Three new cases of COVID-19 reported in three Alaska communities; one new nonresident case

June 15, 2020 ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced three new cases of COVID-19 in residents of three communities: Anchorage (1), Soldotna (1) and Wasilla (1). This brings the total number of Alaska cases to 664.

One new nonresident case was also identified yesterday in a seafood industry worker in the Aleutians East Census Area. This brings the total number of nonresident cases to 76.

Of the new Alaska cases, one is male and two are female. One is aged 30-39; one is aged 40-49 and one is aged 70-79. There have been a total of 53 hospitalizations and 12 deaths with one new hospitalization and no new deaths reported yesterday. Recovered cases now total 417, with six new recovered cases recorded yesterday. A total of 74,437 tests have been conducted. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous three days is 0.62%.

This report reflects data from 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on June 14 that posted at noon today on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub. Please note that upon further investigation and interviews, data points for cases – such as the date and residence – may on occasion change on the data dashboard after they are announced.

Stay informed

Questions about COVID-19?

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Reminder: Test Before You Travel

“Testing before you travel – within five days prior of departure – is your best bet for a safe and enjoyable visit to Alaska. You will be able to enjoy your time in Alaska without quarantine,” said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum. “We realize it’s not easy in many places to get tested without having any symptoms, but we’re asking travelers to try. This is the best option for travelers and will also help conserve our state’s resources.”

Health guidance for Alaska travelers:
http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/…/Pages/COVID-19/travel.aspx

Contact Tracing: Answer the Call

If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, someone from Public Health may call you to inform you that you’ve been exposed and ask you to stay at home and self-quarantine. Staying at home helps keep you, your family, and your community safe.

If you are sick with COVID-19, someone from Public Health may call you to check on your health, discuss who you’ve been in contact with and ask you to stay at home to self-isolate for 14 days. This information is collected for health purposes only and will not be shared with any other agencies, like law enforcement or immigration. Your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with, unless you give permission. Do your part to keep your family and your community safe from COVID-19: answer the call to slow the spread.

Travelers Need to “Watch the Window”

In addition to testing, all travelers into Alaska are being asked to minimize interactions with others until the 14-day window of possible infection is over. Just like Alaska residents, travelers will need to keep at least 6 feet from others, wear a cloth face covering in public and wash hands often. They should also keep track of interactions with other people and the places they visit. Also, instead of dining inside a restaurant or going into a store, visitors are asked to use restaurant delivery and takeout options, visit outdoor venues and minimize time indoors around others. Local jurisdictions may have individual requirements and restrictions. It is the responsibility of every traveler to educate themselves ahead of time to understand local conditions.

“Traveling during a pandemic comes with risks and challenges,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable trip, so please take precautions and prepare ahead. We recommend travelers purchase evacuation, medical and travel insurance and use online options to obtain fishing licenses or other needed items. Travelers should know that Alaska’s medical infrastructure is limited, so please come prepared.”

Health guidance for Alaska travelers:
http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/…/Pages/COVID-19/travel.aspx

June 12 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Sitka

Sitka Unified Command received information from Public Health Officials on three positive test results for COVID-19 in Sitka on Friday, June 12.

Sitka’s positive test count is now at 11, 9 resident cases and 2 nonresident cases. The State of Alaska is reporting 625 cumulative cases statewide.

The first confirmed case is a female resident, age 20-29, who was symptomatic and received COVID-19 testing on June 9.

The second confirmed case is a male resident, age 40-49, who was symptomatic and received COVID-19 testing on June 11.

The third confirmed case is a male resident, age 40-49, who was asymptomatic and received COVID-19 testing on June 11.

Public Health Officials have initiated contact investigations and will notify and isolate additional persons that may have been in contact with these individuals as appropriate.  

Sitka Unified Command urges citizens to adhere to all state mandates and to remain diligent and practice the health measures we’ve all learned in recent weeks and months: wash your hands often, avoid close contact with others and keep your social circle small, stay home if you feel ill, wear a face covering when around others, and clean and disinfect objects and surfaces on a regular basis.

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the flu – fever, aching, cough, shortness of breath, and sometimes decreased sense of taste and smell. If you are concerned you might have contracted the coronavirus contact the COVID hotline at 966.8799 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Outside of normal clinic hours, patients can contact the SEARHC 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1.800.613.0560 to be triaged by a registered nurse. 

Additional information on COVID-19 is available through the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) at  https://covid19.alaska.gov/ and SEARHC at www.covid19.searhc.org.

If you are not sick, please continue to take precautionary measures to stay healthy:

  • Get your flu shot. The flu shot will not prevent COVID-19 but will help prevent you from getting sick and reduce the workload on the healthcare system.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after your blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home, do not gather in groups and minimize your actions with others, stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings, and keep your social circle small.
  • Stay home if you feel ill, and always cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily (e.g. phones, tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).
  • Wear a face covering, in particular in public settings. For more information on cloth face coverings visit http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/coveryourface.aspx

Residents are encouraged to prepare for any local emergency by ensuring each family member has a 14- day emergency supply kit, including any necessary medications.

