Mat-Su now has the highest COVID-19 daily case average in the state and one of the lowest vaccine rates - Anchorage Daily News
Feb 26, 2021 1 min, 48 secs

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough, where schools have struggled with scattered closures due to coronavirus outbreaks, now has more daily average COVID-19 cases than any other part of the state.

Even as Mat-Su took that position, several major high school sports events moved there from Anchorage due to less strict coronavirus protocols.

On Thursday, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported about 35 cases per 100,000 in Mat-Su over the past 14 days and about 23 cases per 100,000 for the Yukon-Kuskokwim region.

Asked about the high case rates hitting Mat-Su now, state health officials said they started with spiking numbers in schools, mostly associated with unmasked sports and other activities that prompted the school district to adopt a 100% masking policy.

The new cases indicate “the same kind of spread we usually see with social contact, friends and family,” said Rene Dillow, Mat-Su public health nurse.

Mat-Su, the state’s only large school district to start the year with in-person learning, on Thursday was reporting 108 positive tests among staff or students in the past two weeks.

Mat-Su on Thursday had an average of 38.29 cases over the past 14 days, surpassing Anchorage’s average of 37.43.

Mat-Su also saw a spike in November, but then cases dropped again before rising again — though not as significantly in the past few weeks, Erickson said.

Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer and a Mat-Su resident, said Thursday in response to a question about low uptake from seniors in Mat-Su and the Kenai Peninsula.

The lack of COVID-19 restrictions in Mat-Su this month prompted two large statewide high school sports events to move there from Anchorage.

The state high school basketball championships are slated for several Mat-Su schools starting in late March, and the three-day state high school nordic ski championships began Thursday near Palmer.

The basketball tournament was moved because Anchorage’s current mandate says non-municipal teams can’t participate in indoor activities, he said.

It’s unclear whether Mat-Su will be at high alert status in a month, he said

Asked if contact tracers were seeing any new cases from the recent state competitions moved from Anchorage, public health nurse Dillow said no, it was too soon to say

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