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

Another Alaska death has been linked to COVID-19, according to the state's daily case update Friday.

This most recent fatality — an Anchorage woman in her 40s — brings the state's total virus-linked death toll to 45. Alaska still remains one of the states with the lowest coronavirus death toll.

State health officials anticipate cases will continue to rise, however. This is according to a weekly analysis issued by the state Department of Health and Social Services on Thursday.

Four more Alaskans have become sick enough to warrant hospitalization, according to the state's COVID-19 data hub, bringing the cumulative total number of virus related hospitalizations to 257. There are currently 31 confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide along with another five patients who are under investigation for the disease but who have not yet received test results.

Data collected by the state health department shows hospitalizations increased sharply mid-June and again in mid-July but have remained somewhat steady since.

While the state's alert level was bumped from intermediate to high recently, the state's health care capacity remains adequate, health officials say. More than half of the state's inpatient and intensive care unit beds are currently occupied by a combination of both COVID-positive and non-COVID patients.

Alaska's resident case total rose by another 108 cases Friday. Residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough made up 12 of the new cases — nine from Fairbanks and three from North Pole.

Anchorage residents made up 68 of the new resident cases. The others were spread among Wasilla, Palmer, Utqiagvik, Eagle River, the combined Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula boroughs, Sitka, Bethel, elsewhere in the Bethel Census Area, Homer, Soldotna and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

These new numbers brings the state resident case total since mid-March to 6,658.

More than half of the most recent resident cases involve individuals under the age of 40. State data shows a significant portion of recent cases have been found in younger individuals.

Also Friday, state health officials reported four new cases of the disease among nonresidents. The locations of all four individuals are currently under investigation.

The state has seen a total of 929 nonresidents test positive while in Alaska.

A total of 418,293 tests have been performed statewide to date, more than 24,000 of which have been performed in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.