Assessment of Two COVID-19 Models to Guide Community Intervention Policies in Anchorage and Alaska
A report from the UAA College of Health's Division of Population Health Sciences
A team of public health researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) has published a report which predicts that the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the Anchorage/Mat-Su area and Alaska will rise exponentially between March and September 2020. However, current and additional mitigation measures put in place on March 28, 2020 are likely to "flatten the curve" and buy additional time for preparation.
The Municipality of Anchorage requested that the research team assess the COVID ACT
NOW model and review a recent Imperial College of London paper and report back with
recommendations and considerations. Both of these models employ epidemiologic methods
to predict the impact of varying degrees of virus transmission and social distancing
on the number and timing of COVID-19-related hospitalizations.
Based on epidemiological models, the report supports current actions and recommends strengthening state and municipal social distancing measures and mitigation efforts. Similarly, the models predict that if containment measures are relaxed or eliminated prematurely, Alaska’s medical infrastructure would not be able to handle the surge in COVID-19 cases.
The team evaluated state and local mandates and interventions and considered appropriate and feasible thresholds for triggering policy actions. Among the recommendations were to strengthen social distancing by mandating shelter in place, restricting nonessential in-state travel and reevaluating the list of essential businesses in the Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order.
Study findings were shared with Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink on March 25, 2020. The team is now reviewing next steps and conducting additional research to support a coordinated COVID-19 response moving forward.