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Alaska reports 67 new coronavirus cases on Friday, as active count surpasses 3,000

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Sixty-seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported Friday in Alaska as total active cases of the virus surpassed 3,000.

Nearly half of Friday’s new cases were in Anchorage. The municipality reported 29 new resident cases: 28 in Anchorage, and one in Eagle River. Two nonresident cases in Anchorage were also confirmed.

“We’re still in really high numbers,” said Natasha Pineda, director of Anchorage Health Department, at a community briefing on Friday.

Since June, a bulk of the state’s new resident cases have occurred in Anchorage, which last week issued new restrictions on indoor dining at restaurants and bars, as well as limits on gathering sizes in order to curb community transmission. The city also extended and expanded an emergency order requiring mask-wearing in most public settings where 6 feet of social distance is not possible.

“While we’re starting to see the daily rates decreasing, our actual rates overall are still concerning,” Pineda said, citing an average daily rate of new cases in Anchorage of 61, compared to an average of 65 per day the week before.

Despite high daily case counts, so far, hospitals have not been overwhelmed, and contact tracing is no longer at maximum capacity, Pineda said.

On Friday, in addition to the new cases in Anchorage, one case each was reported in residents of Seward, Soldotna, Sterling, Fritz Creek, Kodiak, Delta Junction, Wasilla, Kotzebue and a smaller community in the Yukon-Koyukuk census area.

Five Fairbanks residents also tested positive for the virus, along with three in North Pole, two in Palmer, three in Juneau and two in a smaller community in Bristol Bay.

In nonresidents, there was one new case in each Fairbanks, Seward, Sitka and Soldotna.

Eight cases were reported in the Kodiak Island Borough, all in the seafood industry. They were linked to a recent outbreak at an OBI Seafoods plant in Alitak, in the southern part of Kodiak.

The 37 cases announced there on Thursday are the latest outbreak in the seafood industry in Alaska, where so far the largest clusters of cases in the state have occurred.

Alaska reported a test-positive rate over the last seven days of 3.02%, and a total of 268,851 tests have been conducted. The average turnaround time for COVID-19 tests processed at state labs in the last two weeks is at 3.1 days.

The chart on the state’s coronavirus dashboard seems to indicate a drop in the number of tests done over the past week. But on a call with reporters on Thursday, state officials said this has to do with a change in the way testing is reported on the dashboard. It now backdates the date each test is reported to when the specimen was actually collected, they said, which is why testing appears to drop off.

Alaska was in fact “the most-tested state per capita over the last two weeks,” said Joe McLaughlin, an epidemiologist with the state.

There were 34 confirmed COVID-19 patients currently being treated in hospitals across the state as of Friday afternoon, meaning no new hospitalizations from the previous day. There were also no new deaths reported. Of the 3,025 cases of COVID-19 currently active across the state, 2,449 are Alaska residents and 576 are visitors to the state. Since March, 1,238 people have recovered from the virus.

In total, 25 Alaskans have died from the virus since March, and 141 have been hospitalized.

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