E-Alert for SDS and Residential Licensing – August 6, 2021

DBH eMemo important new for you

 E-Alert for SDS and Residential Licensing – August 6, 2021


The following important message is from Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and the Department of Health and Social Services.

While this information is for everyone, the second item below is intended for residents, participants, staff, and administrators of services provided in congregate settings (residential and non-residential). 

For any questions, please contact the Alaska COVID-19 Task Force at covidquestions@alaska.gov

1) The number of COVID-19 cases in Alaska has been rapidly rising for the past six weeks. Driven by the Delta variant, relaxed mask use, and less social distancing, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect and infect our friends, family members, coworkers, and patients.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent getting COVID-19 and transmitting it to others. Although we have seen cases of vaccine breakthrough infections where persons who were fully vaccinated were infected with COVID-19, we have ample evidence proving that the vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccines decrease the chance you get COVID-19, become severely ill from COVID, and reduce the risk of death. In Alaska, people who are unvaccinated account for 94% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and 96% of deaths.  Getting your COVID vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your coworkers, patients, and loved ones.

To schedule your vaccine appointment visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322.

You can also visit vaccines.gov or find clinics in your area by texting your zip code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish.

2) The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has published guidelines for service providers navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. These comprehensive documents include recommendations about mask wearing, testing for staff and residents/participants, visitation, and isolation following a positive COVID-19 test.

For every service setting, if anyone (staff, resident, participant, visitor) in the building is NOT fully vaccinated, then everyone in the building should wear a mask at all times.

For additional information, please review the guidelines that pertain to your service setting.

COVID-19 Recommended Guidance for Congregate Residential Settings

COVID-19 Recommended Guidance for Congregate Non-Residential Settings

3) The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is the predominant strain of the virus in Alaska. Continue reading if you’re interested in learning more about the Delta Variant.

The Delta variant is responsible for more than 83% of the new COVID infections nationwide, and in Alaska, during the week of July 11, the Delta variant accounted for 96% of sequenced cases.[i]


The Delta Variant

SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta)


What Is the Delta Variant of COVID-19?[ii]

The delta variant – officially B.1.617.2 – is one of the mutated forms of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has categorized delta as a “variant of concern,” meaning that there is reason to suspect that it may pose a new and somewhat different health threat to humans. It appears to be more contagious than the original virus, which is one of the criteria for designating variants of concern. 

Are the symptoms different for the Delta variant? If so, what are they?[iii]

Because Delta is a variant of the same virus—SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID 19—the symptoms are the same. However, variants may spread more easily or may cause more severe symptoms and illness.

Who is most at risk of contracting the variant?[iv]

Unvaccinated people are most at risk of contracting COVID-19, including any of its variants. The Delta variant is more aggressive than other known variants and spreads most rapidly in communities with fewer fully vaccinated people.

The absolute best protection for yourself and those close to you is getting fully vaccinated. The vaccine is proven to safely protect you from COVID-19’s worst effects and lowers your chances of spreading the virus. Greatly increasing the number of fully vaccinated Alaskans is the only way to prevent a devastating rise in the spread of the pandemic virus.

Is the Delta variant more contagious than the other strains?[v]

Yes. Studies have shown that the Delta variant has a much higher rate of transmissibility (40-60% greater) than any other identified strain, which means it is more contagious. It is estimated that the Delta variant is responsible for more than 83% of all new COVID infections nationwide. During the week beginning July 11, the Delta variant represented 96% of sequenced cases in Alaska.[vi] For the most up to date information regarding the prevalence of the Delta variant in Alaska, please visit the weekly Alaska COVID Genomic Surveillance Report.  

What do I need to do?

  1. Get vaccinated. Vaccination is the long-term solution to combat coronavirus.  It remains the most effective way to prevent illness and death in yourself and transmitting COVID-19 to others.
  2. Consider doing more outdoor activities-they pose minimal risk to fully vaccinated people and can reduce the risk to those who are not fully vaccinated.
  3. Wear a mask in public indoor settings in regions designated as a “red” alert.
  4. Get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  5. Isolate if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  6. Get tested 3-5 days after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until you receive a negative test result.
  7. Continue to follow any applicable federal, state, local or tribal rules and regulations.




*Providers, please forward this message to staff you would link Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Email or Text Update you would like to self-register for DBH Communications messages.