Alaska News

Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: Two new deaths reported Tuesday

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The state on Tuesday reported two new deaths among Alaskans with COVID-19, along with 36 new confirmed infections.

The deaths involved a man in his 70s and a woman in her 80s, according to Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.

A resident at the Anchorage Pioneer Home who tested positive for the virus died recently, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced late Monday. The death marked the second in a resident at the home amid a cluster of coronavirus infections. A total of 19 cases have been confirmed at the Pioneer Home since four cases were detected there the first week of August.

A state health spokesman said the agency could not confirm whether one of the deaths reported Tuesday was in a Pioneer Home resident out of confidentiality concerns.

A total of 39 Alaskans with COVID-19 have died since March. Nationally, older people in long-term care homes are considered at higher risk for the disease because of the higher prevalence of underlying medical conditions and the congregate nature of the facilities. Many of the state’s deaths involved people with underlying medical conditions.

As of Monday, 14 residents and five staff members at the home had tested positive, including an additional staff member with a case confirmed last week, according to the state update. That person had been working from home for three weeks and didn’t have any contact with residents. Of the 14 residents, 10 were considered recovered and two were being monitored including one who remained hospitalized on Monday.

Another outbreak at McLaughlin Youth Center grew to 22 cases this week with the report that another three youths and three staff members tested positive. The state has confirmed cases in 15 youths and seven staff. The young people who tested positive are not experiencing symptoms and are being isolated from other youths and staff, officials say. The infected staff are in isolation until they’re cleared to return to work.

A third outbreak associated with Brother Francis Shelter in Anchorage expanded by 19 this week to a total of 79 confirmed cases. Most of them are asymptomatic, officials say.

As of Tuesday, 37 people around the state were hospitalized with COVID-19 while four hospital patients were awaiting test results, according to the state’s coronavirus data dashboard. Of Alaska’s 153 intensive unit beds, used for the sickest patients, 84 were available on Tuesday.

Active cases of COVID-19 among Alaska residents rose from 3,182 on Monday to 3,208 Tuesday. There were an additional 667 active cases among nonresidents.

In total, 862 nonresidents and 5,298 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March.

Of the new cases, it wasn’t clear how many patients were showing symptoms of the virus when they tested positive.

Of the new resident cases, 17 were in Anchorage; one was in Soldotna; one was in Kodiak; four were in Fairbanks; three were in Palmer and one was in Wasilla; two were in Juneau; one was in Ketchikan; and one was listed as “unknown.” Among communities with fewer than 1,000 residents, which aren’t named to protect confidentiality, there was one case in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough, one in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, one in the Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon area, and one in Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula boroughs. A nonresident visitor tested positive in Juneau.

The state’s testing positivity rate as of Tuesday was 1.81% over a seven-day rolling average.

-- Zaz Hollander

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