COVID-19 FAQ's

Have you heard a rumor not addressed here? Send it to Pat Tully, Ketchikan EOC Intelligence Officer and we will look into it! 


Email Pat Tully: mailto:patt@firstcitylibraries.org?subject=Coronavirus rumor

SUMMARY AND RESOURCES:

We urge anyone with any COVID-19 symptoms to seek testing. If you experience symptoms, contact your regular provider or our testing hotline at 247-TEST (8378).

To find available testing sites, view the Testing Sites Locator at:   https://coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com/app/2d92b77bc8044329a1ee3954b063bd8c  

There are FDA-authorized at-home test kits that may soon be available to travelers:

  • Pixel system from LabCorp https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/at-home-test-kits/covid-19-test 
  • Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit https://www.everlywell.com/products/covid-19-test/
  • Vault Health COVID-19 Testing https://www.vaulthealth.com/covid
  • Picture Genetics COVID-19 Testing https://www.picturegenetics.com/covid19

All arriving passengers must have created an account for themselves on the Alaska Travel Portal, and uploaded documentation of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure for Alaska. A link to the Portal, Health Mandate 10.1, and additional information for travelers is available at: https://covid19.alaska.gov/travelers/

AMHS COVID-19 protocols for passengers are available at http://dot.alaska.gov/amhs/covid19.shtml

Citizens are encouraged to submit questions related to COVID-19 in Ketchikan and local resources to:  covidquestions@kgbak.us.

Information on the EOC’s response to COVID-19 in Ketchikan is updated daily on the COVID-19 Response page at https://www.kgbak.us/913/COVID-19-Response. Additional current information is available on the State of Alaska’s website at www.covid19.alaska.gov.

COVID-19 Vaccine - 01.12.2020 Update:

The State of Alaska is implementing  Phase 1b, Tier 1 of its vaccine allocation guidelines.  Phase 1b, Tier 1 allows for the vaccination of all Alaskans aged 65 years and older.  Vaccine continues to be available for individuals that were covered under Phase 1a, Tiers 1, 2, & 3.  

You can view the State of Alaska's COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation guidelines here.

To see who is eligible to receive vaccine now, visit Alaska's COVID-19 Vaccine Homepage.

How to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine:

  • Schedule an appointment online at http://covidvax.alaska.gov
  • Members of the Ketchikan Indian Community or Saxman tribal citizens may call the Ketchikan Indian Community Clinic at 907.228.9200.
  • Call 907.646.3322 for assistance with scheduling an appointment.  Leave a message with your name, location, phone number, and someone will return your call.
  • Call one of the following local agencies for information about how to schedule an appointment:
    • Ketchikan Public Library
    • Community Connections is available to assist its clientele. 
    • Rendezvous Senior Services is available to assist its clientele. 
  • Please note that the current vaccine quantity and available appointment times are limited.  Public Health has ordered additional quantity of the vaccine with the goal that additional clinics can be scheduled later in the month.

Information on the COVID-19 vaccine is available at http://covidvax.alaska.gov

Ketchikan Local COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Sites: Click Here


Health Order #8 – Intrastate Travel - As of: 11.16.2020

What are the requirements of Health Order #8 if I am traveling to Anchorage or another community on the road system or the Alaska Marine Highway System for less than 72 hours?

A molecular test for SARS-CoV-2 is recommended but not required prior to travel. When you return to your community off the road system, we recommend you get a molecular SARS-CoV-2 test five days after arrival at your final destination and follow strict social distancing until negative test results are received.

What are the requirements of Health Order #8 if I am traveling to Anchorage or another community on the road system or the Alaska Marine Highway System for more than 72 hours?

You must get a molecular SARS-CoV-2 within 72 hours prior to travel to a community off the Road System or the Alaska Marine Highway System. You should wait to travel until a negative test result is received, however if return travel cannot be delayed until your results are available, you must follow strict social distancing at your final destination until you receive your negative result. When you return to your community off the road system or Alaska Marine Highway System, we recommend you get a second molecular SARS-CoV-2 test five days after arrival.

