Road signs near Mile 172 Sterling Highway on Friday, May 22, 2020, in Homer, Alaska, greet visitors with messages about how to find information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Trafic was heavy on Friday morning at the start of the Memorial Day weekend and the first day of the phases three and reopening in Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Road signs near Mile 172 Sterling Highway on Friday, May 22, 2020, in Homer, Alaska, greet visitors with messages about how to find information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Trafic was heavy on Friday morning at the start of the Memorial Day weekend and the first day of the phases three and reopening in Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Douglas gets first positive COVID-19 case; Nome gets second case

At the start of the Memorial Day weekend and the first day of Alaska’s Phases three and four of the plan to reopen the state, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced two new cases of COVID-19: one in Douglas and one in Nome. That brings the total Alaska case count to 404.

The new report reflects data from midnight until 11:59 p.m. on May 21 that posted at noon today on the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub, according to a press release from DHSS. Of the new Alaska cases, one is male and one is female. One is aged 10-19 and one is aged 20-29.

The Nome case is the second one in the region, the Norton Sound Health Corporation announced on May 21. That case is still under investigation by the Alaska Section of Epidemiology, Public Health Nursing and community partners in the region.

The Douglas case is the first one for the community across Gastineau Channel from Juneau and the 31st case for the City and Borough of Juneau.

The phases three and four plan was posted online yesterday, and detail the ways individual citizens and businesses can continue to protect themselves and their communities while the economy opens back up. During an online town hall meeting, Gov. Mike Dunleavy reiterated that the state has shifted to a “management” phase in dealing with the virus and that the state will not be enforcing mitigation measures.

In a statement in today’s press release, DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum urged Alaskans to continue to be vigilant in responding to the threat of the pandemic.

“I want to remind Alaskans that the virus is still here and encourage everyone to continue with the personal protective measures we’ve been practicing for months,” Crum said in the release. “Those measures include washing hands frequently, maintaining 6 feet of distance from non-family members, wearing a face covering in public, cleaning and disinfecting regularly, and staying home if sick and getting tested. … Please be mindful of Alaskans who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and respectful of local jurisdictions that may keep more restrictions in place for a time.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

In addition to the 404 Alaska resident cases, there are also 12 cases for non-residents in Alaska who have the disease, seven of which are seafood industry workers.

There have been a total of 44 hospitalizations and 10 deaths with no new hospitalizations or deaths reported for May 21. Recovered cases now remain at 356, with no new recovered cases recorded yesterday. A total of 41,446 tests have been conducted.

Locally, South Peninsula Hospital has sent 812 samples out for testing as of Friday, according to Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro. Of those, 787 tests have come back negative, 20 are still pending and there have been a cumulative total of five positive tests from the hospital. That includes one test for an Anchor Point man who died, three tests for City of Homer residents, and one test for a resident of the lower Kenai Peninsula identified as “other” in the DHSS database.

To read the full guidelines for phases three and four of reopening Alaska, visit https://covid19.alaska.gov/reopen/.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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