COVID cases are skyrocketing on the island.
The number of reported COVID cases in Kodiak is at an all-time high, according to data reported by the Emergency Operations Center on Monday.
The EOC reported 544 known, active cases of COVID, a 56% increase since Friday. One person was hospitalized with COVID or COVID-related symptoms as of Monday. The current record number of COVID cases in Kodiak surpasses the previous record of 348 cases, which was set on Friday.
Despite the surge, the Emergency Services Council, which is in charge of emergency responses on the island and oversees the EOC, does not plan to meet at this time, according to City Manager and Emergency Service Director Mike Tvenge.
Between Jan. 3 and Jan. 10, a total of 622 cases of COVID were identified by the Emergency Operations Center. That number includes the 235 newly identified cases that were announced by the EOC on Monday. Tvenge anticipates that the number of COVID cases will continue to increase over the next few days.
“Everybody knows what’s going on outside,” Tvenge said. “If 235 people got tested since last Friday or just before that, obviously people are aware of the virus.”
When the Emergency Services Council lifted a mask mandate at its last meeting, which was held in November, it said that if cases continued to spike going into or after the holidays it might consider reinstating it.
Even though the Emergency Services Council has not formally met, the group briefly discussed mask mandates, Tvenge said. The ESC does not plan to take any actions that would dictate changes to Kodiak’s pandemic response at this time, including reinstating a mask mandate, according to Tvenge.
“People are going to take care of their health the way they see fit,” Tvenge said. “There’s those that believe in masks and those that think it’s an intrusion. I think we’ve [told] the public the benefit of all these mitigation measures and now it’s up to them to use what’s best for them.”
Although there are no mandates, Tvenge strongly suggests that people stay home if they are feeling sick, get tested and get vaccinated if they have not already.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,440 known cases of COVID on the island, the EOC reported. In addition to that, 104 people have been hospitalized and nine people have died due to complications with the virus, according to the EOC.
Even people who aren’t sick from COVID are impacted by the pandemic.
Like many places on the island, the Kodiak Public Library is struggling with staffing shortages. These shortages have caused the library to close its doors until Jan. 31, according to Library Director Laurie Madsen. Though there have been no confirmed cases of COVID among the library’s employees, there are parents who work there who have to stay home to take care of kids who may be sick or are considered close contacts at schools and cannot attend in-person classes, according to Madsen. Other illnesses, like the flu, and general concerns over the rising cases of COVID also contributed to the library’s decision to close its doors, Madsen said.
Even though the building is not open to the public, people can still utilize the resources at the library. Its curbside service is available for borrowing materials, IRS forms and drop-off copying services. Materials can be reserved through the library’s online catalog found at city.kodiak.ak.us/library. People can also call (907) 486-8686 for service, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.