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Alaska News

Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: 1 death and 519 new cases reported Tuesday

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: December 1, 2020
  • Published December 1, 2020
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Alaska reported one death and 519 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.

The death involved an Anchorage woman in her 70s, according to the state health department.

In total, 121 Alaskans with COVID-19 have died since the virus was first detected here in March. The state’s death rate per capita remains one of the lowest in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Tuesday, there were 149 people hospitalized with COVID-19, along with another 13 people with suspected cases. Health officials have repeatedly stressed that hospitals in Alaska will become overwhelmed if cases continue to rise. Statewide on Tuesday, 44 intensive care unit beds were available out of 134, and 15.1% of total hospitalizations statewide were COVID-related.

In response to the continually high case counts and rising hospitalizations, Anchorage on Tuesday returned to a modified “hunker-down” state that will last until the end of the year.

Nearly every region of the state remains at high alert.

Of the 515 new cases reported by the state Tuesday among Alaska residents, there were 165 in Anchorage, plus eight in Eagle River, four in Chugiak and one in Girdwood; 157 in Wasilla, 35 in Palmer, three in Big Lake and one in Sutton-Alpine; 23 in Kenai, 20 in Soldotna, five in Homer, four in Nikiski and four in Sterling; 16 in Bethel; 12 in Fairbanks and one in North Pole; 12 in Kodiak; eight in Utqiagvik; four in Delta Junction and one in Tok; four in Sitka; three in Craig; three in Nome; two in Kotzebue; two in Juneau; one in Ketchikan; one in Haines; and one in Skagway.

Among communities smaller than 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were three resident cases in the Bethel Census Area; two in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough; two in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; two in the Kusilvak Census Area; one in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; one in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; one in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; one in the Nome Census Area; and one in the North Slope Borough.

Four cases were reported among nonresidents: two in Wasilla, one in Anchorage and one in Seward.

State health officials said recently that the cases reported daily underestimate true totals because the surging number of people diagnosed in recent weeks has caused a data backlog. A commercial testing lab also failed to report hundreds of cases.

Since last Tuesday, another resident at the Anchorage Pioneer Home and four staff have tested positive for COVID-19, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said. The outbreak that began early last month at that facility now includes 16 residents and 14 staff, and one resident has died, the health department said. None are currently hospitalized.

Twice weekly testing of residents and staff will continue at the home until 14 days have passed with no new cases identified.

More than 1 million tests have been performed in Alaska since March. While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.

Among the new cases, the state does not report how many people show symptoms when they test positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about a third of people who have the virus are asymptomatic.

On Tuesday, the state had an average positivity rate of 6.09% over the last seven days. Health officials warn that a positivity rate over 5% can mean there is not enough broad testing occurring in a community.

— Annie Berman

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