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

Alaska topped 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a single 24-hour reporting period Saturday for the first time, with 116 combined cases among residents and nonresidents.

The state Department of Health and Social Services reported in its daily update Sunday that 93 Alaskans and 23 nonresidents had contracted the virus, a sharp increase from the combined 78 cases of the previous 24-hour period.

Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, tweeted Saturday night about that day’s case count announcement.

“We are moving the wrong direction,” she wrote, followed moments later with a tweet in which she wrote, “This is the first day we have had more than 10 cases / 100,000 people.”

Sunday’s update included 21 cases among residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and two nonresident cases in the borough. The borough recorded 24 new resident cases and no new nonresident cases in Saturday’s update.

Five employees of the Fairbanks have borough have acquired COVID-19, according to a Saturday evening notice from the borough. The borough on Thursday announced that two employees had contracted the disease; those were the first reported among the borough government’s workforce.

The initial infections prompted borough Mayor Bryce Ward to close the Juanita Helms Administration Center so that it could be cleaned over the weekend. The building is scheduled to reopen Monday, but business will be conducted by appointment only. All public meetings this week will be conducted by Zoom videoconference or by teleconference, the borough announcement states.

“We are keeping all staff informed of the updates and are working with directors on ensuring that the health and well being of our employees are being addressed,” Ward said in a news release. “Borough business plans for public meetings, daily health checks and the requirement for all employees to wear a cloth face covering or mask upon entering the building.”

The borough’s announcement also urges residents “to take personal responsibility for their well being by wearing a cloth face covering or mask every time they are out in the public…” It also urges residents to maintain 6 feet of social distancing in public, wash hands and face regularly, and to avoid exposure to large groups of people beyond your personal “bubble.”

Sunday’s case count announcement by the Department of Health and Social Services listed the state’s total number of resident cases at 1,479, with more than half of those — 847 — listed as active. Of the others, 615 people have recovered and 17 have died.

The 93 resident cases announced Sunday were distributed as follows: Anchorage, 29; Fairbanks, 19; Palmer, seven; Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, six; four each in Cordova, Soldotna and Wasilla; three each in Eagle River, Juneau, and the city of Kenai; two each in Chugiak, North Pole and the Nome Census Area, and one each in Kodiak, Nome, the Bethel Census Area, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Seward.

The number of nonresident cases rose to 295. The 23 new cases included 11 seafood industry workers in Valdez. The other cases included two in the Fairbanks borough; one each in Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the North Slope Borough; and the rest of unknown location.

Data in the report announced Sunday covers the 24-hour period that ended at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

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