Seven new cases of COVID-19 reported in Alaska

Seven new cases of novel coronavirus were confirmed by Alaska health officials on Saturday, March 21, boosting the statewide total to 21 cases of the virus causing a global pandemic.

One case in Anchorage and another in Soldotna were both related to travel in the Lower 48. One new case each in Fairbanks and Anchorage, and three in Ketchikan were under investigation.

All the new people who tested positive for the virus are adults and none were hospitalized.

According to state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin all the newly diagnosed people are isolating themselves at home. Their close contacts are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor their symptoms. All seven are being conscientious and cooperating fully with public health officials, McLaughlin said.

The biggest challenge in the containment effort, McLaughlin said, is when people continue to interact with others when they have symptoms.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough, the City of Ketchikan and the City of Saxman issued a press release regarding the three new cases in their communities, which brings the total number of cases in Ketchikan to six. Their joint proclamation urged residents of Ketchikan to “hunker down, shelter in place and stay home, in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.”


Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said it is vital that everyone practice social distancing and staying at home as much as possible.

“Even if you’re healthy, stay away from those more vulnerable to severe illness, including those 60 or older, or anyone who might have an underlying medical condition,” Zink said.

Travelers arriving from anywhere outside of Alaska are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued “Hunker Down” order for Anchorage residents, requiring those not engaged in providing critical services for themselves, the public or their families to stay at home.

Commissioner of Health and Social Services Adam Crum said, however, that state agencies had to continue providing services to the public and state employees were to report to work on Monday, March 23.

Costco stores meanwhile began limiting the number of customers in their stores at one time and limited to one an increasing number of items, including milk, eggs, butter, canned chicken and toilet tissue. Other items, including chicken broth and chocolate chips, were out of stock, but are expected to be restocked in the coming week.

Best Buy stores announced that beginning on Sunday, March 22, they would offer contactless curbside service at all locations nationwide, including Anchorage. Items ordered on or via the Best Buy app are to be delivered directly to vehicles and any product not ordered in advance that is in stock at that store will be retrieved and brought to the customer’s vehicle, Best Buy officials said. Only employees are to be allowed inside the store.

Also beginning Monday, March 23, Best Buy would provide doorstep delivery of large products ordered, but not go inside homes. Anyone expecting an order scheduled for installation over the next 30 days will receive an email or text from Best Buy about their new delivery options.

The company said all employees working at this time are doing so on a voluntary basis and will receive a temporary pay increase. Those who are feeling sick are told to stay home, but will be paid for that time. Best Buy is also paying all employees who may need to stay home to care for their children.