KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Sixty-six new positive COVID-19 results — 65 involving Alaskans — were recorded in Alaska on Tuesday.
All but one of the new cases involved Alaskans, according to a Wednesday case summary from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
No new cases were recorded in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough on Monday or Tuesday, according to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center as 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Since March, Ketchikan has tallied 66 total cases. Fifty-four of these cases have involved Ketchikan residents or those residing in Ketchikan at the time of testing. The remaining 12 cases all involve people who traveled through Ketchikan after being tested locally. As of Wednesday evening, two cases were active.
Areas recording resident cases on Tuesday included Anchorage (34); Juneau (11); Fairbanks (seven); North Pole (three); Douglas and Soldotna (two each); and one each in Homer, Metlakatla, the Nome Census Area, Utqiagvik and the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
Of the 5,896 resident cases counted in Alaska, 3,759 were still active as of midnight Tuesday, according to DHSS.
The sole nonresident case was counted in Prudhoe Bay and involved an oil industry worker, according to DHSS. As of midnight Tuesday, 894 nonresident cases of COVID-19 had been tallied in Alaska, with 691 of those cases being active.
Four new hospitalizations were recorded Wednesday, bringing the state’s cumulative count of resident hospitalizations to 245. Forty Alaskans were currently hospitalized due to circumstances related to COVID-19 on Wednesday; 37 as patients positive for the virus, and three as people under investigation for COVID-19. The number of Alaskans utilizing ventilation rose from eight to 10 on Wednesday, stated DHSS information.
No new deaths were counted on Wednesday. The total number of Alaskan COVID-19 deaths remained 42.
The DHSS included updates on the most recent Alaska outbreaks in its case summary.
The Anchorage and Palmer Pioneer Homes have not reported new cases involving staff or residents in more than two weeks, DHSS information stated. With the exception of one hospitalization, all cases are considered to be recovered. DHSS did not indicate whether the resident hospitalization was connected to either the Anchorage or Palmer facility. Weekly testing of staff, as well as that of symptomatic residents, will continue at both Pioneer Home sites.
No staff at the Fairbanks Pioneer Home have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days, while residents at the home have not tested positive for about a week, according to DHSS. Testing will continue on a weekly basis until all tests there yield negative results. Two cases at the home were active at the time of the update.
Regular testing continues at the McLaughlin Youth Center in Anchorage, which first reported cases late last month. No new cases were identified in the past seven days, leaving MYC with a total of 24 cases; 15 involving youth residents and nine involving facility staff. Visitation at the center remains suspended, although new residents are being admitted after showing two negative test results and completing a 14-day quarantine.
Across Alaska, 391,937 tests have been administered. During the past seven days, the rate of positive test results has been 2.25%.
Meanwhile, in Ketchikan, local health officials have administered 14,849 cumulative tests, according to the EOC. Results are pending from 158 tests.
During a Wednesday afternoon briefing, a team of epidemiologists from DHSS answered questions from the public.
When asked about why testing numbers have dropped from earlier this summer, clinical pharmacologist Coleman Cutchins identified two reasons for the drop.
“If you’ve been watching the dashboard, there’s always kind of this three-day lag now where it doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of testing,” Cutchins said, attributing the decline in testing numbers to a change in the department’s data collection methods.
Until recently, tests had not been reported on the DHSS dashboard by the day that they were collected, but rather, the day that a positive result was received.
Cutchins also said that “we’re kind of in that shoulder season” where seasonal workers and travelers were not yielding the need for more testing.
Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink added that she believed Alaskans are experiencing “COVID fatigue,” stemming from a combination of shying away from the “brain biopsy” test, in which a sample needs to be taken from deep in the nasal canal, and having to go through the testing process.
“Please don’t have a fear of the test,” Zink said, noting that that type of test is not often conducted at this time.
In tandem with DHSS, the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has introduced the “Safe Travels” program, which culls information related to traveler, nonresident and resident traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The information delivered through the program is aligned with the mandates and guidelines currently in place by state officials, and aims to make traveling simpler within Alaska.
The information may be accessed at www.alaskasafetravels.com.