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 saw its 100th COVID-19-related death Thursday, an Anchorage man in his 40s.

In addition to his death, the state added 505 new cases to its roster, bringing the total number of Alaskans with the disease to 24,909. 

The 100th death comes amid the Alaska Department of Law and local leaders punting health mandates back and forth, with each side saying the other has to issue them. On Monday, Alaska’s acting Attorney General Clyde “Ed” Sniffen Jr. said municipalities have the power to enact health mandates under their disaster powers, including second-class boroughs like the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Borough Mayor Bryce Ward, however, said he would issue no such mandates and maintains the borough can’t enforce them nor has the power to do so.

The health mandate back-and-forth comes one week after Gov. Mike Dunleavy used the state’s emergency broadcast system to urge Alaskans to wear face masks, work from home if possible, stop dining out and cease extraneous running around for the next three weeks as the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb. Dunleavy has also said he will not enact health mandates requiring face masks in public settings or limiting businesses, deferring that action to local leadership.

At a presentation Tuesday to The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, reiterated what so many medical professionals have already said: wear a mask, social distance, avoid crowds, and stay home. She also told the chamber that hospitals are starting to become stretched thin.

Of the 505 new cases reported Thursday, 248 are in Anchorage, 20 are in Fairbanks, and three are in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area. Case numbers in other cities include 29 in Bethel, 28 in Soldotna, 22 in Wasilla, 19 in Kenai, 11 each in Delta Junction and Sterling, 10 in Eagle River, nine in Homer, eight in both Palmer and Kodiak, seven in Bristol Bay, six each in Sitka and Utqiagvik, and four each in Nome and North Pole. The total number of nonresident cases is 1,172. 

The alert level remains high across every region of Alaska, with the YK-Delta Region seeing 152.3 cases per 100,000; Anchorage seeing 109.72 cases per 100,000; the Fairbanks North Star Borough seeing 38.66 cases per 100,000; the Juneau City and Borough at 31.04 cases per 100,000; the Matanuska-Susitna Region at 46.77 cases per 100,000; and the Kenai Peninsula Borough at. 91.05 cases per 100,000. 

For the new cases reported Thursday, 249 are male, 246 are female and five are listed as unknown. 27 are under the age of 10; 44 are age 10-19; 91 are age 20-29; 116 are age 30-39; 74 are age 40-49; 70 are age 50-59; 38 are age 60-69; 31 are age 70-79, and nine are age 80 or older.

There have been a total of 581 hospitalizations and 100 deaths, with eight new hospitalizations. There are currently 127 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who are hospitalized and 22 additional patients who are considered persons under investigation for a total of 149 current COVID-related hospitalizations. Fourteen of these patients are on ventilators. The percentage of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is 11.9%.

A total of 898,799 tests have been conducted, with 24,596 tests conducted in the previous seven days. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous seven days is 8.03%.

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or at twitter.com/FDNMfeatures.

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