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Randolph officials discuss COVID-19 number discrepancies

ELKINS — Randolph County officials discussed recent discrepancies in COVID-19 statistics reported by the state during Monday’s conference call among county leaders.

“As of now, Randolph County has 171 confirmed cases, 154 have recovered or have been released from quarantine,” Cindy Hart, director of the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, said during Monday’s call. “Seventeen are counted as active cases. Two of those are Huttonsville Correctional Center workers that are considered ‘community spread.’

“Today at Huttonsville Correctional Center there are no active cases (and) no inmates on contact quarantine or in isolation for COV ID.”

Hart noted that several positive cases were discovered during free testing offered recently in Randolph.

“Four positive cases were identified in the community testing on June 26-27,” she said. “Three were out of the same family and one was a contact of a previously identified case.”

Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, noted, “Our new cases have been connected to camping and travel and contact with those people.”

Woodrum was asked if any of the positive cases in Randolph were currently hospitalized.

“We had one … but he was improving,” she replied. “We’ve had three (hospitalized) total. One was transferred to Ruby (Memorial Hospital in Morgantown) but they had a secondary diagnosis that required that. One went home with oxygen. And then this last gentleman I think had pneumonia … None of them have been on respirators.”

Hart said there have been discrepancies between the statistics the Randolph Elkins Health Department is submitting to the state, and the numbers that the state then makes public.

“No doubt there is some erroneous information being put out,” Hart said. “The state is still putting out ‘one probable, two deaths’ (for Randolph County). I don’t know why.”

Bonnie Woodrum, the health department’s infectious disease specialist, said, “I have a corrected copy this morning … it says ‘advisory: correction to daily update’ … They have us down as Randolph with 171 cases to date with zero probables.”

As of 5 p.m. Monday, however, the state Department of Health & Human Resources web site was still reporting that Randolph had 169 confirmed cases, with two probable cases, and 152 recovered cases with zero deaths.

Randolph County Commissioner Mark Scott asked where the discrepancies are occurring.

“I appreciate the clarification,” Scott said. “It’s been reported … they said we had two deaths in Randolph County and we had not had any. I was just confused as to where they were getting their information from. Do we have any idea where they might have gotten that from?”

“Unfortunately, no,” Hart said. “All of our information that goes to the state comes from Bonnie. But when it gets to the state it goes through multiple hands. So I’m assuming that somewhere down there … maybe they’re looking at too many papers and entering information, I don’t know. I can’t get a clear answer on that. And I know Bonnie has given accurate information to them.”

Last month, Gov. Jim Justice criticized the state’s handling of case numbers, and the head of the state Bureau of Public Health, Dr. Cathy Slemp, resigned the same day.

Woodrum explained how much information has to be submitted to the state for each case.

“It’s quite complicated to put in the source patient’s information, and then all the contacts,” she said. “And each of the contacts has two pages of a report that has to be filled in. And then if one of those contacts become positive, then we start over, calling him a patient, and then all their contacts have to be entered. And even if it is the same contacts, all those two pages of information has to be entered in each time, for each contact.

“So be patient with us here,” she said. “It takes a lot of doing to keep this stuff up to date.”

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