Juneau officials address COVID case spike, plans for vaccination clinics after booster approval

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau continues to struggle to keep up with testing as state public health is still backlogged in processing testing results.

    According to the States COVID data hub, 2,865 tests have been conducted in Juneau in the past 7 days, with case positivity standing at 5%.

    95 cases were reported over the weekend and Monday, 46 cases were reported Tuesday. Out of both of those case reports, only one non-resident was reported with the cases, all the rest were identified as residents.

    City Manager Rorie Watt said it is an unchanged situation.

    "We have too many cases, we continue to have too many cases, and we have got to figure out how to keep our case counts down. Our positivity rates, the rate of testing, it is a high percentage, which tells us not enough testing and too much spread in the community," said Watt. "So we've got some bad indicators, we're trending up in numbers of cases and pressure on the health care system, and we just need the community to do better."

    72.8 percent of Juneau's total population has received at least 1 dose of the vaccine and 69.2 percent has completed the vaccine series, Watt said the best thing to do to fight the virus is getting vaccinated.

    "The message is not new. The single best thing that people can do to prevent the spread of COVID is getting vaccinated. We continue to make a little bit of progress slowly every week, we get a few more people to come over and that's good, that really helps," he said. "I mean I think if you look at the condition of our pressure on our hospital while very strenuous, very stressful for our hospital staff there's too much activity out there. It doesn't look like Anchorage."

    Watt said that "getting vaccinated and wearing a mask is basically the most patriotic thing you can do for your friends, neighbors, and country."

    City Emergency Planning Head Robert Barr addressed testing access in Juneau.

    "We are working on continually increasing our testing capacity, to that end we've started doing some pop up testing around town. Our request to the community right now is that if you have transportation, please go out to the Fire Training Center and get tested there. Our capacity at our pop up locations are very limited. We're working on growing that, but it's limited and we're really trying to make that as available as possible for people who don't have transportation."

    And said the city is paying close attention to the FDA and the CDC guidance on booster doses

    "What we're committed to doing is planning for and then putting on mass vaccination clinic as soon as we have the authorization to do that for people who are eligible. Our best information at this point is just the same as everyone else that's out there in the news that there will likely be, for people who received Pfizer, a booster dose available if you are likely over the age of 61 of these categories and it'll change between now and then, but over the age of 65 have a serious medical condition a health care worker, and there may be more and that serious condition is not defined yet."

    According to the Associated Press, The Food and Drug Administration is expected to rule soon on Pfizer’s bid for extra doses, after its advisers last week dramatically scaled back the Biden administrations plans for boosters for everyone. Instead, that panel-backed booster shots for seniors and others at high risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the final word on who would qualify and convened its own advisers Wednesday to start deliberations.

    CBJ officials made their remarks during a CBJ covid community update.

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