If you do not want to get a molecular SARS-CoV-2 prior to travel, then you must follow strict social distancing for 14 days when you return to your community and monitor for symptoms.

What if I don’t want to get a test?

Then you must follow strict social distancing for 14 days when you return to your community and monitor for symptoms.

I am traveling from a village. What if I find out I am positive for SARS CoV-2 while I am in a community on the road system? What am I supposed to do?

As soon as you receive your positive test result you must go into self-isolation. Self-isolation means you remain apart from others to prevent the transmission of an infectious disease. Self-isolation could be at a relative’s or friend’s home or hotel.

What if I don’t have a safe place to isolation?

Call the State Emergency Operations Center at 907.428.7100. During normal business hours someone will answer the phone. After hours, the phone is forward to an answering service. They will answer the phone, collect your information, and someone from the State Emergency Operations Center will give you a call back as soon as they receive the message.

Why do I have to get a test 72 hours before I travel to a community off the road system or Alaska Marine Highway System?

The best way to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to a hub community or village is to know if you are positive before travel. Testing is a point in time snapshot, you could still be carrying the virus, but it decreases community transmission in rural communities if you know if you are positive before travel.

What happens if one person in my traveling group turns positive while we are in Anchorage or another community on the road system. Can the rest of us travel back to our community off the road system?

If you spent more than 15 minutes within 6 feet of the positive person you are considered a close contact. Close contacts must not travel. Close contacts must go into quarantine for 14 days and monitoring for symptoms. Testing is recommended at day 7 of quarantine. There is no testing strategy to end quarantine early.

What if I don’t have a safe place to quarantine?

Call the State Emergency Operations Center at 907.428.7100. During normal business hours someone will answer the phone. After hours, the phone is forward to an answering service. They will answer the phone, collect your information, and someone from the State Emergency Operations Center will give you a call back as soon as they receive the message.

What happens if my test results are delayed?

Follow strict social distancing until you receive your test results. If you are unable to delay travel back to your community, you may travel but follow strict social distancing until you receive your test results. 

How will I find out my test results?

The location that collected your sample will email and or call you with your test results. It is important to remember where you got your sample collected. If you have not received your test results within three days, call the location that collected your sample.

Is there free testing available?

Testing is free at one of the 10 airports that receives flights from the Lower 48. Use the map on the COVID dashboard to find a testing center, https://coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com/. 

Who will be checking to see if I have my negative test result?

Some but not all communities have screeners at the arriving airport in the rural community.

I am traveling on a private charter, does Health Order #8 still apply to me? 

Yes.

Who is going to enforce this health order?

Alaskans are responsible for ensuring they are doing their part to stop the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Every Alaskan, community and the state of Alaska play a role. The state of Alaska has set the expectation and established infrastructure to support testing, quarantine, and isolation. Alaskans need to follow the Health Order so families and friends are not negatively impacted, business can reopen, and we do not overwhelm the healthcare system.

Why don’t you check for test results prior to travel to a community off the road system?

It is safer and easier to verify negative test results at the arriving airport with fewer arriving flights. Verification of test results prior to travel is not supportable due to limited space at the departing airport.

It is also the responsibility of the traveler to ensure they have the negative test result prior to travel. It is not the responsibility of the airport or airline company. 

Why can’t I travel back to my village if I am positive?

Individuals positive with SARS-CoV-2 must isolate immediately in the community in which they found out they were positive. Safe isolation is one of the biggest determining factors in reducing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Traveling while positive will expose individuals to SARS-CoV-2 unnecessarily.

Why do I have to complete a profile in the Alaska Travel Portal for intrastate travel?

DHSS uses the Alaska Travel Portal to track the number of screened individuals and test results. The ability to track this information, informs the public and key leaders if the testing strategy in Health Order #8 is working. The Alaska Travel Portal is safe and secure.

I am recently recovered from SARS-CoV-2, do I have to get a test?

No. Asymptomatic people who have recovered from a documented SARS-CoV-2 infection within the past 90 days are exempt.

How is the Road System defined?

The road system is defined as any community connected by a road to the Seward, Parks, Klondike, Richardson, Sterling, Glenn, Haines or Top of the World Highways.

