Claire Stremple, KTOO - Juneau

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A woman swabs someone's nose.

Alaska is changing how it tracks the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know.

Omicron is now the dominant COVID variant in Alaska — and it is transforming the way the health department looks at the pandemic.
A man snowblows

Southeast Alaska’s ever-deepening snow ‘a real problem and a real hassle’

Winter weather is in full effect across Alaska, but unusually high snow accumulation is testing Southeast. Usually some snow melts between storms, but that’s not happening this winter.
A snowy, forested scene with mountains and a grey building in the background

Retreating glaciers will open up salmon streams in Alaska, study says

A new study shows retreating glaciers are likely to open up thousands of miles of salmon spawning habitat by the year 2100. While that may sound like the distant future, it’s the blink of an eye in geologic time.
a row of notes in a science lab

Omicron is likely already spreading in Alaska, state says

Alaska has only identified one case of the omicron variant in the state so far, but state epidemiologist Louisa Castrodale says it’s likely here and spreading.
A woman in a mask walks into a store.

Juneau drops its mask requirement for vaccinated residents

A decrease in COVID-19 cases and increased hospital capacity prompted the city's Emergency Operations Center to end the mask requirement.
Orange sign in the snow.

A year after Haines’ deadly landslide, signs of recovery but still work to do

It's been one year since a huge landslide tore through Beach Road in Haines, destroying houses and killing two people, whose bodies were never found.
The outside of a school in the snow.

State proposes an official end to TB screening in schools

The state health department says the school screening program hasn’t turned up a single case in years. But critics of the proposal question the plan because Alaska regularly tops the list of states with the most cases of the disease.
A group of friends around a fire in front of a house under some hanging patio lights

Alaska’s top doctor shares tips for avoiding COVID spread at holiday gatherings

Dr. Zink recommends over-the-counter COVID-19 tests if someone in your holiday gathering is immunocompromised or if there will be a large group of people in attendance.
A woman in a mask rolls up her sleeve as another woman in a mask prepares a shot.

Alaska’s COVID-19 rates dropped but remain some of the highest in the country

New COVID-19 cases in Alaska have dropped by more than a third in the last couple of weeks, but Alaskans are still getting infected and dying from the virus at rates that lead the nation. And state health officials caution that the declining trend might not be the case in future weeks.
A bay with tall, snow covered mountains in the background

Climate change is making Glacier Bay unstable. Scientists are mapping the risks to visitors

Landslides and tsunamis aren’t historically common in Glacier Bay, but because more than half a million visitors tour the park each year park managers want to get a clearer picture of the risks of tsunamis and landslides, which have become more common recently due to a changing climate.

Eating disorders are on the rise in Alaska, but local resources are scarce

The number of Americans with eating disorders has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Alaska does not have enough resources to help them.
A woman poses for a photograph inside while wearing a teal jacket and face mask.

Alaska scrambles to spend nearly $100M in federal child care relief as centers close

The state received about $95 million from the federal government this spring to address the child care crunch. So far, the state has written a grant program to distribute only $5 million of that statewide.
A white woman in a white blazer sits at a child's desk on a laptop in a classroom

Alaska has a teacher retention problem. The state is ready to pay someone to help solve it.

The state’s education department calls the lack of teachers in Alaska an emergency issue and says the pandemic is only making things worse. It’s willing to pay up to $300,000 to figure out how to attract — and keep — more teachers in the state.

COVID-19 crisis at Alaska’s city hospitals has big rural impacts

When patients wait in the emergency room until an inpatient bed opens up it is called “boarding,” and state officials say it’s happening more often as the health system sags under the weight of COVID-19 cases.
sign on a window says "masking required"

Masking and capacity restrictions slowed the Delta variant in Juneau, expert says

In late July, Juneau brought its mask mandate back, and in early August it limited capacity at bars and restaurants among other restrictions. King says what happened next looks like a data confirmation that those mitigation mandates work.
A man behind a podium with flags on either side.

400 health care workers on their way to help fight Alaska’s COVID-19 surge

Gov. Mike Dunleavy painted a stark picture of the state’s COVID-19 woes as a surge in cases of the Delta variant put hospitals in crisis mode.

COVID hospitalizations in Alaska are at an all-time high

Nearly a dozen more people were admitted to the state’s overwhelmed hospitals Tuesday, where 1 in 5 patients are sick with the virus.
A person wearing a gown and gloves holds a bag full of blood.

Alaska blood bank says nationwide shortage highlights local need: ‘We’re pretty much on our own’

Blood Bank of Alaska says the blood shortage in the state was critical earlier this month. Since then, donations have been coming in, but the nonprofit says it’s still low on the life-saving fluid.
A woman sits outside in a t-shirt holding a baby.

Alaskans wait for vital records as state health department gets back online after cyberattack

It’s been three months since a cyberattack crippled the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ online systems. And for Alaskans who need vital records — things like birth, death and marriage certificates — that has put things on hold.
Two whale tales in blue-gray water.

Southeast Alaska whales bouncing back after marine heat wave

Remember “the blob?” That two-year heat wave had a three-year hangover: The humpback population stayed low until 2020. But lately, there's a glimmer of hope in the dat.