DHSS Alaska Weekly COVID-19 Case Update for September 6-12

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Weekly Case Analysis 

September 6-12, 2020

Note: DHSS has revised the format of the weekly case update to be more concise, readable and to better highlight trends in data. The most up-to-date data, including data for individual communities with a population of >1000, are always available in full on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub.  

Case trends and predictions

  • Overall, new cases in Alaska are increasing. The daily state case rate as of September 12, 2020 is 8.7 cases per 100,000 people averaged over the last 14 days. This is up from 7.9 last week and 7.0 the week before, so the state alert level for this past week remained at intermediate (orange).
  • The reproductive number, a measure of contagion, has increased to 1.02 and is projected to continue to increase slightly. A reproductive number of 1.02 means that each person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 gives it on average to slightly more than one other person. A reproductive number of more than 1 means that the epidemic is growing. The goal is to have enough people wear masks, stay at least 6 feet from others, and stay home and get tested when they are sick, so that Alaska’s reproductive number decreases to well below 1. Our reproductive number was below 1 as recently as late August. 
  • An updated model epidemic curve now predicts Alaska’s cases to rise over the next week, a reversal in trend from recent weeks when cases had been predicted to decrease. Two weeks ago, cases were expected to halve every 75 days. One week ago, cases were expected to halve more slowly, every 210 days. As of this week, cases are now expected to double every 62 days, with a daily projected growth rate of 1.12%. 
  • Nonresident cases, which peaked in late July, decreased over August and continue to downtrend. 
  • Alaska continues to have both the fewest COVID-19 related deaths and the fewest COVID-19 related deaths per capita of any US state. 

Regional trends

  • Fairbanks North Star Borough has the highest rate of viral transmission with a case rate of 17.1, an increase from 13.7 last week and 10.8 a week before. 
  • Juneau City and Borough had the most quickly rising rate of viral transmission. Juneau more than doubled its case rate to 13.4 from 6.3 last week and 5.1 the week before.
  • Anchorage Municipality and the Northwest Region both remain in the high transmission category but have improved slightly from last week. 
  • The Southwest Region’s case rate nearly doubled but remains in the low community transmission category.
  • Other regions’ case rates downtrended this week.

Regional case trends

alert levels
alert levels map

New cases, hospitalizations and deaths

  • This week saw 513 new cases in Alaskans, a slight decrease from last week’s 541 new cases, for a total of 6,278 cumulative cases in Alaskans. 4,110 of those are considered active, or 65%, an increase from 63% last week, as only 2,168 Alaskans are thought to have recovered or completed their isolation period. 
  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased to 246 with 14 new this week, slightly fewer than the increase of 17 last week.
  • Deaths among Alaska residents increased by 2 to 44 total. 
  • There were 24 nonresident cases identified this week, for a total of 915. 

How COVID-19 spreads in Alaska

  • The majority of new infections among Alaskans are from community spread, not from travel. Most Alaskans get the virus from someone they work, socialize, or go to school with.
  • Many cases do not have a clear source, meaning that contact tracers have not been able to identify where the person got the virus. This could mean that there are cases in our communities that we do not know about. 
  • Many Alaskans who are diagnosed with COVID-19 report that they went to social gatherings, community events, church services and other social venues while they were contagious but before they knew they had the virus.
  • The distribution of cases among people of different races and ethnicities has not changed significantly since last week.
  • Cases continue to increase most rapidly in young adult Alaskans, especially those aged 20-29. 

Distribution of cases compared to population distribution and distribution of cases, hospitalizations and deaths by race and ethnicity

Includes data from all cases reporting one or more races. Based on these data, American Indian and Alaska Native as well as Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations are disproportionately affected. One factor limiting interpretation is that a greater proportion of tests from the Alaska Native Tribal Health system currently have race indicated than tests from other sources, which may mean that cases in Alaska Native People are more likely to be reported as such than cases in people who receive care through non-tribal health systems. However, this should not significantly impact Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population case counts. Currently, cases in this population are nearly five times what would be expected based on estimated population (6.9% vs 1.4%). 

If race or ethnicity is not identified with the initial test, contact tracers will attempt to collect this information, but these data are often delayed resulting in many cases (currently 2,889, or 45%) still labeled under investigation. Additionally, people who are hospitalized or have died with COVID-19 are more likely to have a race identified.

