COVID-19 cases in Alaska reach 185

Newly infected include staffer in state’s juvenile justice system

A scanning electron microscope image showing coronavirus emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab.(Feb. 20, 2020) Image courtesy of NIAID-RML

State health officials confirmed on Sunday, April 5 that 14 more people in four Alaska communities have tested positive in the novel coronavirus pandemic and that one more individual has died, bringing the death toll to six.

The newest fatality was identified as a 71-year-old Anchorage resident with preexisting health conditions who became infected outside of Alaska, tested positive on March 28 and had been hospitalized in state.

The new cases include seven in Fairbanks, four in Anchorage, two in Juneau and one in Seward, bringing the statewide total to 185 people, six of whom have succumbed to the pandemic.

The new Anchorage cases include a staff member of the McLaughlin Youth Center in Anchorage, part of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Service’s Division of Juvenile Justice. According to DHSS, the DJJ is implementing all recommended protective measures for staff and residents.

More people appear to be adhering to the state health department advisory to wear a mask when out in public, as the number of those testing positive for novel coronavirus rises.

Three other deaths reported by DHSS officials during the weekend include a middle-aged male who developed symptoms and subsequently died of COVID-19 out-of-state on March 29. The second death was an older woman from Fairbanks, who was confirmed to have tested positive on March 27 and died on April 3.


Of the 14 new cases, five are male and nine are female. Two are is age 10-19, three age 30-39, one age 40-49, three age 50-59, three age 60-69 and two age 70-79, DHSS officials said.

The statewide breakdown now stands at 85 in the Anchorage area, 53 in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 14 in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, 15 in the Juneau City and Borough, 12 in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, four in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and one each in the Yukon-Koyukuk census area and the Petersburg Borough, the last being a Petersburg resident who died in a Washington state hospital.

The global impact of the pandemic as of April 5 included 1,274,309 confirmed positive cases, 69,429 deaths and 262,755 total recoveries.

Reporting recoveries in Alaska is not a requirement and state health officials did not know how many of those who have tested positive to date were out of danger.

Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, is now urging Alaskans to wear a mask out in public areas, taking care to be sure it covers the nose and mouth.

“You don’t want it hanging down,” she said. “When you remove the face mask, avoid touching your face and wash your hands afterward.”

A COVID-19 health alert from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services advises that such masks should stay on the face until the wearer returns home, that hands should be washed immediately after removing the mask. Masks should be washed in hot soapy water between uses.

Everyone should continue to maintain at least a six-foot distance between themselves and others, hunker down at home as much as possible, avoid touching faces and wash hands frequently, DHSS officials said.

Cloth face coverings can be made at low cost from a variety of materials, including cotton, silk or linen, improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts or towels DHSS officials said. Directions for making your own can be found on videos including and

Meanwhile the efforts to date by Alaskans to contain spread of the virus are giving state health officials time to better prepare for more people testing positive, Zink said.

“Just over 2 percent of the tests for COVID-19 are coming back positive,” she said. “The work Alaskans are doing to flatten the curve is tremendous.”

She also again praised individuals and private entities who are pitching in to make personal protective equipment, including distilleries and breweries that are producing hand sanitizer, and individuals helping with special needs, like delivering groceries to those in need. All this is allowing state medical officials to build capacity to treat patients yet to come, she said.

Other state officials focused more on the economic fallout to date in Alaska, the rising number of people applying for unemployment and state and federal economic efforts to ease the economic situation.

According to state Labor Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter 13,774 new unemployment applications were filed over the past week, up 76 percent over a week earlier.