KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Ketchikan Public Health officials on Wednesday logged five new cases in the community, while two individuals were in the COVID-19 unit at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

According to the community data dashboard managed by Public Health, 49 local cases were active on Wednesday.

In the past seven days, 45 new cases have been counted in Ketchikan.

Ketchikan's seven-day average count of newly detected cases per 100,000 people was 329.02 on Wednesday, according to the dashboard.

Prince of Wales Island update

Three COVID-19 cases were recorded on Prince of Wales Island on Tuesday, according to a message recorded that evening on the Craig Public Health COVID-19 information hotline.

"Two of the cases are residents of Craig," the hotline stated. "Their case investigations remain under investigation."

The third case, attributed to secondary spread, involves a resident of a POW community with fewer than 1,000 residents.

Of POW's cumulative 416 cases, six were active as of Tuesday evening, according to Craig Public Health.

COVID-19 in Alaska

During a virtual question-and-answer session held via Facebook on Wednesday, Alaska's health officials addressed topics including COVID-19 reinfections, and vaccination as a piece of layer mitigation.

DHSS Epidemiologist Louisa Castrodale said that a case is considered to be a second infection if it occurs 90 days after the individual first tested positive for COVID-19.

"It's really interesting to think about ... what a repeat infection means immunologically for that person," she said.

Castrodale said that "there's a lot of interest" in understanding trends regarding the symptoms or sources of infection in the cases of individuals who contract COVID-19 a second time.

And as more of the state's population tests positive during the ongoing pandemic, she said that reinfections will become more common as the number of previously infected individuals also grows.

"Saying that, and looking at our surges, we see people who were a case during the last surge, and here they are, 12 months later, and they're another case," Castrodale said.

DHSS plans to include further information about COVID-19 reinfections in future bulletins and reports.

Also speaking during the same question-and-answer event was State Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin advocated for the use of layered mitigation measures, as well as vaccination.

McLaughlin said that vaccination is "just another layer of protection to help boost your immune system."

People who have already had COVID-19 should still be vaccinated, McLaughlin said, because it could decrease their risk of another infection.

McLaughlin also noted that "non-pharmaceutical mitigation measures" remain an important tool in the pandemic. This includes mask-wearing and social distancing, as well as keeping track of one's close contacts, testing when not feeling well and keeping to well-ventilated areas.

Statewide case information

Areas with 10 or more newly reported cases on Tuesday include Anchorage (383), Wasilla (190), Fairbanks (166), Palmer (78), North Pole (47), Soldotna (40), Juneau (39), the Bethel Census Area (38), Eagle River (34), Kenai (22), Chugiak and Homer (15 each), Big Lake and the combined Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula Borough (13 each), and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area and the Kusilvak Census Area (11 each).

Other Southeast communities with new cases included Ketchikan (nine); and Haines, Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon and the Prince of Wales Hyder Census Area (one each).

Nonresident cases were identified in Anchorage and Kotzebue (seven apiece); Fairbanks (two); and Homer, Prudhoe Bay and Wasilla (one each), according to DHSS.

In the seven days leading up to Tuesday, 42,439 COVID-19 tests were conducted in Alaska. Since the start of the pandemic, 3,172,922 tests have been administered statewide.

Vaccination update

As of midnight Tuesday, 64% of eligible Alaskans had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 58.8% were considered to be fully vaccinated at that time.

The Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula Borough had the highest rate of residents with at least one dose of a vaccine — 93% — on Wednesday, followed by the Aleutians East Borough with 89%.

Online DHSS information showed that the other areas ranking in the top-10 most-vaccinated boroughs or census areas included:

• Skagway Municipality: 87%.

• Nome Census Area 86%.

• Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 85%.

• Kusilvak Census Area: 85%.

• Sitka City and Borough: 84%.

• Juneau City and Borough: 84%.

• Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon: 82%.

• Bethel Census Area: 81%.

According to DHSS, 72% of Ketchikan Gateway Borough residents aged 12 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine by Wednesday. That rate was just below both the Kodiak Island Borough and Denali Borough (both 74%), tied with the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, and just higher than the Northwest Arctic Borough (70%).

The Southeast Fairbanks Census Area had the lowest percentage of eligible residents with at least one dose (38%), while the North Slope Borough had the second-lowest rate (42%).

Hospital status information

A total of 220 Alaskans were hospitalized for reasons relating to COVID-19 as of midnight Tuesday — 204 of those patients had confirmed virus cases, while 16 were still being investigated for the virus — making up nearly 20% of all hospitalized patients in the state at that time.

Of those individuals, 26 were using ventilators, according to DHSS information.

Alaska Regional Hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center, Central Peninsula Hospital and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital all reported adult-level intensive care units that were in the "closed" status on Wednesday, according to a DHSS hospital information dashboard.

ICUs were "near capacity" at Alaska Native Medical Center, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and St. Elias Hospital.

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center was one of five facilities to report open adult ICUs on Wednesday, according to the DHSS dashboard. The other four hospitals included Bartlett Regional Hospital, Bassett Army Community Hospital, Southern Peninsula Hospital and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hospital.

— Compiled by Daily News Staff Writer Raegan Miller