Fairbanks is beginning to flatten the curve, but cannot go back to normalcy yet

The Alaskan interior has experienced over a week without new positive cases of COVID-19. (AP Images)

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) According to health experts in the Alaskan interior, Fairbanks is beginning to flatten the curve.

During a Friday press conference held by the Interior Alaska Unified Command -- the group spearheading the interior’s response to the pandemic -- health experts and community leaders praised the efforts of interior residents to adhere to practices preventing the spread of the disease.

This praise comes as the interior has experienced over a week without new positive cases of COVID-19.

However, health experts warn that this does not mean prevention strategies, such as social distancing, wearing masks in public, and frequent hand washing should be abandoned.

“We have been able to bend the curve. This did not happen on accident, this was the result of a lot of hard work by many of the people in our community and many sacrifices have been made,” said Dr. Laura Brunner from Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. “We’ve slowed the spread of disease and each of you have been a part of this.”

Using models assembled by the University of Alaska Anchorage, Brunner explains that Fairbanks could still see a spike in cases if preventative protocols were loosened, or altogether abandoned.

There is also a disparity between an interruption in viral transmission, and a lower-than-anticipated number of tests turning out positive.

Dr. Alisa Alexander, from Chief Andrew Isaac Medical Center, reiterates this point. “The way our testing requirements work, people that are symptomatic are the ones that are getting tested and they may not seek out testing unless they’re having moderate to severe symptoms,” Alexander says.

She notes that 80% of carriers have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. “It would be very difficult to say that we’ve achieved an interruption in the cycle, or that there’s no infections in the community.”

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