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Health

Dillingham area's COVID-19 cases level off after earlier spikes, according to Public Health

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Izzy Ross/KDLG
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Public health staff in Dillingham say case counts may be steadying because people are generally following health and safety guidelines after travel -- but household visits between community members may still be spreading the virus.

Coronavirus cases in the Dillingham area are starting to level off after a series of spikes over the past two weeks, said Dillingham Public Health Nurse Gina Carpenter on Thursday.

“We’re about 49 active cases that are being tracked by the state of Alaska right now. So as people complete their isolation maybe we’ll be adding a couple of new ones, but certainly it’s slowed down from the large caseload we were getting at the beginning of the week,” she said.

Carpenter thinks that’s because people are generally following health and safety guidelines.

“People are doing such a great job," she said. "They return from travel and they put themselves into quarantine, do the appropriate testing, find out they’re positive. And so there’s not a lot of spread. But we do see spread when people go visit each other between households when they don’t realize they’re sick. So that’s really how it’s continuing to stay a problem at the moment.”

Carpenter said right now, Public Health is keeping track of the case count across the entire census area, rather than tallying each community’s numbers separately.

“'Cause that includes our neighbors in the villages that surround Dillingham. And people come through Dillingham and shop in Dillingham, so I think we’re kind of this big collective,” she said.

The state reported seven cases in Dillingham proper on Tuesday, and 27 cases in the broader Dillingham area within the past week.

There is sometimes a lag between case tallies that the state reports daily and those local communities report. 

Elizabeth Manning, Department of Health and Social Services communications manager, said that’s because of the time it takes for positive tests to get reported to the state, verified and then entered into the database. 

A high number of reports can delay that process. And Alaska has been experiencing a high number of caseloads for weeks, setting a new statewide record for COVID hospitalizations on Monday, and reporting on Wednesday a record-high daily count of infections.

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A screengrab of the state Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 case count for the Dillingham Census Area. Sept. 16, 2021.

Contact the author at izzy@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

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