KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Eight new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Ketchikan on Tuesday, with half of those cases still pending investigation as of Tuesday evening's announcement from the local Emergency Operations Center.
Six of the cases involved individuals who sought testing at local clinics after experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Two of the cases involved people who were tested prior to a medical procedure. As of Tuesday evening, one of those individuals was symptomatic and the other was asymptomatic.
“Four of the positives were found to be close contacts of previous known positive(s), and four of them are still under investigation,” the EOC release noted.
To date, Ketchikan has tallied 367 cases, 349 of which have involved Ketchikan residents or individuals who stayed in Ketchikan after being tested. The other 18 cases involved people who continued to travel through Ketchikan after testing positive for the virus.
A little less than two weeks after shifting from Community Risk Level 2 (Moderate), Ketchikan was still at Risk Level 3 (High). And although the number of community spread cases in the past seven days was still aligned with the requirements for Level 1 (Low), the local positivity rate on Tuesday was 2.55%, still above the 2% baseline to return to Level 2 (Moderate).
As of Tuesday evening, 116 tests were pending results. Tests that were conducted either on or before Sunday at the Berth 3 drive-up testing site had been processed by Tuesday. Individuals who had not been contacted by Tuesday received a negative test result.
The Schoenbar Middle School building will remain closed for in-person learning on Wednesday, according to an evening press release from the Ketchikan School District.
The school was closed initially on Tuesday for in-person learning due to a positive case announced late Monday evening.
The extension of that closure is "due to continued pending contact investigations and an additional positive case," the release stated.
Students will attend school via Schoenbar's virtual learning plan.
Statewide case information
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Tuesday announced 476 new cases tallied on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday combined — and Alaska’s single-day case total on Monday dropped into the double-digits for the first time since September, with 59 new cases identified that day.
According to the Tuesday case summary, 427 of the positive test results counted during the long weekend were resident cases and 49 were nonresident cases.
DHSS also announced six virus-related deaths over the weekend.
Five of the deaths involved Alaskans aged 80 or older (a Utqiagvik woman, a Bethel man, an Anchorage woman, a Palmer man and a Wasilla man). One death involved a Wasilla woman in her 60s.
The DHSS summary noted that all six of these deaths were recorded as COVID-19 related after the standard review of death certificates.
As of midnight Monday, southern Southeast Alaska was still at the “high” statewide COVID-19 alert level, where it has been since Feb. 7.
Southern Southeast’s average daily case rate — defined as the average tally of newly detected cases per 100,000 individuals during 14 days — was 11.11 on Monday, the highest it has been since mid-November, according to DHSS data.
Only three areas of Alaska were at the intermediate alert status (with an average daily case rate of between five and 10) on Monday: Juneau (6.92), the Kenai Peninsula Borough (6.12) and the Northwest region (6.5).
Northern Southeast Alaska, with an average daily case rate of 4.19, was the only region of the state at the low alert level on Monday.
Vaccines continued to be distributed during the holiday weekend, with 193,614 total shots administered to date during the state’s vaccine rollout. Of those shots, 65,310 were second doses, according to the DHSS vaccine data dashboard.
About 110,600 of the vaccines distributed have been the Pfizer-BioNTech product, while 79,900 have been Moderna shots.
As of midnight Monday, DHSS reported the following COVID-19 statistics:
New cases from Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday combined: 427 resident cases and 49 nonresident cases.
Areas to record 10 or more new cases: Anchorage (137), Wasilla (100), Palmer (45), Unalaska (31), North Pole (16), and Eagle River (10).
Southeast areas with new resident cases recorded by DHSS: Ketchikan (five), Juneau (four), Skagway (two), and Sitka (one).
Nonresident case locations: Thirty-seven nonresident cases (with 34 involving seafood industry workers) were counted in Unalaska. Two seafood industry-related cases were recorded in the Aleutians East Borough and one was tallied in Anchorage. Five cases related to the oil industry were attributed to the North Slope Borough. Kodiak and Juneau both counted one nonresident case that remained under investigation on Monday. Two nonresident cases were pending further investigation by DHSS.
Cumulative state cases: 56,913 (54,736 resident cases and 2,177 nonresident).
Total hospitalizations: 1,233.
Current hospitalizations: Forty-three — 28 involving Alaskans who were positive for COVID-19, and 15 involving patients who were still being investigated for virus positivity. About 3.5% of all Alaska hospitalizations on Monday were related to COVID-19.
New deaths: 6.
Total deaths: 287 resident deaths and two nonresident deaths.
Statewide tests conducted: 1,605,827.
Statewide risk level: High.
Statewide average daily case rate: 18.1, down from 18.59 on Sunday.
Statewide positivity rate across the past seven days: 2.12%.
State facilities update
Since DHSS’ last update on Feb. 9, one new case of COVID-19 has been detected within the Fairbanks Pioneer Home facility.
The case involved a staff member, according to the DHSS statement. All other staff members and close contacts of the positive individual have been tested and received negative results.
The case at the Fairbanks Pioneer Home was the only active case at a state Pioneer Home facility on Tuesday.
— Compiled by Daily News Staff Writer Raegan Miller