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Saturday, June 6, 2020
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A dozen cases since yesterday in Alaska

THIRD ALASKA DEATH RESULTING FROM COVID

The Department of Health and Social Services posted 12 more cases of COVID-19 in Alaska since yesterday, bringing the total to 114 in the state. The new cases were: Anchorage – 5, Fairbanks – 5, Ketchikan – 1, and Juneau – 1

DHSS also reported the third death of an Alaskan from COVID-19. The individual was a 73-year-old Anchorage resident. The patient had been tested on March 23 and admitted to an Anchorage hospital; passing away Saturday evening, March 28. 

Five of the new cases are older adults (60+); two are adults aged 30-59; four are younger adults aged 19-29 and one is under 18.  Six are female and six are male. Six of the cases are close contacts of previously diagnosed cases; one is travel-related and five are still under investigation. 

So far the communities in Alaska that have had laboratory-confirmed cases include Anchorage (including JBER), Eagle River/Chugiak, Girdwood, Fairbanks, North Pole, Homer, Juneau, Ketchikan, Palmer, Seward, Soldotna and Sterling.

The total case count for Saturday, March 28:

  • Anchorage: 59, up from 54 on Saturday
  • Fairbanks/North Pole/Interior: 28, up from 23 on Saturday
  • Mat/Su: 2, unchanged
  • Ketchikan: 13, one more since Saturday
  • Juneau: 5, up from 4 on Saturday
  • Kenai Peninsula communities: 7, unchanged

Some 3,334 Alaskans have been tested for COVID-19. Three have died of the new virus, for which there has not been a discovered cure.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The Governor says that they’re doing “reasonably well”

    I say that he’s failed miserably.

    The President has failed the citizens of this country, that much will be clear very, very soon.

    Your Washington delegation has failed Alaskans too. Why wasn’t there enough PPE and other basic equipment on hand prior to this ?

    Why has the State continued to cut funding for basic public health initiatives ?

    Politicizing public health is a bad idea, and now we’re all going to pay for this incompetence.

    • Were you the guy I saw on the escalator about half way up when the power went off and you got on your phone calling for help!!!

    • Bill,
      You say that politicizing public health is a bad idea and yet you’ve done just that.
      .
      According to the Global Health Security Index the US is ranked #1 https://www.ghsindex.org/ if you look at the numbers of the countries with the most confirmed deaths you will see that we have a much, much better rate than the vast majority of countries who have been impacted by this virus in any meaningful way https://www.realclearpolitics.com/coronavirus/
      .
      Try and put your politics on the back burner and review the information in front of you. We are in a much better situation than much of the rest of the world. Has the response been perfect, no it hasn’t, but welcome to the real world it’s never been perfect.

      • We are number one in numbers of cases.

        We can revisit your happy talk later.

        We have 3000 dead now and that number is going to skyrocket in the coming weeks.

        I recall people saying it’s all an over-reaction. You wouldn’t have been saying something like that a couple weeks ago would you?

        • Care to guess why we are number one Bill? The first reason is China is lying. The second reason is because the amount of testing we’ve done. The reason we have a better mortality rate is because our healthcare system isn’t government run. Look at all the other countries and their mortality rates, it is remarkable how poorly these government run Healthcare countries have responded no matter where on the curve. The lone exception thus far being Germany. Look at the number of people in each of these countries and the number of deaths per one million people. This should be the end of all the Medicare for all nonsense and all the single payer nonsense, but the true believers will disregard facts as always.
          .
          Facts and science drive my opinions, your political nonsense can and should be saved for a different day. Go back and read what I’ve written, it’s all on the record. There has been an overreaction and you are still taking part in it. Let the facts and science guide you and you will see how petty your partisanship is.

          • We’ve tested one third of one percent of our population.

            We will need to test all 327 million people in the country unless we have a vaccine before that gets done.

            You can wish and pose conjectures all you want, a reality based view serves a much more useful purpose.

