Nine new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Kodiak on Friday, one of whom was sent to Anchorage for hospitalization, according to a statement released by the Kodiak Emergency Services Council.
It marked the second time a case from Kodiak has been hospitalized in Anchorage. The first was someone who contracted the virus during an outbreak in Alitak that started in late July.
Public health nurse Bonny Weed said the person was considered high risk, and needed specialty care that is not available locally.
The source of contraction for the person sent to Anchorage for care is still under investigation, the Kodiak Emergency Services Council said in the Friday press release.
Of the other new cases, three are from residents who recently traveled, two are from people who were in close proximity to previous cases, and three are from unknown sources and were attributed to community spread.
Since its first reported case in April, Kodiak has seen 163 cases, 26 of which are still classified as active.
Of last week’s cases, half were community spread, Weed said.
She said that it takes very few travel-related cases to create increases in community spread. When a person brings the virus into their home or workplace, their children can contract it and spread it at their school, and so can their coworkers.
“We have definitely seen in households with families, if someone in the household has COVID it is not uncommon for everyone to test positive,” Weed said.
Along with Kodiak’s increasing number of cases, Weed said she has noticed people taking fewer precautions and expanding their “social bubbles,” or the number of people they spend time with. This has been the source of some of the most recent cases on the island.
“There are at least two or three social events that are included in the most recent cases (last) week. That household transmission really seems to be incredibly contagious,” she said.
She added that one event that included 10 people resulted in nearly half of the attendees testing positive.
With COVID fatigue setting in and the holidays approaching, Weed said she is concerned that the island’s numbers could continue to increase. She urged community members to stay within their immediate family bubbles during the celebrations.
“I just worry that with just a few … gatherings in the community — small gatherings — that we are getting so many cases,” she said.
Mike Tvenge, director of the Kodiak Emergency Services Council, reminded the public during a live community update posted online on Thursday to wear masks, wash their hands and social distance to help reduce transmission of the virus.
He encouraged public-serving businesses to require employees and patrons to wear masks. He also suggested that travelers returning from off-island trips should remain at home for several days or until tested, and monitor for symptoms after their return to Kodiak.
“We’ve been following a rise in cases and this is no time to lessen up,” Tvenge said. “Avoid crowds outside your social bubble, wash your hands and stay home if you feel sick.”
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 654 new COVID-19 cases statewide on Sunday, the second-highest number in Alaska since March when the pandemic reached here. The record high of 745 occurred the day before.
Of the cases reported on Sunday, 642 were among Alaska residents: 339 in Anchorage, 58 in Fairbanks, 32 in Wasilla, 30 in Eagle River, 25 in Soldotna, 15 in Juneau, 14 in Kenai, 13 in Sitka, 12 in Kodiak, 12 in North Pole, seven in Homer, seven in Palmer, six in Chugiak, five in Delta Junction, five in Ketchikan, five in Bethel, two each in Girdwood, Anchor Point, Nikiski, Seward, Nome, Kotzebue and Metlakatla, one each in Sterling, Ester, Big Lake, Utqiagvik, Wragell and Dillingham, and two in unknown locations.