Alaska on Friday reported 504 new cases of COVID-19, no new deaths and a record number of people hospitalized with the virus, according to the Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 dashboard.
Friday’s count marked the second-highest number of cases reported in Alaska in a single day, after a high of 526 cases recorded Sunday, Oct. 25.
There were 97 people hospitalized with the virus in Alaska as of Friday, by far the most since the pandemic began, and topping the previous record of 89 reported on Thursday. Another nine hospital patients were suspected of having COVID-19, according to state data. Since the pandemic began, a total of 484 Alaskans and non-residents in the state with COVID-19 have required hospitalization at some point, the health department’s dashboard showed.
The state’s hospital capacity is a concern given the rapidly accelerating number of cases, health officials say. The virus is spreading largely among friends, families and co-workers at gatherings, sporting events and work, public health officials have said.
In total, 84 Alaskans with the virus have died since the start of the pandemic, and Alaska’s overall death rate per capita remains among the lowest in the country.
All but two regions of the state were considered to be in high alert, meaning widespread community transmission is occurring.
In Anchorage, where more than half of Friday’s new cases were reported and where community transmission continues at an alarming rate, Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced the removal of certain exemptions to the city’s mask mandate and new limits on gathering sizes.
She indicated that additional restrictions may be necessary if virus transmission levels continue at their current pace.
Of the 502 new resident cases reported Friday, there were 280 in Anchorage, plus 18 in Eagle River, 11 in Chugiak and three in Girdwood; 41 in Wasilla; 20 in Palmer; 11 in Juneau; 11 in Soldotna; 10 in Kenai; 10 in Chevak; eight in Utqiagvik; seven in Homer; seven in Ketchikan; seven in Bethel; four in Fairbanks; three in Sitka; two in Willow; two in Nikiski; two in Sterling; one in Anchor Point; one in Seward; one in Delta Junction; one in Kotzebue; one in Haines; and one in Hooper Bay.
Among communities smaller than 1,000 people that are not named to protect privacy, there were 23 resident cases in the Bethel Census Area; two in the Mat-Su Borough; two in the Nome Census Area; two in the southern Kenai Peninsula Borough; two in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; one case in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough; one in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; one in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area; one in the Yukon Koyukuk Census Area; one in the North Slope Borough; one in the Aleutians East Borough; one in the Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula boroughs; and one in the Kusilvak Census Area.
There were also two new nonresident cases: one in Anchorage and one in an unidentified region of the state.
As of Friday, there were 11,493 active cases of the virus among Alaska residents and nonresidents in the state. A total of 7,122 people were considered recovered.
Of the new cases, it is not reported 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.
The state’s testing positivity as of Friday was 6.5% over a seven-day rolling average. A positivity rate over 5% can indicate high community transmission and not enough testing, health officials have said.
— Annie Berman