One new COVID-19 case reported in Ketchikan on Tuesday was linked to community spread, according to a press release from the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center.
The individual, who was asymptomatic as of Tuesday evening, sought testing through a local clinic. The person was notified of the positive result and directed to isolate.
"During the course of the contact investigation, public health officials have determined that this case is not related to recent travel, or to a known positive case," stated the EOC release. "Therefore, this case has been determined to be community spread."
Ketchikan remained at a low risk level, at which outbreaks are rare, as of Tuesday evening.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Ketchikan's local case count stood at 68, according to the EOC. Of these cases, 56 involve Ketchikan residents or people who remained in Ketchikan after being tested. The other 12 cases involve individuals who traveled beyond Ketchikan after being tested locally. Two local cases remained active.
Additionally, one case was counted by DHSS this weekend, but has yet to be counted by the Ketchikan EOC. This case involves an individual who has a permanent address in Ketchikan but resides out of the state, according to EOC Public Information Officer Kacie Paxton. The Ketchikan EOC has not yet counted this case, nor has DHSS officially classified the case as a Ketchikan one, according to Paxton. No further information was available as of Tuesday evening.
Alaska recorded 43 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with only one of those cases involving a nonresident, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
With 22 cases, Anchorage accounted for half of the new cases reported Monday. Other areas that tallied new positive test results included Fairbanks and the Bethel Census Area (five each); Wasilla (four); the Kusilvak Census Area (two); and one each in Kodiak, Douglas, Utqiagvik and the combined Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula boroughs.
Active resident cases totaled 4,158, outnumbering the 2,193 cases reported to be recovered in the state. As of midnight Monday, a total of 6,395 resident cases of COVID-19 that have been counted to date, stated DHSS information.
The sole nonresident case was reported as being involved in the visitor industry in Ketchikan.
As of midnight Monday, nonresident cases in Alaska numbered 918, with 709 of those cases categorized as being active, according to DHSS.
No new hospitalizations were recorded in the state on Monday, leaving the cumulative count of hospitalizations at 252, with 44 Alaskans in state hospitals for reasons relating to the virus as of midnight Monday. Of the 44 individuals hospitalized, 42 were positive for COVID-19 and two were under investigation for the virus. Eight Alaskans are using ventilators, leaving 257 of the state's 286 ventilators available.
No new deaths were recorded. As of midnight Monday, 44 Alaskans had died of COVID-19.
Overall, Alaska remained at a high risk level on Monday, with 10.45 new cases being counted for every 100,000 state residents, according to DHSS. That number is up from 10.41 new cases per 100,000 Alaskans reported Sunday. The state may move back down to an intermediate level of risk when less than 10 cases are reported for that population sample.
Palmer High School closed on Tuesday when one COVID-19 case was detected in the school, according to the Anchorage Daily News. It was not immediately clear whether the case involved a student or a school staff member.
While the school was closed, students utilized online learning resources as part of the school's mitigation plan that was already in place.
As of Tuesday, a contact tracing investigation was underway to determine when the school could safely reopen, according to ADN.
Palmer High School is the fourth school in the Matanuska-Susitna School District to close due to COVID-19; Pioneer Peak Elementary School, Machetanz Elementary School, Colony High School and Colony Middle School also have closed this school year.
Across Alaska, 407,124 tests had been collected as of midnight Monday. The positive result rate for the past seven days is 2.11%.
In Ketchikan, 15,695 tests have been conducted as of 5 p.m. Tuesday. Results are pending from 150 tests.
During a Tuesday evening virtual town hall event with Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said that Alaskans need to "test early and test quickly" to lower cases in the state.
"We really have control over this virus," Zink said, noting that testing is one of the most important tools for controlling the pandemic. "It does not have control over us."
Zink said that four areas — Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks and the North Slope area — are being closely monitored by DHSS, as cases per 100,000 residents in those areas range between 14 and 17.
"I would love to see us in the yellow (intermediate risk) zone before the snow sticks," Zink said.
Zink said that the cases identified this fall will determine how Alaska moves forward in response to the pandemic.
She said that Alaska ranks among the states with the lowest case and death rates because of early intervention, and that Alaskans "got lucky."
During the town hall, Dunleavy addressed the concept of restrictions being placed on Alaska businesses and gatherings. Dunleavy said that these restrictions do not come from DHSS or state authorities, but rather, local emergency officials.
Dunleavy said that Alaska was one of the first states to "reopen to a great extent."
With statewide cases still high, Dunleavy said that any restrictions placed on businesses would be made by local entities as of now.
Dunleavy shared information that the number of travelers arriving at the Ted Stevens International Airport is lower than a normal year thus far.
He estimated that the number dropped by 580,000 travelers, and attributed the drop to individuals being increasingly hesitant to travel, as well as a lack of cruise ships and restrictions, for passing through Canada.
However, Dunleavy believes Alaskans are handling the pandemic well.
"We're just Alaska doing what Alaska would normally do in a situation like this," he said of the state's response.