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Withheld Patient Details Dangerous

As COVID-19 begins to take the lives of West Virginians, the continuing refusal of local and state officials to provide specific information on those who have contracted the disease becomes more dangerous.

An 88-year-old Marion County woman perished Sunday, the first fatality of COVID-19 in our state. Meanwhile, the patient count increased and became more widespread. As of Sunday night, there were 124 confirmed cases of the disease in West Virginia.

Seven of them are in Ohio County. Four are in Marshall County, three are in Hancock and one is in Wetzel.

Yet public health officials will provide no more than a county-by-county case count.

In revealing the seventh case in Ohio County, Health Department Administrator Howard Gamble urged area residents to limit their contact with others, practice social distancing, work at home when possible, wash hands frequently and use other methods to avoid both contracting the virus and spreading it to others.

But no one knows just how near the coronavirus has come to them. Do the local victims live in Wheeling? Valley Grove? West Liberty? Where?

Suppose you live along one of the small streams near U.S. 40, outside municipal limits. Does someone near you have COVID-19? Could you have come in contact with them during the past couple of weeks? If you need groceries, how safe is it to venture out?

You don’t know — because public health officials refuse to give you the information you need.

This is more than crazy. It is irresponsible. It is dangerous. We pray it does not lead to someone dying needlessly.

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