KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Five new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ketchikan on Monday, along with one new local hospitalization, according to a press release from the local Emergency Operations Center.
Two of the five cases were reported through the Ketchikan International Airport traveler testing site — one involving an individual who arrived on Friday, and one on Saturday. Both of those individuals were asymptomatic on Monday, per the EOC. Contact tracing investigations for each case were ongoing.
A recent traveler tested positive at the Berth 3 drive-up testing clinic on Thursday, after arriving in Ketchikan on Dec. 26 and testing negative at the traveler testing site. The individual was asymptomatic on Monday evening, and a contact tracing investigation was open, according to the EOC.
One individual was tested at a local clinic on Monday due to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The individual was found to be a close contact of a known positive case, according to the release. The contact tracing investigation was completed.
Also on Monday, an individual was tested at a local clinic for screening prior to a medical appointment. The individual was asymptomatic. The source of the case was pending EOC investigation on Monday, according to the press release.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Ketchikan had counted 273 positive test results throughout the ongoing pandemic (257 of those cases involving individuals who remained in Ketchikan after testing).
Twenty cases were categorized as active on Monday.
Cumulatively, 28,847 COVID-19 tests have been collected in Ketchikan, with 144 tests awaiting results on Monday, according to the EOC.
Tests collected on or before Thursday at the Berth 3 drive-up testing site have been processed, according to the EOC. Individuals who have not been contacted tested negative.
The local positivity rate was 1.44% on Monday.
Ketchikan remained at Community Risk Level 2 (Moderate), where it has been since Nov. 30.
Ketchikan High School case
A single case of COVID-19 was connected to Ketchikan High School on Monday.
"Immediately we began working closely with the Ketchikan EOC and public health to respond, and are taking all needed precautions to protect the health of our community, including assisting with identifying potential close contacts," read a Ketchikan School District press release.
The release did not note whether the case involved a student or staff member.
Kayhi will remain with no schedule changes on Tuesday.
The statement attributed the school remaining open to having "implemented our response and sanitation measures throughout the afternoon and into this evening."
COVID-19 in Alaska
Alaska's virus-related death toll rose by three on Sunday, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
All three deaths were recent and involved Alaskans in their 80s or older — a Soldotna woman, a Yukon-Kuskokwim Census Area woman and a Yukon-Kuskokwim Census Area man.
According to DHSS' daily case summary, Monday was the first day of a new system of reporting COVID-19 deaths in Alaska.
The summary stated that "counted deaths in Alaska now include both COVID-19 cases confirmed through a lab result, as well as probable deaths based on confirmed COVID-19 clinical and epidemiological criteria, as defined by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), with no confirmatory lab testing."
The DHSS statement continued that "the CDC considers 'cause of death' to be a best medical opinion."
The deaths recorded by DHSS on Monday are considered "probable deaths."
With the change to include probable deaths in the state's COVID-19 death total, Alaska is now aligned with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists' standards, which are informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the DHSS summary.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 217 Alaskans and one nonresident have died of the virus, per DHSS.
The majority of Alaska's COVID-19 deaths (123) have been concentrated in the Anchorage Municipality, with 120 in Anchorage, two in Eagle River and two in Chugiak.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough has recorded the state's second-highest total of virus deaths (20), with 18 in Fairbanks and two in North Pole, according to DHSS data.
As of midnight Sunday, DHSS reported the following COVID-19 statistics:
New cases on Sunday: 232 (227 resident cases and five nonresident cases).
Areas to record 10 or more cases on Sunday: Anchorage (81), Wasilla (30), Bethel (17), Fairbanks (14), Palmer (13), the Kusilvak Census Area (12), Eagle River (11), and the Bethel Census Area (10).
Southeast Alaska areas with new resident cases recorded by DHSS on Sunday: Petersburg and Haines each counted one new resident case.
Nonresident case locations: Three nonresident cases were under investigation as to location, and two were attributed to Anchorage.
Cumulative cases: 48,363 cases (46,812 resident and 1,551 nonresident).
Total hospitalizations: 1,033.
Current hospitalizations: 89. Of those current hospitalizations, 75 were of individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19, and 14 involved individuals still under investigation for the virus.
New deaths: 3.
Total number of deaths: 217 resident deaths and one nonresident death.
Statewide tests conducted: 1,297,498.
Statewide alert level: Alaska remained at a high alert level on Sunday, although the state's overall average daily case rate of 38.59 was the lowest it has been since Oct. 28, when it was 40.19.