Updated COVID-19 tracking charts will be added to this article today.
The daily number of COVID-19 cases in Alaska soared to a record 745 new cases on Saturday as the state reported one new death and consistently high virus hospitalizations.
An Anchorage resident was the 98th Alaskan to die with COVID-19, state data showed on Saturday. A non-Alaskan resident with the virus also died, the state said this week.
The record daily case total comes after a week in which the state reported several of its highest case counts and hospitalizations reached their highest level since the pandemic began in March. For weeks, hospital officials and public health experts have voiced serious concerns about the capacity of healthcare in Alaska and the state’s ability to handle a sudden influx of critically ill patients.
Increasingly, authorities are sounding the alarm bells about the number of healthcare workers who are in quarantine or in isolation due to the disease. They fear that the rapid increase in cases will lead to a wave of patients in hospitals who cannot treat them effectively.
State data on Saturday showed 113 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized statewide, while 19 other hospital patients were suspected of having the disease. There were a total of 38 adult intensive care unit beds available statewide on Saturday.
Alaska’s leaders continue to plead with the public to take pandemic precautions seriously. They specifically advise wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, washing your hands frequently, and staying at least 6 feet from members who are not part of the household. Many of the state’s more recent cases have been linked to households and small meetings, according to health officials.
Of the 736 resident cases reported by the state on Saturday, 433 were in Anchorage, 44 in Eagle River and 12 in Chugiak; 63 in Fairbanks; 31 in Wasilla; 19 in Bethel; 15 in Juneau; 14 in Soldotna; 13 at the North Pole; 11 in Ketchikan; nine to Homer; nine at Delta Junction; seven in Kenai; five to Palmer; five in Utqiagvik; two at Fritz Creek; two to Nikiski; two in Seward; two in pounds sterling; one at Kodiak; one in Cordoba; one in Nome; one in Kotzebue; one in Petersburg; one in Metlakatla; one in Sitka; and two in unidentified areas of the state.
Among communities of less than 1,000 people who are not named to protect privacy, there have been six cases of residents in the Bethel census area; five in the southern Kenai Peninsula; four in the borough of Fairbanks North Star; three in the Valdez-Cordova census area; two in the north of the Kenai Peninsula; two in the Yukon-Koyukuk census region; two in the Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon region; one in the Denali borough; one in the southeast Fairbanks census area; one in the Ketchikan Gateway borough; one in Bristol Bay plus the boroughs of Lake and Peninsula; and one in the Kusilvak census area.
The state also reported nine non-resident cases in unidentified areas of the state.
Of the new cases, it is not stated how many patients showed symptoms of the virus when they tested positive. Although people can be tested more than once, each case reported by the state’s health department represents only one person.
The state’s testing positivity on Saturday was 8.9% on a seven-day moving average. A positivity rate above 5% may indicate high community transmission and not enough testing, health officials say.