Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s office building on the corner of  Siginaka Way and Katlian Street is pictured Tuesday. The building’s HVAC system was replaced using Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Alaska Native corporations are also eligible for CARES Act funding. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Alaska Checking Results Of Virus Test Machines

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Alaska’s public health labs are checking results from rapid COVID-19 testing machines amid concerns about their accuracy.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has 113 testing machines to confirm suspected coronavirus cases, The Anchorage Daily News reported  Monday.

The machines made by Abbott and called “ID NOW” were distributed to remote Alaska communities that needed fast test results. Days or weeks were previously needed in some places where samples had to be flown to other labs.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last week that early data suggested the machines could produce potentially inaccurate results.

The main concerns are false negatives, which are tests incorrectly indicating patients do not have COVID-19. The FDA said it is investigating.

Dr. Bernd Jilly, director of Alaska’s public health laboratories, said he has known about the false negative issues since the testing machines were first deployed.

The state subsequently requested that Abbott machine results be submitted to the state labs for follow-up testing.

Through Saturday, 43,507 tests had been conducted in Alaska, the health department said.

Out of 360 Abbott test results checked through Friday, one negative test came back positive during confirmatory testing, Jilly said.

“They had a very low viral load so it was right at the limit of detection of the Abbott machine,” Jilly said. “So it was not surprising that it came up negative.”

A recent study by New York University, which has not yet gone through the traditional peer-review process for scientific research, showed high false-negative rates in the Abbott machines during testing in New York.

In places where the virus is more prevalent, many negatives would be more of a red flag. But in Alaska, where cases are low, “one would expect a negative result just based on the clinical picture of life here,” Jilly said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30, 2020, the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 8-4-21)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:27 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 323

Total statewide – 72,584

Total (cumulative) deaths – 385

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,738

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Active cases in Sitka – 123

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 37

Cumulative Sitka cases – 873 (797 resident; 76 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 748

Deceased (cumulative) – 2

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

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Sitka Vax Stats 

The State of Alaska DHSS reported Wednesday the following statistics on vaccinations for Sitka.

Partially vaccinated – 5,682 (77%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,242 (71%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 79 percent of its senior population (1,478 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data for the City and Borough of Sitka can be found online at: https://cityofsitka.org

 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2001

The Assembly agreed Thursday to place ballot questions on cell phone usage, downtown traffic lights and a fire hall before the voters in the Oct. 2 municipal election. Assembly members emphasized the election results would be used as a rough guide, not a mandate, on policy issues.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1971

Sitka student Phillip R. Wyman is among new admissions for the fall at Washington State University.

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