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 has seen its first in-state COVID-19 death, and the statewide case tally has risen to 85 as of Friday evening. Following the daily increase in cases, Gov. Mike Dunleavy ordered Alaskans to remain in their homes.

The fatality announced Friday was of a female patient in her 60s with underlying medical conditions who died earlier in the day at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage due to complications related to COVID-19, according to Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium media contact Shirley Young.

The patient was seen at the center Monday for unrelated health reasons but was tested for COVID-19, which yielded a positive test result Wednesday. At the time, the patient was at home and doing well but practicing self-isolating protocol, the center reported in a news release issued Friday afternoon.

However, later that day the center's Emergency Department was informed that the patient's condition was deteriorating quickly, at which point the patient was advised to return to the health center.

The patient was placed immediately into isolation upon arrival, the center reports, but died Friday.

Of the 16 new cases announced Friday afternoon, Fairbanks had an increase of two cases, bringing the community total to 13, and North Pole had an increase of one case, bringing its total to six.

Of the new cases statewide, nine are male and seven are female. One individual is under the age of 18, seven are between the ages of 19 and 29, four are between the ages of 30 and 59 and four are over the age of 60.

In conjunction with announcing the new cases, the Department of Health and Social Services and Dunleavy issued a series of new health mandates.

The first essentially acts as a shelter-in-place mandate, urging individuals to stay out of the public as much as possible.

"All persons in Alaska, except for those engaged in essential health care services, public government services, and essential business activities, are mandated to remain at their place of residence and practice social distancing," the mandate reads. "For the purpose of this mandate, social distancing is defined as maintaining a distance of 6 feet or greater from any individuals with whom you do not currently reside."

The governor clarified in a news conference that this does not include going outside to exercise and recreate as long as individuals maintain a 6-foot distance from others.

Additionally, all non-essential businesses are ordered to close effective Saturday at 5 p.m.

A list of what the state considers to be essential businesses can be found at www.bit.ly/2xwGndc

The second mandate relates to travel within the state and prohibits all in-state travel between communities, whether resident, worker or visitor, unless the travel is for critical needs or to support essential infrastructure. This goes into effect 8 a.m. Saturday.

Dunleavy's shelter-in-place mandate follows days after local leaders and health officials urged the state to act. Sharing similar concerns, a group of 18 state House members sent a letter to the governor earlier Friday urging him to issue such a mandate. The group included Fairbanks Democratic Reps. Adam Wool and Grier Hopkins, Fairbanks Republican Rep. Steve Thompson and Healy Republican Rep. Dave Talerico.

Alaska is now one of 22 states that have issued a shelter-in-place mandate in some form.

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