Alaska cases surge, but the ‘protest spike’ is yet to come

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With Memorial Day as the demarkation between a “stay home” order and a more “open Alaska” condition, Alaska is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases that should concern health care professionals, even though they predicted it would happen. What they didn’t predict were mass gatherings.

On May 24, there were just 46 active cases of the virus in the state; by June 7 that had spiked to 169.

But the real spike could come this week, after numerous marches and protests took place around the state, exposing people to the contagion, even though many protesters wore cloth masks to protect themselves.

Chanting crowds, with most not observing the 6-foot rule, gathered in Anchorage, Palmer, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, and a few other locations in Alaska to protest police brutality. Most wore face coverings, but few had N-95 masks on, which are more protection than the cotton ones that were common. And, as with many civilians, quite a few didn’t seem to know how to delicately handle a mask to avoid contamination on hands and clothing.

Today, June 8, 2020 there are just 7 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, and none of them are on ventilators. Hospitals have plenty of room to admit the possible surge that could happen in the next few days.

And Alaska is in a good place still, in spite of the spike: The death rate for COVID-19 has been holding at 10, which is under 2 percent of all who have been know to become infected with the virus in the state, and lower than the national death rate from the virus, which is closer to 3 percent. That may be in large part because the virus has not found many victims in nursing homes in Alaska, a condition that changed last week when an Anchorage care facility reported over a dozen cases between work staff and patients.

In the latest state report, there were 19 new cases of COVID, no additional hospitalizations, and 320 ventilators available in the state for the surge that may lie ahead.

22 COMMENTS

  1. I suspect, but do not know, that the spike in cases is related one or more significant changes to the criteria for testing and the availability of testing. I wish that could be clarified. Changes in policies occur in response to number of cases. We need to understand those numbers.

    • For the reason you describe, (changes to the criteria for testing and the availability of testing) I don’t put much faith in the infection number. I believe that the hospitalization rate is a much truer reflection of where we’re at with the covid.

    • I suspect wishful thinking on your part.
      The medical professionals all predicted what would occur if a state ‘opened up’ without meeting all the standards for doing so safely.
      Alaska is the poster child for opening up without meeting any of the criteria and the spike was predicted exactly as it is occurring.
      The testing in the state is inadequate by any measure and the wish to lay off the spiking numbers to some testing anomaly is simply wishful thinking.

  2. Ed,

    If information and facts scare you then this isn’t the site for you. All the good conservatives I know appreciate factual information and it doesn’t scare them in the least.

  3. Phony virus scare with a phony spike. Who cares, Open Alaska, take the mask off . And BTW, to hell with this RINO commie governor.

    • I expect if you contract the disease you’ll be fine with signing a do not resuscitate order since any suffering that ails you is just a hoax.
      We wouldn’t want to see any medical personnel taking any risks trying to cure you of your hoax.

  4. Sorry, junior, that you’re scared, but the facts of life and death in Alaska in 2020 are best handled by adults.

  5. Reading between the lines, I think she’s making the opposite case by gently chastising the hypocrisy of those leftists who were initially the most vocal about screaming “the world is coming to an end!” and demanding that everyone maintain social distance.

    • If you could paint everyone with that one brush but you can’t.

      Not everyone is in favor of protests being conducted in a manner that enhances the likelihood of more contagion.
      Just like many were not in favor of the ‘open up’ protests for the exact same reason. Standing in the faces of law enforcement personnel and spitting and shouting was, in my book, simple assault.
      In the same way, linking arms and marching close together won’t help stop the spread of the contagion.
      It is truly tragic that disease will be one of the side effects of the protests, but breaking points don’t wait for the all clear signal, and America has reached a breaking point in regards systemic racism and ingrained police brutality.

  6. I agree that this article seems slanted to scare. At this point it is clear that this virus is just not that dangerous for the vast majority of people who contract it; only 48 out of at least 563 Alaskans with the virus (and many more of us are pretty sure we had in January) were even sick enough to go to the hospital. So simple increases in case numbers are almost meaningless; in fact increased numbers of cases without corresponding increases in hospitalizations and deaths could be seen as good news as we move toward herd immunity. Hospitalizations remain extremely low at 7 current, and only 48 total since the start of this panic. Ventilator use is almost non-existent: 28 out of 348 ventilators are in use, and that includes *all* patients, not just covid-related uses. And Alaska’s fatality number of 10 (at least three of which are suspect since they did not occur in AK or were not indisputably a result of covid) has not changed in over a month, and even to go from 9 to 10 took nearly a month.
    For some perspective, during the 2018–19 season (the latest season for which I could find data), in Alaska there were 18 influenza-associated deaths – 16 adult and 2 pediatric.

