Strict Social Distancing Required for 5 days After Travel

COVID-19 is spread primarily from person to person when people breathe, speak, sneeze or cough – so keeping your distance is one of the best ways to stay safe. That’s why you must maintain strict social distancing for 5 days after you arrive in Alaska, regardless of test results.

While social distancing, avoid enclosed spaces and crowds, limit interactions to 5 minutes, and stay 6 feet from others. Social distancing is a great reason to explore some of Alaska’s wide-open spaces!

What is strict social distancing?

  • Strict social distancing is allowed after you have one negative test result from a test taken within 72 hours of departure or on arrival into Alaska.
  • You may be in an outdoor public place, but you must remain six feet away from anyone not in your immediate household, and you must wear a face covering. You may arrange curbside shopping or have food delivery.
  • You cannot enter restaurants, bars, gyms, community centers, sporting facilities i.e., ice rinks, gymnasiums, and sports domes), office buildings, and school or daycare facilities. Do not participate in any group activities, including sporting events and practices, weddings, funerals, or other gatherings.
  • This 14-day window can be shortened by receiving a negative result from an optional second molecular-based test for SARS-Co V2 taken between five and 14 days after arrival into Alaska.

For more information, visit: https://covid19.alaska.gov/travelers/?fbclid=IwAR0Refvoefwsi7XtbyApk8SDjw2yauwE5OYQopPSUB3O4Yf_RL332KepAlo

Friends Don’t Let Friends Spread COVID-19. Call Your Contacts.

We’re All on Team AK

When it comes to knocking back COVID-19, Alaskans are all on the same team. COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreads very quickly. But, we can significantly slow down its spread.

If you test positive for COVID-19, we need you to call your close contacts as soon as possible to let them know that they have been exposed to the virus. This will help prevent your contacts from unknowingly spreading the virus further. The sooner the better. Even a short delay can result in exposing many more Alaskans to COVID-19. Be a Team AK player.

This flyer walks you through steps to take care of yourself and protect your close contacts. http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/SiteAssets/Pages/HumanCoV/Whattodoafteryourtest.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2_V0NKcgPv8gNvxtsDVJ7HG_WL2dAacjQKh-mMa7S7MH0Hml9KTuvt7jQ

DHSS Weekly Case Analysis for November 1-7

Data previously included in this report can be found on the data hub. DHSS has also published summaries of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations and EPI Bulletin: Summary of COVID-19 Hospitalizations, respectively.

Brief status report

  • Virus transmission across Alaska increased for the sixth week in a row.
  • Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are rising and hospital capacity and staffing remain a concern.
  • Positivity rates for arriving travelers getting tested at Alaska airports have nearly doubled over the last two weeks, illustrating an increased risk of travel.
  • Testing is not keeping up with new cases.
  • Alaskans should get tested immediately at the first sign of any symptoms. Testing is our best tool for understanding virus transmission and risk in our communities.
  • Most Alaskans get COVID-19 from a friend, family member or coworker. Alaskans should avoid indoor gatherings with non-household members, avoid crowds, wear masks when around non-household members and stay six feet from anyone not in their household.

Cases by Week Reported and Age Group

Alaska emergency department visits rising for COVID-19 and COVID-19 like symptoms

As cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, so are people showing up in emergency departments but diagnosed with COVID-19 and COVID like symptoms.  Syndromic surveillance uses de-identified data from hospitals to look at trends in diseases.  The below graph is the data for both possible COVID cases (blue) and possible influenza cases (yellow) in Alaska. This graph is intended to help clinicians understand the frequency of certain symptom sets, the frequency of diagnosis of these two viruses, and the general state of viral respiratory illness in Alaska as ‘flu season’ continues with the new impact of COVID. These data suggest a few points- that there are a high frequency of people with COVID or COVID like illness (CLI) visiting emergency departments and that influenza is still infrequently seen in emergency departments. We will follow these trends as flu season develops.

