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.


Alaska's total number of residents to have tested positive for COVID-19 has surpassed 6,000 with state health officials reporting 111 new resident cases Thursday, and the state's alert level based on the average daily case rate over the last two weeks has been bumped from "intermediate" to "high."

A "high" alert level means there are more than 10 recorded cases for every 100,000 people in Alaska and represents "widespread community transmission."

The Fairbanks North Star Borough has been categorized as a high alert area for a couple of weeks now. Health officials noted in a weekly case analysis that "14-day case rates are high and rising in Fairbanks North Star Borough and Anchorage Municipality."

Fairbanks North Star Borough residents accounted for 31 of the new resident cases – 21 from Fairbanks, five from North Pole and five from elsewhere in the borough.

Also Thursday, the Department of Health and Social Services confirmed that four more Alaskans have become sick enough to warrant hospitalization. This brings the total number of hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 to 243. Currently there are 39 confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide and another three patients who are under investigation and await test results.

More than half of the state's inpatient hospital beds and ICU hospital beds are currently in use, according to hospital data kept by the state health department. State health officials have noted that healthcare occupancy "remains steady."

The state reported 80 other resident cases Thursday in addition to the 31 in the Fairbanks borough.

Anchorage residents made up 49 of these other cases. The rest were scattered among Juneau, Wasilla, the combined Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula boroughs, Chugiak, Eagle River, Utqiagvik, Bethel, elsewhere in the Bethel Census Area, Kodiak, Kusilvak Census Area, Northwest Arctic Borough, Palmer, Sitka, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

One more nonresident has tested positive. The location of the individual is  unknown.

These new cases bring the state resident case total to 6,020 and nonresident case total to 895.

At least one-third of the state's resident cases are confirmed to have recovered. This number may be slightly larger than listed on the state's COVID-19 dashboard due to a lack of contact tracing, according to Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink.

A total of 393,077 tests have been performed statewide to date – 21,690 of these have been performed by medical personnel in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

No new deaths were reported Thursday.

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