COVID-19 updates presented at Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce luncheon

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 4:48 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce held its weekly virtual luncheon on November 17th, hosting Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and Dr. Laura Brunner with Foundation Health Partners to discuss updates with COVID-19 in Alaska and Fairbanks.

Dr. Zink explained that all across the U.S., COVID-19 cases are surging. “No one’s on a downward projection in the U.S.,” she said, adding, “That’s very concerning.”

According to Zink, Alaska’s daily case rate stands at 70.1 daily cases per 100,000 people; and in Fairbanks North Star Borough, over the last 7 days, 6.22% of tests conducted came back positive.

She said a lot of the viral spread happens before symptoms or at the very beginning of symptoms. “We really need people to be tested at the very beginning of symptoms, and it’s crazy how many times you talk to people and they say ‘I just thought this was a cold. I just thought that my runny nose, I thought this was my traditional allergies.’”

"The thing that’s keeping me up at night is our hospital capacity,' Dr. Zink said, adding, “While we have these cases surging and most people do really well, it doesn’t do well for everyone, and we are increasingly seeing capacity stretched thin.”

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital has accepted patients from Bethel, according to Zink.

She explained that wearing a mask decreases the likelihood of both contracting COVID-19 and having a severe case.

When asked about whether symptoms of a mild case of COVID-19 can be distinguished from other illnesses, Dr. Brunner said, “That ability to tell the difference between COVID and a cold, and stomach flu, and bronchiolitis, and croup, and all the things that we all know... we just can’t tell without a test. So when we look at the symptoms that people have... there are a few more specific symptoms, but really those sort of vague, mild symptoms, we just can’t tell without a test.”

Dr. Zink said, “We have a finish line in sight. We have a lot of hope in sight, but we really need everyone to rally together. I’m markedly concerned that a mildly enjoyable Thanksgiving this year may lead to just a devastating Christmas.”

The full video of the virtual luncheon can be found here.

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