Novel coronavirus

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab.

Credit: NIAID-RML

Updated 5:45 p.m.: Residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough make up 14 of the 68 new cases of COVID-19 reported by state health officials Thursday –– 11 from Fairbanks and three from North Pole.

The other 54 cases include 29 residents of Anchorage, six from Wasilla, four residents each of the Valdez-Cordova Census Area and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, two from Chugiak and one each from Big Lake, Girdwood, the Kenai Peninsula Borough South, the Northwest Arctic Borough, Palmer and the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, as well as three nonresidents whose location remains unclear. One was in the state as a mining industry worker, and the reason for the other two to be in Alaska remains unclear at this time.

The Denali Borough also announced in a news release Thursday afternoon that a new nonresident case was confirmed in the area. The out-of-state resident is reported to be in the Healy area to work on a contracted project. The individual has been instructed to self-isolate.

These new cases bring the state resident case total to 2,192 and nonresident case total to 492. Just under 63% of the state's resident cases are deemed active by health officials. It remains unclear how many of the state's nonresident cases are active.

The resident case active rate has jumped more than 50% since the end of May when Gov. Mike Dunleavy implemented his final phase in reopening the state following months of pandemic-related business closures and gathering limitations.

Health officials have identified that Alaska's case numbers increased by more than a quarter in the last week alone.

Additionally, two more Alaskans have become sick enough to seek hospitalization, bringing the cumulative total number of Alaskans to be hospitalized for COVID-19 to 111.

A total of 36 Alaskans are currently hospitalized statewide either with a confirmed case of the disease or who are under investigation and await test results.

Four individuals are currently hospitalized in the Fairbanks area either with a confirmed case or awaiting results. Hospitalizations are organized by region rather than borough or municipality. The Interior currently has 24 inpatient hospital beds, eight ICU beds and 13 ventilators available.

No new deaths were reported Thursday, with the most recent death being a Fairbanks woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions whose death was linked to COVID-19 and announced Wednesday.

A total of 189,509 tests have been conducted. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous three days is 3.21%.

In a response to the spiking case counts across the state, health officials and local government leaders have begun urging Alaskans to wear masks or cloth face coverings when in public and unable to keep 6 feet of distance from individuals outside their immediate household.

Dunleavy announced a new policy during a Wednesday evening news conference requiring all visitors, state employees and contractors to wear a mask or cloth face covering when inside a state building or facility if 6 feet of distance from others is not possible.

The governor has been otherwise resistant to any kind of mask-related mandates or policies, instead stating he wants to leave the issue up to individual Alaskans and local governments.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.