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Officials urge holiday safety precautions

ELKINS — With families traveling this week to gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, local health officials are urging citizens to take extra precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are saying that rapid tests before family gatherings wouldn’t hurt,” Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph-Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, told The Inter-Mountain. “People can buy those tests and do them at home by themselves. It is a very good idea, especially for people who haven’t been vaccinated. This is a good way to make sure everyone getting together stays safe.”

Woodrum said it is also important to wear a mask and do all the other things necessary to protect yourselves and others while traveling back-and-forth this week.

Last week the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommended that everyone over the age of 18 get a booster dose of the vaccine once they are eligible to do so. People who were vaccinated six months ago are eligible for the boost dose.

“If people are due to get their boost dose, they really need to get it,” said Woodrum. “We have people who are vaccinated and becoming infected. They’re not getting infected to the point where they are being hospitalized and getting put on a ventilator, but they are becoming infected. We know that resistance wanes at about six months, so if they’re due for the boost they need to get it so they can be protected.”

The Randolph-Elkins Health Department is currently accepting appointments for booster doses of the vaccine. To set up an appointment time for the booster, call 304-636-0396.

Active case numbers in Randolph County have been bouncing around the past couple weeks, but have yet to fall below the 100-mark during that time. Last Friday active cases in the county ballooned to 179, but that number had tumbled down to 135 as of late Monday evening.

According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, there have been six COVID-related deaths in the area since last Friday.

Over this past weekend a 73-year-old man and a 73-year-old woman, both from Randolph County, a 75-year-old man from Upshur County and a 78-year-old woman from Barbour County died due to issues related to COVID-19.

Two more local residents, a 65-year-old man from Upshur County and a 99-year-old woman from Tucker County, were among 13 new deaths the DHHR added to its report on Tuesday, pushing the total of COVID-19 deaths to 4,770 in West Virginia since the pandemic began. There are currently 6,733 active cases in the Mountain State.

Only 51 percent (916,333) of the state’s population have been fully vaccinated to date, officials said.

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