In the largest single-day increase since the state began tracking COVID-19 cases in March, 44 cases of the disease were reported Thursday.
The total, which included 25 residents and 19 nonresidents, followed a week that daily saw double-digit increases in positive cases of COVID-19. From Sunday to Thursday, Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services reported 120 new cases — 64 new resident cases, 56 nonresident cases. The state also reported four additional hospitalizations and no new deaths.
Since the state began reporting March 3, there have been 973 cases total — among 816 residents and 157 nonresidents. The number of resident cases reported since the state fully reopened on May 22 has more than doubled, from 404 on May 22 to 816 on Wednesday.
In his testimony to the House Health and Social Services Committee on Wednesday, DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum told members of the Alaska House of Representatives that an increase in testing statewide is the biggest factor when accounting for the recent surge.
Since the beginning of June, 45,262 tests have been conducted statewide. That is an average of 1,810 tests per day and represents 45.5% of all COVID-19 tests conducted in the state since the beginning of the outbreak, according to the data available on the state’s Coronavirus Response Hub.
The average positivity rate for tests conducted has remained below 1% since the beginning of May and is .69% as of Wednesday.
Forty nine Alaskans recovered from COVID-19 this week. More than half of the resident cases recorded in the state since the outbreak, 513, have since recovered. There were 291 active resident cases and 114 active nonresident cases in Alaska as of Thursday, including 37 on the Kenai Peninsula. Five new Kenai Peninsula resident cases were reported Thursday: three in Homer, one in Seward, and one in an unidentified community on the north peninsula. One of the nonresident cases reported Thursday is also located on the Kenai Peninsula and is a worker in the seafood industry.
Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink testified on Wednesday that as Alaskans resume their normal activities and are gathering in groups again, mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing will be the most effective tools in mitigating the spread of the illness. Although state officials would not commit to requiring face coverings in public spaces during their testimony on Wednesday, a Thursday press release from DHSS indicates that the State is providing Alaska businesses with a Conscious Business Toolkit that includes Alaska-themed artwork designed to encourage mask-wearing and social distancing.
“COVID-19 is still a serious concern and Alaskans have done an extraordinary job doing their part to prevent the spread,” Zink said in the press release. “Our goal with these resources is to provide support to businesses as they reopen responsibly and to encourage everyone to keep following these preventative measures while they’re out in their communities.”
For more information on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit covid19.alaska.gov or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at email@example.com.