KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Twelve new COVID-19 cases were added to the Ketchikan Public Health online virus data dashboard on Wednesday, while one person was in the COVID-19 unit at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 74 cases were active in Ketchikan, the dashboard showed.
Ketchikan Public Health officials have charted 69 cases in the past seven days and 114 cases in the past two weeks.
Ketchikan's seven-day average of newly counted cases per 100,000 population was 504.50, according to the dashboard.
On Oct. 6 in 2020, Ketchikan's Emergency Operations Center announced two new local cases, and the community's cumulative case total stood at 72. Three of those cases were active as of that time.
COVID-19 in Alaska
COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations are decreasing around the country, Alaska's State Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin said during a virtual question-and-answer session on social media Wednesday.
And while all areas of Alaska were still at the highest alert level on Tuesday, McLaughlin said, "We have seen a drop (in Alaska cases)," noting that this could be due to the hundreds of backlogged cases that were reported in recent days.
"We're at least leveled off, and we might be starting to see a true sign of decline," he said.
DHSS Division of Public Health Director Heidi Hedburg provided a report on how many of the contracted health care workers have arrived in Alaska on 90-day contracts to support strained hospitals facing capacity issues and staffing shortages.
According to Hedburg, 253 of the more than 400 health care workers are already working within facilities, with 142 are still being matched to a hospital and filling out final paperwork in Anchorage.
"So that is over half," Hedburg said. "We're looking pretty good. A total of 395 are in Alaska right now."
As of Thursday, the supporting health care workers have been sent to 20 locations: Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Regional Hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center, North Star Hospital, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Southern Peninsula Hospital, Central Peninsula Hospital, Bartlett Regional Hospital, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital, YK Delta Regional Hospital, SEARHC Wrangell Medical Center and SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital.
"All the hospitals had reported out that they feel the relief, their staff are able to have smaller ratios, that they are incredibly thankful for these relief workers coming up," Hedburg said.
Statewide vaccination rate
DHSS Communications Specialist Clinton Bennett on Wednesday confirmed that there had been a "discrepancy" in the state's count of the percentage of fully vaccinated Alaskans aged 12 and older.
On Monday, the DHSS vaccine data dashboard showed that 61.5% of Alaskans over the age of 12 had been fully vaccinated. On Tuesday, that rate dropped down to 58.3%.
"As part of our continuous data quality checks, the data team noticed a slight overcounting of age-specific fully-vaccinated rates, primarily for the 65+ population," Bennett wrote to the Daily News via email on Wednesday. "To correct this, the data team applied revisions to the dashboard code. This caused the fully vaccinated rates to go down between Monday and Tuesday for 12+ and 65+, but not for any of the 1+ (dose) rates, or for the fully vaccinated rate for all ages."
Bennett wrote that the rates have been adjusted and were correct by the time of Wednesday's dashboard update.
As of Wednesday, 58.4% of Alaskans aged 12 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to DHSS information.
"Since information is reported in real time, always note that the data is preliminary and subject to change, especially as a result of continuous data quality checks," he wrote.
Statewide case information
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 867 new cases and three new virus-related deaths on Tuesday.
According to a case summary published by DHSS on Wednesday evening, all three deaths were recent and involved Anchorage residents — two men in their 70s and a man in his 60s.
To date, 564 Alaskans and 21 nonresidents have died of COVID-19.
A day with fewer than 100 cases has not been counted since the end of July, according to online DHSS information. Of the cases counted on Tuesday, all but 10 involved Alaskans.
Areas with 10 or more new resident cases were Anchorage (362), Fairbanks (84), Eagle River (46), Wasilla (40), Soldotna (43), Kenai (37), the Bethel Census Area (32), North Pole (30), Kodiak and Palmer (17 each), Juneau (15), Chugiak (12), and Homer (11).
Other Southeast communities with new resident cases reported on Tuesday included Ketchikan (six), Petersburg and Sitka (four each), Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon (three), and Wrangell and the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area (one each), according to DHSS.
Nonresident cases were counted in Anchorage (three); and Kenai, Valdez, Petersburg, Kodiak and the Northwest Arctic Borough (one each). Two cases were still under investigation by DHSS.
Alaska's seven-day average of new cases counted in the past seven days was 839.5 on Tuesday, more than eight times higher than the baseline for DHSS' high risk level status. Alaska has not dropped below the high risk level since mid-July.
Hospital status update
COVID-19 made up about 19% of all hospitalizations in Alaska on Tuesday, according to DHSS.
As of midnight Tuesday, 184 Alaskans were hospitalized and COVID-19 positive, while another 15 were hospitalized with suspected cases of the virus.
Three Alaska hospitals reported "closed" intensive care units, including Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Central Peninsula Hospital and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Hospital, according to the DHSS hospital information dashboard.
ICUs were "near capacity" at Providence Alaska Medical Center, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and St. Elias Hospital.
Among the facilities listed with "open" adult ICUs were PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center, Bartlett Regional Hospital, Alaska Regional Hospital, Alaska Native Medical Center, Bassett Army Community Hospital and Southern Peninsula Hospital, per DHSS.
— Compiled by Daily News Staff Writer Raegan Miller