How is the Alaska Marine Highway System defined?

As any community served by the Alaska Marine Highway System or the Inter-Island Ferry System. All travelers on the Alaska Marine Highway System must follow travel testing requirements.

 

TESTING 

Q: I have tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

A: Follow the directions given to you by Public Health. To protect your health and that of those around you:

  • Notify your close contacts (that is, anyone who was within 6 feet of you for 15 minutes or longer during the two days before your symptoms started or when you were tested) and let them know that they need to quarantine for 14 days from the time you were last together.
  • Inform your work (or your child’s school) that you are positive.
  • Stay at home and avoid public places and transportation until you are cleared by Public Health.
  • Keep at least 6 feet away from people and animals, including those in your household.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items (including the restroom), if at all possible.
  • Wear a face covering if your symptoms allow, even in the house.
  • Sick individuals should keep to a separate bedroom and a separate bathroom if possible.
  • If a separate bathroom is not possible, then all surfaces that could have been touched must be disinfected after the sick family member uses it: handles, light switches, soap dispenser top, etc.
  • Wear reusable or disposable gloves for routine cleaning and disinfection.
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use disinfectant.
  • Clean or launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Limit interactions with the sick individual. Only one person should deliver food, take away used items, and that person should be masked. Everything should be disinfected immediately. 

 

Q: I’ve been informed by Public Health or someone who has tested positive that I am a close contact. What should I do?

A: As a close contact, you must quarantine for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. While in quarantine:

  • Monitor yourself for symptoms and if you notice even mild symptoms, isolate yourself and get tested.
  • If you do not develop symptoms, consider getting tested around day 7 of your quarantine.
  • Inform your work and your child’s school that you are in quarantine for 14 days.
  • Stay at home and avoid public places and transportation.
  • Keep at least 6 feet away from people and animals, including those in your household.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items, and wash your hands and frequently touched surfaces regularly.
  • Wear reusable or disposable gloves for routine cleaning and disinfection.
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use disinfectant.
  • Clean or launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • For non-medical help, call 2-1-1.

 

Q: I have been within 6 feet of a person who was identified as a close contact of a positive case. What should I do?

Monitor yourself for symptoms and if you notice even mild symptoms, get tested.

 

Q: Does being asymptomatic mean that I am not contagious?

No. If you test positive for COVID-19 but do not have symptoms, you may still be highly contagious and must isolate and follow the directions of Public Health.

 

QUARANTINE / ISOLATION / STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING 

When to Quarantine

Stay home if you might have been exposed to COVID-19.

 

 

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department. This is 14 days from the last contact from the known positive case.

Quarantine or isolation: What's the difference?

Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others for at least 14 days from their last contact with a known positive case.

Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.

Who needs to quarantine?

People who have been in close with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.

What counts as close contact?

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

What is Strict Social Distancing?

 

Strict Social Distancing is limiting your social contacts by remaining 6 feet away from anyone not in your immediate household and wearing a face covering. You should not enter restaurants, bars, community centers, sporting facilities (gyms or recreation centers), office buildings, school or daycare facilities; or participate in any group activities, including sporting events and practices, weddings, funerals or other gatherings.

When do we follow Strict Social Distancing?

Anyone who has recently traveled (within the past 5 days) and has received a negative COVID-19 test result should follow strict social distancing.

Additionally, the EOC recommends everyone to follow strict social distancing when the community's risk level is at Level 3 - High or above. 

 

COUNT DASHBOARD

Please explain how the Case Count Dashboard for both the state and Ketchikan works. 

The Ketchikan EOC has updated its COVID-19 Testing and Case Count Dashboard to provide more insight on non-resident/resident testing results. The Ketchikan Testing and Case Count Dashboard includes numbers for tests administered, tests pending, cumulative positive cases, resident and non-resident cases, close contact/travel related/non-travel related cases, recovered cases, and hospitalizations.

The State of Alaska’s has its own COVID-19 Testing and Case Count Dashboard. It is used to display data as well as feed raw data into local dashboards and national dashboards. The State’s dashboard operates on a 14-day rolling average of percent positivity of COVID-19 cases, to assess the ongoing risk in each geographical area.