    • Politicizing public health? Isn’t that exactly what you are doing Bill,? Let me guess:. Bill Walker and buddy Byron should be back in office. We need Bernie or Biden to solve the incompetencies presented now. Bill, quit smoking your marijuana and give Suzanne a large donation for printing your garbage. Democrat trolls are so easily identifiable.

    • I could not disagree more. It is this kind of thinking that feeds into the desire by some to have a complete socialist/welfare state. We all need to take every reasonable precaution in preventing the spread, but the aftermath of completely destroying our economy will cause more harm than the virus itself if we overreact. Our state is facing disaster with low oil prices, a generally weak economy even before this, and now other industries being mothballed. It’ll be a great opportunity for like minded folks to play the blame game, and with the perfect excuse. If it doesn’t come to fruition you can always fall back to “but for the extreme steps we all would have died…”.
      And now our mayor gets to turn the public facilities into the homeless shelters he has always wanted.
      Just how many masks, ventilators, etc. do you think we should have had on hand? Shouldn’t some of the responsibility be on the private sector hospitals, etc., to have the stockpile of supplies that are deemed necessary on hand, or in your mind is it all on the Governor and President? It is time to step up and fight this thing, not to make endless baseless criticisms of our elected leaders.

    • Let me guess; mature lifelong smoker?

      You would be better off holing up than pasting others with your complaints.

    • We don’t have public health. We have private industry in the health racket. What the market will bear in a deal with the insurance agencies, with government blessings.
      Obama Care was just more government blessings on an overpriced and under performing private system.
      That the “No Trump” bunch will use this event to bash Trump is a given. Truth is that Trump, (neither would have Clinton for that matter) doesn’t have the clout to control much of the government’s reactions to this virus. Only a third of the blame can be attributed to Trump. Dems and the GOP share another third. The health racket and the insurance racket shares the last third.

  • Thank you Suzanne for reporting that 3,334 number of people who have been tested. I haven’t seen that reported anywhere else.
    It confirms what I’ve been saying to friends and family…that the SOA really has no clue how many people have, or have had, the CV, because only a tiny fraction of our population has been tested.
    I have no way proving, but suspect that the number of infected people is far far higher than the reported 114 who are confirmed.

    • If I’m not mistaken, the numbers come from the state.

      So…

  • We are seeing increases in the amount of cases since testing has increased.
    Overall, the spread is fairly slow in our state since many Alaskans live spaced apart and do not use a lot of mass transit like NY and SF.
    I have been reading up on the “travel ban” imposed by our Governor and it appears unconstitutional.
    Other Governors are saying they cannot prevent citizens from moving between states, then why are we told we cannot travel in state?
    More than a risk of illness, there is a current risk to erosion of our Democracy and Bill of Rights.
    There is a reason Trump will not impose any travel bans.
    “The right to travel is fundamentally tied to our conception of what it means to be a citizen of a nation…
     As the Supreme Court recognized more than 170 years ago, “we are one people with one common country.
    We are all citizens of the United States, and as members of the same community must have the right to pass and repass through every part of it without interruption, as freely as in our own states.”
    The right of all US citizens to travel freely among the states, the Court later explained in United States v. Guest(1966), “was conceived from the beginning to be a necessary concomitant of the stronger union the Constitution created.”
    (Vox.com)

    • Steve,

      Even in the article you quote from it says that these are being worded in such a way that they will likely pass any challenge. The problem is that people nowadays are so stupid they need some authority to tell them to stay away from sick people and that we need to practice basic hygiene. In other words people, even before basic hygiene was invented knew enough to keep the sick away and quarantined during plagues, they didn’t need government to tell them not to lick door knobs…or worse yet toilet seats. All of these mandates are because we have too many stupid people out there doing too many stupid things during a global pandemic.

      I have yet to see anyone give a solid reason for how these mandates are unconstitutional. Your freedom to do what you want ends when it impacts others freedoms, and if you are a threat to entire communities asking that you quarantine for a couple weeks isn’t really asking all that much.

