Alaska reported 637 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday as hospitalizations continue to remain elevated.
No new deaths were reported Sunday by the Department of Health and Social Services. In total, 120 Alaskans with COVID-19 have died since the virus was first detected here in March.
By Sunday, 157 people with COVID-19 or suspected to be infected were hospitalized. Health officials have repeatedly stressed that hospitals in Alaska will become overwhelmed if cases continue to rise. Statewide on Sunday, 43 intensive care unit beds were available.
Sunday’s new case count comes after weeks of climbing daily infection totals. Health officials on Friday said the high case counts likely underestimate the true number of COVID-19 cases in the state because a lab failed to report results for weeks. Nearly every region in the state is in high-alert with widespread community transmission ongoing.
In Anchorage, Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson ordered the city to return to a modified “hunker-down” state beginning Tuesday.
Prior to Thanksgiving, health officials nationally and statewide begged people to avoid travel and to only spend the holiday with those inside their household to avoid spreading the virus further.
Of the new cases reported in Alaska residents Sunday, 226 were in Anchorage, two in Chugiak, 12 in Eagle River and three in Girdwood; one was in Anchor Point, 11 in Homer, 11 in Kenai, three in Soldotna and two in Sterling; eight were in Kodiak; one was in Valdez; one was in Healy; 60 were in Fairbanks and 13 in North Pole; one was in Tok; two were in Big Lake, 31 in Palmer and 96 in Wasilla; four were in Nome; three were in Utqiagvik; three were in Kotzebue; 11 were in Juneau; one was in Ketchikan; one was in Petersburg; six were in Sitka; nine were in Bethel; one was in Dillingham; and one was in Chevak. One new case was classified by the health department as being in an unknown area.
Among communities smaller than 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, one case was in the southern portion of the Kenai Peninsula Borough and three in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; three were in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; one was in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; one was in the Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon areas; four were in the Aleutians East Borough, 83 were in the Bethel Census Area and seven in the Kusilvak Census Area.
Nine cases were reported in nonresidents Sunday, including two in Anchorage, two in Homer, one person in the mining industry in Delta Junction, one in Palmer, one in Wasilla and two in unknown portions of the state. One of the Anchorage cases was identified in an airline pilot, the health department said.
While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.
Among the new cases, it is not reported how many people 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.
On Sunday, the state had a positivity rate of 6.7% over the last seven days. Health officials warn that a positivity rate over 5% means there is rapid community transmission.
- Tess Williams