Why do we see different numbers reflected on the State’s Case Count Dashboard versus the local Dashboard?

Ketchikan’s Dashboard is most current because we receive numbers each day from health providers and then confirm these with local Public Health officials. The State data, in contrast, can lag behind a day or two because they receive information from multiple sources and have a deadline for receiving information each day. We work with the State to verify the numbers provided, but our local Ketchikan website is the most current.

When does an active case become a recovered case?

A case is taken out of the active case count and classified as recovered when the case has completed their recommended isolation. 

According to the CDC, most symptomatic people with COVID-19 can discontinue isolation and precautions after: 

        -   At least 10 days after symptoms first appeared, AND 

        -   At least 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND

        -   Symptoms have improved.

A limited number of persons with severe illness or who are severely immunocompromised may need to isolate for up to 20 days after symptom onset - this is determined in conjunction with a healthcare provider.

For people who have never developed symptoms (asymptomatic cases), isolation and other precautions can be discontinued after 10 days after the date of the first positive case. 

 

TESTING INFORMATION

What is the timeframe for testing positive to a virus, and why can there be different results depending on when the test is taken?

A Nasal PCR Test, which is the most common test administered in the State of Alaska, picks up pieces of the virus from your nose to run through a testing machine. Different machines require different concentrations of the virus to provide a positive result. Instances such as improper specimen collection, an abnormal medium or swab for the specimen, and length of time before it reaches the testing operator can all have a deteriorating effect on the sample – which can affect the results. Depending on where you are in the time frame of the disease can also impact your test results. If you are tested later or earlier on during your infection, you may not have enough of a viral load to test positive.

I’ve heard that those nasal swabs hurt. Is there an alternative way to do the testing that isn’t painful?

Many people have different reactions to the nasopharyngeal swab, a common swab administered through the nose, used for COVID-19 testing. The swab is not supposed to hurt, but it may be uncomfortable. In order to collect enough cells and fluids, the swab must be inserted along the entire passageway that connects the base of the nose to the back of the throat to get a good specimen. As the body is not used to having an object in that area, it creates a lot of very odd sensations.

If I test positive and test again a couple days later with a negative result does that mean the first test was a false positive?

No. There are many reasons that a second COVID-19 test could be negative. Foremost, the first test could have been taken during the end of the course of the virus, leading to the second test being taken after the disease had run its course and would no longer be present in the body. It is also possible that a second test did not pick up enough of a sample to test positive, even if the virus is still present. Testing results as well as a patient’s clinical history are both used to understand where a patient is within the disease process. 

Unless someone takes a rapid COVID-19 test, it is unlikely that a person will receive their test results in less than 5 days. How can someone that is not symptomatic get tested?

Communities have been tasked to provide a wide range of testing options. For example, Ketchikan is operating a Drive-up Testing Site that is available to anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, and is also open to certain asymptomatic individuals, including: those who have health conditions; are age 65 or older; health care workers or care providers; first responders; or those who have recently traveled.. At home testing options are also available for people who need results within 24-48 hours. The State of Alaska has made testing guidelines for individual communities incredibly broad to allow for asymptomatic testing.

What testing options are currently available in Ketchikan?

The Ketchikan EOC has two COVID-19 test sites – the Free Drive-Up Testing Site at Berth 3 and the Ketchikan International Airport Test Facility. Here’s when and how to use each one:

The Free Drive-Up Testing Site: the Drive-Up Testing Site at Berth 3 is now operated daily, Tuesday through Saturday from 09:30 - 11:30 AM and 2:30 - 4:30 PM and now includes those who seek testing related to travel; are using a state issued 7-14 day follow up test voucher; show any symptoms of COVID-19; are asymptomatic individuals who met one of the following criteria: those with health conditions; age 65 or older; health care workers; care providers; or first responders.  This site offers a nasal swab PCR test, and there is no fee. Test results can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days to come back.

