KETCHIKAN (KDN) — The Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center announced six positive COVID-19 test results and one new hospitalization on Wednesday.
Two of the new cases involve symptomatic individuals who both were found to be close contacts of a known positive case, according to a Wednesday press release from the local EOC. Contact tracing investigations were completed for both cases. According to online EOC information, 203 of the cases recorded in Ketchikan have been due to close contacts.
One of the cases — involving an asymptomatic individual — was determined to be due to community spread (the 70th such case counted in Ketchikan during the pandemic to date).
"Three of the cases remain under investigation as to the source of the virus and the contacts," read the EOC release. "Two of these individuals are currently asymptomatic, and one is symptomatic."
The EOC also announced that of the four cases pending investigation after being recorded on Tuesday, one was due to community spread and three were determined to be close contacts of a known positive individual.
Cumulatively, 373 positive COVID-19 test results have been recorded in Ketchikan.
One individual was hospitalized in the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center COVID-19 unit due to the virus.
The local positivity rate rose from 2.55% on Tuesday to 2.79% on Wednesday. As of Wednesday evening, 122 tests were pending results — a rise from the 116 tests pending results on Tuesday.
Ketchikan on Wednesday was still at Community Risk Level 3 (High) — the third tier of a four-tiered risk level system — with the local number of community spread cases in the past week falling in line with the requirements for Level 2 (Moderate) and the positivity rate aligning with the current risk level (Level 3).
Ketchikan School District update
Schoenbar Middle School and Ketchikan High School have each identified cases of COVID-19 in the past week. In response, Schoenbar closed to in-person learning on Tuesday and Wednesday and will return to regular Smart Start Level 2 operations on Thursday; Kayhi has not been closed due to a recent case.
“Over the last few days, Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District was notified of several positive COVID-19 cases between Ketchikan High School and Schoenbar Middle School,” read a district announcement released Wednesday evening. “As indicated by information gathered through contact tracing investigations to date, we believe these cases to be the result of known positives, and close contacts have been identified and asked to quarantine.”
At Smart Start Level 2, in which the district's Medium Risk 50% Capacity Plan is in operation, students attend in-person classes in smaller groups, and increased social distancing is observed.
The result has been fewer staff and students being identified as close contacts and having to quarantine, according to the district announcement, which added that “with guidance from Public Health, the District was able to limit closures of Ketchikan High School” and reopen Schoenbar on Thursday.
“We strongly encourage students, staff, parents, and the community to assist us in limiting exposure to others by completing the full quarantine period as directed by Public Health, isolating and getting tested if you experience any symptoms, and maintaining recommended health and safety protocols to the greatest extent possible,” the release noted.
Statewide case information
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced the virus-related death of an Anchorage man in his 60s on Tuesday.
The death is the 146th recorded in Anchorage during the pandemic thus far.
Alaska recorded its lowest single-day case total since September on Tuesday, after recording less than 100 cases for the first time since fall on Sunday, according to DHSS.
Cases and hospitalizations peaked in early December, and have been on a steady decline since late December.
As of Tuesday, 32 Alaskans were hospitalized for reasons related to the coronavirus, making up 3.8% of all hospitalizations in the state that day.
Two of the hospitalized individuals were using ventilators, leaving 314 ventilators available in Alaska hospitals, according to the DHSS COVID-19 dashboard.
DHSS data on Tuesday showed that Alaskans aged between 20 and 29 years old have accounted for more than 11,000 of the state's resident cases, while Alaskans over the age of 80 have contributed less than 1,000 cases to the state's total.
Alaska's overall average daily case rate (the average number of new cases counted per 100,000 population during two weeks) dropped from 18.1 to 16.66 on Tuesday. The southern Southeast region's average daily case rate also dropped for the first time in a week, from 11.11 on Monday to 10.03 on Tuesday, per DHSS.
Both southern Southeast and Alaska as a whole were at the high alert level on Tuesday — southern Southeast since early this month, and Alaska since mid-September.
Northern Southeast had the lowest average daily case rate (2.79) in the state on Tuesday. The area's rate was the lowest it has been since mid-July.
As of midnight Tuesday, DHSS reported the following COVID-19 statistics:
New cases on Tuesday: 37 resident cases and three nonresident cases (40 total).
Areas to record cases on Tuesday: Wasilla (13), Anchorage (nine), Fairbanks (six), the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (three), and Cordova, Seward, Soldotna, North Pole, Utqiagvik, and Ketchikan (one apiece).
Nonresident case locations: Two nonresident cases involving seafood industry workers were attributed to Unalaska. Anchorage recorded one case that was still under investigation on Tuesday.
Cumulative state cases: 56,977 (54,799 resident and 2,178 nonresident cases).
Total hospitalizations: 2,178.
Current hospitalizations: All but one of the 32 hospitalizations on Tuesday involved patients who had tested positive for COVID-19. The other hospitalizations involved individuals who were still under investigation for COVID-19.
New deaths: 1.
Total deaths: 289 (286 residents and two nonresidents).
Statewide tests conducted: 1,611,971.
Statewide risk level: High.
Statewide average daily case rate: 16.66
Statewide positivity rate across the past seven days: 2.42%.
More than 199,000 COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Alaska as of Wednesday afternoon.
Of the 199,148 Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines given in Alaska, 6,221 were administered in the southern Southeast area, DHSS vaccine data showed on Wednesday.
While the majority (roughly 113,800) of Alaska's vaccines have been the Pfizer product, most of the innoculations given in southern Southeast have been with the Moderna vaccine.
According to DHSS, Feb. 10 was the most heavily(-) vaccinated day in southern Southeast, with a total of 322 doses (292 Moderna and 30 Pfizer) administered.
About 2,400 Alaskans aged 65 or older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in southern Southeast.
—Compiled by Daily News Staff Writer Raegan Miller