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Reporting change raises Randolph’s COVID numbers

ELKINS — Local officials discussed a change that makes all inmates at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail part of the county’s weekly coronavirus numbers Monday during Randolph County’s Office of Emergency Management COVID-19 update conference call.

Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph-Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, reported during the meeting that there were currently 255 active coronavirus cases in the county. When asked during the session why the state was reporting a higher number of close to 500 on their website, Woodrum explained, “That’s because they (state) are switching over positive cases from inmates at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail. In the past they’ve been reported from Barbour County, because the jail had an address for Belington for some reason. But now they’re listed in Randolph County and they currently have 360 active cases. All of those active cases are being switched one at a time from Barbour to Randolph, so that number will continue to change on the state site.”

Once all of the numbers have been pulled over and tallied from the jail, there will be over 600 active cases in Randolph County. TVRJ reported last week that 82 of its 507 inmates tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our numbers are going to jump dramatically each week now that the jail is included,” said Woodrum. “From this point forward they will go directly on the Randolph County tally each week. And adding all of these extra active cases is going to put our county firmly in the red or whatever is beyond red.”

Several stakeholders attending the meeting questioned why the jail was not counted as one active instead of the full tally of 360. Woodrum responded by saying that the state said it’s not a federal or state agency, and that only those were the only ones eligible to be counted as just one.

Randolph County Commission President Mark Scott said that wasn’t true.

“The regional jails are under the state jail authority,” he said. “So the regional jail is a state agency.”

West Virginia House of Delegates member Cody Thompson agreed.

“We combined corrections and the regional jail authority a couple years ago and they are under the same department,” he said. “So I assumed that we were using the same metrics that they had been using in counting inmates as a one.”

Thompson said he would look into the situation and get some answers on exactly why, and how the count is supposed to work.

It was also announced during the conference call that 260 vaccines were administered to county residents age 80 and older last week. Valley Health Care also received 100 more doses on Monday which will be given out at their location Wednesday.

The county is also receiving another 500 vaccines for 80 and over group that will be administered Wednesday through Saturday this week. The locations and times will be announced soon, and the vaccinations will be by appointment only.

“The vaccinations will be divided up between the hospital, Valley Health, and the health department,” Woodrum said. “I don’t have the exact times, but we will be utilizing multiple locations in Elkins. We will also be in Mill Creek and Harman to give vaccinations.”

Woodrum said that residents don’t have to be from Randolph County to get the vaccine, but that they have to be residents of West Virginia.

Two additional testing sites will be available on Friday as West Virginia University will have two mobile testing vans in the area. One will be located across the street from the health department, while the other will be at Tyrand Ministries. Testing will be done at both sites from 10 a.m until 6 p.m. Results will be available online.

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