# # #

Fifteen new cases of COVID-19 reported in eight Alaska communities; one new death; seven new nonresident cases

June 12, 2020 ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced one new death and 15 new cases of COVID-19 in residents of eight communities: Anchorage (5), Homer (4), Fritz Creek (1), Girdwood (1), North Pole (1), Sitka (1), Talkeetna (1) and Wasilla (1). This brings the total number of Alaska cases to 625.

Seven new nonresident cases were also identified yesterday in:

  • Municipality of Anchorage (3): seafood industry, visitor and unknown
  • Sitka City & Borough (2): tourism and visitor
  • Bethel Census Area (1): visitor
  • Combined Bristol Bay and Lake & Peninsula boroughs (1): seafood industry

This brings the total number of nonresident cases to 65.

The death reported today is another patient of the Providence Transitional Care Center (PTCC). This is the second death associated with the PTCC since the outbreak began at the facility on May 29. This brings the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Alaska to 12.

“Sadly, we are announcing the death of another Alaskan today and I want the individual’s loved ones to know we are thinking of them,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been especially focused on the extra precautions that are needed to prevent the spread of this disease into our more vulnerable populations, including those in skilled nursing facilities like the PTCC. We will continue to work with Providence Health & Systems Alaska and appreciate all their efforts to keep their patients and staff healthy and safe.”

Of the new Alaska cases, seven are male and eight are female. One is aged of 10-19; four are aged 20-29; two are aged 30-39; six are aged 40-49; one is aged 60-69 and one is aged 70-79. There have been a total of 51 hospitalizations with two new hospitalizations reported yesterday. Recovered cases now total 403, with six new recovered cases recorded yesterday. A total of 70,880 tests have been conducted.

This report reflects data from 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on June 11 that posted at noon today on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub. Please note that upon further investigation and interviews, data points for cases – such as the date and residence – may on occasion change on the data dashboard after they are announced.

Stay informed

Questions about COVID-19?

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June 11 Positive COVID-19 Cases In Sitka

Sitka Unified Command received information from Public Health Officials on two positive test results for COVID-19 in Sitka on Thursday, June 11.

Sitka’s positive test count is now at 8, 6 resident cases and 2 nonresident cases. The State of Alaska is reporting 610 cumulative cases statewide.

The first confirmed case is a male, age 70-79, who went through the testing station at the Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport on June 7.  The traveler is a non-resident. Public Health Officials have contacted the traveler who tested positive. 

The second confirmed case is a male, age 40-49, who was symptomatic and tested with a home self-collection kit. The individual and Public Health Officials were notified of the positive test result.  

Like all COVID-19 cases, Public Health Officials have initiated contact investigations and will notify and isolate additional persons that may have been in contact with these individuals as appropriate.  

Sitka Unified Command urges citizens to adhere to all state mandates and to remain diligent and practice the health measures we’ve all learned in recent weeks and months: wash your hands often, avoid close contact with others and keep your social circle small, stay home if you feel ill, wear a face covering when around others, and clean and disinfect objects and surfaces on a regular basis.

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the flu – fever, aching, cough, shortness of breath, and sometimes decreased sense of taste and smell. If you are concerned you might have contracted the coronavirus contact the COVID hotline at 966.8799 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Outside of normal clinic hours, patients can contact the SEARHC 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1.800.613.0560 to be triaged by a registered nurse. 

Additional information on COVID-19 is available through the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) at  https://covid19.alaska.gov/ and SEARHC at www.covid19.searhc.org.

If you are not sick, please continue to take precautionary measures to stay healthy:

  • Get your flu shot. The flu shot will not prevent COVID-19 but will help prevent you from getting sick and reduce the workload on the healthcare system.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after your blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home, do not gather in groups and minimize your actions with others, stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings, and keep your social circle small.
  • Stay home if you feel ill, and always cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily (e.g. phones, tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).
  • Wear a face covering, in particular in public settings. For more information on cloth face coverings visit http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/coveryourface.aspx

Residents are encouraged to prepare for any local emergency by ensuring each family member has a 14- day emergency supply kit, including any necessary medications.

# # #

DHSS Press Release: Testing option now provided as an alternative to Alaska’s 14-day quarantine for visitors

June 12, 2020 ANCHORAGE — Effective last Saturday, June 6, at 12:01 a.m., the State of Alaska began requiring travelers entering the state to adhere to new requirements under State of Alaska Health Mandate 10 (as revised on June 3, 2020). According to the revised mandate, travelers entering the state may enter Alaska without undergoing a 14-day quarantine if they:

  • Provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure; tests taken up to five days from departure will be accepted but travelers need to take another test upon arrival; or
  • Test upon arrival in Alaska, maintaining quarantine at their own expense until test results are known; or,
  • Belong to the critical infrastructure workforce and follow their company’s protective plan on file with the state; or
  • Previously had COVID-19, are recovered and can provide evidence of both.

