The latest: 23 more people test positive for COVID-19, plus 17th death

1,166 residents and 237 nonresidents have now tested positive for virus

Updated: 10:28 a.m. Wednesday, July 8

On the back side of an Independence Day weekend subdued by a global pandemic, the number of those infected with COVID-19 continue to rise.

As of Tuesday, July 7, the addition of 23 more people infected with COVID-19 and one new death boosted that statewide number of resident cases to 1,184, nonresidents infected to 241 and the statewide death toll to 17.

According to Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, the individual whose death was reported Tuesday had also suffered from compromised medical issues.

The statewide number of hospitalizations rose to 78, as four more people were hospitalized.

Eight others have recovered, bringing that total recoveries to 560 people.

New data included 19 Alaskans in eight communities and four nonresidents in three areas, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

The newly identified resident cases include 11 in Anchorage, two in Wasilla and one each in Cordova, Eagle River, Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Kenai, Ketchikan and the Yukon-Koyukuk census area.

Nonresident cases include two with an unknown industry in the municipality of Anchorage, one person in the tourism industry in the Kenai Peninsula Borough and one case of an individual at an unknown location and with an unknown industry.

On Monday, July 6, the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association reported 16 people testing positive for COVID-19 who are hospitalized, the largest number reported to date.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities also reported Sunday, July 5, that a passenger aboard an Alaska Marine Highway System vessel tested positive for the virus upon arrival in Cordova and is now isolated in quarantine.

Zink, said officials are concerned about the sharp rise in cases and hope everyone takes this as a warning to limit contacts.

“We need all Alaskans working together to break infection chains,” Zink said.

“This virus is a pain in the neck,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said again during a pandemic news teleconference on Tuesday, July 7. “It is not a happy event for anyone, but if we apply what we know we can make a big difference and get on with life as close to normal as possible. The question is what twists and turns this disease will take.” 

The state is continuing to work with school districts to come up with the best plan for educating young Alaskans this fall, he said.

“We are going to come up with the best plan that we can,” he said.

“The economy has opened up,” the governor added. We are asking people to think through when they go into closed spaces and to wear a face mask. Right now, there is no reason to hit the panic button. If something changes, we will let you know as soon as possible.”

Zink reiterated her warning to wear masks, limit one’s social bubble and wash hands frequently.

“We are definitely seeing a sharp increase in cases in Alaska, and just like in other states, many of the recent new cases are in youth or younger adults,” Zink said. “Some of these cases are linked to bars in several communities. Going to a bar right now, especially to listen to a concert, should be viewed as a high-risk activity. The virus can spread easily in crowded indoor spaces especially when people are close together and singing or talking.”

A total of 131,420 tests have now been conducted. The average percentage of daily positive test for the previous three days as of July 7 was 1.19 percent.

Updates on the impact of COVID-19 are posted daily at coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com.