A graph by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services created on its Coronavirus Datahub on Sunday, May 31, 2020, shows the number of positive COVID-19 cases acquired by day since the first cases were recorded in March. The increase of 27 cases on May 31 marks the largest single jump in one day in Alaska. (Graphic courtesy of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)

A graph by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services created on its Coronavirus Datahub on Sunday, May 31, 2020, shows the number of positive COVID-19 cases acquired by day since the first cases were recorded in March. The increase of 27 cases on May 31 marks the largest single jump in one day in Alaska. (Graphic courtesy of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)

Alaska sees biggest jump in COVID-19 cases yet

With 27 new cases, Alaska on Sunday saw its biggest increase in positive cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March. According to the latest report on May 31, the state saw 12 cases in Anchorage, four in Wasilla, three in Kenai, three in Eagle River, two in Homer, one in Soldotna, one in the Kenai Peninsula Borough and one in Anchor Point.

Sunday’s report reflects data from midnight until 11:59 p.m. on May 30 that posted at noon today on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub.

At a press conference on Sunday with Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and Anchorage health officials, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said that while he is concerned about the higher numbers, an increase was not unexpected. Alaska’s biggest concern going into the pandemic was that COVID-19 cases would overwhelm the state’s health capacity. That hasn’t happened, he said.

“We are confident we have the ability to manage (the pandemic),” Dunleavy said. “… We will see numbers again. … We’re watching it. We’re projecting it out. As of today we feel pretty good where were going in the state of Alaska.”

Since Thursday, Homer, Anchor Point and the lower Kenai Peninsula has seen 11 more cases. At the press conference, when asked about that increase, Zink said some of the new cases appear to be related to celebrations among groups of people. Some of the peninsula cases also might be related to some of the new Anchorage cases, she said.

“There’s clearly more cases happening down on the Kenai Peninsula, particularly the South Kenai Peninsula,” Zink said, “… It appears to be that a series of these — maybe not all, but quite a few of them — appear to be related to a couple of celebrations that took place among people who knew each other and spread that among other people who knew each other.”

Of the new Alaska cases, 14 are male and 13 are female. Four are aged of 10-19; five aged 20-29; three are aged 30-39; three are aged 40-49; three are aged 50-59; four are aged 60-69; two are aged 70-79; and three are aged 80 or older.

There have been a total of 47 hospitalizations and 10 deaths with no new hospitalizations or deaths reported yesterday. Recovered cases now total 368, with no new recovered cases recorded yesterday. A total of 53,063 tests have been conducted.

In a press release, DHSS said that one new nonresident case was identified in a seafood industry worker in the Dillingham Census Area. One Homer case reported for May 29 now has been determined to be in a visitor, not a resident of Alaska, so it has been subtracted from the total Alaska case count and added to the nonresident case total. Including the May 30 cases, this brings the total Alaska case count to 460 and the total nonresident cases to 21.

At the press conference, Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda said of the 15 new Anchorage cases, 10 were related to a Providence Medical Center transitional care unit. Citing patient confidentiality, Providence Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Bernstein said he could not say how many were residents and how many were staff, but that most of them were residents. Pineda said testing is being done for both staff and residents.

In Homer, the positive case count for tests done at South Peninsula Hospital and at its Homer Spit testing site increased to 21, or seven more than Saturday’s report. Hospital Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro wrote that she did not have a breakout of where the tests had been done. There were no new hospitalizations.

The number of overall tests done through South Peninsula Hospital went up by 100, from 1,217 to 1,317. There are 1,153 negative tests and 143 pending.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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