Testing for travelers arriving from means other than commercial airlines at the airport will be conducted at the Berth 3 Drive-Up Testing Site.  These travel-related tests, along with any 7-14 day follow-up voucher tests conducted at Berth 3, will be processed with the tests collected through the Airport Traveler Testing Site.  These traveler tests can take up to 7 days for results, but are currently averaging a 2-3 day turnaround time for results.  Travelers with a PeaceHealth user account will receive results via email to their PeaceHealth account.  All travelers will receive a phone call with their results.

Ketchikan International Airport Test Facility is for

Travelers arriving on interstate and intrastate flights

Voucher retesting 7-14 days after arrival

This site offers nasal swab PCR test, and there is no fee for Alaska residents. With a voucher, travelers can return to the Ketchikan Airport for the follow-up test or contact another health care provider in Ketchikan to see if the provider will accept the voucher. Follow-up voucher testing (bring the voucher) at the airport does not require an appointment; an individual can simply show up Monday through Sunday during the following times:

            7:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. 

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

7:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Note:  These new times are current as of 10.05.2020.

Testing is also available from local health care providers such as Creekside Clinic, Peace Health Medical Center, KIC, Ketchikan Public Health, Legacy, Northway Family Healthcare, and Polaris Health Group.

 

CONTACT TRACING

What criteria does a person doing contract tracing use to determine if someone has been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus?

If you’ve been identified as a "close contact" of an infected person, you will receive a call from a public health nurse, or the infected person. "Close contact" is defined as having been within 6 feet of an infected individual for 10-15 minutes or longer during the two days before their symptoms started, or before they were tested), or if you’ve been coughed or sneezed on by that person.

If you think you have been exposed and have not received a call, consider taking the following measures:

  • Hunker down if you are able to do so
  • Limit your social contacts for 14 days
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • Wear a cloth covering when in public
  • Monitor for symptoms and if you start feeling sick, no matter how mild, isolate yourself and call your provider to get tested.

When someone coming in from the Lower 48 tests positive, shouldn’t everyone who was on the plane with them be contacted to quarantine or be tested?

 “Close contact” has been defined federally as being within 6 feet of an identified positive case for a set duration of time. As the state does not have access to a commercial airline’s manifest, they work closely with their federal partners to access that information to identify and contact the people who were sitting in close contact with the identified positive case. Not everyone on the plane will be contacted by public health, just those sitting within close parameters of the infected person.

AMHS TRAVEL PROTOCOLS

Which AMHS ferry trips require a pre-travel test, and when does it need to be done?

Shorter-duration and day-boat passenger travel DO NOT require COVID-19 testing or a sworn statement of a 14-day quarantine.

For passengers departing from Bellingham, Washington, a COVID-19 test must be administered within 72-hours of the day of departure, and a negative result must be presented upon checking in at the terminal or boarding for travel. Passengers already in Alaska that choose to travel on longer-duration routes within Alaska and/or terminating in Bellingham, Washington, must select one of the following two options:

A COVID-19 test must be administered within five days of the departure date, and a negative result must be presented upon checking in at the terminal or boarding for travel.

OR a sworn statement signed that affirms the traveler has followed quarantine standards for at least 14 days preceding the date of travel. Forms will be available on the AMHS website and available at check in.

A longer duration travel is defined as any itinerary originating in Alaska that concludes in Bellingham, Washington, a voyage across the Gulf of Alaska, to or from the Aleutian Chain that includes the port of Kodiak.

What paperwork do AMHS travelers need to complete?

AMHS Travelers are required to fill out one of two forms. One is a pre-travel screening document for those traveling within the state of Alaska, asking about symptoms and other COVID-19 related questions that will require “no” answers to continue to board. The second is the State of Alaska’s out-of-state travel declaration form which requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.  

What if a negative test result is not received by the time a traveler is scheduled for departure on the AMHS?

At this time, travelers coming via Bellingham will be denied service. This is due to the logistics of ferry-based travel and the risk of exposure to an entire vessel’s crew and its passengers. Within the state, travelers are allowed to sign an affidavit stating they have been in quarantine for 14 days prior to travel. The state of Alaska is working to provide testing options to allow for the 72 hour results, which also includes FDA-authorized home-collection COVID-19 tests.