    • Deaths are a lagging indicator. During the initial spike back in March that led to the 7 in state deaths we were right about the same number of positive tests we are now. If the past is an indicator the death totals will start going up again in a week or two. There will undoubtedly be a spike following these protests, here in Alaska and nationwide.
      .
      One must remember that the reason for the lockdowns back in March was to flatten the curve and allow medical facilities to prepare for a sustained effort to respond to this pandemic. The problem, as can be seen by the increasing numbers and by how people are acting, is that we are surrounded by people who lack any sense of personal responsibility. They do not care for themselves so why should they be expected to care for others? When one week a certain group of people are crying about how people gathering to remember the war dead will lead to more covid cases and then a week later those same people are marching arm in arm down the street it is obvious that virtue signalling is far more important to them than their own health.

    • Completely ignoring the documented facts showing the disease has lasting debilitating effects beyond the fatality risk.
      Kidney damage, blood clots, strokes, etc are not the indicators of no danger.
      As for ventilators, doctors long ago found that in many cases a ventilator was not the preferred practice and doctors since have been trying to avoid ventilator use if possible. Try to keep up if you’re going to pretend you know what advice to give.
      Increased numbers mean nothing to you because you aren’t the one suffering from the disease.
      Best hope that you never have to.

  7. This much is true: The indignation of half the population against the other half, if, God forbid they weren’t socially distancing to the others’ liking, all went out the window when a leftist cause celeb came to the fore. Hence, ergo, therefore, it was a sham. It may very well be that the virus poses the dangers ascribed to it, but what is demonstrably true is that the people shaming others about it, didn’t really believe any of it themselves.

  8. Suzanne,
    People don’t wear masks to protect themselves.

    Well, some might think that, but they’re just misinformed and sorely mistaken.

    Cloth masks will not protect you from contagion, they can’t filter a virus that is airborne, the virus is too small.
    Masks are worn to help prevent the spread from the mask wearer.
    Cloth masks will help stop spread from the mask wearer because it will help stop the transmission of droplets or spray from the mask wearer. They will help to arrest a sneeze or a cough, but cloth masks are worn to help protect others, not the mask wearer.

  9. The mask in the photo is one with an ‘easy breath’ valve that doesn’t do much to arrest the spread from the mask wearer. Most of those masks are for filtering particles while sanding or similar work, and the ‘valve’ allows easy exhalation so they don’t work for stopping the spread from the mask wearer.

    • That is the plan. The issue is, many are infected and don’t know it. So stay 6 feet apart, do your thing and stop complaining about every little thing that comes down the pike. You will live longer.

  10. I went to the airport last night and while waiting on a family member delayed by the lecture most arriving travelers receive I was struck by the contrast.

    Inside the airport is a group of people getting the Corona lecture.

    Exiting the airport are airline personnel and passengers sporting masks.

    Waving people into his shuttle bus is a black guy with no mask on that represents the weak link in the chain amongst a sea of people wearing masks. He’s Anchorage’s Covid-19 version of Typhoid Mary. I couldn’t help but take his picture.

  11. I think the surge is more Memorial Day Crowds and the numbers just don’t alarm me. It is likely good to have a steady rate of infection and we are fortunate in Alaska to have enough space the the likelihood of a huge overwhelming outbreak is not likely . For our family, we are just practicing our own cautions as we are self employed and this is our busy season. We are doing our best to stay socially distanced and are wearing masks, including N95 if in close proximity with people we don’t know well. Hope is that if any of us contract it won’t be until around October ?. As for the protest crowd I guess we will see. The pictures showed most protestors were masked. Hmmmm a bit of anonymity or actual sincere care about infecting ones neighbor?

  12. The first mask and social distancing optional protest was May 30th so we would already be seeing the first of the protest spikes starting around June 5th.

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