An image from an electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital reported three Covid-19 deaths on Thursday involving residents who were 58, 59 and 75 years old. The state recorded one more virus-related death.

The Covid-19 virus is so far the third most common cause of death for Alaskans this year, according to a preliminary report from state officials.

“It is the third leading cause of death right now for 2021, with cancer and heart disease being the first,” said Rebecca Topol of the Department of Health and Social Services.

Most of the deaths happen from more than one cause, Topol said. While the department daily and weekly reports deaths where Covid illness contributed to the death, the new preliminary report looks at cases where the virus was the main cause of the demise.

“Often there are many factors (contributing to) a final death of an individual and with Covid, it affects many different parts of the body, for instance, shutting down your kidneys,” explained Dr. Lisa Rabinowitz. “We tried to do the best job on capturing what the final demise of the individual was and how each part of that played into that.”

The state does not determine the cause of death, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink clarified. Instead, clinicians fill out death certificates declaring the underlying cause of death.

Usually, the department looks at the data on a yearly basis, waiting for all the death certificates to come in, Zink said. However, during the pandemic, people have been asking about the number of Covid deaths, “particularly with the current surge,” so DHSS run this analysis more recently.

Since not all death certificates are in, the data is subject to change.

“This is what we have right now,” Topol said.

With 23 Covid patients on Thursday, 37% of all Thursday FMH hospitalizations are Covid positive patients. Statewide, 242 patients were treated for Covid.

Alaska reported 1,024 new Coivd cases for Wednesday,

Locally, Fairbanks reported 52, North Pole 13 and other places in the Fairbanks North Star Borough three. One case was reported in Ester, Denali Borough, Healy, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and Salcha each. Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area reported two cases.

In other places in Alaska, 395 new infections were reported in Anchorage, 94 in Wasilla, 53 in Eagle River, 43 in Palmer, 31 in Juneau, 31 in Soldotna, 27 in Kodiak, 35 in Bethel Census Area, 23 in Kenai and 20 in Ketchikan

Contact staff writer Alena Naiden at (907) 459-7587 or at Follow her at

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