All of the deaths announced by the department occurred recently, and they involved a Fairbanks man in his 80s, a Anchorage woman in her 80s, two Anchorage men in their 70s and an Anchorage man in his 60s.
After weeks of surging daily case counts, Alaska as of Thursday ranked seventh in the country for average daily cases per capita over the past week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rising case numbers have translated into increasing hospitalizations and deaths.
State health officials continue to ask Alaskans to avoid indoor gatherings with non-household members, and have said that most Alaskans who contract the virus get it from a friend, family member or co-worker.
In total, 154 Alaskans and one nonresident with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic began here in March, according to the Department of Health and Social Services. Alaska’s overall death rate per capita is one of the lowest in the country, but state officials say it’s difficult to compare Alaska to other states because of its vast geography and vulnerable health care system.
By Thursday, 141 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Alaska and another 15 people in hospitals were suspected to be infected with the virus, according to preliminary data. Seventeen people with COVID-19 were on ventilators. There were 30 ICU beds available statewide out of 129 staffed beds, putting that capacity marker into the red level at over 75% full. Just over 16% of the adult patients hospitalized around the state had tested positive for COVID-19.
Of the 610 new cases reported by the state Thursday among Alaska residents, 231 were in Anchorage, plus 19 in Eagle River, three in Chugiak and three in Eagle River; 100 in Fairbanks and 22 in North Pole; 45 in Wasilla, nine in Palmer, one in Big Lake and one in Willow; 44 in Kodiak; 16 in Soldotna, 14 in Kenai, six in Nikiski, three in Seward, two in Sterling and one in Homer; 16 in Juneau; 14 in Bethel; 12 in Utqiagvik; four in Delta Junction and one in Tok; four in Kotzebue; two in Cordova; two in Craig; one in Ketchikan; one in Sitka; one in Unalaska; and one in Dillingham.
Among communities smaller than 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were 12 resident cases in the Kusilvak Census Area; five in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; three in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; three in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; two in the North Slope Borough; one in the southern Kenai Peninsula Borough; one in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; one in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area; one in the Bethel Census Area; one in the Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula boroughs; and one in the Dillingham Census Area.
Sixteen cases were reported among nonresidents: two in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks, one in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area and 12 classified as unknown.
The statewide test positivity rate was 6.73%, based on a seven-day rolling average. Rates over 5% can indicate inadequate broad testing, as well as increased community transmission.
While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.
It is not clear how many of the people who tested positive in Thursday’s results were showing symptoms. The CDC estimates about a third of people with coronavirus infections are asymptomatic.