COVID cases continue at record pace in Wrangell and statewide


January 20, 2022

Updated Friday evening, Jan. 21, 2022

As of early Friday evening, Wrangell was up to 145 new COVID-19 infections reported since Dec. 30, more than double the community's highest monthly count of the pandemic.

The community is not alone in a record-setting month. State health officials on Friday reported more than 6,500 new cases across Alaska over the past two days -- a record count.

In Wrangell, the post-holidays surge represents almost one in every 15 residents of the community and is almost 40% of the total number of cases reported in town since the pandemic tally started almost two years ago.

The borough's daily announcements this week have included the advisory: "Please note that these cases are only the cases that have been reported to us. These do not include at-home positive tests."

State health officials attribute the steep increase in new infections to the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus.

Sitka and Ketchikan both reported record numbers of active cases this week.

Alaska is now eighth in the nation for its rate of new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitalizations also are rising in Alaska, though the numbers are much less than last fall's peak. While January's case counts across the state are setting records, health officials report there are indications that the Omicron variant may not be as severe as earlier strains, easing pressure on hospitals.

Individuals are increasingly relying on at-home tests, rather than going to state-contracted testing sites, which health officials said means there are likely a lot more infections in communities that are not recorded and reported with the state numbers.

At-home tests will be available at the Wrangell Fire Department, the borough reported, advising people to call the fire hall at 907-874-3223 to arrange to pick up test kits.

The borough is advising individuals who show symptoms or are a close contact of an infected person to call the Wrangell Medical Center at 907-874-7000 to schedule an appointment for a free COVID-19 test.

Free COVID-19 testing is available for individuals without symptoms just outside the entrance to the hospital emergency room from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday — no appointment necessary. People can drive up to the doors and staff will come out. The state-funded testing site will close Jan. 31.


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