A rapid increase is being tabulated by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services of residents testing position for the novel coronavirus, as the omicron variant spreads through the state, and federal authorities rush to provide free at-home rapid COVID antigen tests to everyone.
Beginning Jan. 19, the federal government was taking online orders at COVIDTests.gov, with a promise that those tests would ship typically within seven to 12 days of ordering. The federal government is also making 400 million nonsurgical N95 masks available for free at thousands of locations from pharmacies to supermarkets and community health centers nationwide. The masks are coming from the Strategic National Stockpile. White House officials said they hope to have that program fully operational by early February.
The Centers for Disease control updated its guidance on masks for the general public to say that people “may choose” to wear N95 and KN95 masks because these respirators “provide the highest level of protection from particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19.” For the first time the CDC also said that “loosely woven cloth masks provide the least protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
DHSS officials sent a letter to the state’s healthcare providers and tribal health partners on Jan. 7 detailing the current availability and indicated use for monoclonal antibodies, novel oral antiviral medications and remdesevir, an antibody for treatment of COVID-19. DHSS noted that there is an extremely limited supply, both nationally and in Alaska, of all current treatments and they are only indicated for those who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
DHSS updates the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 three times a week. Since the pandemic spread to Alaska in early 2020 a total of 194,176 residents and 6,840 nonresidents have been infected.
The latest updates available before publication of this edition of The Cordova Times, released on Monday, Jan. 24, confirmed 5,759 new test positives, 21 deaths, 139 hospitalizations and that the statewide COVID alert remains at high. A total of 5,654 of the new cases are residents, and 105 others are nonresidents.
The total includes:
- Anchorage 2,107
- Fairbanks 767
- Greater Wasilla Area 374
- North Pole 243
- Juneau 231
- Eagle River 203
- Ketchikan 174
- Greater Palmer Area 172
- Northwest Arctic Borough 156
- Kodiak 136
- Nome Census area 125
- Homer 84
- Soldotna 65
- Chugiak 64
- Nome 62
- Bethel Census Area 57
- Kotzebue 51
- Kenai 49
- Kusilvak Census Area 40
- Bethel 34
- Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area 30
- Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area 29
- Houston/Big Lake Area 26
- Valdez 23
- Sitka 22
- Delta Junction, Dutch Harbor 21
- Metlakatla 20
- Tok 18
- Craig 17
- Utqiagvik, Wrangell 16
- Aleutians East Borough, Copper River Census Area 15
- Bristol Bay/Lake and Peninsula Boroughs 14
- Kenai Peninsula Borough North 12
- North Slope Borough 11
- Anchor Point, Willow 10
- Aleutians West Census Area, Dillingham, Hooper Bay, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area 9
- Sterling 8
- Cordova, Denali Borough, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Kodiak Island Borough 3
- Fairbanks North Star Borough, Haines Kenai Peninsula Borough South, Sutton-Alpine 2
- Chugach Census Area, Fritz Creek, Hoonah, Angoon and Yakutat combined, Petersburg 1
Nonresident cases include 31 in Anchorage, 27 in Fairbanks, 8 in Juneau, 7 in Prudhoe Bay, 6 at undisclosed locations; 3 each in Ketchikan and Northwest Arctic Borough; 2 each in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and Bristol Bay/Lake and Peninsula boroughs combined, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Sitka and Wasilla; and one each in Eagle River, Homer, Nome, Palmer, Tok and Valdez.