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State updates COVID-19 alert level reporting

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has updated its COVID-19 alert level...
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has updated its COVID-19 alert level reporting.(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 4:58 PM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2021 at 8:24 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has changed the way it reports the state’s COVID-19 alert levels. There are three adjustments that took place Monday to further break down the level of virus transmission in each area of the state.

There are now four alert levels — low, moderate, substantial and high — instead of the previous three levels. Those were low, intermediate and high. The alert levels are based on a region or community’s average daily COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people.

According to the new alert levels, a community is in the low alert level if there are 0-9.99 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days, in the moderate alert level if there are 10-49.99 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days, in the substantial alert level if there are 50-99.99 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days, and in the high alert level if there are more than 100 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days.

Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said there are a couple reasons for the update.

“This better aligns with the CDC mapping and there’s more and more CDC guidance that refer to this map and that way it just provides less confusion to Alaskans overall,” she said.

The state is also taking the 11 regions in Alaska and breaking them out into 28 boroughs and census areas. The places with a less than 1,000 people will be combined with an area nearby.

Previously, the alert level was calculated on a 14-day average. Now, the numbers will be a seven-day cumulative.

All of the calculations will still be adjusted for population, as it was before.

“We’re now looking at the cumulative number of cases in a seven-day time period, so the numbers will look higher,” Dr. Zink said. “Yet, it essentially represents the same thing.”

Between all of these changes, some of the alert levels were brought down, but it is just a different way of interpreting the data.

The state now released new COVID-19 case reports every weekday, Monday-Friday, excluding holidays.

Correction: The new alert levels were corrected. The alert levels are based on average weekly case rates, not daily.

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