Race Percent of Alaska population*Number of casesPercent of cases of those for whom a race is knownIn cases of that race, percent who were/are hospitalizedIn cases of that race, percent who have died
American Indian and Alaska Native15.6%108431%6.4% 1.5% 
Asian6.5%1464.2%8.9% 2.1% 
Black/African American3.7%2086%3.8% 0%
Hispanic ethnicity**7.3%2978.6%4.4%0.3%
Multiple races7.5%2126.1%1.9%0%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander1.4%2356.8%19% 2.2% 
White65.3%1,39540.3%5.2%1.3%
Other 184 3.8% 0%
Unknown or not yet identified 2,889 1.0% 0.1%
All cases for which a race is known 3,464 6.2%1.2%
All cases 6,353 3.9% 0.7%

*Based on US Census Bureau 2019 estimates: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/AK

**By federal convention, ethnicity is not mutually exclusive of race, so cases identifying Hispanic ethnicity are also counted under a race category.  

Testing trends

  • Testing increased at a steady rate throughout May, June and July, but starting in mid-August, increases have slowed.
  • Alaska has the capacity to continue expanding testing. DHSS can assist in materials for setting up new testing sites and is pursuing all avenues for expanding testing. 

Positivity rates

  • The statewide test positivity rate, calculated by dividing the number of positive tests by the total number of tests performed over a given period of time, averaged over the past seven days, held steady at 2% this last week. Statewide test positivity has not been above 3% since April, and has never exceeded 3.5%. 
  • This is significantly better than the current national average test positivity rate of 4.8%. In comparison to other states, Alabama currently has a positivity rate of 16.4% and South Dakota, 16.6%, while New York, which peaked at 50.7% in early April, has greatly expanded testing since then and currently has a positivity rate of 0.9%. Source: Johns Hopkins
  • Reported test positivity rate is currently highest in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, with a rate of 5.3%. It exceeded 5% on 9/10/2020. 
  • Test positivity is a good measure of whether testing is adequate in a given area, since it is affected by the number of tests performed as well as the number of new cases in an area. However, because it depends so much on the number of tests performed, it tells us more about whether we are doing enough testing than about how much virus is spreading in a community. A case rate can give good information about how much virus is spreading in a community, as long as the test positivity is low. A community test positivity rate under 5% is currently generally accepted as being low enough to estimate that a community’s case rate is reasonably accurate.  
  • In late August, Alaska led the nation in most tests per capita and continues to be among the top 3 states in tests per capita. 

Health care capacity

Hospital bed occupancy statewide remains steady. Hospitalizations peaked in early August and have plateaued since then. Ventilator capacity remains adequate overall. Hospital data includes inpatient beds and ventilators located all around the state, including some in smaller hospitals without ICU capacity. Hospital beds do not necessarily represent staffed beds, as staffing can change quickly, particularly if a community has many health workers impacted by COVID-19. 

What Alaskans should do 

  • Anyone with even one new symptom of COVID-19 (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea), even if it is very mild, should get tested for COVID-19 right away. Tests are most accurate in the first few days of symptoms, and if the test is positive, getting tested right away helps contact tracers move as quickly as possible. 
  • Alaskans can help contact tracers work to slow the spread of COVID-19 by answering the phone promptly if contacted and providing accurate information.
  • Alaskans should avoid gatherings, wear masks when around any non-household member, keep six feet of distance from anyone not in their household and wash hands frequently to slow community transmission of COVID-19.

Further information

COVID-19 FAQ: How Common Are False Positives?

Q: How common are false positives?
A: False positives are unlikely for the molecular diagnostic tests that diagnose COVID-19. This is because these tests work by detecting genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 is different than the genetic material from other viruses, so the COVID-19 diagnostic test is highly specific. Usually claims of “false positives” occur when someone tests positive without symptoms and then soon tests again – and the test is negative. This doesn’t mean either test is wrong. People are not chronically infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s normal and expected to go from testing positive back to testing negative. For more information visit: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/testing.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2wGFXUr5zO1nAtRYAG0Nke7icW6Rl1PvpsQ9X11b5Rj21dKKZCv3WBGLs

News Release: September 14 Case Count Update

Sitka Unified Command received information from Public Health Officials on one positive test result for COVID-19 in Sitka on Saturday, September 12.  

Sitka’s positive test count is now at 42 resident cases, 17 non-resident cases, and 1 hospitalization. The State of Alaska is reporting 6,353 cumulative resident cases statewide. Data is provisional and may change.  Please note that occasionally there is a lag between cases being reported on the DHSS data dashboard and what local communities report as details are confirmed and documentation is received.

