COVID cases on the rise again
By Peter Loewi
Active cases in the region rose to 23 last Friday, the highest in over two months. Cases appear to go down over the weekend because less testing is done but tend to rise towards the end of the week. Hospitalizations of COVID patients in Alaska are at 61, the most since early March and Norton Sound Health Corporation reported two new COVID-related hospitalizations last week, as well.
Of the 2,452 cases reported in the state last week, 548, or 22 percent were in nonresidents. Of that, almost half, 272, were at sea, meaning cruise ships or seasonal fishing employees. Three of the 11 cases reported in the Nome region last week were in nonresidents.
On Thursday, June 16, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services updated the Excess Death Report, which looks at the difference between actual deaths and expected deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has had 1,933 more deaths than statistical models predict. The current official death toll in Alaska due to COVID-19 is 1,252. While the COVID death count might be an underestimation, cancer and heart diseases which went untreated also saw increase compared to normal.
The data from the state was not available specifically for the Nome Census Area, as small counts make it difficult to calculate reliable estimates. The northern region of the state, in which Nome, Norton Sound and Bering Strait is included, had three fewer deaths than expected in 2020, but 24 more deaths than expected in 2021. NSHC reports six deaths in the region due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Last Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an independent panel, voted unanimously to recommend vaccinating children ages six months to five years with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID vaccines.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the recommendation, saying in a statement,
“I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”
NSHC Public Relations Manager Reba Lean said in an email to the Nugget that “our vaccine, which was pre-ordered prior to its CDC approval, has not arrived yet, but it is expected later this week. We will make an announcement when it becomes available in Nome and the villages. Our goal would be to vaccinate as many as possible before the school year begins.”
The week in numbers
On Tuesday, June 14, Norton Sound Health Corporation identified four new cases of COVID-19 in the region. Three of the cases were in Nome, and one was in Diomede.
This made for 12 active cases in the region. Nine of the active cases were in Nome, two were in Diomede, and one was in Unalakleet.
On Wednesday, June 15, NSHC identified four new cases of COVID-19. Three were in Nome in one was in Unalakleet.
This made for 14 active cases in the region: 12 in Nome and two in Unalakleet.
On Friday, June 17, NSHC identified nine new cases of COVID-19 in the region. Six new cases were in Unalakleet and three were in Nome. This made the number of active cases in the region jump to 23, with 15 in Nome and eight in Unalakleet.
On Saturday, June 18, there was one new case identified in Nome.
This made for 20 active cases in the region: 13 in Nome and seven in Unalakleet
On Sunday, June 19, there were no new cases reported.
Active cases in the region were at 15. Nine of the cases were in Unalakleet and six were in Unalakleet.
On Monday, June 20, no new cases were reported. There are 12 active cases in the region: six in Nome and six in Unalakleet.
Since the start of the pandemic: The United States of America has had 86,305,925 officially reported cases of COVID-19 and 1,013,509 associated deaths. The state of Alaska, which only updates their numbers once a week now, has had 257,263 officially reported cases of COVID-19, 3,769 hospitalizations and 1,252 COVID-associated deaths. There are currently 61 people in the state hospitalized due to COVID-19.
The Nome, Bering Strait and Norton Sound region has had at least 6,055 cases of COVID-19, 46 hospitalizations and six deaths.