 

KETCHIKAN TRAVELER TESTING SITE

Is rapid testing an option for the airport testing site? What type of test is currently being used?

The airport testing site uses a standard PCR test. Traveler testing, as of November 7th, as long as capacity allows, is being processed through Creekside Clinic using the Biofire rapid results machine.  If the demand is too high for the Creekside Clinic, the test would be sent off to one of two laboratories, Quest Labs and the University of Washington. 

Please describe how the process works for out of state travelers to be greeted, screened, and tested when they arrive at the Ketchikan airport. Is there an actual person at the airport who checks each passenger’s paperwork upon arrival? Shouldn’t the paperwork be checked inside of security as they walk off the airplane? 

The traveler testing site is located next to the airport terminal. All travelers to Alaska must create an account in the Alaska Travel Portal before they arrive, and upload documentation of their PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure. If they have received results, the documentation of the results must be uploaded into the portal as well.

Stationed in the baggage claim area and at every exit of the Ketchikan Airport terminal, is a greeter to meet each north bound flight passenger to help direct individual travelers and provide information on the testing process. After speaking with a greeter, travelers with proof of a negative COVID-19 test uploaded into their Alaska Travel Portal account may proceed to Ketchikan and must maintain strict social distancing for five (5) days after arrival.

Travelers who have documentation in their Alaska Travel Portal account of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure, but who have not yet received their test result, must go directly to their final destination and quarantine there until they receive a negative test result.

Travelers coming into Alaska (over the age of 10) who do not have documentation of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure for Alaska, must test at the airport. This test is free for Alaska residents, and $250 for non-residents. Travelers who test at the airport must go directly to their final destination and quarantine until they receive a negative test result, and upload that result into their Alaska Travel Portal account.

 

STATE OF ALASKA TRAVEL MANDATE INFORMATION

Per the interstate travel protocols, why are flight passengers provided a voucher for a second test? Why take a second test 5-14 days after the first, even if the first was negative?

Testing strategies by the state of Alaska are based around time frames of symptom onset and virus detection. At 5 days, only 50% of those infected will be showing symptoms, while at 10 days 90%-95% will be showing symptoms. Travelers can be exposed to the virus during transit, so by testing 5-14 days after arrival, there will be a higher percentage of positive cases.

If someone is traveling to Seattle for a medical procedure and will be there for less than 24 hours, when should they be tested? Before or after they travel, considering as both are within 24 hours? 

As described in the October 15 COVID-19 Health Mandate, Alaska residents leaving the state for less than 72 hours do not need to receive a negative COVID-19 test result or follow a 14-day quarantine upon return. Instead they are asked to monitor for symptoms in the 14 days after their arrival. 

Why doesn’t the state of Alaska implement and strictly enforce a 14-day quarantine for all arriving travelers, like what is being done in New Zealand and Western Australia?

As Alaska is a state and not a country, there are restrictions on what a state government can require of US travelers. Due to the commerce clause in the US Constitution, the state of Alaska is prohibited from violating a US citizens’ right to privacy. Instead, the state government has shifted to test-based travel requirements to help curb the spread of the virus from travelers arriving in our state.

For travel mandate 10, what are the requirements for interstate and intrastate travel? Why are there differing restrictions for travel within the state?

The state of Alaska opened up intrastate travel to help minimize the economic impacts of COVID-19. At this time, the state is in support of local governments to establishing their own travel restrictions, allowing them to impose stricter restrictions based on their community needs. Many communities continue to have a 14-day quarantine required upon arrival for all intrastate and interstate travelers. Ketchikan does not have any additional restrictions for travelers but has expanded their testing parameters to include asymptomatic individuals who have recently traveled.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION ON COVID-19

Does mask wearing decrease the need for social distancing when indoors?

Dr. Zink relates mask wearing to wearing a seatbelt, although it might not prevent someone’s death, it will reduce their chances of dying. Seatbelts are part of a much bigger set of tools that include speed limits, separate highways, and airbags. Masks and social distancing are much like airbags and seatbelts, where your chances are better if you use both. Masks along with keeping 6 feet apart from others, hand washing, and increased hygiene practices are used to minimize the risk of exposure to the disease.