      We should remember that our government asks that we don’t kill our neighbors and we are trusted to not do so, but we will suffer the consequences if we do. There is very little difference between these mandates and all of the gun laws around the nation with cooling off periods, our government is saying hey just don’t kill each other please.

    • You’ll have to read up on emergency powers.

      “The Constitution,” Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote for a 7-2 majority, “does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint.” Instead, “a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic.” Its members “may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.”

      States also have the power, beyond criminal law enforcement, to make quarantine and isolation effective. If presented with widespread noncompliance, governors may call National Guard units to put their orders into force, to safeguard state property and infrastructure, and to maintain the peace. In some states, individuals who violate emergency orders can be detained without charge and held in isolation.

      Emphasizing the sound constitutional and legal basis of these measures is important in reassuring the public that government can do what is necessary to secure the general welfare.

    • Never heard of martial law have you? Snow flakes like you sicken me.

  • https://spectator.us/deadly-coronavirus-still-far-clear-covid-19/

    In announcing the most far-reaching restrictions on personal freedom in the history of Britain nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson resolutely followed the scientific advice that he had been given. The advisers to the UK government seem calm and collected, with a solid consensus among them. In the face of a new viral threat, with numbers of cases surging daily, I’m not sure that any prime minister would have acted very differently.

    But I’d like to raise some perspectives that have hardly been aired in the past weeks, and which point to an interpretation of the figures rather different from that which the government is acting on. I’m a recently-retired Professor of Pathology and National Health Service consultant pathologist, and have spent most of my adult life in healthcare and science — fields which, all too often, are characterized by doubt rather than certainty. There is room for different interpretations of the current data. If some of these other interpretations are correct, or at least nearer to the truth, then conclusions about the actions required will change correspondingly.

    The simplest way to judge whether we have an exceptionally lethal disease is to look at the death rates. Are more people dying than we would expect to die anyway in a given week or month? Statistically, we would expect about 51,000 to die in Britain this month. At the time of writing, 422 deaths are linked to COVID-19 — so 0.8 percent of that expected total. On a global basis, we’d expect 14 million to die over the first three months of the year. The world’s 18,944 coronavirus deaths represent 0.14 percent of that total. These figures might shoot up but they are, right now, lower than other infectious diseases that we live with (such as flu). Not figures that would, in and of themselves, cause drastic global reactions.

    Initial reported figures from China and Italy suggested a death rate of 5 percent to 15 percent, similar to Spanish flu. Given that cases were increasing exponentially, this raised the prospect of death rates that no healthcare system in the world would be able to cope with. The need to avoid this scenario is the justification for measures being implemented: the Spanish flu is believed to have infected about one in four of the world’s population between 1918 and 1920, or roughly 500 million people with 50 million deaths. We developed pandemic emergency plans, ready to snap into action in case this happened again.

    At the time of writing, the UK’s 422 deaths and 8,077 known cases give an apparent death rate of 5 percent. This is often cited as a cause for concern, contrasted with the mortality rate of seasonal flu, which is estimated at about 0.1 percent. But we ought to look very carefully at the data. Are these figures really comparable?

    Most of the UK testing has been in hospitals, where there is a high concentration of patients susceptible to the effects of any infection. As anyone who has worked with sick people will know, any testing regime that is based only in hospitals will over-estimate the virulence of an infection. Also, we’re only dealing with those COVID-19 cases that have made people sick enough or worried enough to get tested. There will be many more unaware that they have the virus, with either no symptoms, or mild ones.

    That’s why, when Britain had 590 diagnosed cases, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, suggested that the real figure was probably between 5,000 and 10,000 cases, 10 to 20 times higher. If he’s right, the headline death rate due to this virus is likely to be 10 to 20 times lower, say 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent. That puts the COVID-19 mortality rate in the range associated with infections like flu.

