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Randolph COVID-19 cases on the rise

ELKINS — On Monday local officials said active COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Randolph County, and Davis & Elkins College announced an outbreak among students.

The Randolph-Elkins Health Department reported Monday that the total number of active cases in the county is currently at 42, but noted that number is a bit misleading, as it does not account for the entire outbreak among D&E students.

Health department officials said 25 D&E students were currently in quarantine on the campus, but state regulations stipulate this type of outbreak, where people are all quarantined together in the same living space, should count as only one active case in the county’s total

“We have had new cases coming in all day today,” Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, said during this week’s Randolph County Office of Emergency Management COVID-19 update conference call on Monday. “It’s just about more than we can do here to keep up with the number of cases and the contacts. For every case you might have 15 or 20, or even more contacts And it’s just about undoable.”

Officials suggest that large gatherings and Halloween get-togethers carry some of the blame for the increase in numbers.

“We had a birthday party of 25 that we have about seven positives from, this was two or three weeks ago,” said Woodrum. “And the Halloween parties have just exploded the number of cases.”

Free community testing will be done by the National Guard in cooperation with Randolph-Elkins Health Department today in the department’s parking lot facing Gay Street from 1-5 p.m.

Free testing will be offered Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Tygart Valley Fire Company in Dailey from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Free testing will then return to the Randolph-Elkins Health Department parking lot of Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 1-5 p.m.

Woodrum also confirmed that two restaurants in Elkins have temporarily closed due to employees testing positive. She reminded the public to take every step necessary to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“People who do not take precautions are not just putting themselves at risk, but their families, the schools and the businesses in town,” said Woodrum. “They are showing a complete disregard for this disease. I know we are weary with it, but we still need to respect it. It is so easy to wear a mask. It’s so easy to stand apart a little bit. I just don’t understand why people will not.”

Davis & Elkins College sent an email to students Monday morning that stated the following:

“As you have probably heard, a group of students exercised poor judgment by going to local bars without using face masks and practicing social distancing, nor using health and safety protocols outlined by Davis & Elkins College. As a result, 31 positive COVID-19 cases have been verified, endangering the D&E community.

“In an immediate effort to minimize the impact of these cases on campus, D&E moved to online instruction only beginning today and continuing through Thursday, November 12. We anticipate campus instruction will return to regular operations Friday, November 13.

“All residential students who have tested positive for COVID-19 must remain on campus and observe all public health protocols for their safety and the safety of those around them. Fortunately, at the time of this update, none of the students who tested positive are experiencing serious health issues. However, the history of this virus tells us that patient status can change quickly, which is why these students have been isolated in the on-campus isolation facility and are following appropriate practices and protocols.

“All contact trace individuals are in quarantine and quarantine rules will be strictly enforced with harsh penalties for any who violate those rules. Students in quarantine may only leave their assigned room for restroom needs and to retrieve food delivery from a common drop off location. Some students who were placed in quarantine chose to leave campus to quarantine at home, but no student presenting COVID-19 characteristics or symptoms did so. Some of those who went home have since received positive COVID-19 test results, and will remain in isolation at home to await further instruction from D&E.”

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