Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum speaks during a Tuesday, April 7, 2020 press conference in the Atwood Building in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum speaks during a Tuesday, April 7, 2020 press conference in the Atwood Building in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)

Alaska sees record surge in positive COVID-19 cases

Alaska recorded its highest number in a single day of positive COVID-19 cases, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced on Sunday. The count of 231 cases — 186 residents and 45 nonresidents — is almost double the record set on July 19 of 119 total cases.

There is one new resident case on the Kenai Peninsula for Homer and 34 new nonresident cases for Seward. The Seward cases were all people working in the seafood industry. That brings the total number of resident cases to 2,524 and nonresident cases to 578. The nonresident cases also include one person working in the visitor industry and 10 whose association are unknown.

The record high case count was attributed to several factors, according to a press release from DHSS: widespread community transmission from social gatherings, several large seafood industry outbreaks and a backlog of test results that were just entered into the database.

Half of the results were initially submitted by fax, while others are reported by phone. That requires manual verification and then entry into the COVID-19 data hub, according to the press release. Test results also arrive in batches and aren’t always submitted daily, adding to the backlog. Sunday’s case count summary represents cases reported from midnight to 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 25.

“Today’s high case count is partly due to our data team working to enter this backlogged data, but it also clearly shows we are experiencing widespread community transmission,” Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said in the press release. “We have been in the management phase of this pandemic since May. In order for us to continue to manage the virus, we need to stop this current surge. Daily cases over 100 will soon diminish our hospital bed capacity. Now is the time for Alaskans to keep their social circles small, maintain 6 feet of distance from others, and wear a face covering when 6 feet can’t be maintained. Let’s work together to slow the spread, to protect our vulnerable, and to keep our businesses and economy running. It’s critical that Alaskans take this seriously. More announcements on mitigation strategy will be coming over the next couple days.”

Total statewide hospital resources include 850 inpatient beds being used, with 599 available; 83 intensive care unit beds used with 86 available, and 74 ventilators being used with 212 available. Four COVID-19 patients are on ventilators. There have been a total of 115 hospitalizations and 20 deaths with no new hospitalizations and no new deaths reported for Saturday. There are currently 35 patients diagnosed with COVID who are hospitalized and an additional eight patients who are considered persons under investigation (PUI) for a total of 43 current COVID-related hospitalizations.

Of Alaskans reported positive in today’s count, 154 are in Anchorage, nine in Fairbanks, three in Eagle River, two each in Juneau, North Pole, Palmer, Wrangell, Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon, and one each in Chugiak, Homer, Houston, Ketchikan, Price of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Sitka, Wasilla, Unalaska, the Valdez-Cordova Census Area and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area. The nonresident cases are 34 in Seward, three in Fairbanks, one in Ketchikan and seven in unknown areas.

Of the 186 Alaska residents, 72 are male and 114 are female. Nine are under the age of 10; 12 are aged 10-19; 33 are aged 20-29; 36 are aged 30-39; 30 are aged 40-49; 35 are aged 50-59; 20 are aged 60-69; 10 are aged 70-79 and one is aged 80 or older.

COVID patients no longer requiring isolation (recovered cases) now total 817. A total of 207,264 tests have been conducted. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the previous three days is 1.91%.

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