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.


State health officials have reported another COVID-19 death on the state's data dashboard Friday, bringing the state's coronavirus death toll to 66.

The death is identified by the state as a Fairbanks man in his 80s. A Fairbanks area resident of the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home died Wednesday from COVID-19, according to an email from the facility to residents' families that was acquired by the Daily News-Miner.

The death of a Fairbanks area resident had not been reported by the state since the Pioneers' Home resident died Wednesday morning. However, it remains unclear whether Wednesday death is the same as the fatality of the Fairbanks man reported by the state Friday.

When asked for clarification on whether the reports identified the same fatality or were of two people, the state Department of Health and Social Services declined to provide details.

Also Friday, the health department reported 220 new cases of the virus in Alaska, 27 of whom are residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough –– 17 from Fairbanks and 10 from North Pole.

An additional 99 cases were confirmed among Anchorage residents. The remaining cases were spread across the state and included two nonresidents who tested positive, one in Utqiagvik and one in an unknown location.

While the number is among the highest and a spike of 65 cases from Thursday's report, it is still below the Oct. 10 record of 232 cases reported in a single day.

Friday was the 23rd day Alaska's daily case counts were in the triple digits.

A total of 10,547 Alaskans have tested positive for the disease since the pandemic first surfaced in the state in mid-March.

About 53% of the state's total resident cases have recovered, according to health department data.

The statewide alert level based on average daily cases over the past 14 days remains high at 23.03 per 100,000 population.

The Fairbanks borough's 14-day average daily case rate per capita is at 34.49, setting the borough at the second-highest average daily case rate in the state. Anything over 10 average daily cases per 100,000 population is considered high risk.

Other regions also in the high alert category include the following:

• Northwest Region: 35.93 cases per 100,000

• Anchorage Municipality: 31.33 cases per 100,000 population

• YK-Delta Region: 30.13 cases per 100,000

• Other Interior Region: 13.71 per 100,000 population

• Juneau City and Borough: 10.94 per 100,000 population.

There are currently 51 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who are hospitalized statewide along with another eight patients who are under investigation for the disease and awaiting test results. Eight of these patients are currently on ventilators, according to the state.

A total of 522,664 tests have been conducted statewide to date, with 10,754 tests conducted in the last seven days. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous seven days statewide is 5.16%. The Fairbanks borough's seven-day average test positivity percentage is 7.75% as of Friday.

The state has seen a sharp increase in cases in recent weeks and state health officials project this trend will only continue.

"Compared to other states’ case rates, Alaska’s average case rate per capita over the last 7 days (25.5 average daily cases over the last week per 100,000) remains at the thirteenth highest of US states, just below Wyoming (27.3) and worse off than Missouri (24.4)," a weekly case analysis report from the state reads. "If Fairbanks were a state, its 7-day rate of 40.7 would make it #5 in the nation, just behind Wisconsin."

Case rates as of about two weeks ago had models predicting a double in cases every 105 days. In the last two weeks this projection has worsened dramatically, and new trends show cases are now expected to double approximately every 20 days.

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