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

A combined 33 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in 29 residents and four nonresidents Saturday, according to a Sunday report from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. 

These new numbers bring the state resident case total to 883 and nonresident case total to 179. Alaska reached a new record of more than 1,000 combined resident and nonresident cases Friday.

Three of the state’s new resident cases are from the Fairbanks North Star Borough, two in Fairbanks and one in North Pole. 

The other 26 resident cases were confirmed in ten communities. Anchorage saw 15 new cases. Seward, Wasilla and Delta Junction all saw two new cases and Big Lake, Juneau, Soldotna, Valdez and Willow each saw one new case.

Four new nonresident cases were reported Sunday. Two were mining workers in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, likely to be employees of the Pogo Goldmine, one was a seafood industry worker in the Dillingham Census area and one was a worker in an unknown industry in Ketchikan.

Nearly 40% of the state’s resident cases remain active. A total of 108,300 tests have been conducted to date. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous three days is 1.11%. No new deaths or hospitalizations were reported Sunday. 

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink acknowledged the spike in cases over the last month in a statement issued Sunday. 

“We are definitely seeing a sharp increase in cases in Alaska, and just like in other states, many of the recent new cases are in youth or younger adults,” Zink said. “Some of these cases are linked to bars in several communities. Going to a bar right now, especially to listen to a concert, should be viewed as a high risk activity. The virus can spread easily in crowded indoor spaces, especially when people are close together and singing or talking. Please take precautions and if you do go, consider not interacting with anyone who is at high risk for serious illness such as older Alaskans or those with underlying health conditions.”

An employee of local basement bar and micro-brewery Midnite Mine has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a post on the bar’s official Facebook page. 

Bar management made the post Saturday evening. 

“PSA. A doorman for the Midnite Mine has tested positive (for COVID-19), he is quarantined at home and will be retested July 2. He was on a fishing trip June 14 and sat next to a gentleman that had flown in from Michigan. This is who is believed to have passed it along. He has not been at work or entered the Mine since then or been in contact with any employees or customers,” the post read. 

A later comment confirmed the last time the employee had been at the bar was June 13. 

There has been no confirmation that the employee’s suspected point of infection was the fishing trip. As such, mine management said they are sanitizing the business. 

“We are continuing to deep clean and hope for the best for our entire country,” the post continued. “The Midnite Mine employees care about our customers and your safety is our utmost concern! Please know we do everything we can to make The Mine safe for everyone.”

This is the second Fairbanks bar to make announcements warning customers of employee or patron infection. 

Local midtown bar The Boatel announced earlier this week two Seward-based musicians, who had played a packed show the weekend before in Fairbanks, had tested positive upon returning to Seward. 

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