Petersburg ranks as fourth-worst spot for COVID-19 in US

A sign for Petersburg School district
(Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Petersburg is among the top hotspots for COVID-19 cases in the country, according to the New York Times.

An online interactive map published by the newspaper shows the Petersburg borough with the fourth-highest daily average of new COVID-19 cases per capita for counties in the nation over the past week. In that time Petersburg trails only three counties in Colorado, Kentucky and Oklahoma ranked by average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

The Southeast Alaska community of nearly 3,200 people hit its highest active COVID-19 case count since the start of the pandemic on both Tuesday and Wednesday, March 2 and 3. Petersburg’s emergency operations center reported active cases at 67 on Wednesday.

That number reflects two new cases reported that day. In addition, there were two more cases reported for the day before, driving the active case count for both days to 67. Two more people were listed as recovered Wednesday as well.

Since February 18, local health officials have reported 85 in-town cases. Another four cases are local residents who have been outside of Petersburg. And 22 people are considered recovered since the start of this outbreak.

Schools have been on remote-learning mode and kids’ activities shut down during the outbreak.

Plant managers at OBI Seafoods wrote a commentary in the local newspaper this week calling on the community to follow health precautions so the local workforce can continue to process seafood.

Case numbers have been relatively low for most of the pandemic until last month.

All but five of the cases have been reported in people who have not yet received either a first or second dose of vaccine. Petersburg Medical Center reported positive test results for two people who are fully vaccinated, two weeks past their second dose, and three who were two weeks past their first dose.

The community, like others in Alaska, is also well above many other parts of the country in vaccination rates. Well over a third of the population has received one dose and around one-fifth of the total population is fully vaccinated. Those numbers will likely climb this month. Petersburg Medical Center is holding more vaccine clinics March 5 and March 12.

Joe Viechnicki is a reporter at KFSK in Petersburg.

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