Alaska News

Alaska reports 3 deaths and nearly 1,000 COVID-19 cases Friday

Alaska on Friday reported three deaths, 984 new virus cases and just over 200 COVID-positive patients hospitalized around the state.

The three deaths reported by the state health department involved a Nome man in his 60s, an Anchorage woman in her 40s and a man from out of state who was initially diagnosed with the virus in Utqiagvik. Fairbanks Memorial Hospital also separately reported the death of a patient in their 40s, though it wasn’t immediately clear when that death would be reflected in state totals.

In Anchorage, where half of Friday’s new cases were reported, an emergency mask mandate went into effect on Thursday evening after the city Assembly voted to override Mayor Dave Bronson’s veto of the ordinance.

Anchorage residents are now required to wear a face covering in in places that are open to the public, or in communal areas with people outside their household.

[On Anchorage’s new mask ordinance: Who it applies to, how it’s enforced and when a face covering is required]

Testing location hours at city-controlled sites will be restored starting Monday after Anchorage scaled back testing efforts in response to what officials described as a funding issue. Six days a week, Anchorage residents will have testing options available from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. with more limited hours on Sundays, the mayor’s office said in a statement. Total testing hours will increase from 120 per week to 192 per week, according to the statement.

Anchorage residents can visit anchoragecovidtest.org daily for an up-to-date listing of open testing sites in the municipality.

The latest case count is part of what state health officials say may be a plateauing of virus incidence around Alaska in recent days. They say weekly trends are better indicators than daily counts, which can fluctuate based on when cases are reported by labs.

Despite the flattening, a large amount of virus is circulating around the state. Alaska continues to have the highest seven-day COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 202 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday, a slight dip from the 208 reported Thursday and roughly 180 throughout most of last week — a reflection of the continued burden on hospitals around the state as the delta variant continues to spread through communities.

Twenty health care facilities in Alaska have activated crisis standards of care, though not all are operating in crisis mode and any decisions to prioritize treatment are fluid and made on a daily basis.

[Anchorage Assembly set to vote on override after mayor vetoes emergency ordinance requiring masks]

Alaska’s overall death rate is among the lowest in the country since the pandemic began, and Alaska currently falls in the bottom third among U.S. states for its death rate per 100,000 over the past week. At least 594 Alaskans and 23 nonresidents have died with coronavirus infections.

The state also had a 10.68% positivity rate based on a weeklong rolling average. Epidemiologists say anything above 5% can indicate widespread transmission and not enough testing.

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