Fairbanks Pioneers' Home

The Fairbanks Pioneers' Home is seen Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Fairbanks. Caitlin Miller/News-Miner

Updated 5:30 p.m. — A resident of the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home has died from complications linked to COVID-19.

The individual had tested positive for the disease on Oct. 5 and died Wednesday morning, according to an email acquired by the Daily News-Miner that the facility sent to families.

An outbreak of cases has been discovered in the facility in recent weeks, with 20 additional residents of the assisted-living facility and five more staff members testing positive in the last week, according to a news release from the state Department of Health and Social Services.

Those cases are in addition to the 28 cases of COVID-19 confirmed at the facility from Sept. 21 to Oct. 6 among nine residents and 19 staff. The facility is licensed to hold 93 residents and operates with a staff of approximately 130.

One facility resident had been hospitalized with the disease as of Wednesday. Of the total confirmed cases at the facility, a Wednesday state report identified that 25 residents and 10 staff members are still considered active cases.

Six residents who had previously tested positive for the disease have been released from isolation, according to the Wednesday email the facility sent to families of residents.

"We are due to have more residents come off of isolation precautions through the end of the week if they have no medical changes. We have also had five staff members released from isolation precautions and will return to work," the email reads.

The facility has been closed to visitors since the pandemic first surfaced in the state in March, with short exceptions for outside "porch visits" during the summer months.

It remains unclear when the facility may reopen to family visits. Cases across the state continue to increase, and the Fairbanks North Star Borough's 14-day average daily case rate was reported Thursday to be the highest in the state at 35.01 per 100,000 people.

It remains unclear when the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home death will be reflected in state data.

A separate COVID-19 related death was announced by the state health department Thursday. The deceased was a Valdez woman in her 80s whose death was reported by the Valdez COVID-19 Unified Command on Wednesday. According to the Wednesday news release, the woman tested positive for the virus on Sept. 27 and was being treated for it at an Anchorage hospital.

The news came in a state report outlining 155 new cases Thursday.

Fairbanks North Star Borough residents accounted for 20 of those cases, confirmed among 16 Fairbanks residents and four from North Pole.

Anchorage residents accounted for 71 of the new cases reported Thursday. The rest were spread across the state and included two nonresidents who tested positive in currently unknown locations.

Public health officials also reported Thursday that five more residents of the Denali Borough have tested positive. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases for the borough to 18 residents and nine nonresidents.

Contact tracing is being underway, but the increase in positive cases statewide may slow the case-tracing efforts.

The risk of community transmission as a result of these new cases is currently unknown. However, a news release from the Denali Borough noted that an increase of local and state positive cases, the case rate and test positivity rates place the Denali Borough in the high risk category.

There are currently 60 confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the state along with an additional 10 patients who are under investigation and awaiting test results. Seven of these patients are on ventilators, according to the state.

A total of 519,461 tests have been conducted in Alaska to date, with 12,355 tests conducted in the last week.

The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous seven days is 4.84% statewide. The Fairbanks borough's average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous seven days is 10.39% as of Thursday. This means that more than 1 in every 10 tests performed in the borough is coming back positive.

Governor's office case

A spokesman for Gov. Mike Dunleavy confirmed Wednesday that three staffers in the governor's Anchorage office located in the Atwood Building have tested positive for the virus. Both Dunleavy and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer tested negative.

The governor is "routinely" testing for the virus, according to Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner.

While the governor is not always seen wearing a mask while in public, there is a mask policy for the entire Atwood Building as well as other state buildings across the state, and state workers and visitors are required to wear masks when 6 feet of distance from others is not possible.

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