Alaska News

Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: 735 new cases, no deaths reported Friday

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Alaska recorded 735 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, continuing the barrage of recent infections that have strained hospitals and led to more stringent restrictions in the state’s largest city.

There were no new deaths reported Friday, after the state recorded 13 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday and four on Thursday. In total, 118 Alaskans and one nonresident in the state have died with the virus since the start of the pandemic.

As of Friday, 145 people with COVID-19 were currently hospitalized and an additional 12 hospital patients were suspected of having the illness. Twenty-five confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients were on ventilators, according to state data.

The numbers reported Friday mark the second-highest daily new case count since COVID-19 was first detected here in March, with 745 new cases reported on Nov. 13. Friday’s tally follows weeks of surging case counts — daily increases have stretched above 500 for a week and above 400 cases for nearly a month, according to data from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

And, according to state health officials, recent numbers are likely undercounting new cases as a large commercial lab had not reported new positive test results to the Department of Health and Social Services. While patients who tested positive or negative were notified, the state was not, said Coleman Cutchins — a clinical pharmacist who leads testing for the state — during a public video call with health officials Wednesday.

“We do expect kind of a significant numbers change in or data dashboard that will reflect over about the last two to four weeks,” Cutchins said.

[Over 1,600 COVID-19 cases never made it into the state’s database after a lab failed to report results for weeks]


He said that case counts in the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna areas could change quite a bit in the next few days. Health officials said Friday that the spike in the Mat-Su was partially due to the lag in reporting.

Of the 724 new cases reported by the state Friday among Alaska residents, there were 120 in Anchorage, plus 15 in Eagle River and 10 in Chugiak; 278 in Wasilla, 80 in Palmer, four in Houston, three in Big Lake, one in Willow and one in Meadow Lakes; 36 in Soldotna, 27 in Kenai, 10 in Homer, six in Sterling, four in Nikiski, three in Seward, three in Anchor Point and one in Fritz Creek; 36 in Fairbanks, six in North Pole and one in Ester; eight in Bethel; six in Delta Junction and one in Tok; five in Utqiagvik; three in Nome; three in Kodiak; two in Juneau; two in Craig; two in Sitka; and six in unidentified regions of the state.

Among communities smaller than 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were 25 resident cases in the Bethel Census Area; seven in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough; three in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; two in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area; one in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; one in the Northwest Arctic Borough; one in the Dillingham Census Area; and one in the Kusilvak Census Area.

Eleven cases were reported among nonresidents: six in Anchorage, two in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, one in Fairbanks and two in unidentified regions of the state.

Given unprecedented case counts and growing concern over the state’s health care system, Anchorage Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson earlier this week issued a modified version of a “hunker down” order that goes into effect Tuesday and stays in place until Jan. 1.

While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.

Of the new cases, it is not reported how many patients were showing symptoms when they tested positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about a third of people who have the virus are asymptomatic.

— Morgan Krakow

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