Case trends and predictions

  • For the sixth week in a row, more cases (3,061) were reported in Alaskans this week than any previous week, a 18% increase over last week.
  • The statewide positivity rate is at a record high for the sixth week in a row. Increases in testing are not keeping up with increases in cases. 
  • Cases are increasing in both urban and rural regions and increased in every region this week. For the first time, all regions of Alaska have high community transmission and are at a high alert level. The largest increase in cases was again in the Anchorage Municipality, which averaged 210 new cases a day this week, for a 14-day case rate of 72. The largest increase in case rate was in the Southern Southeast Region, which averaged 4.7 new cases a day this week, for a 14-day case rate of 23.7. Kenai Peninsula Borough also had a substantial increase in case rate, from 44.7 to 56.9.
  • An updated model epidemic curve predicts Alaska’s cases will continue to accelerate over the next week and are expected to double again within the next 25 days or sooner, with a daily growth rate near 3%.

Travelers with COVID-19

The proportion of travelers testing positive at airport testing nearly doubled over the last two weeks. As airport tests are only free for Alaskan residents, this likely reflects substantially increased risk of travel over the last two weeks, which correlates with increased case rates across most of the United States.

New cases, hospitalizations and deaths

  • The week of November 1-7 saw 3,061 new cases in Alaskans, for a total of 18,716 cumulative cases in Alaskans.
  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased to 482 with 24 reported as occurring this week.
  • Deaths among Alaska residents increased by 1 to 84 total, although the newly reported death occurred prior to the past week. It is common to take more than a week for a death to be reported.
  • There were 29 nonresident cases identified this week, for a total of 1,113.

How COVID-19 spreads in Alaska

  • Most 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 means 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.

Regional case trends

Behavioral Health RegionAverage new cases Sept 12- Sept 26Average new cases Sept 20- Oct 3Average new cases Sept 27- Oct 10Average new cases Oct 4- Oct 17Average new cases Oct 18- Oct 24Average new cases Oct 25- Oct 31Average new cases Nov 1- Nov 7
Anchorage Municipality16.121.528.932.240.455.872.0
Fairbanks North Star Borough16.321.235.033.329.933.735.2
Interior Region except Fairbanks North Star Borough4.97.911.317.121.625.629.3
Juneau City and Borough12.37.47.814.123.529.531.0
Kenai Peninsula Borough2.53.68.012.025.744.756.9
Matanuska-Susitna Region4.05.99.711.525.847.055.8
Northern Southeast Region4.24.92.82.47.77.312.9
Northwest Region27.930.735.739.136.235.238.8
Southern Southeast Region**2.24.33.25.023.7
Southwest Region3.54.76.47.29.216.122.0
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region8.77.122.337.2100.1122.4127.1
Statewide11.716.321.424.333.345.956.2

*Insufficient data; low case rate

 Positivity rates

  • The statewide test positivity rate went from 6.6% to 6.9% this week, which is the sixth week in a row that it is the highest it has ever been. 
  • Currently, the national average is 7.7%. Since Alaska’s per-capita testing capacity is more robust than 90% of states, a positivity rate near the national average is concerning. Source: Johns Hopkins
  • Test positivity can tell us if testing is adequate in an area. The goal is a positivity rate <2%. If the rate is over 5%, it means we are likely missing a lot of cases in that area.
  • Test positivity is affected by the number of tests performed as well as the number of new cases in an area.

Health care capacity

  • Hospitalizations hit record highs for the third week in a row and exceeded 100 Alaskans hospitalized at one time for the first time in the pandemic.
  • Currently, 103 Alaskans with confirmed COVID-19 are hospitalized and 9 are requiring a mechanical ventilator.
  • Hospital staffing can change quickly, particularly if a community has many health workers impacted by COVID-19.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

COVID-19 and travel

  • Travel is not currently thought to be a main factor in most new COVID-19 infections in Alaska, meaning that most Alaskans who get COVID-19 are getting it from social, work or family contacts rather than travel.
  • Travel for gatherings remains risky and gets more risky as cases rise across the US. The risk is from being in close contact and enclosed spaces with others while traveling as well as gathering with friends and family members indoors who may have COVID-19 and not know it.
  • Alaskans must follow Health Mandate 10.1 when returning from out-of-state travel.