    But there’s another, potentially even more serious problem: the way that deaths are recorded. If someone dies of a respiratory infection in the UK, the specific cause of the infection is not usually recorded, unless the illness is a rare ‘notifiable disease’. So the vast majority of respiratory deaths in the UK are recorded as bronchopneumonia, pneumonia, old age or a similar designation. We don’t really test for flu, or other seasonal infections. If the patient has, say, cancer, motor neurone disease or another serious disease, this will be recorded as the cause of death, even if the final illness was a respiratory infection. This means UK certifications normally under-record deaths due to respiratory infections.

    Now look at what has happened since the emergence of COVID-19. The list of notifiable diseases has been updated. This list — as well as containing smallpox (which has been extinct for many years) and conditions such as anthrax, brucellosis, plague and rabies (which most UK doctors will never see in their entire careers) — has now been amended to include COVID-19. But not flu. That means every positive test for COVID-19 must be notified, in a way that it just would not be for flu or most other infections.

    In the current climate, anyone with a positive test for COVID-19 will certainly be known to clinical staff looking after them: if any of these patients dies, staff will have to record the COVID-19 designation on the death certificate — contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind. There is a big difference between COVID-19 causing death, and COVID-19 being found in someone who died of other causes. Making COVID-19 notifiable might give the appearance of it causing increasing numbers of deaths, whether this is true or not. It might appear far more of a killer than flu, simply because of the way deaths are recorded.

    If we take drastic measures to reduce the incidence of COVID-19, it follows that the deaths will also go down. We risk being convinced that we have averted something that was never really going to be as severe as we feared. This unusual way of reporting COVID-19 deaths explains the clear finding that most of its victims have underlying conditions — and would normally be susceptible to other seasonal viruses, which are virtually never recorded as a specific cause of death.

    Let us also consider the COVID-19 graphs, showing an exponential rise in cases — and deaths. They can look alarming. But if we tracked flu or other seasonal viruses in the same way, we would also see an exponential increase. We would also see some countries behind others, and striking fatality rates. The United States Centers for Disease Control, for example, publishes weekly estimates of flu cases. The latest figures show that since September, flu has infected 38 million Americans, hospitalized 390,000 and killed 23,000. This does not cause public alarm because flu is familiar.

    The data on COVID-19 differs wildly from country to country. Look at the figures for Italy and Germany. At the time of writing, Italy has 69,176 recorded cases and 6,820 deaths, a rate of 9.9 percent. Germany has 32,986 cases and 157 deaths, a rate of 0.5 percent. Do we think that the strain of virus is so different in these nearby countries as to virtually represent different diseases? Or that the populations are so different in their susceptibility to the virus that the death rate can vary more than twentyfold? If not, we ought to suspect systematic error, that the COVID-19 data we are seeing from different countries is not directly comparable.

    Look at other rates: Spain 7.1 percent, US 1.3 percent, Switzerland 1.3 percent, France 4.3 percent, South Korea 1.3 percent, Iran 7.8 percent. We may very well be comparing apples with oranges. Recording cases where there was a positive test for the virus is a very different thing to recording the virus as the main cause of death.

    Early evidence from Iceland, a country with a very strong organization for wide testing within the population, suggests that as many as 50 percent of infections are almost completely asymptomatic. Most of the rest are relatively minor. In fact, Iceland’s figures, 648 cases and two attributed deaths, give a death rate of 0.3 percent. As population testing becomes more widespread elsewhere in the world, we will find a greater and greater proportion of cases where infections have already occurred and caused only mild effects. In fact, as time goes on, this will become generally truer too, because most infections tend to decrease in virulence as an epidemic progresses.

    One pretty clear indicator is death. If a new infection is causing many extra people to die (as opposed to an infection present in people who would have died anyway) then it will cause an increase in the overall death rate. But we have yet to see any statistical evidence for excess deaths, in any part of the world.

    COVID-19 can clearly cause serious respiratory tract compromise in some patients, especially those with chest issues, and in smokers. The elderly are probably more at risk, as they are for infections of any kind. The average age of those dying in Italy is 78.5 years, with almost nine in ten fatalities among the over-70s. The life expectancy in Italy — that is, the number of years you can expect to live to from birth, all things being equal — is 82.5 years. But all things are not equal when a new seasonal virus goes around.

