KETCHIKAN (KDN) — No new positive test results for COVID-19 were announced by the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center on Saturday or Sunday, although local cases announced earlier by the EOC appeared in the state’s record-breaking counts that were reported this weekend.
On Sunday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a new series of health orders, including a continuation of the intrastate travel rules, and intrastate travel rules that allow local communities to enact travel restrictions in specific circumstances.
As of early Sunday evening, Ketchikan had 50 active cases of COVID-19, a number that had remained unchanged since Friday and represents a substantial decrease from the peak of 74 active cases recorded on Nov. 9.
One local person was in the hospital as of Sunday, and the Community Risk Level remained at Level 3-High.
The statewide alert level remained at high throughout the weekend, with Alaska on Saturday recording an average daily case rate of 68.03 cases per 100,000 population over 14 days, up from 65.16 on Friday.
The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region had the highest average daily case rate in Alaska by far on Saturday, with 141.44. The southern Southeast Alaska region that includes Ketchikan had an average daily case rate of 31.53 on Saturday, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
DHSS on Saturday posted that a record-shattering 745 cases had been reported statewide on Friday. That was followed on Sunday by the DHSS announcement that another 654 cases had been tallied on Saturday.
Of the 1,399 cases recorded during that two-day period, 1,378 involved Alaska residents.
Anchorage recorded 772 of those 1,378 resident cases recorded on Friday and Saturday, followed by Fairbanks with 121.
Other areas with double-digit increases were Eagle River (74 cases), Wasilla (63), Soldotna (39), Juneau (30), North Pole (25), Kenai (21), Chugiak and the Bethel Census Area (18 each), Ketchikan and Homer (16 each), Delta Junction and Sitka (14 each), Kodiak (13) and Palmer (12).
Other areas in Southeast Alaska to have positive test results recorded by the state on Friday and/or Saturday were Metlakatla (3 cases); and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Petersburg and Wrangell (one each).
As of midnight Saturday, Alaska had recorded a total of 22,662 resident cases since the pandemic began in March. Another 1,152 cases involving nonresidents have been recorded, including 21 combined on Friday and Saturday.
Of those 21 nonresident cases recorded during the two-day period, the state indicated that 16 were under investigation as to location and industry. DHSS also was working to determine the industries involved with two nonresident cases in Anchorage and one apiece in Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay.
One nonresident case involved a seafood industry working in the Aleutians East Borough.
DHSS recorded one death on Friday, involving an Anchorage man in his 60s. To date, 98 Alaskan deaths have been recorded.
A record 125 people diagnosed with COVID-19 were in hospitals statewide on Saturday, according to DHSS. Another 23 patients were hospitalized as under investigation for the coronavirus.
During the previous seven days, there had been about 26,151 tests conducted for COVID-19 across Alaska, with a positivity rate of 8.35%, according to DHSS.
The positivity rate in Ketchikan during the previous seven days was 3.38%, according to the Ketchikan EOC.
On Sunday, Gov. Dunleavy followed up on his recent extension of the public health emergency disaster declaration with replacements to the COVID-19 health mandates that originally were issued in March.
The replacement health orders that become effective on Monday include a continuation of the intrastate travel rules that require resident and nonresident travelers arriving in Alaska from out-of state to comply with one of the available testing and/or quarantine protocols.
In addition, there are four new health orders — one of which pertains to intrastate travel.
This order — COVID-19 Outbreak Health Order No. 8 — give guidance and requirements for travel between communities located off the road system or the Alaska Marine Highway System, according to information from the governor’s office.
Health Order No. 8 allows local communities to enact travel restrictions beginning on Monday, with exceptions for a variety of situations such as critical infrastructure workers and emergency travel by law enforcement, health care and state Office of Children’s Services workers. Communities also may not prevent local residents from returning home, participating in travel for subsistence hunting and fishing, or participating in travel for a “critical personal need,” but may enact protective measures to mitigate potential introduction/spread of the virus,” according to the order.
Other aspects of the instrastate travel order hinge upon whether a location is on the road system — as defined as being connected by a road to the Seward, Parks, Klondike, Richardson, Sterling, Glenn, Haines or Top of the World Highway — or is a community served by the Alaska Marine Highway or Inter-Island Ferry Authority.
In general, the instrastate health order states that:
• Travelers who are in a community on the road system or the AMHS/IFA for less than 72 hours are recommended to test for COVID-19 five days after arrival at final destination and follow strict social distancing until negative results are received, or follow strict social distancing for 14 days at final destination if no test was taken.
• Travelers who are in a road system or AMHS/IFA community for more than 72 hours should get a molecular COVID-19 test within 72 hours before traveling to a community off the road system or the AMHS and shouldn’t start travel until a negative test is received. if the traveler can’t delay return travel until the test result is available, the traveler must follow strict social distancing until they receive a negative result.
• Anyone currently infected with COVID-19 must not travel to a community off the road system or AMHS/IFA until they are cleared from isolation by a medical professional.
• Asymptomatic individuals who have recovered from a documented COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days are exempt from travel testing.
All of the new heath orders are posted on the State of Alaska COVID-19 information website at https://covid19.alaska.gov/health-order/.