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

State health officials reported four more COVID-19 deaths Friday as the number of hospital patients diagnosed with the virus reached a record high. 

Three of the deaths occurred recently, according to the state health department. The fatalities involved a woman in her 60s from the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, an Anchorage man in his 80s and a man in his 80s from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. 

Another death, which occurred previously but was only recently identified as COVID-19 related during a standard death certificate review, was that of an Anchorage woman in her 90s. 

The four bring the state’s death toll to 81. 

There are currently 72 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 hospitalized statewide, according to state health officials, marking the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Additionally, another 18 hospital patients are under investigation for the virus and await test results. 

According to the state’s coronavirus data hub, there are currently two confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the Interior. 

About 71% of the state’s adult ICU beds currently staffed are shown to be in use. The number of beds in use includes both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. 

In the Interior, the percentage has moved into a higher alert level with more than 75% of the adult ICU beds currently staffed shown to be occupied. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been steadily rising since the beginning of the month. 

A total of 384 new cases of the virus were reported in the state Friday, including four nonresidents. 

Fairbanks North Star Borough residents accounted for 22 of the new cases confirmed among 14 Fairbanks residents and eight residents of North Pole. 

These new cases bring the borough’s total to 2,150.

In a new weekly update, the Denali Borough reported seven new positive resident cases in the last seven days. These new cases bring the area’s resident total to 27 since the pandemic first surfaced in Alaska in March.

The resident alert level status remains high in the Denali Borough and around most of the state. The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate over the last 14 days, is high at 40.76 cases per 100,000. The Fairbanks North Star Borough’s rate is 32.92 per 100,000. 

The Denali Borough began weekly updates Thursday after public health officials stopped providing early notice of positive cases in the Denali Borough, due to systemic demands caused by an increase in cases statewide. With the loss of timely notification, the borough now issues weekly updates summarizing COVID-19 case counts and other information.

Individual press releases may still be issued, in addition to the weekly update, if additional information regarding risk levels and mitigation efforts becomes known.

A total of 586,323 tests have been conducted, with 9,527 tests performed in the previous seven days. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous seven days is 8.54% statewide. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the seven-day average test positivity is 6.73%.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics. Community columnist Kris Capps contributed to this report.