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

The number of Alaska’s confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by seven Saturday, bringing the total to 22.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported that the new cases came from five communities — three new cases in Ketchikan and one each in Fairbanks, Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula communities of Sterling and Soldotna.

The Soldotna and Anchorage cases were both linked to travel in the Lower 48, according to the health department’s announcement. The other cases were non-travel related and are being investigated.

All cases were in adults. None required hospitalization, according to the department.

“All of the new cases are isolating themselves at home and their close contacts are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor for symptoms,” said Alaska State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said in the department’s announcement.

“Our thoughts go out to these people, their families and their communities,” he said. “All of these individuals are being conscientious and cooperating fully with public health officials.”

Seven of the state’s 22 cases were reported out of Fairbanks. Six are from Ketchikan.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday issued an order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough, the city of Ketchikan and the city of Saxman issued a joint news release Saturday urging Ketchikan residents to “hunker down, shelter in place, and stay home, in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

On Friday, Anchorage residents also were urged to "hunker down" and shelter in place to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

“It is vital that every person is doing as much as possible to slow the spread of this disease,” Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said in the Saturday announcement of the new cases. “Social distancing is critical.

“Stay home as much as you can and, even if you’re healthy, stay away from those more vulnerable to severe illness, including those 60 or older, or anyone who might have an underlying medical condition,” she said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the total number of state cases to 22.

Contact Editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.