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

Updated 6:35 p.m. Another Fairbanks resident has died due to complications linked to COVID-19, according to a state report issued Tuesday afternoon. 

The individual was a man in his 40s. The current death toll for Alaskans sits at 22.

Six Fairbanks North Star Borough residents — five in Fairbanks and one in North Pole — are among the 137 new cases of COVID-19 reported statewide by the Department of Health and Social Services Tuesday. Of the total, 110 are state residents and 27 are nonresidents.

Additionally, four new individuals have become sick enough to warrant hospitalization, bringing the number of individuals hospitalized since mid-March to 120.

Currently, 36 Alaskans are reported to be hospitalized with a confirmed case of the disease and other hospital patients statewide remain under investigation awaiting test results. 

There are four COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized in the Interior and one other patient who is under investigation and awaiting test results.

As numbers spike across the state, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Tuesday that beginning Aug. 11, travelers to the state of Alaska will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test result before arriving in Alaska. 

Previous travel mandates strongly urged travelers to undergo a test before arrival, but if travelers weren't able to receive one, they could have a test administered in an Alaska airport upon arrival. Now, travelers will be required to have proof of a negative test result upon arrival. The governor did not have any information at this time on how the state plans to enforce the mandate.

"We're going to be going in that direction," Dunleavy said.

As cases increase in the state, the shift was made in order to reserve many of these test kits, previously used on travelers, for Alaskans, the governor said.

Alaska residents coming back into the state can still receive a test at the airport, the governor noted.

Anchorage residents made up the majority of Tuesday's resident case total, with 71 residents reported to have tested positive.

According to reports from the state health department, the other resident cases include six each from Eagle River and Juneau; three each from Chugiak and Wasilla; two each from Kenai, Palmer and Seward; and one each from Cordova, elsewhere in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Homer, Ketchikan, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Soldotna, Utqiaġvik and the combined Yakutat Borough and Hoonah-Angoon Census Area.

This brings the total number of Alaskans to test positive for the disease to 2,729, nearly 69% of which are deemed active by state health officials.

Also Tuesday, state health officials reported 27 new cases among nonresidents.

These include three individuals in Anchorage whose reason for being in the state remains under investigation, one unknown industry worker in the combined Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula Boroughs, three seafood industry workers in Juneau, two seafood industry workers and one unknown individual in Seward, one visitor in Willow, two individuals in Wasilla whose reasons for being in the state remain unknown, one other unknown individual in Big Lake, two seafood industry workers in Valdez and one visitor and 10 others in an unknown location at this time.

This brings the total number of nonresident cases in the state to 621. It remains unclear at this time how many of those cases are currently deemed active.

Alaska has seen a sharp increase in daily cases since the end of May when the governor implemented the final phase of his plan to reopen the state following months of large-scale closures put into place to mitigate the disease. 

On May 22, the day the state "reopened," Alaska's rate of positive cases was about 10% of the total. Tuesday, it was more than 68%. Even so, the Dunleavy told reporters he does not support calls for statewide mandates regarding masks and gathering size.

The governor defended his choice to forgo statewide mandates in favor of suggestions and urges for Alaskans to follow hygiene and distance guidelines, noting that his earlier mandates limiting businesses and social gatherings came at a cost for businesses, the economy, churches, religious events and other gatherings.

A total of 213,875 tests have been conducted statewide. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous three days is 2.65%.

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