What Alaskans should do

  • Alaskans should avoid gatherings and crowds, 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.
  • 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 and immediately isolate themselves from others by staying home, staying away from others, and not leaving their house except to seek testing or other medical care. Tests are most accurate in the first few days of symptoms, so testing as soon as possible after the first symptom starts is important, even if the symptom is very mild. Getting tested right away also 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 and providing accurate information.

Further information

  • The Frequently Asked Questions webpage is often the quickest route to an answer regarding testing, travel, health mandates and other COVID-19 information.
  • Please see the State of Alaska COVID-19 information for more information about the virus and how individuals and businesses can protect themselves and others from transmission.
  • For the most up-to-date case information, see the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub dashboard. Some data may change as more information comes to light through contact tracing and other public health work.
  • For questions regarding DHSS COVID response, including mandates and alerts, email covidquestions@alaska.gov.

For DHSS media inquiries, please contact clinton.bennett@alaska.gov.

November 12 Message from Municipal Administrator John Leach

Like the rest of Alaska, Sitka’s COVID-19 status is now in the red.  That means COVID-19 is rapidly spreading through our community.  Our healthcare workers, first responders, and front-line medical workers are at risk.  If too many are infected, they cannot perform their critical duties.  

I’d like to echo Governor Dunleavy’s emergency alert and request that Sitkans continue strong mitigation measures for the next 30 days.   

I’m directing all City employees to work from home whenever possible, however, City buildings will remain open with limited services.  We ask that citizens use internet or telephonic options for service as much as possible. 

We’ve all needed to make personal sacrifices this year.  Sitka has done an extraordinary job at keeping our case rate low.  However, like most of Alaska, our alert level is high. Our cases are rising dramatically.    

It’s time for Sitkans to rally together, take care of one another, and be vigilant with our prevention measures to protect our community, our first responders, and our schools. 

We know distance is the primary tool in fighting this virus.  Please stay six feet apart from all non-household members, and if you can’t do that, I’m asking you to please wear a mask.   

Please consider conducting business remotely as much as possible. 

Please use curbside pickup and delivery options whenever practicable. 

And please be creative and look for ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays differently. 

I ask every Sitkan to buckle down, change your behaviors, and do your part… for your family, friends, neighbors, and our community. 

On November 10, 2020, the City and Borough of Sitka Assembly approved Resolution 2020-30 encouraging people in the City and Borough of Sitka to continue COVID-19 prevention efforts for keeping Sitka Schools open.  To view a copy of this Resolution, visit https://cityofsitka.org/covid-19-cbs-legislation/.

To stay informed about Sitka COVID-19 data, visit the CBS COVID-19 Dashboard at https://cityofsitka.org/.

Thank you and stay safe! 

John Leach

Municipal Administrator

DHSS Press Release: DHSS distributing $4 million in CARES Act funding to support residential congregate care facilities

The funds, approved by Governor Mike Dunleavy, will help address additional expenses residential congregate care facilities – such as assisted living homes, skilled nursing facilities, or mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs – incurred as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facilities can use the money to purchase personal protective equipment; make minor environmental modifications; pay wages of employees who test positive for COVID-19 while they stay home to isolate; and pay relief workers to cover for those employees while they are unable to work.

Read more at
https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/AKDHSS/bulletins/2aa79d6?fbclid=IwAR1ixPLrO9jnmeobhyDjwd2IOvn5foLR0s_oRgwG8Xtgo7XHpcwQmFhXofw

DHSS Weekly COVID-19 Case Analysis: October 25-31

Data previously included in this report can be found on the data hub. DHSS has also published summaries of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations and EPI Bulletin: Summary of COVID-19 Hospitalizations, respectively.

Brief status report

  • Virus transmission across Alaska accelerated for the fifth record week in a row.
  • Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are rising and hospital capacity is a concern.
  • Testing is not keeping up with new cases.
  • Alaskans should get tested immediately at the first sign of any symptoms. Testing is our best tool for understanding virus transmission and risk in our communities.
  • Most Alaskans get COVID-19 from a friend, family member or coworker. Alaskans should avoid indoor gatherings with non-household members, wear masks when around non-household members and stay six feet from anyone not in their household.

