KETCHIKAN (KDN) — A Ketchikan High School student tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, prompting the closure of the school on Thursday, according to a press release from the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center.
Kayhi also will be closed on Friday, as previously scheduled.
The student was symptomatic and was tested at a local clinic, according to an EOC announcement, which added that the case was under investigation as to the source. The person was directed to isolate. Health care providers are monitoring the individual.
Because of the positive case involving a Kayhi student, Ketchikan School District offices and the on-site preschool at Kayhi also will be closed the remainder of the week, according to the EOC.
“As Public Health officials complete the contact tracing investigation, more information will be made available on the status of the school,” stated the EOC announcement.
As per protocol, the entire school will be closed for a minimum of 24 hours, according to a press release from KSD Superintendent Beth Lougee. The next steps will be for Ketchikan Pest Control to disinfect the Kayhi building before a "deep clean" performed by custodial workers.
“We appreciate everyone’s cooperation while we prepare our school for re-opening,” Lougee said in the prepared statement.
The total number of local cases tallied since the pandemic began in March was 80 as of Wednesday evening.
Additionally, because the local positivity rate had dropped below 1% during the past week, the Ketchikan EOC reduced the local COVID-19 risk level to low on Wednesday.
The risk level had been moderate for a week after a cluster of eight cases were connected to a single outbreak last week, according to the EOC announcement.
Four new deaths were recorded in Alaska on Tuesday, although the state Department of Health and Social Services did not report on Wednesday when the deaths occurred.
The deaths were noted as recent in DHSS' Wednesday case summary. Three of the deaths involved Anchorage residents: A woman in her 20s, a man in his 80s and a man in his 70s.
The death of a Juneau woman in her 60s also was recorded on Tuesday, bringing the state's total number of COVID-19 deaths to 64.
Statewide case information
Tuesday marked three straight weeks of cases hovering above 100 each day, according to DHSS.
Only one of the 144 cases counted on Tuesday involved a nonresident. The case was attributed to Anchorage and involved a seafood industry worker, according to DHSS.
Nonresident cases in Alaska numbered 1,012 as of midnight Tuesday, with 386 cases considered active at that time.
Areas to tally resident cases on Tuesday were Anchorage (89); Fairbanks and Eagle River (both 11); Juneau (five); Utqiagvik and the Nome Census Area (four apiece); Kotzebue (three); Chugiak, North Pole and Wasilla (two apiece); and Bethel, Fritz Creek, Homer, Palmer, Sitka, Soldotna, the Bethel Census Area, Northwest Arctic Borough, the Kenai Peninsula Borough south, and the combined Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula boroughs (one each).
As of midnight Tuesday, 4,783 of the 10,171 resident cases tallied in Alaska were considered active, according to DHSS.
COVID-19 and state schools
Seventeen schools in Kenai Peninsula Borough School District moved to remote learning on Tuesday in response to an increase of cases in that area.
According to a KPBSD statement, the decision was made by examining the number of recent cases, the seven-day daily case average for the area and guidance from DHSS.
Affected schools include Aurora Borealis Charter School, Kaleidoscope Charter, K-Beach Elementary, Kenai Alternative School, Kenai Central High School, Kenai Middle School, Mountain View Elementary School, Nikiski Middle-High School, Nikiski North Star Elementary, Redoubt Elementary, River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna Elementary, Soldotna Montessori Charter School, Sterling Elementary and Tustumena Elementary School.
Kindergarten and special education students will continue to learn on-site, according to the district announcement.
The statement noted that "in the past few days in the central peninsula alone," more than 63 staff and students had been quarantined in connection to Nikiski Middle-High School, Skyview Middle School, Nikiski North Star Elementary and Redoubt Elementary.
Additionally, classes at Houston Junior Senior High School in the Matanuska-Susitna School District continued Wednesday after the school announced a confirmed case of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
One class was moved to remote learning as contact tracing was underway, according to Alaska's News Source, which cited information sent to students and families from the school's principal.
Since March, Alaska has tallied 345 hospitalizations (seven involving nonresidents), according to DHSS.
As of Tuesday, 56 Alaskans were hospitalized around the state. Forty of these hospitalizations involved individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, while the remaining 16 hospitalizations involved people under investigation for the virus.
Seven of the 56 Alaskans who were hospitalized on Tuesday were using ventilators, according to DHSS.
Statewide risk level
Just one day shy of a month of being at a high risk level, Alaska hit another all-time high average daily case rate on Tuesday.
The state's risk level is set by the number of new cases recorded per 100,000 state residents during a rolling 14-day period.
On Tuesday, the average daily case rate was 21.82, up from Monday's rate of 21.49 cases.
When 10 or more new cases are tallied per 100,000 residents, the state's risk level is high.
An individual community may set its own risk level, independent of the state.
A total of 16,673 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Alaska, according to DHSS. The statewide positivity rate is 4.48% across the past seven days, down from Monday's rate of 4.62%.
In Ketchikan, 18,660 tests had been conducted as of Wednesday evening. At that time, 130 tests were pending results. The local positivity rate was 0.80%.