Kodiak has moved into the “yellow” status, in terms of response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kodiak Area Emergency Services Organization made the announcement early this afternoon, after nine new cases of the virus were reported on Kodiak this morning.
All are Kodiak residents and all appear to have contracted the virus through community spread. Community spread means the source of exposure to the virus is unknown.
The new cases bring Kodiak’s active cases to 29, according to the Kodiak COVID Dashboard. There have been 130 total cases since the start of the pandemic. The nine new cases mean there have been 24 cases in the past three days.
Yellow means “there are to be no gatherings of more than 20 people without the ability to maintain social distance; and face coverings are highly recommended,” according to a press release.
Bars and restaurants, for instance, will have to reconfigure their interiors to allow for social distancing, if they want to allow more than 20 patrons in at one time, as will any other business that allows customers inside. There are no further restrictions on travel, but according to an Emergency Operations Center spokesperson, officials are asking that people quarantine for a few days upon arrival back to Kodiak and get a COVID-19 test before going back to normal activities.
Travel to Anchorage specifically has been the source of infection for many of the active cases right now. In the past two weeks, the city has reported 2,010 cases of the virus.
“With the exception of one family, you pretty much have had to travel to Anchorage to have COVID right now,” Public Health Nurse Bonny Weed said.
“...It is striking how many infected people have recently traveled to or through Anchorage.”
Many of Kodiak’s cases have been classified as “travel related.” That’s a tricky term, however. It can understate just how many cases are linked with travel.
For a case to be classified as travel related, they themselves must have been the one who traveled. So, for instance, if someone went to Anchorage, became infected with the virus, they would be considered travel related. But if that person came home and spread it to his or her household, those in the household would not be labeled travel related.
Four of the cases announced today were in the same family, and one of those people had traveled to Anchorage recently, Weed said. Going back further, 14 of the past 30 cases have had some connection to Anchorage. 10 had gone to Anchorage and another four had passed through on their way to Kodiak.
“There haven’t been any intrastate travel bans that I know of, and I don’t foresee anything like that,” Weed said.
“My message is not ‘Don’t travel’ but there are definitely case rates in other areas much higher than us in other parts of the state. And one might start to think if they really want to go there right now.”
Some of the new cases have affected local schools. In an announcement coming late yesterday evening, the Kodiak Island Borough School District closed all schools today following cases at Kodiak High School, Kodiak Middle School, North Star Elementary and Central Office Preschool. Closing the schools will help with contact tracing, the announcement said.
Students will be doing online school today. As of now, all schools are slated to reopen on Monday. A class at North Star and close contacts of the positive cases at the middle and high schools will be quarantined for 14 days.