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Randolph leaders discuss COVID-19

ELKINS — Randolph County officials discussed the current state of COVID-19 on the local level in a Friday afternoon phone conference.

Bonnie Woodrum, an infectious disease specialist with the Randolph-Elkins Health Department, said that as of Friday afternoon, the county had three confirmed cases of COVID-19, while a total of 72 individuals had been tested with 36 tests coming back negative and 33 still pending. Health department officials were aware of three people who had not been tested but were on self-quarantine, she said.

“If anyone is exposed or think they’ve been exposed, they should call me,” Woodrum said during the conference call.

“I’ve gotten calls from people in the community who say they’ve been exposed to someone who said they had tested positive, but we’ve had only three positives, and we have tried to get all the contacts and to ask them to be self-quarantined, and we are monitoring those contacts as well.”

Woodrum also stated that the Health Department has sent out several masks to fire departments.

“Anything we’ve got, we share because we don’t need as much as (they) do,” she said.

Also during the conference call, Jim Ancell, deputy director of the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, updated participants on how first responders are faring throughout the state.

“Currently, there are 41 first responders-from police and fire personnel-that have self-quarantined. This could affect us down the road in Randolph County also as we move along,” said Ancell, adding that as of Thursday morning, there were six law enforcement officers across the state who had been self-quarantined due to suspected contact with potentially infected individuals.

Ancell said the OEM received information from state DHHR officials regarding the actions first responders should take if they suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19.

“If one of the first responders — fire, EMS, law enforcement — think they’ve come in contact with someone who has coronavirus, they need to go to the local health department, get tested and advise that health department that it needs to be sent to the state lab so we can get the turnaround in about 24 hours,” Ancell said.

“Hopefully within the next few days, few weeks we’ll be able to have the testing out in the field so we can tell is someone tests positive within two or three hours. We don’t have that right now, but the state is working on it,” he said.

Ancell noted hospitals will be set up around the state specifically for the treatment of COVID-19.

“The memo that we got (from the DHHR) said that local ambulances may pick these people up and take them,” he said.

“For example, the hospital will make a decision on whether they want to see them or if they want these people transported on to one of these COVID hospitals,” Ancell said, adding that the transportation may affect local ambulances, as the only two COVID-19-specific hospitals that have been identified at this time are in the Fairmont and Wheeling areas.

“They told us this morning that it may be an hour or longer at that hospital plus the travel time back and forth, which could possibly short us for the resources in Randolph County,” he stated.

“Currently, we are having two calls a day with the DHHR and Homeland Security updating us on the progress of where this thing is headed and what’s going to happen,” Ancell said.

“We’re at the very beginning of this; it’s probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” he said.

As of Friday, West Virginia had two COVID-19 related deaths and 237 confirmed positive cases of the virus, while 6,367 individuals had tested negative statewide.

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