‘It’s going to test Alaska’s resilience’: Health experts later worry about epidemics


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With the drop in temperature, COVID-19 cases in Alaska are on the rise.

Health officials say Alaska has successfully grown at the end of July, while the time is different. This is partly due to changes in weather: As temperatures drop, Alaska is spending too much time indoors, which spreads the virus easily.

The Chief Medical Officer of the state, Dr. Anne Zink said to reporters last week, “It’s fall and winter, I’m worried, it’s going to be tough.” “It’s going to test Alaska’s resilience.”

This past week, Alaska set a record for the most new coronovirus infections in a single day, and last Friday, the average percentage of trials that first climbed positively above 5%. Daily matter counts are in three digits for more than three weeks, and most Communities across the state now find themselves in the highest alert category, defined as more than 10 cases per 100,000 people.

While the state’s data shows that hospital capacity is still stable, and the state’s per capita mortality rate is also one of the lowest in the country, state health officials expressed concern about the rapid rise in cases growing in winter Has

This is a problem that is not going away soon, especially in Alaska. The days are only going to be short and cold.

Janet Johnston, an epidemiologist at the Anchorage Health Department, said, “During the summer, when people looked at (the cases), there was a conscious effort to do things outside and away.”

“Even on Labor Day, we had not noticed a spike associated with it that I was worried about. But now as we move forward, the days are getting shorter, it is getting colder and getting more dissolved inside. And I think that’s the big driver, “Johnson said.

State health officials say a major challenge in the winter is how the virus is spreading, its changing nature.

In response, state and local officials called the question last week a success of “social bubbles”, with small friend-and-family groups clinging to some Alaska as a way to protect and keep them safe.

Bubbles only work when they are fairly strictly adhered to, Johnson said.

Some children return to school and many adults return to work, which is becoming difficult to do.

“When people were actually living in the house, it was easy to bubble up during ‘Hunker Down’,” he said. “But we have a lot of activity going on,” she said, noting that many groups in Anchorage are connected to small family and friend groups.

“We hear a lot of people say,” My bubble safe, “said Zinc. ‘But your bubble is connected to another bubble, which is connected to another bubble. And so it just spreads from bubble to bubble. A big fire tube, but I think it’s just that we’re taking those buckets of COVID and spreading it from one small group to another. “

“I think it’s fine if you can actually apply that bubble,” Johnson said. “But I think it is getting harder and harder to do.”

As Alaska heads, another major concern is how to make indoor spaces as safe as possible, and the role building ventilation systems play in reducing transmission.

Although the novel coronovirus spreads primarily through contact between people indoors, new evidence suggests the virus is capable of spreading beyond 6 feet, the Center for Air Broadcasting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidelines last week said in.

Jack Hebert, founder and former CEO of Fairbanks’ Cold Climate Housing Research Center, said that ensuring some kind of ventilation strategy in homes and commercial buildings could reduce this risk slightly.

“In hot places, doors and windows stay open and there is access to outside air, which washes through the house, and you are less likely to pick up a virus that is attached there,” he said. “In Alaska (in winter), we don’t do that.”

Instead, there are many other ways in Alaska that people use to ventilate their homes, Hebert said, stressing that it is imperative for the people of Alaska to always pay attention to their ventilation system – COVID-19 Or not – for general health and safety reasons.

But in terms of ventilation system The ability to filter coronovirus, it is doubtful, said Hebert.

“I don’t want to take importance in commercial buildings, office buildings and houses maintaining those ventilation systems,” he said. “But we cannot filter out viruses such as coronaviruses with a ventilation system. You can provide more air, and healthier air. But an indoor environment is always more of a concern than being outdoors. “

Ultimately, he said, properly functioning ventilation systems should be just one piece of the puzzle.

“In fact, keeping your bubble small, and taking precautions in public, it makes the most difference,” Hebert said.

Chugach peaks and part of the Turnagain arm appear in this view on October 12, 2020, from Anchorage’s Flattop Mountain facing south. (Mark Lester / adn)