What is the concept behind herd immunity and is this a viable option for our community to deal with COVID-19?

Herd immunity applies when enough people have been infected and recovered from the disease, so that the virus can no longer spread from person to person. Most times herd immunity in humans can be attributed to the use of vaccines.

 

There are many diseases to which humans have never developed herd immunity to, such as small pox. The key factor in herd immunity is that the immunity needs to last. One of the major concerns with the Coronavirus is that with common cold viruses like COVID-19, the immunity only lasts 8 months to a year and half. Because of these factors, rapid herd immunity is not being considered a viable option to combat the coronavirus. 

Combined with what little research we have on the long term effects of the disease, the amount of deaths it would cause, and the overwhelming of our healthcare system – rapid herd immunity is not a viable option unless it can be done so with vaccinations. At the moment there are hundreds of different vaccines being developed, a few of which are already in phase three of development. 

 

SCHOOL DISTRICT PLANS

What are the state-wide and local directives for schools? 

The actions we all take now to combat this disease - such as minimizing social interactions, hand washing, and mask wearing will keep our kids safe. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District has implemented a plan that can be adapted when the community’s COVID-19 risk level changes. For more information, go to the School District’s website: https://www.kgbsd.org/

 

BUSINESSES; QUARANTINE

What efforts are being undertaken for business and economic recovery?

The BERG is the Business Economy Recovery Group, established by the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center, the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce, the Ketchikan Visitors’ Bureau and the Borough Planning Department. The primary focus of the BERG has been to connect individuals and businesses with the available resources during the state of the COVID-19 emergency.   During the response phase of the EOC, the BERG has been instrumental in the following:

  • The BERG developed a local webpage on the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce website, accessible through the Ketchikan Visitor’s Bureau and Ketchikan Gateway Borough websites.
  • The Ketchikan Chamber website has helpful information for local businesses such as links to state and local mandates, information on tax credits for small businesses, provisions within the CARES Act, and programs administered by the Small Business Administration.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough is accepting applications for CARES Act funding from local businesses and non-profits affected by the pandemic. For more information, go to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough website: https://www.kgbak.us/

Are there criteria to determine when to shut things down in the event of a second ‘wave’ of the virus?

The Ketchikan EOC has developed a Community Risk Level grid to assess what measures to take to keep Ketchikan safe: https://bit.ly/355KWtn The current risk level is determined by several statistical measures.

Are churches able to reopen?

Per Alaska’s Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan, churches may open and are encouraged to follow the State’s guidance document for Social, Religious and Other Gatherings.

When will the DMV reopen to the public?

Currently, the local DMV is open for appointment only; see the Alaska DMV page for more details: http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/

The REAL ID deadline has been extended until October 1, 2021.

What services are available for individuals and businesses?

The Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce, Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, Borough Planning Department and the local EOC have created the Business Economy Recovery Group, or, BERG.  Its primary focus is to provide economic support and resources to local businesses and households.

https://www.ketchikanchamber.com/covid-19-updates/

If you are interested in submitting comments, questions, and/or suggestions related to the effect of Covid-19 on Ketchikan’s economy, the BERG can be reached at businessrecovery@kgbak.us. 

CARES Act funding is available for local businesses and non-profits impacted by the pandemic. For more information: https://www.kgbak.us/

When does the quarantine period start for a vessel arriving from out of state?

The quarantine period starts from the departure from the last out of state port of call provided there are no stops in between or the addition of crew members en route.  Upon arrival in Ketchikan the remaining quarantine can be served on the vessel or at an address declared ashore.  Persons would have to travel directly from the vessel to the quarantine address.

What if we add a crew member from out of state after the vessel has arrived?

If a vessel adds a crew member from out of state, they will be required to quarantine for 14 days.  The quarantine can be served on the vessel. If they can’t be isolated from the rest of the crew during their quarantine then the 14 day quarantine starts over for the vessel and the rest of the crew.

I have had COVID-19 and have fully recovered. Am I now immune?