The confirmed case is a male resident, age 10-19, who was symptomatic and received COVID-19 testing on September 11. Patient is isolating. Public Health Officials have initiated a contact investigation and will notify and isolate additional persons that may have been in contact with this individual as appropriate.

To view more data visit: coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com

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.

News Release: September 11 Case Count Update

Sitka Unified Command received information from Public Health Officials on one positive test result for COVID-19 in Sitka on Thursday, September 10.

Sitka’s positive test count is now at 42 resident cases, 17 non-resident cases, and 1 hospitalization. The State of Alaska is reporting 6,020 cumulative resident cases statewide. Data is provisional and may change.  Please note that occasionally there is a lag between cases being reported on the DHSS data dashboard and what local communities report as details are confirmed and documentation is received.

The confirmed case is a male resident, age 20-29, who was asymptomatic and received COVID-19 testing on September 3.

To view more data visit: coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com

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.

News Release: September 9 Unified Command Weekly Meeting

UNIFIED COMMAND TALKS OPERATIONS AT WEEKLY MEETING

SITKA, September 9, 2020 – This week Unifed Command gave an update on the new data dashboard, schools Smart Start and FEMA status reports.

John Leach, Incident Commander, reported on Friday, September 4, the COVID-19 Dashboard went live. Leach hopes the data presented on the website will eventually take the place of the need for daily case reports. Press releases will continue from Unified Command until the dashboard becomes a solid, centralized source of information. The dashboard is located on the CBS COVID-19 Information Center https://cityofsitka.org/.  Additional data points will be added as we collect information.

Sara Peterson, Public Information Officer, shared that currently, the alert level is on display outside Harrigan Cenntenial Hall and will soon be visible for the community outside the firehall.

Janelle Vanasse, Mt. Edgecumbe Superintendent, stated last Friday, September 4, all 14-day tests were complete and they are waiting for the tests to come back. Assuming all tests are negative the school will shift into low risk status.

Rob Janik, Planning Section Chief, will be attending a COVID vaccination teleconference and will report back next week.

Jay Sweeney,  Finance Section Chief, provided status reports on requests submitted to FEMA. FEMA continues to tighten requirements.

John Holst, Superintendent of Sitka School District, was pleased to announce that operations at all schools are going well. School system is working on how to fine tune their procedures. John thanked SEARHC for their support of the Sitka School District.

Sitka Unified Command urges citizens to remain diligent and practice proper hygiene measures, such as washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with others and keeping your social circle small. In addition, 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, sore throat, 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. 

Free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic patients is available every weekend. Residents can receive a self-swab nasal test between the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday at the Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center Testing Site, no appointment necessary. For more information, contact the SEARHC COVID-19 Hotline at 966.8799. Results are available in approximately seven (7) days.

The Emergency Operations Center encourages residents to prepare for any local emergency by ensuring each family member has a 14- day emergency supply kit, including any necessary medications.

For information on the local pandemic response, visit cityofsitka.org or covid19.searhc.org.

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DHSS COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: August 30-September 5

This data summary covers COVID-19 in Alaska from Sunday, August 30th through Saturday, September 5th, 2020.

Background

The Alaska COVID-19 Weekly Case Update will be composed every weekend with data from the previous week and the report will be published by the following Wednesday. Data are continually updated on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Data Hub, which reflects the most current case counts. This summary presents data from the previous week and is a snapshot of the information available on known cases at the time. 

Note: Our apologies for the delay with this week’s weekly case update. We typically publish by Wednesday evening. 

