DR. ZINK SAYS HOMEMADE MASKS MAY BE GOOD FOR PUBLIC HEALTH
Today’s coronavirus count in Alaska went from 143 statewide to 147, a gain of eight cases.
The reason the number is not 151, which it should be mathematically, is that the State Department of Health and Social Services has changed the way and the timeframe it is reporting on cases; they are now reported through midnight, rather than through 3 pm, as they were earlier. Some cases would have been counted twice due to the change of the timeframe.
Hospitalizations went from 9 to 13 today. Gov. Mike Dunleavy today said that 5,530 Alaskans have been tested as of today and there are no additional deaths attributed to the virus, beyond the first three already announced.
Alaska is among the top 10 states for testing per capita in the country. Two percent of the tests coming back are positive, said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer. Alaska has the fewest cases of any state, she said. The numbers announced today are probably those of people who acquired the virus two weeks ago.
STATE LAUNCHES COVID-19 DASHBOARD
The Alaska COVID-19 Dashboard is designed to provide Alaska-centric data, including geographical data using information provided by local hospitals, commercial labs, and state labs. The dashboard connects Alaskans with federal and community partner websites and will be continuously updated.
“I thank our DHSS data team, epidemiology team, and lab team for helping to make this information-filled dashboard a reality as we continue to provide transparency of all data available,” Zink said. “We understand this new look may take time to get familiar with and encourage Alaskans to check back in the coming days and weeks as we continue to make updates and changes.”
“The interactive Alaska COVID-19 Dashboard provides the public with the latest data while keeping in mind the confidentiality and sensitivity surrounding each individual case,” Dunleavy said. “I thank my team for standing up this tool so quickly and for their ongoing work as we navigate this pandemic together.”
NEW INFORMATION ON ‘SIX-FOOT RULE,’ FACE MASKS
Zink said that the current recommendation of six-foot distance between people is the minimum, and that people need to give as much space to others as possible because there is increasing evidence that droplets of the virus can linger in the air, especially in places where people are coming in and out of a lot, such as grocery stores. She said to think of “at least six feet,” and to stay out of places where there is a lot of in-and-out traffic.
She recommended using shopping delivery services and limiting your amount of time in stores.
ZINK also said that while a homemade surgical-style mask may not protect you from someone else who is sick, there is evidence that a homemade mask can prevent the spread of the disease because people can be asymptomatic spreaders of the disease. She said people should consider wearing a tightly woven homemade mask.
Eleven pallets of personal protective gear have been shipped to Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Zink said.
Zink said without social mitigation, there could be up to 11,000 deaths in Alaska from COVID-19.
In the state’s current modeling, Alaska is not shooting up in cases, the way it occurred in Washington State. The social mitigation efforts are working, Dunleavy said, encouraging Alaskans to keep their distance because they are making a difference in helping the state medical community prepare for an uptick in cases that is expected in the next couple of weeks.