KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Alaska continued to record new positive test results for the novel coronavirus on Friday and Saturday, with 33 cases involving Alaskans and four involving nonresidents.
One of the nonresidents is an individual in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census District, according to information released Sunday by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. DHSS reported that individual was involved in industry, but did not release further details.
As of early Sunday evening, no new positive results were reported in the Ketchikan area during the weekend.
The most recent case involving a Ketchikan resident was reported on Thursday, and involved an individual who tested positive on Wednesday through a health care provider in Homer while traveling for work, according to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center.
Ketchikan’s case count stands at 25. According to the EOC, 21 of the individuals reside or are staying in Ketchikan.
Anchorage continued to post the most new positive results on Friday and Saturday, posting a total of 13 new cases involving Alaskans on those days.
North Pole and Fairbanks each posted five new positive results involving Alaskans during that two-day period, while Homer and Sitka both recorded two positives, according to DHSS data. One new positive result each were recorded in the Bristol Bay Borough, Palmer, Big Lake , Eagle River, Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area and Southern Kenai Peninsula areas.
In addition to the nonresident case in the POW/Hyder Census Area, positive results for COVID-19 were recorded during the two-day period in the Anchorage (other industry) Fairbanks North Star Borough (mining) and Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area (seafood industry). To date, there have been 106 positive test results involving nonresidents since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Alaska in early March.
As of midnight Saturday, 755 cases involving Alaskans have been recorded, according to DHSS.
There were 268 active cases as of that time, marking the fifth straight day with a record number of active cases for Alaskans.
A total of 475 individuals are counted as having recovered from COVID-19. Twelve Alaskans have died. The most recent death was reported on June 11, according to DHSS data.
One statistic that is watched closely by the Dunleavy administration is the number of people who are hospitalized. Fifteen people were hospitalized on Saturday in Alaska as either COVID-19 positive or as a “person under investigation” for the disease, according to DHSS. The number of hospitalizations has been over 20 in June, while the total number of hospitalizations to date is 61.
DHSS data shows 827 inpatient beds and 103 ICU beds available statewide as of Saturday.
Also on Saturday, the state’s COVID-19 unified command published an announcement emphasizing that travelers arriving in Alaska by land or sea must complete a traveler declarations form.
The document is the same form that travelers arriving in Alaska by air are required to provide upon arrival, according to the Unified Command.
“Those who arrive in Alaska by land or sea may not be greeted by COVID-19 screening and testing facilities like those established within Alaska's airports, but these travelers are required to provide test result information and complete travel declaration forms in accordance with Health Mandate 10,” the announcement states.
New AMHS protocols
On Sunday evening, the Alaska Marine Highway System announced new protocols to minimize the spread of COVID-19 aboard AMHS ferries.
The protocols include the following:
• All passengers over the age of 2 on the Kennicott, Matanuska and Tustumena are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours before boarding.
• All passengers on the Lituya and LeConte must complete a Passenger Screening Form before boarding. “They must respond ‘no’ to all questions” to be able to travel aboard the ferries.
• All passengers boarding an AMHS ferry in Bellingham, Washington, “must complete the mandatory State of Alaska Travel Declaration Form and provide these to AMHS crew at boarding. AMHS passengers must be able to select #1 (a) on the declaration form.
• All passengers over the age of 2, in addition to crew members are required to wear face coverings aboard the Kennicott, Matanuska, Tustumena, LeConte and Lituya except when in a stateroom, in a designated smoking area or while eating. “Accommodations will be made for passengers who are unable to wear a face covering due to medical conditions.”
• “Passengers and crew will not be allowed to go ashore during port calls. Passengers will be allowed ashore only upon arrival at their destination port.”
• All passengers and crew will practice social distancing.
The AMHS announcement noted that if passengers did not have testing available in their locations, an FDA-authorized home test may be an option. The announcement cited the Pixel by LabCorp and Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit as options.
The new AMHS protocols follow a COVID-19 issue on the Tustumena’s first voyage after returning to service on June 2. The ferry has been in Homer since June 8 after a crew member tested positive for COVID-19 at Dutch Harbor. Another six crew members tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Tustumena now is scheduled to restart service on June 27, according to AMHS. The Kennicott is set to start service on Thursday, while the Matanuska will start service on July 1.