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 highest daily COVID-19 case count with 44 new confirmations of the disease in 25 residents and 19 nonresidents reported Thursday.

Of the 25 new resident cases statewide, eight are from the Fairbanks North Star Borough — six from Fairbanks and two from North Pole. This brings the borough total to 130, 44 of which remain active. 

The other 17 resident cases include six from Anchorage, three from Homer, two from Eagle River, and one each from Bethel, Palmer, Seward, Wasilla and the Northern Kenai Peninsula — bringing the state resident case total to 816.

Additionally, the Denali Borough reported its first confirmed case in the area. A traveler who just arrived in Healy showed no signs of symptoms and was tested, following the state mandate for travelers to Alaska. That person has now been instructed to self-isolate.

“I’m thankful it is June 25 before we got our first case, considering we are on the road system and so connected to Fairbanks and Anchorage,” Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker said.

The borough provides free COVID-19 testing throughout the local communities of Anderson, Healy, McKinley Village and Cantwell.

“I’m thankful the testing is being offered as widely and broadly as it is now,” Walker said. “This case would not have been identified without the state program and testing availability.”

There are even reports of residents outside the Denali Borough driving to the borough to get tested.

The positive test was bound to happen, the mayor said.

“It was just a matter of time, especially with the increased testing,” he added.

According to state data, the visitor in Denali who tested positive was reported to the state Tuesday.

The 19 nonresident cases reported Thursday include nine seafood workers in the Combined Bristol Bay and Lake & Peninsula boroughs, one seafood worker and one visitor in Anchorage, two seafood workers in the city and borough of Wrangell, one seafood worker in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, one unknown industry worker in the Valdez-Cordova Census area, and four individuals in unknown locations. It remains unclear whether these four individuals are visitors or workers from out of state.

This brings the total nonresident cases to 157.

Alaska has seen a significant spike in cases over the past month, with daily case counts beginning to increase May 22, the same day that Gov. Mike Dunleavy implemented the final phase of his plan to reopen the state following months of COVID-19 related closures. At the time, only 10% of the state's cases were active. As of today, about 36% of the state's resident cases are active. 

One new hospitalization announced this afternoon brings the state cumulative total of residents hospitalized for the disease to 65. 

Currently, there are 14 Alaskans hospitalized either with a confirmed case of the disease or who are under investigation and await results. 

As of Thursday afternoon, about 57% of the state's inpatient hospital beds were occupied and about 46% of the state's Intensive Care Unit beds were taken. These statistics include both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

No new deaths were reported Thursday.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics. Kris Capps contributed to this report.