Highlights

  • We continue to see new cases of COVID-19 in Alaska
  • The largest increases in cases continue to be in Alaskans aged 20-29
  • 14-day case rates are high and rising in Fairbanks North Start Borough and Anchorage Municipality
  • The majority of new infections among Alaskans are from community spread, not from travel. Most Alaskans get the virus from someone they work, socialize, or go to school with.
  • Many cases do not have a clear source, meaning that contact tracers have not able to identify where the person got the virus. This could mean that there are cases in our communities that we do not know about. 
  • The predicted epidemic curve is still downtrending, but not as quickly as last week
  • New nonresident cases are downtrending, which may be in part related to more nonresidents being tested for COVID-19 prior to travel to Alaska
  • Many Alaskans who are diagnosed with COVID-19 report that they went to social gatherings, community events, church services and other social venues while they were contagious but before they knew they had the virus
  • Cases disproportionately affect Alaska Native People and that proportion is rising; Alaskans who identify as Black or Pacific Islander are also disproportionately impacted although the numbers of people affected in these populations are smaller, making it more difficult to judge whether these differences will be statistically significant
  • Hospital occupancy statewide remains steady
  •  Anyone with even one new symptom of COVID-19 (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea), even if it is very mild, should get tested for COVID-19 right away. Tests are most accurate in the first few days of symptoms, and if the test is positive, getting tested right away helps contact tracers move as quickly as possible. 
  •  Alaskans can help contact tracers work to slow the spread of COVID-19 by answering the phone promptly if contacted and providing accurate information.
  • Alaskans should avoid gatherings, wear masks when around any non-household member, keep six feet of distance from anyone not in their household and wash hands frequently to slow community transmission of COVID-19.

New and recovered cases

This week saw 541 new cases in Alaskans and 21 in nonresidents, for a total of 5,765 and 891 respectively. Several cases previously classified as resident cases have since been reclassified as nonresident cases after further investigation took place. 17 additional Alaskans required hospitalization this week for COVID-19, for a total of 232 since the epidemic began. Five additional deaths were reported this week, for a total of 42. By convention, deaths are counted based on the residency of the patient rather than where they contracted the virus.   

82 Alaskans are presumed to have recovered (either they have been confirmed by public health as recovered or they have completed 10 days of isolation) from COVID-19 this week, for a total of 2,121, or 37% of total cases.  

Epidemic curve

This analysis projects growth or reduction in cases predicted in the coming weeks based on the growth of cases in recent weeks. The most recent 7 days (grey bars) are not included because there can be a delay in reporting data. This model assumes exponential growth or reduction in cases and can be a useful tool to visualize how quickly cases are increasing or decreasing. This curve does not project what might happen if more people start wearing masks or increase physical distancing; it assumes Alaskans and visitors to Alaska do not change their behavior. The dotted line is the average prediction, and the grey shaded area is estimated error for the predicted rise in cases. For a full description of methods, visit https://coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com/

Currently, cases are predicted to halve about every 210 days based on the current case trend, which is worse than the case trend of last week when cases were predicted to halve every 75 days. Keeping the case trend prediction downsloping will depend on a continued effort among Alaskans to slow the spread of transmission through physical distancing, masks and limiting contacts. 

Communities affected this week 

 New cases were found in Alaskans who are residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage (302), Girdwood (2), Eagle River (7), for a total of 311 in the Anchorage Municipality
  • Bethel (1) and smaller communities in the Bethel Census Area (7) for a total of 8
  • Fairbanks (89) and North Pole (21) for a total of 110 in the Fairbanks North Star Borough
  • Juneau (18) and Douglas (1) for 19 in the Juneau City and Borough
  • Kenai (8), Soldotna (5) and one in a smaller community, for a total of 14 in the Kenai Peninsula Borough
  • Ketchikan (1)
  • Wasilla (14), Palmer (18), Big Lake (3) and 1 in Houston for 36 in the Mat-Su Borough
  • Nome Census Area (6)
  • Utquiagvik (12) 
  • Kotzebue (2) and 2 in a smaller community or communities, for a total of 4 in the Northwest Arctic Borough
  • 2 in a community or communities in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area
  • Valdez (1), and one in a smaller community, for a total of 2 in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area
  • Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula Census Areas (5)
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area (1)
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area (2)
  • Denali Borough (1)
  • Kodiak (4)
  • Wrangell (1)
  • Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon Census Areas (3)
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area (1)

Case rates and alert levels

Average Daily Case Rate in Last 7 Days (cases per 100,000 people)

The 7 day case rate map depicts cases adjusted by population for a given region (cases per 100,000 people). The regions are large because Alaska is a large state with few densely populated centers, so this case rate can only be meaningful across large regions. The regions designated here are regions used as behavioral health regions and attempt to observe similar characteristics across a region by not combining highly isolated areas with urban areas whenever possible. 

Regions with increased rates this week included the Anchorage Municipality (15 from 13), Fairbanks North Star Borough (16 from 11.5), the Northwest region (11.5 from 10.4), Kenai Peninsula Borough (3.2 from 2.7), the Southwest region (4.5 from a rate too small to calculate last week) and Juneau City and Borough (8.5 from 4.0).

