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Alaska News

Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: 1 death, 155 new cases reported Thursday

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: October 16
  • Published October 15
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The state on Thursday reported 155 new cases of COVID-19 and one death associated with the virus, according to the Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 dashboard.

The newly reported death involved a Valdez resident.

Additionally, a Fairbanks Pioneer Home resident recently hospitalized with the virus died on Wednesday, according to an email sent out to families of residents by an administrator of the home. This is the first death associated with a recent outbreak at the state-run elder-care facility that grew to more than 50 cases this week. It was unclear when this death would be reflected in state data.

State data shows that 65 Alaskans have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began here in March. The state’s death rate per 100,000 residents remains among the lowest in the country.

Alaska’s daily reported cases have hit triple digits for 22 straight days.

The state’s average case rate over 14 days — a number that is used to gauge community spread — keeps rising. As of Thursday, much of the state was in a high alert level, with more than 10 cases per 100,000 people.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough, with 35 cases per 100,000 residents, was closely followed by the Northwest region, which was at 34.89. Anchorage was at 30.15 and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region was at 26.6. A large Interior region surrounding Fairbanks was at 11.8, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough was at 10.04.

At more than 9 cases per 100,000, the City and Borough of Juneau and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough were approaching the high-alert level.

Statewide as of Thursday, 50 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 — a new high — while 10 other hospital patients were awaiting test results, according to state data.

Of the new cases reported by the state, it wasn’t clear how many patients were showing symptoms of the virus when they tested positive. While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department only represents one person.

Of the 153 new cases of COVID-19 involving residents, there were 71 new cases in Anchorage; 16 in Fairbanks; 10 in Bethel; nine in Wasilla; five in Eagle River; four in North Pole; three in Juneau; two in Ketchikan; two in Chugiak; two in Utqiagvik; two in Kotzebue; one in Nikiski; one in Soldotna; one in Tok; one in Palmer; and one in Willow.

Among communities smaller than 1,000 not identified to protect confidentiality, there were 16 in the Bethel Census Area; two in the Northwest Arctic Borough; one new case each in the northern and southern Kenai Peninsula Borough; one in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; and one in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area.

Twenty-six of the new cases reported Thursday involved residents of the Bethel Census Area. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. said that 10 cases were identified Wednesday in Quinhagak, a village with a population of about 700 people. Quinhagak went into lockdown in late September after several cases were reported, but the outbreak continued to grow when 20 residents tested positive earlier this month. Other cases in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta that YKHC identified Wednesday involved five Bethel residents who were close contacts of someone who tested positive, and at least one case in the region was travel-related.

The state also reported two nonresident cases in a unidentified region on Thursday.

The state’s test positivity rate as of Thursday was 4.84% over a seven-day rolling average. The rate reflects the number of positive results divided by total tests performed. Health officials say levels higher than 5% may indicate communities aren’t doing enough testing.

— Annie Berman

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