There were 13 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Alaska Thursday, with seven of them on the Kenai Peninsula. Five of those positive results were from residents of the Southern Kenai Peninsula. Derotha Ferraro said four people with symptoms were tested at South Peninsula Hospital, while Laurel Hilts said SVT Health & Wellness was notified by the state that one of its test samples came back positive from someone who was not showing symptoms, but was getting a pre-surgery screening.
On Thursday’s Covid Brief, host Kathleen Gustafson led off with a series of questions received from listeners regarding testing positive for the virus but having no symptoms -- known as being asymptomatic.
“And so I got questions about asymptomatic patients,” Gustafson asked. “I think this one will go first to Nurse Lorne (Carroll), what what are you finding about asymptomatic patients, Nurse Lorne?”
“That's a great question. It can mean about three main different things. It can actually be more, but here's kind of the three different things of the asymptomatic command,” Nurse Lorne Carroll said.
“So the first kind of category of asymptomatic would be those folks with COVID 19, that never exhibit any signs and symptoms. So that's kind of an easy one. Secondly, asymptomatic folks will not have signs and symptoms until they do. And so that's important because one thing that we know about COVID or that we feel we know from today's perspective is that folks can be infectious up to two days before the onset, or the start of signs and symptoms. And that's why contact tracing, the public health nurses, ask where folks have been up to two days before the onset of signs and symptoms. And that's how they start to build a list of high priority contexts to that new COVID case.
“And then thirdly, asymptomatic can also be folks that deny signs and symptoms and they might be denying them because they're not really associating some kind of what they perceive to be as normal or insignificant signs and symptoms until something changes. So for example an individual may get screened for COVID before an elective healthcare procedure or dental procedure and pop up as positive.”
“And so what do we know about the virus in terms of how it behaves and how it's passed from asymptomatic patients,” asked Gustafson.
“Kind of in a nutshell from what we understand today as asymptomatic folks can transmit the disease, just like folks that are showing signs and symptoms. But one of the key points here is that COVID 19 is a virus, which is an acute disease process,” Carroll said. “And what I mean by acute is the virus clears completely from the body for most people in about 14 days or less. So that's what the whole process of quarantine is based on. So for example, if you come up from Lower 48, if you hunker down in quarantine for 14 days, have no contact with other humans, even if you did have a virus like COVID 19, it would clear the system entirely.”
As of Thursday morning, 977 total tests have been administered at South Peninsula Hospital, with 934 coming back negative, 10 positive, and 33 pending. Four of the new positive cases were from the free drive-up testing at South Peninsula Hospital this week, and one more was reported by SVT Health and Wellness.
Public Health Nurses are conducting case investigations and contact tracing now.