Cases by Week Reported and Age Group

Case trends and predictions

  • For the fifth week in a row, more cases (2,602) were reported in Alaskans this week than any previous week, a 29% increase over last week.
  • The statewide positivity rate is at a record high for the fifth week in a row. Increases in testing are not keeping up with increases in cases.
  • Cases are increasing in both urban and rural regions. The largest increase in cases was again in the Anchorage Municipality, which averaged 178 new cases a day this week, for a 14-day case rate of 55.8. The largest increase in case rate was in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region, which averaged 25 new cases a day this week, for a 14-day case rate of 122.4. Mat-Su Borough had the second largest increase in case rate, from 25.8 to 47.0, with the average of 59 new cases a day this week predicting continued sharp increases in cases.
  • An updated model epidemic curve predicts Alaska’s cases will continue to accelerate over the next week and are expected to double again within the next 2-3 weeks or sooner, with a daily growth rate near 4%.

New cases, hospitalizations and deaths

  • The week of October 18-24 saw 2,602 new cases in Alaskans, for a total of 15,622 cumulative cases in Alaskans.
  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased to 441 with 26 reported as occurring this week.
  • Deaths among Alaska residents increased by 15 to 83 total, 4 of which are reported as occurring in the past week. It is common to take more than a week for a death to be reported.
  • There were 32 nonresident cases identified this week, for a total of 1,084.

How COVID-19 spreads in Alaska

  • Most 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 means 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.
  • Cases continue to increase fastest among Alaskans aged 20-39, however the proportion of cases in older Alaskans increased slightly again this week. This follows patterns seen in other states of increases in viral transmission occurring in younger age groups first, then followed by increases in older age groups, after which typically an increase in hospitalizations and deaths is seen.

Regional case trends

Behavioral Health RegionAverage new cases Sept 5- Sept 19Average new cases Sept 12- Sept 26Average new cases Sept 20- Oct 3Average new cases Sept 27- Oct 10Average new cases Oct 4- Oct 17Average new cases Oct 18- Oct 24Average new cases Oct 25- Oct 31
Anchorage Municipality13.216.121.528.932.240.455.8
Fairbanks North Star Borough15.916.321.235.033.329.933.7
Interior Region except Fairbanks North Star Borough3.14.97.911.317.121.625.6
Juneau City and Borough16.312.37.47.814.123.529.5
Kenai Peninsula Borough1.82.53.68.012.025.744.7
Matanuska-Susitna Region4.74.05.99.711.525.847.0
Northern Southeast Region3.14.24.92.82.47.77.3
Northwest Region15.627.930.735.739.136.235.2
Southern Southeast Region***2.24.33.25.0
Southwest Region3.53.54.76.47.29.216.1
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region8.48.77.122.337.2100.1122.4
Statewide10.211.716.321.424.333.345.9

*Insufficient data; low case rate

Positivity rates

  • The statewide test positivity rate went from 5.9% to 6.6% this week, which is the fifth week in a row that it is the highest it has ever been.
  • Currently, the national average is 6.6%. Since Alaska’s per-capita testing capacity is more robust than 90% of states, a positivity rate at the national average is concerning. Source: Johns Hopkins
  • Test positivity can tell us if testing is adequate in an area. The goal is a positivity rate <2%. If the rate is over 5%, it means we are likely missing a lot of cases in that area.
  • Test positivity is affected by the number of tests performed as well as the number of new cases in an area.

Health care capacity

  • Hospitalizations hit record highs for the second week in a row.
  • Currently, 79 Alaskans with confirmed COVID-19 are hospitalized and 6 are requiring a mechanical ventilator.
  • Hospital staffing can change quickly, particularly if a community has many health workers impacted by COVID-19.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

COVID-19 and travel

  • Travel is not currently thought to be a main factor in most new COVID-19 infections in Alaska, meaning that most Alaskans who get COVID-19 are getting it from social, work or family contacts rather than travel.
  • Travel for gatherings remains risky and gets more risky as cases rise across the US. The risk is from being in close contact and enclosed spaces with others while traveling as well as gathering with friends and family members indoors who may have COVID-19 and not know it.
  • Alaskans must follow Health Mandate 10.1 when returning from out-of-state travel.

