Covid cases stay steady
COVID-19 transmission remains widespread in Alaska, as variants of the virus continue to spread, even among those who have been vaccinated.
Norton Sound Health Corporation’s Medical Director Dr. Mark Peterson emphasized that “the vaccines and boosters have been very effective in reducing the risk of severe disease and death from COVID.”
But, Dr. Peterson noted, the vaccines do not do as good of a job of preventing people from catching COVID. This has been especially true of the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 variants that caused an uptick in cases in Alaska over the last several weeks.
“We know that people who have been vaccinated and boosted, can still get BA.4 or BA.5, however, these people are not likely to get very ill from it, which is ultimately the goal,” Dr. Peterson said.
He used the example of President Joe Biden, who recently became infected with COVID. Biden is “high risk, given his age, but because he's been vaccinated and boosted, he seems to be doing OK, with milder symptoms,” Dr. Peterson said. Alaska U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski announced on Monday that she tested positive for COVID-19 after showing flu-like symptoms.
Though the Alaska Department of Health reported that the number of hospitalizations has increased over the last few weeks, “in our region, we have not been seeing any increase in hospitalizations or deaths, thankfully,” Dr. Peterson said.
As of Monday, there were 38 active COVID cases in the Norton Sound region, with 22 of those Nome.
Earlier this month, the CDC stopped reporting cruise ships’ COVID outbreak status. The decision came around the same time cruise ships began stopping in Nome for the first time since the pandemic began. The first of this season’s nine cruise visits occurred on Saturday when the M.S. Roald Amundsen dropped off and picked up hundreds of passengers.
Dr. Peterson said that, in his opinion, Nomeites shouldn’t be too worried about these tourists flocking to the town’s restaurants and shops. He emphasized that the ships are requiring passengers to be fully vaccinated and to test negative before getting on-board. “These ships are testing their guests if they develop symptoms,” he said. “They are isolating them if they test positive. They are working with NSHC to place people into isolation upon arrival in Nome if they require it.”
Guidance for preventing the spread of infection remains the same: masking indoors, social distancing, testing, washing hands, and getting vaccines and boosters.
The week in numbers:
On Wednesday, July 20, Norton Sound Health Corporation identified 10 new cases. Nome had two new cases, Unalakleet had seven and Wales had one. This made for 38 active cases in the region, of which 15 were in Nome and 14 were in Unalakleet, while five were in Wales and four were in Elim.
On Thursday, July 21, NSHC identified nine new cases. Five of the cases were in Nome, while Unalakleet and Wales each had two. Active cases in the region dropped to 36, with 15 in Nome, 15 in Unalakleet, four in Wales and two in Elim.
On Friday, July 22, NSHC identified three new cases in Nome, three in Unalakleet, one in Wales, five in Elim and one in Brevig, though evidently that person moved to Nome.
On Saturday, July 23, NSHC identified just one new case in the region, in Wales. Seven of the cases were in Nome, and one was in Unalakleet.
On Sunday, July 24, NSHC identified seven new cases in Nome. There were 22 active cases in the region, 13 in Nome, five in Unalakleet, two in Elim and two in Wales.
On Monday, July 25, NSHC identified 24 new cases of COVID-19 in the region. Eleven were in Nome, eight were in Unalakleet, three were in Elim and two were in Brevig. There are 38 active cases in the region: 22 in Nome, nine in Unalakleet, three in Elim, two in Brevig and two in Wales.
Since the start of the pandemic, the United States of America has had at least 90,645,248 officially reported cases of COVID-19 and 1,024,426 associated deaths.
The state of Alaska has had at least 269,068 resident cases and 16,431 non-resident cases, 3,816 hospitalizations, and 1,275 deaths. There are currently 67 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the state.
Nome, the Bering Strait and Norton Sound region has had at least 6,177 cases, 46 hospitalizations and six deaths.