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COVID-19 cases increase locally and across state

ELKINS — The predicted uptick in active COVID-19 cases caused by the Thanksgiving holiday appears to have arrived in West Virginia as numbers are up across the entire state.

Randolph County saw one of the biggest jumps in the area, going from 101 active cases last week to 127 on Monday.

“The increase in numbers is definitely from the Thanksgiving holiday,” Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph-Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, told The Inter-Mountain Monday. “The virus is still out there and people relaxed their precautions while gathering during the holiday. And from here I expect the numbers to continue to go up as people go out to shop and get together for parties and things of that nature.”

Cases in neighboring counties have also seen an increase from a week ago.

A total of 27 active cases were reported in Tucker County Monday, a big jump from the 12 reported just five days earlier. To date there have been 30 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Tucker since the pandemic began.

Barbour County, meanwhile, saw 10 new cases since last week and is currently sitting at 60 after Sunday’s report from the Barbour County Health Department. Barbour currently has just 44.3 percent of its population, 5 years or older, fully vaccinated, officials said.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ dashboard, Upshur County has nine new active cases from a week ago with a current total of 93 in the county.

It’s just not local counties that are feeling the effect, however, as active COVID case numbers continue to climb across the entire Mountain State. Active cases jumped from 5,800 last week to 8,031 Monday.

With the third strain, the omicron variant, now in the United States, including several states bordering West Virginia, Woodrum said it’s more important than ever to take the necessary steps to protect oneself and others.

“Even the vaccinated can get it, so it’s important to take precautions,” said Woodrum. “And it’s easy to do. What is the big deal about standing away from people and putting a mask on? I mean we are all used to wearing these masks now.

“If that means you won’t have to lose days at your job or that the risk of being put on a ventilator is less for you, why not take the precautions? And you are not making a decision just for yourself, but for the people you care for as well.”

Woodrum said not much is known about the omicron variant at this time, but the CDC and other organizations are working tirelessly to gather information on the strain.

“We are still gathering information on the omicron variant and the CDC is trying to figure out whether or not it’s more virulent than the other strains,” she said. “They are testing to see if it spreads easier, if it gets people sicker, or whether or not the vaccine works against it or not. But some vaccination is better than none, so people who are not vaccinated still need to get out there and get it.”

Woodrum said it’s only a matter of time until omicron variant is seen here, if it hasn’t arrived already.

There have been a total of 4,990 deaths in West Virginia attributed to COVID since the start of the pandemic.

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