COVID-19 in Alaska: Fact-checking claims about case trends, death rates, masks and ivermectin

COVID-19 in Alaska: Fact-checking claims about case trends, death rates, masks and ivermectin

Alaskas recent per-capita case rate is the greatest in the U.S., and greater than that of any country in the world.At the very same time, recent declarations from public authorities paint a much different picture of the pandemic, warranting closer scrutiny.In Anchorage over the previous week, a divided city debated whether to implement a mask mandate, and Mayor Dave Bronson touted an unmasked medical treatment, pointed to information that he said revealed Alaskas case counts were really declining and questioned the efficiency of masks.We fact-checked some of these claims.Case counts are remaining high, but theres a COVID-19 case onset graph that appears to reveal a current decline. A video of Bronsons remarks popped up the next day, posted by his mayoral Facebook account.In the chart Bronson was looking at, “start date” refers to the day a persons symptoms first began or, if theyre asymptomatic, the day they got tested.Because the date a person gets evaluated or very first experiences signs occurs earlier than the date the state reports that case, the last few weeks of data in the case onset chart are missing out on information that will get added in the coming days, Louisa Castrodale, an epidemiologist with the state health department, discussed last week. (Screengrabs from Municipality of Anchorages COVID-19 dashboard) “At a time when theres truly fast turn-arounds with the labs, the report date and the onset date may be very close together, but when we know laboratories are having difficulty processing specimens, and in some cases reporting in those results, you can truly see a distinction between that beginning date and the report date,” she said.A much better method to measure Alaskas present surge is by looking at week-to-week trends, said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist.By that step, Alaskas daily cases are still increasing– last week saw a 10% boost in cases compared to the week previously– and the states seven-day per capita case rate is currently the greatest in the country. Specifically looking at Anchorage, the municipalitys seven-day per capita case rate is likewise greater than any other states, and theres no evidence in the case numbers of a current decline.Does Alaska really have one of the least expensive COVID-19 death rates in the country?Essentially, it depends: Are you looking at the pandemic overall, or are you looking at how Alaskas doing more recently?Based on information from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alaska continues to have one of the lowest death rates in the country since the start of the pandemic, along with Oregon, Maine, Vermont and Hawaii.”And we know that anytime we see a spike in cases, deaths will follow,” he said.Thats what has played out throughout the state as case counts have increased considering that summertime.

