By Peter Lowewi
Active cases in the region rose to 23 last Friday, the highest in over two months. Cases appear to be falling over the weekend due to fewer tests, but tend to rise towards the end of the week. Alaska’s hospitalization count for COVID patients is 61, the most since early March, and Norton Sound Health Corporation also reported two new COVID-related hospitalizations last week.
Of the 2,452 cases reported in the state last week, 548, or 22 percent, involved non-residents. Of these, almost half, 272, were at sea, i.e. cruise ships or seasonal fishermen. Three of the 11 cases reported in the Nome region last week involved non-residents.
On Thursday, June 16, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services updated the Excess Death Report, which examines the difference between actual deaths and expected deaths. Since the pandemic began, the state has had 1,933 more deaths than statistical models predict. The current official Alaska death toll from COVID-19 is 1,252. While the number of COVID deaths may be an underestimate, untreated cancer and heart disease also rose compared to normal.
The state’s data was not available specifically for the Nome Census Area because small censuses make it difficult to calculate reliable estimates. The state’s northern region, which includes Nome, Norton Sound and the Bering Strait, had three fewer than expected deaths in 2020 but 24 more than expected deaths in 2021. NSHC has reported six deaths in the region due to COVID-19 since the beginning the pandemic.
Last Saturday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an independent body, voted unanimously to recommend vaccinating children ages six months to five years with either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna-COVID vaccines.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky supported the recommendation and said in a statement:
“I encourage parents and caregivers to contact their doctor, nurse or local pharmacist with any questions they may have to learn more about the benefits of vaccination and the importance of protecting their children through vaccination.”
NSHC PR Manager Reba Lean said in an email to Nugget, “Our vaccine, which was pre-ordered ahead of its CDC approval, has not yet arrived but is expected later this week. We will make an announcement when it becomes available in Nome and the villages. Our goal would be to vaccinate as many as possible before the start of the school year.”
The week in numbers
On Tuesday, June 14, Norton Sound Health Corporation identified four new cases of COVID-19 in the area. Three of the cases were in Nome and one in Diomede.
This led to 12 active cases in the region. Nine of the active cases were in Nome, two in Diomede and one in Unalakleet.
On Wednesday, June 15, NSHC identified four new cases of COVID-19. Three were in Nome, one in Unalakleet.
This resulted in 14 active cases in the area: 12 in Nome and two in Unalakleet.
As of Friday, June 17, NSHC identified nine new cases of COVID-19 in the region. There were six new cases in Unalakleet and three in Nome. This brought the number of active cases in the region to 23, with 15 in Nome and eight in Unalakleet.
A new case was identified in Nome on Saturday 18 June.
This resulted in 20 active cases in the area: 13 in Nome and seven in Unalakleet
No new cases were reported as of Sunday, June 19.
Active cases in the region were at 15. Nine of the cases were in Unalakleet and six were in Unalakleet.
No new cases were reported as of Monday, June 20. There are 12 active cases in the area: six in Nome and six in Unalakleet.
Since the start of the pandemic: The United States of America has had 86,305,925 officially reported cases of COVID-19 and 1,013,509 related deaths. The state of Alaska, which now only updates its numbers once a week, had 257,263 officially reported cases of COVID-19, 3,769 hospitalizations and 1,252 COVID-related deaths. There are currently 61 people in the state hospital due to COVID-19.
The Nome, Bering Strait and Norton Sound region has seen at least 6,055 cases of COVID-19, 46 hospitalizations and six deaths.