A recovered person would not transmit the virus if they were truly recovered and no longer carrying the virus. However, there is no evidence that a person who recovered from COVID-19 would be immune from catching the virus again. Essentially, no one is immune from becoming infected with COVID-19 and everyone should continue to take necessary precautions, practice personal hygiene, and social distancing.    

If a seasonal worker has had COVID-19 and has recovered, are they still required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Ketchikan?        

They would still need to quarantine. It currently is unclear if someone who has had COVID-19 develops long lasting immunity, meaning someone may test positive on an antibody test but we do not know how long that immunity will last and if a person can be re-infected. Early evidence is showing reinfection is possible in people who have had COVID-19 and recovered. So in short, they will still need to quarantine for the 14 days.

 

SUPPLIES (PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPES), HAND SANITIZER, CLEANING SUPPLIES)

Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other supplies are in short supply in Ketchikan. Is it a good idea for a group of us to pool our money and order supplies from other countries?

It is not a good idea to enter into arrangements with people you do not know when money is involved. If one of your friends or relatives is making the arrangements, ask lots of questions before committing yourself. How do they know the supplier they intend to use? Is the supplier reputable? Have they had dealings with this supplier in the past? In short, be very skeptical before committing your money.

I found instructions for making masks with household materials; if I make a bunch of them can I donate them to local healthcare workers? Can I use them myself so I don’t get COVID-19?

We now recommend that people wear cloth face coverings in public to prevent transmission of COVID-19 if they unknowingly have the virus.  Do not use cloth face covering as the primary way to prevent transmission, but in combination with maintaining a 6 foot social distance, staying home as much as possible, and washing hands frequently. Discard or wash your mask in hot water after each use.

 

TESTS, DRUGS, OTHER THERAPIES

I’ve heard of two COVID-19 therapies: Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin-Zithromax ZPAK) and convalescent plasma from recovering COVID-19 patients in Ketchikan or elsewhere in Alaska. Are plans in place to test and use either of these therapies here in Ketchikan? 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued Emergency Use Authorizations for five therapeutics to treat COVID-19: https://www.fda.gov/media/136832/download

Several drugs are under investigation in clinical trials or are being considered for clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, and Ketchikan’s medical community is keeping abreast of the latest approved treatment options.

United Biomedical in Telluride, Colorado is conducting trials of a test that shows antibodies to COVID-19, to better identify and isolate carriers of the virus and flatten the curve of transmission. Will Ketchikan get these tests soon?

Checking to see if someone has coronavirus-specific antibodies is good evidence that they’ve been infected. However, the body doesn’t start to make these immediately, and they might not appear until someone’s illness has run its course. As a result, antibody-based tests can tell providers whether someone has already had COVID-19, but not if the patient currently has it.

Are any of the Ketchikan medical clinics or Peace Health Hospital participating in the FDA "expanded access program" for use of convalescent serum therapy, a potential COVID-19 treatment?

PeaceHealth continues to investigate and adopt best practices for COVID-19 treatment and are considering the appropriate treatment for each patient. 

 What is the difference between the types of tests available for COVID-19?

(From FDA.gov FAQ page):  A diagnostic test can show if you have an active coronavirus infection and should take steps to quarantine or isolate yourself from others.

Currently there are two types of diagnostic tests – molecular (RT-PCR) tests that detect the virus’s genetic material, and antigen tests that detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. Samples are typically collected with a nasal or throat swab, or saliva collected by spitting into a tube.

An antibody test looks for antibodies that are made by the immune system in response to a threat, such as a specific virus. Antibodies can help fight infections. Antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks after recovery. Because of this, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose an active coronavirus infection. At this time, researchers do not know if the presence of antibodies means that you are immune to the coronavirus in the future.

If antibody tests are not used for diagnosis or exclusion of COVID-19 infection, what is their purpose?

(From FDA.gov FAQs): While there is a lot of uncertainty with this new virus, it is also possible that, over time, broad use of antibody tests and clinical follow-up will provide the medical community with more information on whether or not, and how long, a person who has recovered from the virus is at lower risk of infection if they are exposed to the virus again. Samples are typically blood from a finger stick or blood draw.