Alaska reported three deaths, 984 new cases of the virus and just over 200 COVID-positive patients hospitalized in the state on Friday.
The three deaths reported by the state’s health department involved a Nome man in his 60s, an Anchorage woman in his 40s, and an out-of-state man who was originally diagnosed with the virus in Utqiagvik. Fairbanks Memorial Hospital also separately reported the death of a patient in his 40s, although it was not immediately clear when that death would be reflected in state totals.
In Anchorage, where half of Friday’s new cases were reported, an emergency mask warrant went into effect Thursday night after the City Assembly voted to overturn Mayor Dave Bronson’s veto on the ordinance .
Residents of the anchorage are now required to wear a face covering in places open to the public or in common areas with people outside their home.
[On Anchorage’s new mask ordinance: Who it applies to, how it’s enforced and when a face covering is required]
Testing hours at city-controlled sites will be reinstated from Monday after Anchorage curtailed testing efforts in response to what officials have described as a funding issue. Six days a week, Anchorage residents will have testing options available from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. with more limited hours on Sundays, the mayor’s office said in a statement. The total number of testing hours will drop from 120 per week to 192 per week, according to the release.
Anchorage residents can visit anchoragecovidtest.org daily for an up-to-date list of open testing sites in the municipality.
The latest tally of cases is part of what state health officials believe has been leveling off the incidence of the virus around Alaska in recent days. They say weekly trends are better indicators than daily counts, which can fluctuate depending on when cases are reported by labs.
Despite the flattening, a large amount of the virus is circulating in the state. Alaska continues to have the highest seven-day COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
202 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, a slight drop from the 208 reported Thursday and around 180 for most of last week – a reflection of the continued burden on state hospitals as the delta variant continues to spread in communities.
Twenty healthcare facilities in Alaska have activated the standards of crisis care, although not all of them operate in crisis mode and all decisions to prioritize treatment are fluid and made on a daily basis.
[Anchorage Assembly set to vote on override after mayor vetoes emergency ordinance requiring masks]
Alaska’s overall death rate is among the lowest in the country since the start of the pandemic, and Alaska currently sits in the bottom third of U.S. states for its death rate per 100,000 during the week last. At least 594 Alaskans and 23 non-residents have died from coronavirus infections.
The state also had a positivity rate of 10.68% based on a one-week moving average. Epidemiologists say anything over 5% can indicate widespread transmission and an insufficient number of tests.