The mandate revisions are aimed at protecting the health of Alaskans and visitors while allowing travelers the option to travel into Alaska without having to quarantine.

The State of Alaska is currently providing COVID-19 testing for travelers into Alaska at seven hub airports but is strongly encouraging testing prior to departure. Travelers who test within 72 hours of departure do not have to quarantine in Alaska if they can show a negative result upon landing. If results are pending, travelers must quarantine until a negative test result can be shared with the state. Travelers who test within five days prior to departure also do not have to quarantine if they take another test at the airport when they land in Alaska.

“Testing before you travel – within five days prior of departure – is your best bet for a safe and enjoyable visit to Alaska. You will be able to enjoy your time in Alaska without quarantine,” said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum. “We realize it’s not easy in many places to get tested without having any symptoms, but we’re asking travelers to try. This is the best option for travelers and will also help conserve our state’s resources.”

Beginning on Saturday, travelers arriving by air into Alaska were greeted at eight airports by screeners and asked to complete and sign the Alaska Travel Declaration Form and then follow protocols based on their COVID-19 test status. (See the attached chart for details). Travelers are also given a testing voucher for a follow-up test to be taken 7-14 days after arrival in Alaska, if the traveler is staying that long in the state. The voucher offsets the costs of testing in Alaska after insurance is billed. The state is first rolling out these mandate revisions with air travelers but will soon be increasing engagement with travelers arriving into Alaska by land and sea.

The following Alaska airports currently have testing on site: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Wrangell and Gustavus. The Petersburg airport is receiving travel declaration forms but is not yet providing testing at the airport. A testing site there will be opening soon. 

Travelers need to “watch the window”  

In addition to testing, all travelers into Alaska are being asked to minimize interactions with others until the 14-day window of possible infection is over. Just like Alaska residents, travelers will need to keep at least 6 feet from others, wear a cloth face covering in public and wash hands often. They should also keep track of interactions with other people and the places they visit. Also, instead of dining inside a restaurant or going into a store, visitors are asked to use restaurant delivery and takeout options, visit outdoor venues and minimize time indoors around others. Local jurisdictions may have individual requirements and restrictions. It is the responsibility of every traveler to educate themselves ahead of time to understand local conditions.

“Traveling during a pandemic comes with risks and challenges,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable trip, so please take precautions and prepare ahead. We recommend travelers purchase evacuation, medical and travel insurance and use online options to obtain fishing licenses or other needed items. Travelers should know that Alaska’s medical infrastructure is limited, so please come prepared.”

Cases are already being identified

As of Wednesday, two travelers tested so far at Alaska airports have turned up positive – one at the  Ketchikan airport and a second in Juneau. Both travelers are isolating themselves from others and are being monitored by public health officials. They must remain in isolation until cleared by public health officials.

“Increased testing of travelers is going to help us detect some cases sooner,” Zink added. “We need to continue to find ways to live with this virus and the faster we can detect cases, the better we can box in the virus by isolating sick individuals and tracing close contacts. As we work to provide more options that reopen Alaska, we’ll be following the data and if the numbers tell us we need to step back, we will.”

“While we are still working out details and improving systems, overall this is going well,” said Tessa Walker Linderman, DHSS Port of Entry Coordinator. “Travelers have been understanding of the need for these rules to protect the health of Alaskans while reopening our economy and have been compliant and understanding. Wait times at airports have been less than anticipated and about a quarter of all travelers have proof of their negative test with them when they arrived.  Those with negative tests in hand are able to move through the airport screening very quickly.”

Starting this week, the state will be piloting an online application that allows travelers to complete the Alaska Travel Declaration Form via the app, as well as receive results for testing done at the airports. This is being tested at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport by Capstone Clinic with possible expansion statewide. 

“Safe travel is essential to Alaska’s economy, and the Alaska way of life. We have a relatively low number of cases in Alaska, and we would like to keep it that way by encouraging safe and responsible travel within the state,” said DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum.

For more information on properly preparing for your travels to Alaska, please visit: covid19.alaska.gov/travelers.

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COVID-19 Symptoms

Have symptoms? If you’re feeling even mildly ill with new symptoms like fatigue, cough, fever, or a decreased sense of taste or smell, please contact your local health care provider. Increased testing will help keep the lid on COVID-19 by making sure any new cases are detected quickly and help to prevent the disease from spreading.

For health questions or COVID concerns, please call the SEARHC COVID hotline at 966.8799 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Outside of normal clinic hours, patients can contact the SEARHC 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1.800.613.0560 to be triaged by a registered nurse.