City reports ‘significant’ increase in new COVID cases

Increase likely driven by omicron variant; no new hospitalizations shared.

The City and Borough of Juneau on Wednesday reported 147 new local COVID-19 cases between Dec. 22 and Dec.28.

That figure, which includes 139 residents and 8 nonresidents, represents “a significant increase over recent trends,” according to the city. There are about 156 active cases citywide, according to Juneau Public Health.

State data show 138 COVID-19 cases among residents reported for Juneau the week of Dec. 28, while 44 such cases were reported the week of Dec. 21. The Dec. 28 one-week figure is the highest weekly total for reported resident cases in the capital city since late October, according to state data, but still well short of totals in late September. The last two weeks of September saw 265 and 245 cases reported for Juneau, respectively.

Deputy City Manager Robert Barr said in an email he did not have exact figures, but anecdotally some people who have tested positive at home using rapid antigen tests have called in to Juneau Public Health to report having tested positive.

“Sometimes those folks opt to go get a confirmatory PCR test and it gets counted in the numbers, sometimes they don’t,” Barr said.

Self-tests are freely available at the City Hall cash office, all public libraries, Juneau Public Health Center and Juneau Police Station, according to the city. At this time, there is a two-test-per-family limit.

Genomic sequencing, which allows for identification of variants, lags case reports by two to three weeks, but given national trends, the city said in a news release it’s reasonable to expect the recent increase is due in part to holiday travel and the spread of the omicron variant.

The city advises people who are eligible for a vaccine booster to seek one. Vaccines are available at local pharmacies, the Juneau International Airport —although not on New Year’s Day —and at the Juneau Public Health Center. Appointments can be made online through https://juneau.org/covid-19/vaccine-information. Over 73% of Juneau’s total population and over 77% of its eligible population are fully vaccinated, according to city data.

No one is currently hospitalized with COVID-19 at Bartlett Regional Hospital, according to the city.

Statewide, 469 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths among residents were reported on Wednesday.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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