Among improved regions are the Interior Region, with a rate too small to calculate this week from 5.5 last week, Mat-Su (4.8 from 5.0), the Southern Southeast Region (too small to calculate from 6.5), Y-K Delta Region (4.3 from 10.9) and the Northern Southeast Region (a rate too small to calculate from 9.1 last week). 

Most states use a 7 day case rate per 100,000 population to estimate trends in community transmission. Roughly, rates of >10 cases daily per 100,000 population correspond to widespread community transmission and >5 to moderate community transmission, but a sharp increase or decrease in these rates can help predict how the next week or weeks will look for the region.  

14 -Day Alert Levels (average daily cases per 100,000 people)

Because of Alaska’s unique geography and smaller population, a 14 day case rate can also be useful. The alert level map above uses a 14 day case rate approach. 

In high alert level (red) is the Northwest Borough (11 from 12.7),  Fairbanks North Star Borough (13.7 from 10.8), and the Anchorage Municipality (14.1 from 12.6). 

In intermediate alert level (orange) is Juneau City and Borough (6.3 from 5.1), the Y-K Delta Region (7.6 from 7.3), the Northern Southeast Region (5.2 from 6.3), 

In low alert level (yellow) is the Southwest region (2.3 from 1.7),  Kenai Peninsula Borough (2.9 from 5.8), Matanuska-Susitna Borough (4.9 from 6.2), the Interior Region excluding Fairbanks (4.3 from 7.9), and the Southern Southeast region (5.2 from 6.1). 

More information on alert levels is available on this page

How Alaskans acquired COVID-19

DHSS monitors how people most likely got the virus. In green in the plot below are Alaska residents who acquired COVID-19 by traveling to other states or countries. In March, a substantial proportion of our cases were related to Alaskans returning from elsewhere, while in April and May, fewer Alaskans traveled. Since June, as travel has started to increase, cases in Alaskans related to travel have begun to occur more regularly. However, travel-related cases are now a minority compared to community-acquired cases. 

In blue below are cases where Alaskans got COVID-19 from a known contact. These are people who did not leave the state, but we could trace their illness back to the person they got it from. The goal is for contact tracing to identify each of these cases where someone got it from someone else they had contact with so they can let all other contacts of both people know to quarantine. As contact tracing expanded in May, more cases from contacts were identified.

In red, however, are cases where Alaskans got COVID-19 and contact tracing was not able to establish a clear source. This demonstrates that there are other cases in our communities that we have not found yet. 

Grey bars show the cases where the investigation has not yet concluded. Alaskans can help contact tracers move faster and prevent more cases by keeping their contact list small, keeping a diary of who they are in close contact with (defined as within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more), wearing cloth face coverings when around any non-household members or in public, and responding promptly to being contacted. 

Age and gender distributions

More COVID-19 cases have been found in adults aged 20-39 than any other age group. Gender distribution has been close to equal, with slightly more than half of cases in males and slightly fewer than half in females. 

Distribution of cases compared to population distribution

Includes data from all cases reporting one or more races. Based on these data, American Indian and Alaska Native as well as Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations are disproportionately affected. 

RaceNumber of casesPercent of cases (of those for whom a race is known)Percent of Alaska population
American Indian and Alaska Native95130% 16%
Asian 1364.3% 7%
Black/African American1906.0% 4%
Multiple1865.9% 8%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders2277.2% 1%
White1,29941% 65%
Other race1655.2%  
Total for whom a race is known3,154  
Under investigation2,264  
Race unknown357  

Hospital capacity

Hospitals report all inpatient beds in this total, including those for infants and obstetrics. However, the ICU bed count includes only staffed adult and pediatric ICU beds, as NICU (neonatal ICU) beds can only be used for infants and would not be useful for teenage or adult patients with severe COVID-19.

Hospitals remain below capacity, with ventilators and ICU beds available, but use continues to slowly rise. 232 Alaskans have required hospitalization for COVID-19. Bed occupancy due to COVID-19 rose in July, following a rise in cases, and has not yet significantly decreased.

Hospitalizations and deaths by race and ethnicity

Hospitalization percentages are influenced both by the number of people of that race hospitalized and the number of people of that race who have been found to have COVID-19. This means that a population that either has a high degree of severity of COVID-19 and/or a low rate of testing and many undiscovered cases may have a high percent hospitalized shown in state data. Conversely, a population that has many hospitalizations but has a disproportionately high testing rate may have a lower percent hospitalized relative to other groups, since they have fewer undetected cases.