People stroll by The Kobuk on W. Fifth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (Emily Mesner/ ADN) Alaska is at a crucial point in the pandemic. Twenty healthcare centers across the state are now operating under crisis requirements of care, a reflection of the added pressure facing health centers that are contending with limited resources and high COVID-19 client counts– and bracing for even worse. Alaskas current per-capita case rate is the highest in the U.S., and greater than that of any nation in the world.At the same time, current statements from public officials paint a much different image of the pandemic, warranting closer scrutiny.In Anchorage over the previous week, a divided city disputed whether to implement a mask required, and Mayor Dave Bronson promoted an unmasked medical treatment, indicated information that he said showed Alaskas case counts were really decreasing and questioned the effectiveness of masks.We fact-checked some of these claims.Case counts are remaining high, however theres a COVID-19 case start graph that appears to reveal a current decline. Whats going on?Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, who opposes a proposed citywide mask required and COVID-19 requireds in basic, just recently pointed out a chart on the citys COVID-19 dashboard that he said revealed a decline in the city and state. His remarks during Wednesday nights turbulent Anchorage Assembly conference was available in response to a testifier who was speaking in assistance of the mask ordinance.Bronson said to the testifier: “Im taking a look at the case start by date graph, and I see that the seven-day moving average for both the state and town have been reducing significantly because Sept. 13. Im just curious, in your mind, which mandate triggered those reductions?” A video of Bronsons remarks turned up the next day, posted by his mayoral Facebook account.In the graph Bronson was taking a look at, “start date” refers to the day an individuals symptoms first started or, if theyre asymptomatic, the day they got tested.Because the date an individual gets tested or first experiences signs occurs earlier than the date the state reports that case, the last couple of weeks of information in the case onset graph are missing out on details that will get added in the coming days, Louisa Castrodale, an epidemiologist with the state health department, discussed recently.”Because the beginning date is something thats in the past, if youre looking at the beginning information curve, youll constantly see it falling off at the end there,” she said. That dip is even more noticable since of recent stockpiles in information processing.Pictured are 2 charts from the Municipality of Anchorages COVID-19 control panel: At top is a graph showing cases by start date, which Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson referenced in a recent Assembly meeting. State health authorities say the last couple of weeks of information in the event onset graph are missing info and will constantly show a drop-off. At bottom is a chart revealing COVID-19 cases by report date, or when those positive test results were reported by the state. (Screengrabs from Municipality of Anchorages COVID-19 control panel) “At a time when theres really quick turnarounds with the labs, the report date and the onset date might be incredibly close together, however when we understand laboratories are having problem processing specimens, and in some cases reporting in those results, you can truly see a distinction in between that onset date and the report date,” she said.A better method to determine Alaskas present surge is by taking a look at week-to-week trends, said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist.By that step, Alaskas everyday cases are still increasing– last week saw a 10% increase in cases compared to the week before– and the states seven-day per capita case rate is presently the highest in the nation. Specifically taking a look at Anchorage, the municipalitys seven-day per capita case rate is also higher than any other states, and theres no proof in the case varieties of a current decline.Does Alaska really have among the most affordable COVID-19 death rates in the country?Essentially, it depends: Are you looking at the pandemic total, or are you taking a look at how Alaskas doing more recently?Based on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alaska continues to have one of the most affordable death rates in the country since the start of the pandemic, in addition to Oregon, Maine, Vermont and Hawaii. Alaska has actually balanced 76 deaths per 100,000 people considering that January 2020, giving it the fourth-lowest death rate in the country for that time frame.Its a figure often promoted by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Mayor Bronson, even while other data points– like hospital extensive care unit capacity and present case rates– continue to raise alarm from health officials.However, taking a look at just the previous week, Alaska since Friday had the highest death rate in the nation, with 11.4 deaths per 100,000 people.Its essential to think about how those death rates get calculated, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin. The CDC consists of all deaths that were included to the states COVID-19 dashboard, which recently included numerous deaths that had actually taken place earlier in the year. There were really just 20 that happened in the last 7 days, rather than the 80 deaths that pressed Alaska into highest death rate nationally last Friday.So, we can most likely anticipate Alaskas national position for the seven-day death rate to vary in the next few days. Some might misinterpret the drop in death rate as an example of the state turning the corner on the infection, but thats not exactly the case, stated Rosa Avila, who deals with COVID-19 information at the states health department. Rather, its simply that the CDC was no longer including those additional older deaths in the seven-day death rate.The bottom line, McLaughlin stated, is cases are skyrocketing today.”And we understand that anytime we see a spike in cases, deaths will follow,” he said.Thats what has played out across the state as case counts have risen considering that summer season. In June, there were 6 Alaska homeowners who died with COVID-19, while there were 21 who passed away in July, 75 in August and 71 up until now reported in September– which tally could alter as health officials tracking the infection get more info about current deaths.Do masks work?In a recent op-ed opposing Anchorages proposed mask required, Mayor Bronson composed: “Certainly, there are lots of studies that support the usage of masks however … there are also a number of research studies that have discovered masking and mask mandates mostly ineffective. That is why even the World Health Organization has recognized the science on masking is inconsistent and undetermined.”Hes referencing WHO assistance from December 2020 that recommended the using of masks as one part of a more extensive strategy to restrict infection spread. The WHO stated at the time: “At present there is inconsistent and just restricted clinical proof to support the effectiveness of masking of healthy individuals in the community to prevent infection with respiratory infections, consisting of SARS-CoV-2.”Bronson likewise pointed out a May 2020 post in a CDC journal that included research from 2018 and earlier, and discovered “restricted” proof of the effectiveness of surgical masks at avoiding influenza virus transmission.Bronson was right that some of those early research studies on masking were inclusive and in some cases complicated. But the science behind masking has evolved considering that those research studies he referenced.The huge bulk of research study now backs the theory that masks work– that they considerably secure both the wearer and those they enter into contact with.More than 10 research studies pointed out by the CDC have given that validated the benefits of universal masking at avoiding community spread– consisting of an analysis conducted last spring among 12 healthcare facilities in Massachusetts that workers over 75,000 healthcare workers, a German research study published in June 2020 and an Arizona research study that tracked transmission rates before and after mask requireds were widely implemented, amongst others.”Each analysis showed that, following instructions from organizational and political leadership for universal masking, new infections fell considerably,” the CDC said.In Alaska, public health authorities and medical companies have near-universally and regularly suggested making use of mask-wearing as one of the most efficient, simple and low-cost ways to slow neighborhood transmission, protect healthcare facility capability and prevent deaths.Should ivermectin be used to treat COVID-19? Ivermectin meant for livestock remained in high demand at some Alaska feed shops after it got traction on social networks as a purported treatment for COVID-19. The FDA has actually authorized ivermectin in both individuals and animals for some parasitic worms and for head lice and skin problem– however the FDA hasnt approved its usage in treating or avoiding COVID-19 in human beings. The agency has strongly urged people not to utilize it to deal with COVID-19, especially given that many were turning to solutions meant for animals, not humans.Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, who has no background in health or medicine, publicly backed the use of the treatment. Speaking at an Anchorage Rotary Club conference recently, Bronson declared the treatment worked effectively.”Its an authorized drug and its very effective,” he said. “Its not a horse tablet.”Merck, the drug company that manufactures ivermectin, in February explicitly stated that researchers discovered no clinical basis for a possible restorative effect versus COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies and no significant evidence for medical activity or medical efficacy in clients with COVID-19. The company likewise pointed out “a worrying absence of security data” in the majority of studies.Taking too much ivermectin can cause queasiness, diarrhea, low blood pressure, itching and hives, dizziness, balance issues, seizures and even death, according to the Oregon Poison Control. Ingesting ivermectin formulas that are created for animals is specifically dangerous, as veterinary medications are often more concentrated and many of their ingredients arent considered safe for human use.Dr. Anne Zink, Alaskas primary medical officer, stated last week that there is no tested advantage to taking ivermectin. Vaccination is the finest method to combat the infection, and monoclonal antibody treatment can assist those who do contract it to avoid of the hospital, she said.This material was originally released here.


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