Kodiak reported its sixth confirmed positive COVID-19 case Thursday morning, from a nonresident who had been in contact with the fourth positive case.
The sixth person who tested positive for the virus was already isolated, which reduces the chances of further spreading the virus, Kodiak’s Public Health Nurse, Elsa DeHart, said during a live broadcast from the Kodiak Emergency Services Council on Thursday.
She also said that public health officials have completed their investigations of the fifth and sixth cases. They have isolated the individuals and notified those who have had close contact with them.
Kodiak has three recovered cases and three active cases, with several of them from asymptomatic patients. Those who were asymptomatic were either tested because of a travel mandate or because of testing requirements from their employer.
DeHart reiterated that there are still many unknowns about the virus and about when a community can be considered safe from COVID-19.
“We don't ever know anything about where these people have been or when they were especially infectious. We know usually a couple days before they test and we can detect the virus, but no one knows for sure,” DeHart said.
She noted that some people can infect many people in a short period of time, while others might live with someone who has the virus and never contract it.
DeHart also reiterated that anyone could have the virus and not know it.
During investigations to see who was in close contact with the people who contracted the virus, public health officials first look for those who had close contact with the individual during the prior 48 hours and then those who had contact during the prior 14 days.
Often, the individuals under contact investigation could think of no interactions during which they might have been in contact with somebody who had the virus. The patients recalled just going shopping at Safeway or ordering take-out at a restaurant.
“That really means the person next to you in line may have it and not know it. That's why we really encourage people to wear their masks,” DeHart said.
She also noted that the state opened Alaska’s economy because hospital and medical capacity has grown, not because the virus is less dangerous or is going away.
“We have more ICU beds now, we have a greater capacity in our hospitals, we have more PPE (personal protective equipment) and testing supplies,” DeHart said.
Mike Tvenge, director of the Kodiak Emergency Services Council, said that the Kodiak Harbor has issued 85 harbor-use agreements for vessels docking in Kodiak. Currently, 15 vessels are in quarantine and flying lima flags.
He also noted that an average of 80 passengers fly in and out of Kodiak on each flight, and advised people to continue wearing masks and reduce public contact outside their social circles.
According to Alaska’s current travel guidelines, travelers arriving from outside the state are required to show a negative result from a COVID-19 case taken within 72 hours of arrival.
When they arrive at the Anchorage airport, they must fill out a travel declaration form. Those continuing to Kodiak must minimize their interactions with others until they retest seven to 14 days after their arrival on the island.
Those who tested within five days of departure and can show a negative result must also fill out a travel declaration form and retest at the Anchorage airport. They must also retest seven to 14 days after arriving in Kodiak.
Kodiak Area Native Association and the Kodiak Island Ambulatory Care Clinic are offering free testing in the community. KANA is also working to set up a testing tent at the Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport behind Island Air for arriving passengers who may need a test.