Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Courtesy National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

At least seven people in Ketchikan tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to data from local public health officials. Some 16 people are actively infected with COVID-19 in the First City. PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center says two people are hospitalized with the disease.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 19 people have tested positive since Ketchikan’s emergency operations center shut down on Friday. The EOC served as a clearinghouse for local COVID-19 data and coordinated local resources to fight the pandemic.

More than half of the cases reported since Friday, 10 in total, have been reported in what officials call a “congregate setting.” That’s an area where people live and work in close proximity — think a jail, fish plant, shelter or nursing home — though the data does not specify the exact location of the cases. Public health data shows two mostly separate clusters of congregate setting cases.

One person who tested positive in Ketchikan on Monday has since left the state against medical advice. But state health officials say the person “does not pose any risk to others within our community” and is not counted among Ketchikan’s active cases.

At least seven of the 19 cases since Friday have been reported in people who are fully vaccinated, though at least four of those people did not report COVID-19 symptoms.

Some of the recent public health data is incomplete — officials say they’re starting to fall behind on contact tracing because of the amount of work that is required for each positive case.

Elsewhere in the southern panhandle, officials reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Prince of Wales Island on Wednesday. Those include one Craig resident, five residents of smaller communities, and six non-residents. A total of 22 cases are active on Prince of Wales Island according to the official tally.

Health officials say that while the COVID-19 vaccines are not a perfect shield against the disease, they are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. More information about COVID-19 vaccines is available at

The CDC recently updated its recommendations for face masks. The federal health agency now recommends that unvaccinated and vaccinated people wear masks in public spaces in areas with “substantial” or “high” COVID-19 activity, including Ketchikan and many other Southeast communities.

COVID-19 cases have been surging in Alaska, with Juneau and Sitka setting records in recent weeks. Executives from the state’s largest hospitals say the statewide surge is straining a health care system already struggling with staffing shortages and burnout. The more contagious delta variant of COVID-19 and low vaccination rates are thought to be behind the surge.