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Randolph County now averaging one COVID death per day

ELKINS — The increasing number of COVID-19 related deaths in the Randolph County and the inability to reach citizens who have tested positive for the virus is a growing concern for local health officials.

The Randolph-Elkins Health Department confirmed the death of a 34-year-old male over the weekend, pushing the total number of COVID-related deaths in Randolph County to 21 to date. Five such deaths have been confirmed in Randolph County in the past week.

“The rise in deaths is very serious and it should concern everyone in our community,” Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph-Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, told The Inter-Mountain Tuesday. “Since September we’ve averaged a death per day.

“Through the months of January to July we stayed at eight deaths, then in August we had (another) eight. People need to start paying attention to what’s going on. Those choosing not to be vaccinated not only increases your own risk, but puts the people around you that you care about at risk as well.”

Woodrum said another major concern is that people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are becoming more difficult to reach.

“We are having trouble reaching many people for whom we receive positive test results,” she said. “Some phones don’t work, maybe some don’t have phones. But many people who test positive do not wish to talk with us because they don’t want to hear about quarantine. Some because they can’t afford to be off work, some because they don’t understand, and some because they are resistant to an unseen enemy taking charge of their lives.”

The good news is that the active COVID-19 case numbers in Randolph actually dropped this week, falling from 455 Friday to 388 Tuesday.

“It’s good that the active case numbers went down this week, but I’m concerned about how many people gathered in groups during the holiday weekend,” Woodrum said. “So we will have to wait a couple days to see how the weekend affects us.”

The active case numbers in the county don’t include outbreaks from correctional facilities or nursing homes. The high numbers have the health department tracing more than 3,000 contacts.

“It requires hundreds of hours of phone time to reach all of the contacts,” Woodrum said. “Many people who are positive refuse to provide a contact list or they forget some of the people they’ve been around. Thus, even among all those identified, not all contacts are on our lists.”

The Randolph-Elkins Health Department continues to offer vaccinations by appointment only. If you receive a message from the health department, make sure and take down the name of the caller trying to reach you. That way return calls can be directed to the correct person.

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