    It certainly seems reasonable, now, that a degree of social distancing should be maintained for a while, especially for the elderly and the immune-suppressed. But when drastic measures are introduced, they should be based on clear evidence. In the case of Covid-19, the evidence is not clear. The UK’s lockdown has been informed by modeling of what might happen. More needs to be known about these models. Do they correct for age, pre-existing conditions, changing virulence, the effects of death certification and other factors? Tweak any of these assumptions and the outcome (and predicted death toll) can change radically.

    Much of the response to COVID-19 seems explained by the fact that we are watching this virus in a way that no virus has been watched before. The scenes from the Italian hospitals have been shocking, and make for grim television. But television is not science.

    Clearly, the various lockdowns will slow the spread of COVID-19 so there will be fewer cases. When we relax the measures, there will be more cases again. But this need not be a reason to keep the lockdown: the spread of cases is only something to fear if we are dealing with an unusually lethal virus. That’s why the way we record data will be hugely important. Unless we tighten criteria for recording death due only to the virus (as opposed to it being present in those who died from other conditions), the official figures may show a lot more deaths apparently caused by the virus than is actually the case. What then? How do we measure the health consequences of taking people’s lives, jobs, leisure and purpose away from them to protect them from an anticipated threat? Which causes least harm?

    The moral debate is not lives vs money. It is lives vs lives. It will take months, perhaps years, if ever, before we can assess the wider implications of what we are doing. The damage to children’s education, the excess suicides, the increase in mental health problems, the taking away of resources from other health problems that we were dealing with effectively. Those who need medical help now but won’t seek it, or might not be offered it. And what about the effects on food production and global commerce, that will have unquantifiable consequences for people of all ages, perhaps especially in developing economies?

    Governments everywhere say they are responding to the science. The policies in the UK are not the government’s fault. They are trying to act responsibly based on the scientific advice given. But governments must remember that rushed science is almost always bad science. We have decided on policies of extraordinary magnitude without concrete evidence of excess harm already occurring, and without proper scrutiny of the science used to justify them.

    In the next few days and weeks, we must continue to look critically and dispassionately at the COVID-19 evidence as it comes in. Above all else, we must keep an open mind — and look for what is, not for what we fear might be.

    John Lee is a recently retired professor of pathology and a former NHS consultant pathologist. This article was originally published in The Spectator’s UK magazine. Subscribe to the US edition here.

  • Yeah, but federal courts have generally upheld orders to control movement and to quarantine when the health of the public is threatened. SCOTUS has allowed interventions in cases where interstate commerce was an issue.
    I agree with your basic premise that banning travel is unconstitutional, but there may be exceptions when the health and welfare of the state is involved. At the same time, I’m not sure that this is settled law.

  • We could shut this down rather quickly if Alaska does what Florida just did and get in supplies of the Malaria treatment being used world wide and 99% effective in curing. We have a small enough population living in the urban centers to change the course virtually overnight.

    • Kinda like letting a wildfire burn instead of quickly putting it out?
      Unfortunately now that the vaccine project (worth billions) is referred to as the “Manhattan Project”…you can see where this thing is headed.

    • From what I understand, Malaria treatment doesn’t cure the virus, but for some it may reduce the chance of sepsis setting in, which is what really does most of the killing.

      • Tell me Jose, I know what a PHD is, that’s bestowed on a doctor of philosophy, what is a PHDJ.

        Is that a doctorate of DeeJays?

        Are you a professional platter spinner on the radio?

        • That’s my middle and last initials. I post in KTUU as Joseph Darwin James.

  • Quackery starts looking pretty favorable in face of an out of control global pandemic. It’s still quackery.

  • Yeah, but your are asking the house majority to do something they can’t do. Politicians focus on self preservation, not what is best for the people. They prove it over and over again.

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