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Two more Alaskans die Outside with COVID-19, bringing resident death total to 14

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The number of Alaskans who have died with COVID-19 rose by two Friday after officials received reports of residents who died last month out of state.

The addition of those two deaths brings Alaska’s total to 14 since the pandemic began in March, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 dashboard. Two other deaths included in that total also occurred out of state.

The new deaths involved Juneau residents, a DHSS spokesman said Friday. Both died in early May in long-term care facilities in the Lower 48, one in Washington and the other in New Jersey.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the reporting process led to the state hearing now about deaths that occurred more than a month ago, DHSS spokesman Clinton Bennett said.

The state on Friday hit a new record high of 425 active infections — 303 residents who tested positive and aren’t considered recovered, plus 122 nonresidents. There are 519 Alaska residents considered recovered and 45 nonresidents, state data shows.

The state reported another 30 new COVID-19 cases on Friday: 20 in residents and 10 in nonresidents.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz on Friday announced the municipality will require face coverings in certain types of indoor spaces starting Monday morning.

COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the municipality, the Anchorage Health Department said in an alert Friday afternoon. As of Wednesday, there were an all-time high of 152 active cases in Anchorage -- eight times the number a month earlier.

There were four people currently hospitalized with the virus in Anchorage hospitals, according to the municipality’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Statewide, two more Alaska residents became sick enough with the virus to require hospitalizations between Wednesday and Thursday at midnight, according to state data. The state’s total now stands at 67 residents hospitalized since March.

The two Juneau residents who died in May have no connection to each other, according to officials at the City and Borough of Juneau. One was male; one was female. One was in their 60s and the other in their 70s.

Both tested positive for COVID-19 more than a week prior to death, Juneau officials say.

They are the first Juneau residents to die with the virus.

Under national standards, COVID-19 cases and deaths are counted by a person’s residency, not where they contracted the virus. Counting by residency allows for consistency and avoids cases being double-counted between states, officials say.

Alaska conducted its 100,000th COVID-19 test on Thursday, according to an update Gov. Mike Dunleavy posted on social media Friday. That data reflects the number of tests, not the number of people tested. At least some of the increase is associated with more demand this month for testing linked not to COVID-19 symptoms but instead to travel, fishing industry protocols, and medical or dental procedures.

A total of 101,792 tests had been conducted as of Friday, according to state health statistics. In the past week through Thursday, 17,386 tests were conducted with a rolling three-day percent positivity rate of 0.84%.

According to a national website that tracks COVID-19 statistics, including testing data, Alaska ranked sixth highest among U.S. states for number of tests per capita, with the lowest percentage of returned positive test results. But health officials acknowledged the data comes with a caveat: The number of tests includes residents and nonresidents while the population is based on residents only.

The new resident cases reported Friday by the state included five in Anchorage, two in Eagle River, two in Seward, two in Fairbanks, one in North Pole, one in Palmer, three in Wasilla, three in Juneau and one in Sitka, according to the state dashboard.

The state’s health department on Friday urged COVID-19 testing for anyone who went to two Seward businesses at the beginning of the week due to potential exposure to two COVID-positive individuals.

In relation to new Seward cases, the Seward Community Health Center is setting up drive-thru COVID-19 testing for Saturday. Testing will also be available at the center next Monday through Thursday.

Five of the state’s new nonresident cases involve Bristol Bay seafood workers, as reported by local health officials Thursday who said none of them had symptoms.

One nonresident case was confirmed in Nome and one in Bethel, both classified as “other” in the state data. Three of the nonresident cases were in Anchorage, in linked to tourism and two without additional information.

Of the new Alaska cases, 11 are male and nine are female, according to state health statistics. One is aged 10-19; three are in their 20s; three are in their 30s; four are in their 40s; four are in their 50s; three are in their 60s; and two are in their 70s.

Anchorage Daily News reporter Morgan Krakow contributed.

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