The Kodiak Emergency Services Council announced 10 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the island’s total number of active cases to 79. 

One case, not previously reported, was tested on Nov. 19 and is a close contact of a previously reported case. The other nine cases were tested on Nov. 24 and include one close contact to a previously reported case, four classified as community spread and four still under investigation. 

This brings the island’s case count to 256 since the start of the pandemic. Three people have been hospitalized and three have completed their isolation period and been removed from the active list.

The ESC press release noted that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services “has announced that the surge in COVID-19 cases has strained the public health response, creating a backlog in case and contact investigations.” 

The DHSS “is urging anyone who receives a positive test result to notify their own close contacts as soon as possible so individuals can quarantine without delay,” the ESC statement said.

The DHSS also issued its own press release saying that public health contact tracers are prioritizing people who need to be called first. 

The factors are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including when the person was tested, if the person lives or works in an area with a high risk of transmission, or if the person is at higher risk for severe illness. 

“Even with additional staffing, multiple systems are unable to keep up with reporting, data entry and outreach to all infected individuals,” said State Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin. 

He said contact tracers try to make first contact the day the cases are reported, and provide monitoring calls to some of the highest-risk individuals.

“However, due to the delays in the process and some calls that can’t be initiated that first day, we recommend Alaskans call their own close contacts,” he said. 

On Thursday, the DHSS reported 563 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths statewide. The total number of cases in Alaska since the pandemic started surpassed 30,000 on Thursday, reaching 30,102.

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