KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Ketchikan Public Health officials reported nine new COVID-19 cases on Thursday evening, according to an update of the community's virus information dashboard.

One individual was in the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center COVID-19 unit on Thursday.

A total of 78 cases were active in Ketchikan on Thursday, the dashboard showed.

Ketchikan's seven-day average total of new cases identified per 100,000 population was 511.81.

In the past seven days, 70 cases have been charted, according to the dashboard.

Metlakatla update

With two new positive COVID-19 cases reported by the Annette Island Service Unit on Thursday, Metlakatla moved to Community Alert Level 2, according to an evening announcement from the Metlakatla Indian Community.

"Contact tracing is complete," the notice read. "There is so lockdown or limit on gatherings at this time."

In Metlakatla, Community Alert Level 2 indicates that between two and three cases have been reported in the past seven days.

No lockdown is imposed at that level if "cases are found to be related and contact tracing efforts are minimal and 'contained' within 12 ours," according to MIC.

As of Thursday evening, three cases were active in Metlakatla, and one case involving a resident not in Metlakatla was still active. To date, 78 cases have been counted in Metlakatla, according to the MIC notice.

Prince of Wales Island update

One new virus case was counted on Prince of Wales Island on Wednesday, according to a late afternoon message recorded on the Craig Public Health COVID-19 hotline.

The case involved a resident of a POW community with fewer than 1000 people. The source of the case was community spread, according to the message.

Since the start of the pandemic, POW has tallied 411 cases. Of those cases, four were active on Wednesday, according to Craig Public Health.

Statewide information update

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Wednesday counted five new resident virus deaths and 863 new cases — 842 involving state residents and 21 nonresident cases.

The deaths were all "recent," according to a daily case statement released by DHSS on Thursday afternoon.

The deceased Alaskans included an Anchorage woman in her 40s, a Soldotna man in his 50s, a Chugach Census Area woman in her 60s, a Soldotna man in his 70s and an Anchorage man aged 80 or older.

"Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones," the statement read.

To date, 569 Alaskans and 21 nonresidents have died of COVID-19.

Areas with 10 or more new resident cases logged by the state on Wednesday included Anchorage (247), Wasilla (105), Fairbanks (49), the Northwest Arctic Borough (43), Kenai (38), the Bethel Census Area (36), Soldotna (33), Palmer (31), Ketchikan (23), Eagle River (22), North Pole and Kodiak (19 each), Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon (16), Bethel (13), Valdez and Juneau (12 each), and the Kenai Peninsula Borough North (11).

Other communities in Southeast with new resident cases included Sitka (eight) and Haines (one), according to DHSS.

The 21 nonresident cases were counted in Kodiak (four); Anchorage, Fairbanks and Valdez (two); and Seward, Soldotna, Palmer, Wasilla, the North Slope Borough, the Northwest Arctic Borough and Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon (one each). Four cases were still being investigated by DHSS.

Statewide vaccination update

In the past seven days, 2,520 Alaskans received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials shared during a Thursday media briefing.

Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said that the number of people receiving their first dose is a "key indicator" of the state's vaccination rates.

"We want to get people initiated on their vaccine series," she said.

The Juneau region had the highest vaccination rate in Alaska on Wednesday, with 78.5% of eligible residents having at least one dose of a vaccine.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region had the second-highest rate of residents with at least one vaccine dose (75.3%) while Northern Southeast Alaska (a region including Skagway, Haines, Petersburg, Wrangell, Sitka and Yakutat) had a vaccination rate of 74.3%, the third highest in the state, according to DHSS information.

The Southern Southeast region that includes Ketchikan and the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area had a vaccination rate of 66.4% on Wednesday, the fifth-highest in Alaska. The region's rate measured just below Southwest Alaska (68%) and just above the Anchorage area (62.%), according to DHSS.

"Choosing to get vaccinated is the single most important action you can take to protect yourself and your community and to keep our economy strong," the Thursday DHSS statement read.

During the briefing, State Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin also expressed hope that Alaska's case rate is starting to decline, although more information about that potential trend will be available next week.

"But it feels like things have at least leveled out, and if not, maybe started to go in the right direction, which is the downward direction," he said.

In addition to recommending that Alaskans get a vaccine, he also noted the importance of "non-pharmaceutical mitigation measures," such as wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, social distancing, washing your hands and staying in well-ventilated areas.

"If people are not following those non-pharmaceutical mitigation measures, you're going to see more transmission," he said.

If receiving a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccine, it can take five weeks to become fully vaccinated, keeping non-pharmaceutical measures an important tool to prevent transmission as people become fully vaccinated.

Hospital status update

As of midnight Wednesday, 193 Alaskans were hospitalized due to COVID-19 around the state. Of those individuals, 180 had confirmed virus cases and another 13 were being investigated for the virus, according to DHSS information.

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center was one of four facilities reporting "open" adult intensive care units on a DHSS-maintained hospital information dashboard. The other three facilities included Bartlett Regional Hospital (Juneau), Bassett Army Community Hospital (Fort Wainwright) and Southern Peninsula Hospital (Homer).

A handful of hospitals had ICUs listed as "closed" on Thursday, including Alaska Native Medical Center (Anchorage), Providence Alaska Medical Center (Anchorage), Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hospital (Anchorage), Central Peninsula Hospital (Soldotna) and Mat-Su Regional Medical Center (Palmer).

Alaska Regional Hospital (Anchorage), Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (Fairbanks) and St. Elias Hospital (Anchorage) all had adult ICUs that were "near capacity," per the DHSS information.

— Compiled by Daily News Staff Writer Raegan Miller