Official: More COVID cases than reported

ELKINS — Because it’s now impossible to determine an accurate number of how many active COVID-19 cases are in a given area, there are more coronavirus cases within our local communities than residents realize, an expert said Tuesday.

“There’s no way to accurately measure how many cases we have,” Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph-Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, told The Inter-Mountain.

“A lot of the experts are saying that right now we are only getting about 20 percent reported cases. And that’s due to several things, including mild symptoms where people don’t get tested, or because people don’t test because they don’t want to know, but mostly because they are taking tests that are not reportable.”

The COVID-19 Omicron BA.5 variant continues to be the strain most affecting West Virginians, Woodrum said. According to the Department of Health and Human Resources daily report, there were 2,754 active cases in the Mountain State Tuesday.

“Everybody knows somebody who currently has COVID and everybody knows that it’s out there,” Woodrum said. “It hasn’t gone away by any stretch of the imagination. The risk right now I’d say is medium because we have a lot of cases in the community.”

Woodrum said, because there are no restrictions put in place to protect individuals from the virus, that each person has to take it upon themselves to make sure they are safe.

“It’s a time when people need to evaluate their own risks, and the risk of their families, and take appropriate precautions,” Woodrum said. “The responsibility to stay safe from the virus is on the people, each individual. If you are high risk, you should be taking more precautions. And if you think you’ve been exposed, you need to get tested.”

According to Tuesday’s DHHR report, there are currently 37 active cases in Randolph County.

The report shows Upshur County with 31 cases, Barbour County with 34, Pocahontas County with 11, and Tucker County with four. There have now been 7,206 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in West Virginia.

It was announced Monday that West Virginia’s health agency purchased 16 vans to provide free COVID-19 testing and vaccines at school and community events. Woodrum confirmed Tuesday that the Randolph-Elkins Health Department would be receiving two of the vehicles.

“They are providing us two vans for our 10-county region,” Woodrum said. “We will be sharing those vans throughout our region and we will use them for outreach, testing and vaccination clinics. They will make it easier for us to get out in the community.”

Braxton, Clay, Nichols, Webster, Gilmer, Tucker, Barbour, Randolph, Upshur and Lewis counties are included in the health department’s region. The vans were purchased through a grant the DHHR received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information, call the Randolph-Elkins Health Department at 304-636-0396.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $3.92/week.

Subscribe Today