the sheriff’s department and the state police have both been out in those locations and explained to people that if they were there, they needed to isolate for 14 days,” she said, adding that the Randolph-Elkins Health Department has issued a document providing information and stating that campers have to move every 14 days.

“That way, we can keep track of who’s there and that people are not just setting up house in these locations.”

“They’ve spoken to some of the campers and explained to them that if they were from out of town and they were just coming to West Virginia that they would prefer that they would go back to their own states, and all but four at that time had left. They can’t force them to leave, but most of them were non-confrontational and went on their own,” Hart said.

“I drove up through Gandy yesterday, and those must’ve been weekenders up there because the only people I saw were three fishermen with West Virginia license plates,” noted Delegate Bill Hartman, D-Randolph. “So, It looked really good three or four miles above Whitmer.”

“The pipeliners are moving in because they’re getting ready to gear up and start, and they are considered essential assets. So, you’re going to see an abundance of trailers coming if you haven’t already. The national forest is working with them to provide some areas for the camps.”

Also during the call, Hart informed participants of the office’s Wednesday morning briefing with state officials.

“DHHR at the state level (…) is trying to work on guidelines for healthy populations including homeless in shelters, identify workforce strategies in alternative care sites as they need them, and they’re continuing to work on plans for the homeless population,” she said, adding that the main issue the organization is facing is a PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage for first responders and hospitals.

“There’s still a concern about (…) questionable essential employees still working; that’s being addressed at the state and local levels,” she said.

While giving an update on the American Red Cross, Hart stated that the organization has been able to meet patient needs.

“There is a need for platelet donation because platelets only last for five days. So, they’re encouraging people who feel well and healthy to make an appointment with the Red Cross. (They) can either go on redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS,” Hart emphasized.

For non-medical calls, West Virginia VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) is encouraging citizens to dial 211 for “family-type” resources, Hart stated.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 10 counties within the state that had yielded zero positive cases of COVID-19, including Grant and Pocahontas counties.

Statewide by Wednesday afternoon there had been 483 positive cases, four deaths and 12,859 tests done statewide, according to the state Department of Health & Human Resources.

In our region, Barbour County had four confirmed cases, Randolph and Tucker had three each, Upshur and Hardy counties had two each, and Pendleton County had one confirmed case.

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