A Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles. (Image: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Ketchikan emergency officials say they’re reckoning with at least 10 COVID-19 infections in the past week that are suspected to be cases of community spread.

Ketchikan’s head of pandemic response, Abner Hoage, told reporters Friday that officials are concerned by the acceleration of infections. As of Friday, officials have reported 61 cases in the past week with 67 active cases of COVID-19.

“This is arguably the largest outbreak of COVID-19 that we’ve had in Ketchikan since the beginning of the pandemic,” Hoage said. “We have at least three active clusters currently.”

The trio of clusters are linked to Ketchikan High School, an unnamed daycare and the hospitality industry.

“Pretty much all aspects of our of our community have been impacted one way or another,” Hoage said.

He says local officials may raise the community’s risk level to its highest mark.

“If we can’t get the cases under control, in the next couple of days, we’re going to have to go to the level four risk level,” Hoage said.

Ketchikan raised its community risk level to “high,” the second-highest mark, this past Tuesday. Hoage says that while 10 new community spread cases this week indicate a “very high” risk level, local officials decided Friday to wait and see before raising the risk level again. Local officials are set to consider raising the level next Tuesday.

If that does happen, local officials would recommend against all but essential travel, encourage telework and discourage gatherings of 20 or more people. Those would be advisory and not trigger any mandatory restrictions.

And Hoage’s appealing to Ketchikan’s residents to slow the spread.

“We’re in a very bad place right now. And we need everyone’s help to get us back down to a lower risk level. We want our businesses to be open. We want our schools to be open. And for those students who are coming to the end of the year to be able to close out their sports events, their graduations,” he said.

Ketchikan’s downtown drive-up testing site on Berth 3 will be open Sunday and Monday to allow for anyone with even mild symptoms to get a COVID-19 test. Ketchikan’s testing hotline is 247-TEST.