Updated 6:22 p.m.: The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, marking the largest single-day case report in more than a month. The group of newly confirmed cases comes just one week after Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the full reopening of Alaska's businesses in an effort to revive the economy.
Four of the new cases were confirmed in residents of the Anchorage area, one in a resident of Juneau, two in residents of Homer, one in a resident of Kenai, one in a resident of Nikiski, three are residents of other areas of the Kenai Peninsula Borough and one in a resident of the North Slope Borough.
According to state data, this is the first case confirmed in a resident of the North Slope area. The Arctic Slope Native Association announced this case Wednesday.
Approximately three weeks ago, the governor issued guidelines as part of the second phase of his plan to reopen the state that allowed for bars, theaters, bowling alleys and gyms to open to 25% capacity. These businesses had previously been ordered to close entirely to stem the spread of disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization both recognize the average incubation period for COVID-19 to be about two weeks.
The new cases bring the state total to 425, with a reported 366 of those having recovered, according to state health department data.
Dunleavy's office declined to comment on the spike in cases and directed all questions to the Department of Health and Social Services.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said in a Thursday statement that the increase in cases is surprising, noting that all are still under investigation. She pointed to an increase in testing as a possible contributor to the rise in cases.
“Alaskans should take this news as an important reminder that the virus is still with us," Zink said. "And that we should not ease up on the actions each of us can take to protect ourselves, including keeping 6 feet of distance from others, wearing a face covering when out in public, washing our hands frequently, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces at home and work.”
A health department news release reported no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in nonresidents in Alaska on Thursday. This remains a continued concern as an influx of thousands of out-of-state workers arrives in Alaska to participate in the state's commercial fishing season.
A total of 17 nonresidents have tested positive in Alaska, according to the state health department.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.