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

The Fairbanks North Star Borough saw the highest resident case count in almost a month Thursday with 15 borough residents reported to have tested positive for COVID-19.

Twelve of the 15 new cases are Fairbanks residents and three are residents of North Pole.

The last highest local case report was July 15 when 23 residents tested positive.

The 15 Fairbanks area cases were among 82 new resident cases reported by state health officials Thursday.

Anchorage residents made up 27 of those cases. The others were scattered among Juneau, Wasilla, Nome, Kodiak, Eagle River, Kenai, Northwest Arctic Borough, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, the combined Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula boroughs, Chugiak, Ketchikan, elsewhere in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, North Slope Borough, Palmer, Petersburg, Soldotna, Sterling, Willow and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

Anchorage has seen the largest case increase recently with 272 new cases reported last week alone, making up about 62% of the total case increase during that time period.

Last week's total case count for Anchorage was lower, however, than the week prior. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz reimplemented limits on restaurants, bars and social gatherings July 22.

State health officials also reported 13 new nonresident cases Thursday, 10 of which are seafood industry workers in the Kodiak Island Borough. The other three cases are individuals in currently unknown locations, one who is a mining industry worker and two who are seafood industry workers.

The new cases bring the total number of Alaska residents to have tested positive since mid-March to 3,963 and the total number of nonresident cases to 787. Almost 70% of the state's resident cases are deemed active by state health officials, and about 77% of the nonresident cases remain active.

The total number of cases among Alaska residents rose 14% last week with 442 new cases. Alaskans in their 20s still make up the majority of the new resident cases, according to a weekly case analysis report from the state Department of Health and Social Services.

Two more Alaskans have become sick enough to be hospitalized, bringing the cumulative total number of hospitalizations to 166. Currently there are 39 confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide and seven additional patients who are under investigation and await test results.

Hospitalizations are grouped by economic region rather than community, municipality or borough. The Interior currently has one COVID-19 patient hospitalized and one other hospital patient who is under investigation.

State health officials listed the state's hospital capacity as "adequate" in their weekly case report analysis but noted that hospitalizations and COVID-19 related deaths continue to rise.

The recent upward trend in cases has been linked to transmission related at social gatherings, within families and at community events, churches and bars, health officials cite in the report, adding that individuals should avoid gatherings and wear a face covering whenever 6 feet of distance from others is not possible.

Most of the state resident cases are linked to community spread as opposed to infection from individuals who had traveled outside the state as was the case when cases first began appearing in mid-March, health officials cite.

A total of 294,053 tests have been conducted to date. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous seven days is 2.73%.

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