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 and immediately isolate themselves from others by staying home, staying away from others, and not leaving their house except to seek testing or other medical care. Tests are most accurate in the first few days of symptoms, so testing as soon as possible after the first symptom starts is important, even if the symptom is very mild. Getting tested right away also 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 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

  • The Frequently Asked Questions webpage is often the quickest route to an answer regarding testing, travel, health mandates and other COVID-19 information.
  • Please see the State of Alaska COVID-19 information for more information about the virus and how individuals and businesses can protect themselves and others from transmission.
  • For the most up-to-date case information, see the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub dashboard. Some data may change as more information comes to light through contact tracing and other public health work.
  • For questions regarding DHSS COVID response, including mandates and alerts, email covidquestions@alaska.gov.

For DHSS media inquiries, please contact clinton.bennett@alaska.gov.

Traveling within Alaska?

Although testing when traveling between communities in Alaska is not required, it is highly recommended. Sitkans traveling between communities can be tested at the airport for free. The State of Alaska announced it will continue to provide free testing to residents at airports through at least the end of the year. Take advantage of this testing and let’s keep a lid on COVID-19!

Register on the Alaska Travel Portal at: https://www.alaska.covidsecureapp.com/

Alaska CASE COUNT SUMMARY, Tuesday, July 14

DHSS today announced 54 new people with COVID-19 in Alaska. 40 are residents in nine communities: Anchorage (18), Wasilla (6), Fairbanks (5), Soldotna (5), Valdez-Cordova Census Area (2), Juneau (1), Palmer (1), Sterling (1) and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area (1). This brings the total number of Alaska cases to 1,579.

14 new nonresidents were also identified in:

  • Municipality of Anchorage (7 in Anchorage): 1 tourism, 6 seafood industry
  • Bristol Bay and Lake & Peninsula boroughs: 1 seafood industry, 1 unknown industry
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 1 unknown industry
  • Petersburg Borough: 1 unknown industry in Petersburg
  • Unknown location: 1 tourism, 2 unknown industry

This bring the total number of nonresident cases to 320.

Of the 40 Alaska residents, 17 are male and 23 are female. One is under the age of 10; five are aged 10-19; 14 are aged 20-29; eight are aged 30-39; four are aged 40-49; three are aged 50-59; four are aged 60-69 and one is aged 70-79.

There have been a total of 92 hospitalizations and 17 deaths with five new hospitalizations and no new deaths reported yesterday. See the new “Confirmed COVID-19 Hospitalizations by Hospitalization Date” chart on the data dashboard for a timeline that shows when people were hospitalized.

Recovered cases now total 642 with 22 new recovered cases recorded yesterday. A total of 149,473 tests have been conducted. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous three days is 1.72%.

This report reflects data from 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on July 13 that posted at noon today on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub.

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

Alaska CASE COUNT SUMMARY, Thursday, July 9

DHSS today announced 49 new people with COVID-19 in Alaska. 46 are residents in 12 communities: Anchorage (21), Fairbanks (7), Wasilla (4), Kenai (2), Palmer (2), Soldotna (2), Bethel (1), Eagle River (1), Homer (1), Nome (1), North Pole (1), Petersburg (1), Seward (1) and Sterling (1). The total number of Alaska cases is now 1,272.

In Fairbanks, one case was identified in an employee of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, while another is an inmate at Fairbanks Correctional Center who was tested upon arrival at the facility.

Three new nonresidents were also identified in:

  • Kodiak Island Borough: 1 seafood industry
  • 2 unknown locations in unknown industries

The total number of nonresident cases is now 251.

Of the 46 Alaska residents, 22 are male and 24 are female. One is under the age of 10; two are aged 10-19; 13 are aged 20-29; four are aged 30-39; eight are aged 40-49; nine are aged 50-59; five are aged 60-69 and four are aged 70-79.

There have been a total of 80 hospitalizations and 17 deaths with one new hospitalization and no new deaths reported yesterday.

Recovered cases now total 571 with eight new recovered cases recorded yesterday. A total of 135,744 tests have been conducted. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous three days is 1.24%.

This report reflects data from 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on July 8 that posted at noon today on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub. 

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