Wrangell currently has no active cases of COVID-19 in the community. As of today, the total case count for the State of Alaska is 25,588 cases. That’s an increase on 4,257 cases from last week. As of today, 573 people have required hospitalization. That includes 60 new hospitalizations over the last week. And as of today, 99 people have died. Three of those deaths have occurred in the last week. For more information, you can visit the COVID-19 data hub here. For local case information and resources, you can visit wrangellcovid19.org.
As of Friday, November 6, the entire state of Alaska reached the high alert level. Community spread is occurring throughout the state. The state of Alaska is encouraging Alaskans to work from home as possible, to limit the number of places you visit during the week, to wear a mask when in the presence of others outside of your household, even when you are six feet apart, to delay unnecessary travel, stay home if you are sick, and keep washing your hands.
In response to the governor’s alert, and in an effort to keep Wrangell schools and businesses open, the Assembly passed a local mask mandate on November 12, requiring all individuals to wear a mask when they are indoors in public settings or communal spaces. The full ordinance can be read at the Wrangell COVID-19 website, or the Wrangell city website.
Masks continue to be available at public buildings around town. The library has masks and children’s and adult sizes, and can be reached by calling 874-3535. The Fire hall also has masks and can be reached at 874-3223. Local businesses are also carrying a variety of masks.
Governor Dunleavy has issued a series of COVID-19 outbreak health orders following the re-issuance of the public health disaster emergency declaration, effective November 16, 2020. The COVID-19 Health mandates issued under the March 11, 2020 disaster declaration are replaced with the COVID-19 outbreak health orders, including four new orders on telehealth and courtesy occupational licenses, virtual meetings and electronic communications for boards, online raffles and prize drawings and interstate travel. The interstate order implements a testing strategy and protocols for individuals traveling from road system communities like Wrangell to communities off the road system.
Starting this week, community asymptomatic testing will be available on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the SEARHC clinic parking lot. This is a change from the normal schedule. SEARHC will discontinue the free asymptomatic testing program consortium-wide on December 19, in response to the surge of positive cases within the state and the region. The change in protocols will allow facilities to preserve testing supplies and increase the turnaround time for test results.
The EOC has received some inquiries about data. Some may notice that there have been some differences in the total case count that is reported out by the state, by SEARHC, and by the Wrangell EOC. SEARHC numbers represent the number of positive cases that tested through a SEARHC facility. The numbers reported by the Wrangell EOC includes all cases that have been officially reported to the EOC by Public Health. The Alaska resident count reported by the state includes Alaska residents who test positive, regardless of where they were at the time they took the test. The state also reports out non-residents who have tested positive while in Alaska.
In order to prevent duplicate reporting across the nation, a person who tests positive is officially counted within the state that they reside in for the majority of the year. There may be instances when someone that has been out of state for quite some time, tests positive, and upon further investigation by the section of epidemiology, is determined to be a resident of Wrangell. At that point, they would be added to the Alaska count and also to the local community count. Since the beginning of cases showing up in Alaska, there has been an ongoing effort to rectify these inter-jurisdictional situations.
The state is also removing the active and recovered case counts from the data hub to prevent inaccurate or outdated information from being reported. Info about recovery is not reported to the Section of Epidemiology, and staffing capacity limits their ability to follow up with health care providers around the state in order to verify the recovery status of each person. Their priority is to maintain the most accurate count of confirmed daily cases. According to the CDC, most cases would be considered active for 10 days or for 20 days in instances of severe illness. Communities can use their area’s onset epidemiology curve from the dashboard and assume that cases are likely recovered 10 days after onset.
If you’re looking for guidance on holiday planning during COVID, Google-search ‘CDC holiday planning’ and you will find resources on how to protect yourself from getting or spreading COVID during the holiday season.