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The state of Alaska announced no new cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday morning. However, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium announced later Saturday that Sitka has its first confirmed case of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Cases are reported on the state’s COVID-19 website each day at noon, but reflect the number of confirmed cases reported the previous day, so the state’s official count does not include the Sitka case reported Saturday. SEARHC said in a press release Saturday that the patient is a resident at the health care organization’s Sitka Long-Term Care center, and was transferred to Sitka’s hospital, Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center.
The total number of confirmed cases of the disease, including the Sitka case, now rests at 340 as Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration continues its phased approach to reopen parts of the economy and society. Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum announced the loosening of restrictions for social and religious gatherings on Friday. People will now be allowed to gather both outside and indoors, as long as those groups are kept to 20 people or less, or 25% of a building’s maximum capacity, whichever number is smaller. People from different households still must maintain social distancing of 6 feet and attendees must wear cloth face coverings “when possible.” If outdoors, people must be 10 feet apart if they are singing or projecting their voices.
According to information reported on the state’s COVID-19 website, there have been no new deaths and no new hospitalizations of people with a confirmed case of COVID-19. However, that number does not include the Sitka case announced later Saturday. There are still 32 people currently being hospitalized for either a confirmed case or a suspected case, according to the state.
As of Saturday, 217 Alaskans have recovered from the disease, according to the state.
On the Kenai Peninsula, 19 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the following communities: Anchor Point (one), Homer (two), Kenai (four), Seward (three), Soldotna (six) and Sterling (three). This includes an Anchor Point resident who died while out of state and a Homer resident who was tested and treated in Anchorage.
The Anchorage municipality has 166 residents who have confirmed positive for COVID-19, which includes four Chugiak residents, eight Eagle River residents and three Girdwood residents. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 63 Fairbanks residents have tested positive, as well as 15 North Pole residents and one additional resident of an unspecified community within the borough. In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Wasilla has 11 cases and Palmer has nine. In the Southeast, Juneau has 27 cases, Ketchikan has 16, Petersburg has three and Craig has two. Delta Junction, Nome, Bethel, Kodiak, Sitka and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area each have one case. Communities with fewer than 1,000 residents are included in the total for their borough or census area but not individually reported.
Locally, South Peninsula Hospital has sent off 230 total samples for testing as of Saturday morning. Of those, 204 tests have come back negative so far, according to hospital Public Information Office Derotha Ferraro, and 25 are pending. The hospital has had only one positive test result so far.
Reach Megan Pacer at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information about a new COVID-19 case reported in Sitka.