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Experts expecting flu cases to spike

ELKINS — Although coronavirus numbers continue to decline in Randolph County, officials urge residents to be aware that health experts are predicting a large spike in flu cases this coming winter.

“It’s out there and the reason we didn’t have much of a flu season last year is because people were wearing masks, hand sanitizing and trying to keep their distance from others,” Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph-Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, told The Inter-Mountain Monday. “People are feeling much more relaxed this year so we figure it will be much worse.”

Influenza does most of its damage by attacking the respiratory system.

“Anything that affects your lungs, which the flu does, is bad,” Woodrum said. “That’s one way you can tell the flu from a cold. It’s not in your head as much, it’s in your lungs and you have difficulty breathing and it goes into pneumonia and that’s why it kills so many people every year.”

Woodrum said the Randolph-Elkins Health Department is offering both flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and noted you can receive both at the same time. She said the health department is also offering third booster doses of the coronavirus vaccine for those who are immunocompromised.

“We are doing flu shots and COVID shots where you can take them together,” Woodrum said. “And people who are immunocompromised can get a third dose, because they figure those people did not get as much of an immune response to start with as they needed. Like if someone has cancer or another serious illness like that.”

The health department reported a total of 90 active COVID cases in Randolph County on Monday. That is down from 121 active cases last week and 130 the week before. On Sept, 3, there were 455 active cases in Randolph County.

“We are finally back under 100 cases, which is good,” Woodrum said. “But it (COVID-19) is still out there and we still have people who are really, really sick. And we still have people who are not vaccinated.”

There are currently 11 COVID patients at Davis Medical Center in Elkins, officials said. Of those 11, four are in the intensive care unit and two are on ventilators.

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