Because Alaska has had 42 deaths related to COVID-19, it is very difficult to draw robust conclusions from these small numbers. Hospitalizations may be a better indicator of actual severity among different populations, since those draw from larger numbers. Other states have had far larger numbers of hospitalizations and deaths and can draw conclusions about trends with more confidence. 

Disparities in severity among Alaskan populations have begun to trend towards mirroring those in other states. However, state and federal data reflects significant racial disparities in the impact of COVID-19 on minority communities, and Alaskan populations such as Alaskan Native People and Pacific Islanders are known to experience conditions that place them at higher risk for severe COVID-19 at increased rates compared to other groups. Racial disparities in these numbers may be best interpreted as proxies for differences in contributing factors such as rates of medical comorbidities, exposure risks, and ready access to medical care. Care should be taken not to interpret racial disparities as inherent biological differences among races.

Race Number of casesIn cases of that race, percent who were/are hospitalizedIn cases of that race, percent who have died
American Indian and Alaska Native9416.5% 1.5% 
Asian1368.8% 2.2% 
Black/African American1903.7% 0%
Multiple races1861.6%0%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander23719% 2.2% 
White1,2995.4%1.4%
Other1654.2% 0%
Unknown or not yet identified2,6212.5% 0.3%
All cases for which a race is known3,1547.0%1.3%
All cases5,7654.4% 0.7%

Nonresident cases

Of the 21 nonresident cases identified this week, 6 were in the Aleutians East Borough, 6 were in the Anchorage Municipality, 1 was in the Bethel Census Area, 2 were in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 1 was in Juneau City and Borough, 1 was in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 2 were in Ketchikan Gateway borough, and one was in the Kodiak Island Borough. One nonresident case did not yet have the location identified. 

6 nonresident cases were associated with tourism or visiting purposes and 6 with other industries. 

Test positivity rate

The test positivity rate is the percentage of tests performed in a given area that come back positive. While the positivity rate is not a standalone measure of the amount of viral transmission in a region, it helps visualize whether the testing being conducted is sufficient to meet the need to detect viral transmission in that region. Lower test positivity rates are better, since they reflect more tests being performed to find each positive case. Positivity rates over 5% are concerning because they may indicate that testing is insufficient or that there is significant ongoing viral transmission.

In the map below, there are several smaller boroughs or census areas where the positivity rate as currently reported is >10%. This may reflect several different scenarios, including that those boroughs or census areas have tested primarily people who were likely to have the virus this week (for example, they tested only people who had symptoms or known exposures), that they have reported any positive results faster than they have reported any negative results (since there can be a lag in reporting, but positive results are often communicated immediately when they are received), or that they have tested widely and have had a significant uptick in cases in the last week. Several of the boroughs or census areas in red below had just a single positive test in the last week, but few negative tests have been reported from that borough or census area as of yet; for example, one borough has a 50% positivity rate for the last week with just one positive and one negative test yet reported. The overall state positivity rate this week was 2.0%, similar to last week’s rate of 1.9%. 

Alaska’s overall positivity rate, of 387,057 tests total, has remained between 1.5% and 3% in recent months and has not exceeded 4% during the pandemic so far. Testing turnaround time averaged 3.1 days in the last two weeks at the state lab, 3.9 days at facilities and 3.2 days for commercial labs for all tests reported in Alaska. 

Tourism, visitors and airport testing

Airports report data on a Saturday through Friday cycle, meaning that the airport screening numbers in this section reflect data collected on Saturday, August 29th through Friday, September 4th. 

Travel data was significantly impacted by delays in reporting this week. Several airports had not yet reported complete data at the time of this publication. One airport found that several travelers had completed more than one travel declaration form. For that reason, these numbers should be interpreted as preliminary estimates only. 

This week saw 19,518 travelers screened at airports entering Alaska, and 2,549 (13%) were tested on entry. 1,044 Alaskans selected a 14 day quarantine (5% of total travelers). 12,672 provided proof of another test performed within 72 hours of landing in Alaska (65%). The remaining 3,253 (17%) provided proof of having recovered from COVID-19, were essential workers following a community and workplace protection plan or were Alaskans who had been gone for fewer than 24 hours. 15 positive results from the tests performed at the airport have been reported so far, for a test positivity rate of 0.5%, however several airports have not yet reported positive tests for the week. 

