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Data from NSHC Shows Most Patients Test Positive for COVID-19 After Second Test

The Nome hospital at dusk, viewed from the front, with light streaming through its windows.
Nome’s Norton Sound Regional Hospital. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

Community spread of COVID-19 in Nome is increasing and now the Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) is reporting that 64% of COVID-19 patients tested positive for the disease after their first negative test.

That data is current as of Wednesday when NSHC released a new COVID-19 data dashboard.

NSHC is also now releasing the number of hospitalizations they’ve had since the pandemic began. The corporation is currently reporting that three COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized in Nome since the pandemic began. The state dashboard is showing two hospitalizations for the Nome Census Area although the Department of Health and Social Services has reported delays in data entry.

NSHC Public Relations Specialist Sarah Richards would not say whether there are any active hospitalizations in Nome. Richards could not answer whether NSHC would be reporting hospitalizations as they occur. No information about the severity of the hospitalization, age of the patient, or their home communities has been provided at this time.

The Norton Sound Health Corporation is releasing a weekly online dashboard charting COVID-19 hospitalizations and which communities have active cases. This will replace the daily updates,known as the “Situation Report”, that have been issued previously.

“We want to have a data dashboard that’s as comprehensive and user friendly as possible.”

– Sarah Richards

Rather than just the daily number of cases, the new weekly dashboard contains information about gender, the testing timeline as to when a person tested positive, patient age, and the communities from where the active cases are reported.

Richards justifies the switch to a weekly report by saying to allows consumers to have more depth of information.

“Things are changing all the time and in order to give the most accurate information out to the public, it’s going to be a once a week graphic that we will be able to provide.”

As of today [THUR] there are 25 active cases in the region, with 19 of those being patients in Nome.

According to the dashboard, which was updated on Wednesday, over 90% of the current total reported COVID-19 cases belong to local residents.

NSHC’s dashboard also reflects total trends in the timeline of testing. Since the pandemic began, 64% of the individuals who tested positive for the novel coronavirus tested positive for the disease on their second test, approximately 4-15 days after their first negative test result. 

“It just shows how important it is for people to stay in quarantine after traveling and after being identified as a close contact.”

-Sarah Richards

Patients’ ages are also being tracked by the dashboard. The region’s cases belong mostly to younger residents, with 33% of patients under 19 years-old and another 35% of patients between 20 and 49.

The dashboard does not reflect the racial demographics of the COVID-19 patients.

The CDC reports that race and ethnicity can be risk markers for “underlying conditions that could impact health”; some of those could include socioeconomic status and access to health care.

NSHC has reported 193 known cases of COVID-19 in the Norton Sound since the pandemic began with 22 active cases currently. No deaths have been reported in the region.

Correction: When this story aired, KNOM reported that there were three active hospitalizations. NSHC is reporting that there have been three hospitalizations in the Norton Sound region total since the pandemic began. We regret the error. It was also reported that all of the graphs on the dashboard depicted the active cases. This has also been corrected.

Image at top: Nome’s Norton Sound Regional Hospital. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

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