Spike in COVID-19 cases follows full reopening
June 6, 2020.
Following Alaska’s full reopening on May 22, several communities around the state are experiencing a sharp increase in individuals testing positive for COVID-19. On Sunday, May 31st, the state experienced the highest single day increase in positive tests since the outbreak reached Alaska, with 27 people testing positive.
These cases are concentrated in Anchorage and Kenai. According to Dr. Anne Zink, some cases in Kenai “seem to be linked…to some large celebrations,” possibly over Memorial Day weekend. In Anchorage, many of the new cases are related to an outbreak at the Providence Transitional Care Center, where 17 residents and employees have tested positive for the virus.
The spike in cases of COVID-19 are not dissuading the governor’s plans to reopen Alaska. On May 31st, Governor Dunleavy said that “we believe a caseload of 27 is manageable, given our healthcare capacity.” Alaska still has over 800 hospital beds, 100 ICU beds, and 200 ventilators available for use. “If we see something really going sideways, we’ll have that discussion” he added.
While there are currently no government mandates restricting large gatherings or businesses, it’s still important for individuals to take precautions. These precautions include wearing a mask that covers both your mouth and nose in public, keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, even when masked, and maintaining small social circles. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and a loss of smell or taste. Anyone experiencing those symptoms should practice much stricter social distancing and avoid going out in public entirely. Getting tested early is also key, because the viral load is higher, making it easier to detect the virus and prevent spread.
Dr. Zink encouraged everyone to remember that “if we each do a small part here and sacrifice a little bit, it will cause a lot less pain and death and COVID-19 in the long term.” Regardless of Alaska’s statewide restrictions, we’re still living in a changed world. The more each individual person can do to reduce the spread, the safer our families, friends, and neighbors will be.