Since testing began thirteen weeks ago, 253,623 travelers have been screened at Alaska airports. 127,519 (50%) tested prior to travel, 70,658 (28%) have tested in Alaska airports, and 27,289 (11%) selected a 14 day quarantine. There have been 395 positive tests through airport testing, for an overall test positivity rate of 0.6%.

Of the 21 cases in nonresidents this week, six were linked with visiting or tourism. 3 were in the Aleutians East Borough, one was in the Anchorage Municipality, one was in Fairbanks North Start Borough and one was in Juneau City and Borough. 

Seafood industry

Of 21 nonresident cases total identified this week, none are workers in the seafood industry. 

Data timeliness and accuracy

Weekly summaries are published early the following week because that gives the state public health workforce time to collect data, verify accuracy, make sure cases have not been counted in multiple places and verify patient identities. This summary is designed to review a week’s data from the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub dashboard, which displays same-day or next-day data. The dashboard data occasionally changes as new information is received or as cases are reclassified once verification takes place, since this process takes time. Weekly summaries reflect our most current and complete knowledge about cases in the previous week. 

Further information

News Release: September 9 Case Count Update

Sitka Unified Command received information from Public Health Officials on one positive test result for COVID-19 in Sitka on Tuesday, September 8.  

Sitka’s positive test count is now at 41 resident cases, 17 non-resident cases, and 1 hospitalization. The State of Alaska is reporting 5,833 cumulative resident cases statewide. Data is provisional and may change.  Please note that occasionally there is a lag between cases being reported on the DHSS data dashboard and what local communities report as details are confirmed and documentation is received.

The confirmed case is a male resident, age 50-59, who was symptomatic and received COVID-19 testing on September 6. Patient is isolating. Public Health Officials have initiated a contact investigation and will notify and isolate additional persons that may have been in contact with this individual as appropriate.

To view more data visit: coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com

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.

Request for Information – Daytime Indoor Shelter for Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Summary.  The City and Borough of Sitka (CBS) is issuing this Request for Information (RFI) to gauge provider interest in establishing and operating a daytime indoor shelter for adults experiencing homelessness due to COVID-19, as well as unsheltered adults who are at risk of COVID-19 infection due to lack of safe indoor space during inclement cold-season weather. 

This RFI is a non-competitive solicitation. Its purpose is to gather information from providers interested in operating a day shelter for a limited period of time with available funding.  CBS will review responses to determine whether there is a qualified vendor for the desired services. This RFI does not constitute an offer to enter into a contractual agreement.  CBS may use responses to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP), a Targeted Request for Proposals (Targeted RFP), or an Invitation for Bids (IFB), or another method for the official solicitation of services, including contracting by negotiation with a vendor exhibiting the required capabilities and qualifications when an insufficient number of qualified responses are received.  CBS reserves the right to take no further action after reviewing responses to this RFI.

Intent. The intent of this program is to ensure the safety and enhance the well-being of unsheltered adults facing increased health risks due to the Coronavirus pandemic, to address the absence of safe indoor space for unsheltered adults due to pandemic-related facility closures, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among unsheltered adults and from these individuals to the general population. 

Description of services desired. CBS is seeking proposals from qualified providers that wish to operate a daytime indoor shelter for adults at least five days a week for the period of time beginning October 1 and ending December 30, 2020.  Services desired include heated indoor space, staffing, health screening, transportation to and from a central location, and at least one meal per user per day.

Funding and Duration: CBS has allocated up to $250,000 in federal CARES Act funding for operation of a daytime shelter from October 1 through December 30, 2020. CBS reserves the right to increase or decrease the amount of available funding, and to extend the timeline for operation of the facility based on changes in the requirements for expenditure of federal CARES Act funds.

Eligible Respondents. This RFI is open to all private, government, and non-profit organizations that can demonstrate their capability to manage federal funding and comply with all applicable program requirements through a contract with the City and Borough of Sitka.

Facility and Program Requirements.

Location. The shelter facility may not be located on City-owned property. It must be located in an area where the use is permitted by zoning, with or without conditional approval by the City.  If it is located more than ½ mile from Crescent Harbor Shelter, transportation must be provided to and from Crescent Harbor on days when the facility is open.

