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 6:10 p.m.: Alaska health officials have reported four more deaths linked to COVID-19 among three Anchorage residents and one from Juneau.

The deceased included a Juneau woman in her 60s, two men from Anchorage — one in his 60s and one in his 70s — and an Anchorage woman in her 20s, according to a report from the health department. The state listed these deaths as "new" but did not specify the timeframe in which they occurred.  

These new fatalities bring the Alaska COVID-19 death toll to 64, keeping the state among the lowest death tolls in the country. 

Also Wednesday, three staffers in Gov. Mike Dunleavy's Anchorage office tested positive for the disease, according to a statement from the governor's office.

Both the governor and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer have been tested, Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner wrote in a Wednesday afternoon email, and both tests came back negative. The group of COVID-19 positive staffers was discovered after one felt ill last weekend and received a test which came back positive, Turner explained. 

"The employee is in good health and is now self-quarantining at home," he wrote. 

On Tuesday, all Anchorage-based employees in the governor's office and in the lieutenant governor's office were administered rapid tests. At that point, two more positive cases were confirmed among staff. Currently, the governor's office is allowing staff members to work from home for the "next several days."

The state health department reported 144 new cases of the disease statewide Wednesday.

Fairbanks North Star Borough residents accounted for 13 of Wednesday's cases, confirmed among 11 Fairbanks residents and two from North Pole. These new cases bring the borough total to 1,626. About 41% of these cases are listed as recovered by state health officials.

Another 89 of Wednesday's cases were confirmed among Anchorage residents. The rest were spread across the state. One nonresident seafood worker in Anchorage was also included in Wednesday's tally. 

A total of 10,171 Alaskans have tested positive for COVID-19 since cases of the disease were first discovered in the state in mid-March. 

The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate over 14 days per 100,000 population, is high at 21.82 per 100,000.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough is ranked second statewide for the highest 14-day average case rate by population at 34.71 cases per 100,000 borough residents. 

The highest alert level is reached if a region has more than 10 average daily cases per 100,000 over a seven day period. 

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

• Northwest Region: 37.76 cases per 100,000.

• Anchorage Municipality: 29.83 cases per 100,000 population.

• Yukon Kuskokwim-Delta Region: 20.36 cases per 100,000.

Thirty-five of Wednesday's resident cases were confirmed in Alaskans under the age of 19. Another 45 involve individuals ages 20-39; 23 are aged 40-49; 18 are aged 50-59; 14 are aged 60-69; three are aged 70-79; and five are 80 or older.

There are currently 44 confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide along with another 16 patients who are under investigation and awaiting test results, according to the state's report. 

A total of 517,177 tests have been performed in Alaska to date, with 15,673 tests conducted in the previous seven days. The average percentage of daily positive tests statewide for the previous seven days is 4.48%.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough's average test positivity over the last seven days is much higher at 10.5%. This means more than 1 in 10 tests performed in the borough over the last week have come back positive. 

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