Alaska COVID-19 digest, April 8, 2020

State of Alaska releases data hub for coronavirus tracking

Governor Mike Dunleavy and the State Department of Health and Social Services released a comprehensive tool to help the public track cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Known as the “Data Dashboard,” the chart breaks down cases by region, borough or census area, and community, thus providing a more detailed account of the illness. The page also allows for information on case gender, testing and cumulative hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

New information is released daily at noon on the webpage, and each evening during Governor Dunleavy’s media briefing, made available to the public on his livestream:

Alaskans reminded to complete 2020 Census

A mere 29.4% of Alaska residents had completed the U.S. Census as of April 7, according to the Alaska Counts campaign, a nonpartisan education initiative designed to improve the state’s census response rate. Nationwide, the response rate sat at 45.7% as of the same date.

Coronavirus or no, the census is underway, its data used as a basis for distributing more than $800 billion in annual federal funds for such things as schools, hospitals and public services like fire departments. Census data also influences state legislative districts and local political boundaries. Taken every 10 years, the U.S. Census is vital for states like Alaska, with unique urban-rural issues requiring a variety of funding sources to benefit residents’ health and well-being.

Alaskans can complete the 2020 census online, by telephone, or through the mail. Most households received an invitation by mail to fill out the census during the week of March 12-20, 2020. It is available in a variety of languages specific to Alaska, and an in-person interview can also be taken should the response not be returned by May 27, 2020.

A comprehensive list of information related to the 2020 census can be accessed at

Alaskans advised to wear face coverings

On April 3, 2020, the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services published a health alert to residents that covering their mouth and nose with a face shield, mask, or cloth can help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 disease.

“Scientific evidence available to date indicates that asymptomatic and presymptomatic shedding of the virus that causes COVID-19 is occurring. This means that people who have no symptoms whatsoever may be infected with the virus and capable of transmitting the virus to others when interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing or sneezing. This heightens the need for community-wide implementation of control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people who are not experiencing symptoms of illness,” the advisory stated.

A face mask can consist of any tightly-woven cloth that covers the nose and mouth, and should be worn in any public situation where physical distancing is difficult, like a grocery store, pharmacy or medical environment. Handwashing is critical before and after removing the mask, and masks should be put on and taken off via the back of the head to avoid touching the nose/mouth area of the fabric.

Dr. Anne Zink, the State of Alaska chief medical officer, reminded residents that N95 or surgical masks should be reserved for frontline health care workers.

For more information regarding face masks and the April 3 health advisory, read State of Alaska Alert 010:

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