User Eligibility. The facility shall be open to adult (age 18+) residents of Sitka who do not have access to safe indoor space due to the pandemic. Users must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol during their time of facility use to ensure the safety of other facility users and staff. The operator shall reserve the right to deny use to any individual(s) with a documented history of violent behavior. 

Facility and services.  The facility must be large enough to accommodate the projected population of eligible users with adequate space and ventilation for prevention of infection. It must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. It shall include space to charge mobile devices, free wifi, at least one restroom with a toilet and hot running water, and preferably a shower, washer and dryer. The facility shall be staffed during operating hours. Operating plans shall include transportation if required, personal protective equipment and regular health screenings for COVID-19, a plan for safety and security of residents and the community, and at least one meal per day for facility users.

Information to be submitted: CBS requests that interested vendors provide the following information:

  1. Proposed location of facility and letter of intent from property owner documenting their interest in use of the property as a daytime shelter if the property is not already under the ownership of or lease to the respondent.
  2. Description of services to be provided and proposed days and hours of operation.
  3. Transportation plan if required.
  4. Staffing plan, including the number of staff and their proposed qualifications.
  5. Infection control plan, including information on size of facility, ventilation, PPE, screening, testing, and contingency plans for if staff or facility users contract COVID-19.
  6. Physical safety plan for residents and staff.
  7. Proposed nutrition plan and plans for any other services to be provided. 
  8. Detailed budget, including total expenses and all sources of revenue.
  9. Vendor’s qualifications to operate the proposed facility and program, including summary of experience managing any similar programs and federal funds. 

Questions.  Respondents are encouraged, but not required, to submit questions in writing no later than 2 p.m. (Alaska Time), September 11, 2020.  Questions regarding this RFI should be emailed to grantsadmin@cityofsitka.org with the subject line “2020 CARES Day Shelter RFI – Q&A.”  Please include your name and title, the name of your organization and the best telephone number to reach you, if a CBS representative needs to speak with you for further clarification.

Quotes and organizational qualifications may be submitted to grantsadmin@cityofsitka.org until 5pm on September 18, 2020.  All responses to this Request for Information are subject to public inspection under the Municipal Public Records Act.

The City anticipates distributing funds through a contract to administer this program.  Notice to proceed is anticipated by October 1, 2020, with all funds to be expended by December 30, 2020. The City reserves the right to extend the deadline for services and expenditure of funds in the event that Congress extends the deadline for expenditure of CARES Act funds.

Disclaimer. 

  1. This RFI is issued by CBS for informational and planning purposes.  It does not constitute a competitive solicitation or a promise to issue a competitive solicitation in the future.  This RFI does not commit CBS to contract for any services whatsoever.  However, CBS reserves the right to select one or more agencies with demonstrated capability to provide the requested services as part of this RFI process.
  2. All costs of responding to this RFI shall be borne by the responding party.  CBS shall not be liable for any expenses incurred by the responder in the preparation and/or submission of the information requested in this RFI.  The responder shall not include any such expenses as part of their itemized budget in their RFI.
  3. Responses to this RFI become the exclusive property of CBS.  All information provided by responders will be considered public documents, subject to review and inspection by the public at CBS’s discretion, in accordance with the Municipal Public Records Act and other applicable laws.  Exceptions will be those pages in each response which are defined by the responder as business or trade secrets and are marked “TRADE SECRET” or “CONFIDENTIAL.”  CBS shall not in any way be liable or responsible for the disclosure of any such records, including, but not limited to, those so marked if the disclosure is deemed to be required by law or by court order.
  4. During this RFI, responders may revise and re-submit their responses.
  5. CBS reserves the right to verify information provided in each response.  If an insufficient number of responses are received, CBS reserves the right to re-issue an RFI, issue an RFP, execute a sole-source contract or take any other action deemed appropriate by CBS.
  6. It is improper for and CBS employee or agent to solicit consideration, in any form, from a responder with the implication, suggestion or statement that the responder will obtain any type of favorable treatment arising out of this RFI or that the responder’s failure to provide such consideration may negatively affect the responder.  A responder shall not offer or give, either directly or through an intermediary, consideration, in any form, to a CBS employee or agent for the purpose of securing any type of favorable treatment that may arise from the RFI.  A responder shall immediately report any attempt by a CBS employee or agent to solicit such improper consideration for any reason whatsoever.  The report shall be made to the Municipal Administrator of CBS at (907) 747-1812.  Among other items, such improper consideration may take the form of cash, discounts, and service, the provision of travel or entertainment, or tangible gifts.