Alaska on Friday reported 174 new cases of COVID-19, according to the Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 dashboard.
No new deaths were reported. In total, 60 Alaskans have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began here in March, including two this week.
Alaska’s death rate per capita remains the lowest in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Friday marked the 16th day that Alaska has seen new daily case counts in the triple digits, the longest such streak since the pandemic began.
Statewide as of Friday, 35 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized while another 16 patients were awaiting test results.
Schools across Southcentral Alaska have been contending with how, and whether, to provide in-person learning during the pandemic. Cases were identified in multiple schools over the past week, prompting some of them to close temporarily. The latest to shutter its doors is Eagle River Christian School, which has closed for in-person classes for two weeks and is holding virtual classes instead, principal Michelle Caldwell said Friday. Anchorage public health officials are conducting contact tracing, according to Caldwell, who did not say how many cases of COVID-19 are connected to the school.
Of the 170 new resident cases of COVID-19 reported by the state Friday there were 78 in Anchorage; 27 in Fairbanks; eight in North Pole; seven in Bethel; six in Eagle River; six in Wasilla; four in Kenai; three in Palmer; three in Kotzebue; three in Ketchikan; two in Juneau; two in Soldotna; two in Kodiak; two in Chugiak; two in Utqiagvik; one in Valdez; and one in Nome.
Among communities smaller than 1,000 not identified to protect confidentiality, there were four in the Northwest Arctic Borough; four in the Bethel Census Area; two in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; one in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; one in the Nome Census Area; and one in the Kusilvak Census Area.
Among four nonresident cases reported Friday, there were three in an unknown region of the state and one in Anchorage.
It wasn’t clear how many of the people involved in the new cases were showing symptoms of the virus when they tested positive, but state health officials said this week that the most recent national data suggests that about 70% of people who test positive have at least one symptom.
In total, 10,176 residents and nonresidents in Alaska have tested positive for the virus since March.
The state’s test positivity rate as of Friday was 5.28% over a seven-day rolling average. The rate reflects the number of positive results divided by total tests performed. Health officials say levels over 5% may indicate communities aren’t doing enough testing: This is the first time the state’s average positivity rate has passed that threshold.
State health officials this week expressed concern about the rapid rise in cases, urging Alaskans to do everything they can to stop the spread of the virus. They warned that hospital and mortality rates are “lagging indicators,” meaning they tend to rise in the weeks after spikes in cases.
“The fate of this pandemic is in our hands collectively, and what we decide to do about it” said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.
“We really want to do whatever we can to promote the mitigation strategies that we know work, because they do work,” added Joe McLaughlin, the state’s chief epidemiologist, echoing the refrain Alaskans have been hearing for months about washing hands, wearing a mask, and keeping six feet of distance from people outside one’s household.
— Annie Berman and Emily Goodykoontz