Update: Pandemic spread in triple digits for 27th day

COVID-19 cases continue rise, statewide count at 12,432 infected

Updated 4:45 p.m., Oct. 20

A surge in the spread of COVID-19 in Alaska, now in triple digits for more than three weeks, has pushed the number of infected to 12,432 individuals.

State health officials announced on Tuesday, Oct. 20, that an additional 215 residents tested positive as of Monday, Oct. 19, including 213 residents and two nonresidents.

To date a total of 12,432 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Alaska, including 11,393 residents and 1,039 nonresidents.  Among the residents 6,042 have recovered and 67 has succumbed, leaving 5,284 active cases. Of the 1,039 nonresidents infected, 639 have recovered, leaving 400 active cases.

The death toll remained at 67, after a Fairbanks man in his 90 succumbed to the virus on Saturday, Oct. 17, and another Fairbanks man in his 80s on Friday, Oct. 16.

The 213 new resident cases identified by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services officials Include 111 in Anchorage, 21 in Wasilla, 18 in Fairbanks, nine in Bethel, six each in Juneau, Soldotna and Utqiagvik, four in Eagle River, three in Kenai, two each in Homer, Healy, Palmer, Northwest Arctic Borough, Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Skagway, Bethel Census Area, and Valdez-Cordova Census Area, and one each in Anchor Point, Chugiak, Chevak, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Kenai Peninsula Borough  North, Kenai Peninsula Borough South, Mat-Su Borough, Nome Census Area, North Pole, Seward, Sterling and one other unidentified location.

Two new nonresident cases include one in Anchorage and another at an unidentified location.

Two resident cases and nonresident case were removed from the data dashboard through data verification methods.

As of Oct. 20, there were 38 people hospitalized who are diagnosed with COVID-19, with no others under observation, including 10 patients on ventilators.

Statewide numbers for the increase in COVID-19 infections are at an all-time high and Alaska’s overall alert level continued to be high and trending up. DHSS officials are continuing to urge everyone to get tested if feeling ill, wear a mask, practice social distancing and hand washing, to help prevent spread of the virus.

Most cases and the most deaths from the virus have been in the state’s largest population areas, led by the Municipality of Anchorage, with 40 of the 67 deaths.

DHSS officials have submitted Alaska’s draft COVID-19 vaccination plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for review, as required for all states. The Alaska COVID-19 vaccine task force prepared that document as part of ongoing preparations for safe, equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine across the state.

The task force is a partnership between DHSS and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, which works in partnership with tribal health organizations.

Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said they are closely watching the progress of clinical trials to ensure no steps are missed during the trial and data review process. “For any vaccine made available to Alaskans, safety will remain our top priority,” Zink said.

The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be available in limited supply at first, and the Centers for Disease Control will provide recommendations on prioritization of the initial supply.  Populations with prioritized access may include health care workers, staff and residents in long-term care and assisted living facilities, people at risk for severe COVID-19 illness, people at risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19 and critical infrastructure workers.

The task force has already begun meeting with local partners who will play critical roles throughout the vaccine distribution process.

The draft plan and more information on the vaccination planning are online on the COVID-19 vaccine information webpage: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/SiteAssets/Pages/HumanCoV/AlaskaCOVID-19VaccinationDraftPlan.pdf

Statewide updates are provided daily by state health officials Alaska’s COVID-19 dashboard at covid19.alaska.gov.

The DHSS daily report reflects data from midnight to 11:59 p.m. which is posted at noon daily on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub.

As of Oct. 19, 546,525 tests had been conducted, including 16,629 tests in the previous seven days, DHSS officials said. The average percentage of daily positive test for the previous seven days was 4.25 percent.

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

For Cordova updates, visit the city’s COVID-19 dashboard here.