FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nome, Alaska – Between Wednesday, Dec. 22 and Sunday, Dec. 26, Norton Sound Health Corporation identified five COVID-19 cases in the region.
Of the new cases, three were in Nome and two were in Stebbins. In Nome, one case was travel-related, one was community spread, and one was a close contact. In Stebbins, both cases were close contacts to previously identified cases. All individuals have been notified and are safely isolating.
Alaska’s COVID-19 numbers continue to decline. In the last 14 days, there has been a 27% decrease in new cases in the state. On average, the U.S. has seen an 83% increase in the last 14 days.
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two emergency use authorizations for antiviral pills to treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19.
Pfizer’s Paxlovid was approved on Wednesday for high-risk patients who are 12 and up and have tested positive for COVID-19. The treatment consists of two pills a day for five days and has been shown to be 89% effective at preventing serious illness. NSHC expects to get a shipment of the tablets next month. Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral pill was authorized on Thursday, but has been shown to be less effective at just 30%.
The new Paxlovid treatment comes at an important time as Omicron, the more contagious, but generally less severe variant, is now the dominant virus in the U.S. Providers encourage everyone to get a booster vaccine as soon as possible, since studies have shown that getting a third dose of either Pfizer or Moderna is the best way to avoid serious illness from the new variant.
When an individual contracts COVID-19, another option for treatment is monoclonal antibody infusion, which was approved by the FDA in November of 2020. The treatment is available at every NSHC clinic for qualified positive patients who are at higher risk of getting severe COVID-19. It is very effective and reduces the risk of hospitalization if given in the early stages of infection.
There are currently 24 active cases in the region: 10 in Nome, 10 in Unalakleet, three in Stebbins, and one in St. Michael. Village leadership in all communities have been notified.