The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed guidelines on who should be tested for the new coronavirus, overturning previous advice that all close contacts of a positive or presumptive COVID-19 case should be tested.
Now, on the advice of a White House task force, the CDC says testing is only recommended for close contacts of confirmed cases who are feeling sick.
Senior Alaska health officials said they only heard about the changes in testing guidelines after the CDC website was updated with the changes and which the state planned to maintain. its previous course by recommending to anyone close to a confirmed positive COVID-19. the individual for more than 15 minutes is screened, whether or not showing symptoms.
Anyone who is confirmed to be within 6 feet of an individual positive for COVID for more than 15 minutes is also advised to quarantine for 14 days whether or not they experience symptoms.
Joe McLaughlin, the chief epidemiologist for Alaska, said he believed the changes to the CDC’s guidelines were based on people’s misunderstanding of testing times.
“ One of the concerns raised in previous guidelines was that some people identified as close contact with confirmed cases were tested early during their quarantine period and mistakenly believed that a negative test result meant they could terminate the quarantine prematurely. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this happen in Alaska as well, ”McLaughlin wrote in an email response to the Daily News-Miner Thursday.
Regardless of the new CDC guidelines, McLaughlin still recommends people get tested at some point during the second week of their 14-day quarantine, even if they haven’t developed any symptoms.
“This helps identify people who are infected but asymptomatic to inform them of their infection and appropriately quarantine people with whom they have been in close contact, such as members of their household,” he said. “It is important to stress, however, that people must remain in quarantine for the full 14 days, even if they test negative at some point during the quarantine period.”
Elizabeth Burton, a regional nurse manager of public health based in Fairbanks, confirmed that local public health testing will continue as before.
A total of 336,220 tests have been conducted statewide to date.
Alaska’s decision to stay the course comes as 86 more people – including 16 residents of Fairbanks – test positive for COVID-19, health officials said Thursday.
This brings the total number of residents of the borough of Fairbanks North Star who test positive for the disease to 590. Not all of these residents were present in the borough when they fell ill or when they tested positive. The state health department aggregates case counts by permanent residence of the individual who tested positive.
Residents of Anchorage were 43 more cases reported Thursday. Sixteen individual cases have been confirmed at McLaughlin Youth Center in Anchorage in four staff members and 12 young people in treatment at the facility.
The remaining cases were scattered throughout the census regions of Wasilla, Juneau, Palmer, Eagle River, Prince of Wales / Hyder, Sitka, Soldotna, Wrangell, Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area and Utqiagvik.
Two non-residents of Anchorage have also tested positive, a visitor and an airline pilot.
These new cases bring the total number of state residents who test positive to 4,975 and the total number of non-resident cases to 826. Not all of these cases remain active.
The percentage of Alaskans who have recovered from COVID-19 of the total number of cases among residents of Alaska is increasing, state health officials say, but there are still more active cases than of cases recovered.
Data from the state’s health department shows that about 60 percent of the state’s cases are active, although that percentage may be lower due to a lag in the data, according to the chief medical officer of the state. ‘Alaska, Dr. Anne Zink. The percentage of active cases was closer to 70% last week.
With school activities such as starting the sport, more people under the age of 19 have tested positive, including a high school football player at West Valley High School recently. However, the largest percentage of new cases is still reported among Alaskans between the ages of 20 and 39.
Six other Alaskans became sick enough to warrant hospitalization. Currently, 39 confirmed COVID-19 patients are hospitalized statewide and four more hospitalized patients are under investigation and awaiting test results.
Hospital beds used for COVID-19 patients ranged from 32 to 45 over the past week, according to a weekly analysis report from the state health department.
No new deaths were reported Thursday.
Contact writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.