Record COVID-19 numbers are being reported as the omicron coronavirus wave pounds onto Southeast Alaska’s ragged shores.
“Case counts on Prince of Wales are rising. In the past seven days we have had 68 confirmed cases on Prince of Wales Island. This count does not include self reported home antigen tests,” said a recorded message dated Monday from Craig Public Health on Prince of Wales Island. That weekly total of 68 is roughly twice the previous record set during the delta variant surge in August.
Health officials say they’re no longer able to investigate all cases and are asking positive individuals to reach out to their own contacts. The recording notes that the Craig Public Health office was closed Monday because of weather and “staffing shortages.”
Public schools in Craig are in distance learning through at least Friday because of the spike.
Free at-home tests are available from Craig Public Health. The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium and PeaceHealth clinics are offering free flu and COVID-19 vaccines as well. Booster doses are encouraged for anyone 12 and older.
Meanwhile, in Metlakatla, tribal authorities there raised the community’s COVID-19 risk level to its highest mark, level 3, on Sunday.
Masks are mandatory, businesses must abide by mitigation measures or face closure, and the Annette Island Service Unit clinic is only seeing “urgent/emergent” patients, according to a notice posted by Metlakatla Indian Community officials.
At least 53 people have tested positive since Jan. 1, according to the notice. Those account for approximately a quarter of all cases detected in Metlakatla since the pandemic began. That count also excludes at-home tests.
Metlakatla officials said roughly two dozen cases were active on Sunday. The Annette Island School District has moved classes online through the end of this week in response.
COVID-19 data for Ketchikan was not reported Monday — the local public health office says it shut down due to icy weather.
But over the weekend, officials with Ketchikan’s school district began reporting the number of COVID-19 cases associated with each school. As of Sunday, 71 staff and students had reported testing positive in the past week. Just under 30 had attended school while infectious, including 15 at Ketchikan High School.
The dashboard is based on self-reported test results from parents as well as the results of in-school testing programs.