As Alaskans spend more time indoors, the cases of COVID-19 are on the rise. Another 526 cases of coronavirus were reported on Sunday in Alaska, adding to over 355 cases announced on Saturday, for a total of 881 new cases this weekend.
In comparison, new cases of the coronavirus in Washington was 919 on Friday. The population of Washington State is over 7.6 million, more than ten times that of Alaska.
The virus is also surging all across the Lower 48 states and in other countries.
The COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly across nearly all regions of the Alaska, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
The increase of positive cases is also due to an increase in testing in many communities and greater efforts by the Division of Public Health to enter backlogged case data.
“We’re doing all we can, with the full support of our governor, to respond vigorously to this increase in cases,” said DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum. “While DHSS provides support to Alaska’s communities, we’re also asking all Alaskans to step up their COVID prevention efforts to help flatten the curve again.
There are 58 Alaskans currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and a total of 68 deaths associated with the virus since it arrived in Alaska in March.
Older Alaskans and those with certain medical conditions or weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, are of concern.
Crum said the vast majority of today’s cases are younger than age 60, but “the saturation of the virus in the community increases the likelihood that our vulnerable populations such as older Alaskans or others at risk of severe illness will be infected, and these are the groups we are especially trying to protect. This won’t last forever, but right now we are asking all Alaskans to come together and slow this community spread and protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Additional recent support to Alaska’s communities includes:
- Additional testing: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has sent 50 new Abbott ID rapid testing machines to Alaska that will be distributed across the state. These rapid tests will be used for emerging case clusters and to protect congregate settings such as homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, correction facilities, schools and workplaces.
- Public Health Nursing support: Public Health Nursing sent a strike team that responds to outbreaks to Bethel this weekend to assist with testing, contact tracing and community education.
- PPE and testing supplies: On Friday, the DHSS warehouse shipped 1,400 pounds of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing equipment to Bethel. That shipment includes gloves requested by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Heath Corporation. The DHSS warehouse is also continuing to ship PPE and testing supplies throughout Alaska.
- Alternate care sites: Hospital capacity is still holding steady, but the State continues to maintain the Alaska Airlines Center alternate care site. Hospitals continue to maintain their on-campus surge capacity and offsite alternate care sites. Norton Sound Health Corporation is establishing a new alternate care site.
- New personnel and additional contracting help: The Division of Public Health, along with procurement and human resources, are continuing to hire contact tracers and data entry personnel and to purchase critical PPE supplies. Additional testing contractors are also being brought on to ensure accessible and affordable testing throughout the state.