Two new patients test positive, boosting statewide total to 321

Number of people recovered from COVID-19 leaps by eight, with 161 now recovered

Numbers of Alaskans infected with coronavirus increased by just two in the latest 24-hour period ended at midnight Sunday, April 19, putting the statewide total of those testing positive at 321, while 50 percent of those infected have now recovered.

The newest cases included one individual in Palmer and another in Chugiak.

Thirty-six people are still hospitalized with COVID-19, while the death toll remains at nine.

“The numbers have been really, really good,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy said during a teleconference on Monday, April 20, adding that the next phase of economic recovery might start as early as next week with reopening of retail shops, restaurants, and hair and nail salons.

First though, state officials want to see a 14-day downward trend in the number of new cases, said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.

The state is already moving toward relaxing protocols restricting non-elective medical procedures, and retail is next on the list, state officials had said earlier. More specifics on the move back toward economic recovery were to be announced on Tuesday, April 21.


State government mandates aimed at slowing spread of COVID-19 have left thousands of Alaskans without jobs, and overwhelmed state labor officials trying to handle thousands of applications for unemployment insurance.

The Anchorage area leads the state in infected people, with 155, followed by Fairbanks-North Star Borough with 79, and Juneau with 24. Nineteen residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 19 residents of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and 15 residents of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough also are infected. The rest of those diagnosed with COVID-19 were in the Kodiak, Nome, Bethel, Yukon-Koyukuk, Southeast Fairbanks and Prince of Wales-Hyder census areas, as well as the Petersburg Borough.

Concerns in coastal communities, from Cordova to Kodiak to Bristol Bay are mounting over the potential for the virus to spread as people begin arriving from the Lower 48 and other parts of the world to engage in harvesting and processing sectors of the commercial salmon fisheries.

Current testing capacity is not able to meet the requests made by the Bristol Bay Working Group, said Jeff Turner, deputy director for communications for Dunleavy.

“However, work is underway with communities, businesses and all stakeholders in search of a balance that protects Alaskans and gives our critical fishing industry an opportunity to exist during the upcoming fishing seasons,” Turner said in an email response to questions on that issue.

Alaska Commissioner of Health and Social Services Adam Crum said the state is working with seafood processors, commercial fishing entities and coastal fishing communities to come to agreement on a plan that would allow the salmon fisheries to proceed safely for all workers involved as well as residents of coastal communities. No final agreement has been reached yet, but Crum said the collaborative conversations have been productive.

Leaders of the Bristol Bay Working Group, which represents health, economic, housing and tribal entities serving Bristol Bay, identified in an April 15 letter to Dunleavy what they consider to be minimum protocols to be in place at all points of entry to Bristol Bay by air, sea and land, to protect residents from the virus.

Among those minimum protocols is one calling for two health screenings every week, for which details are still being developed. The working group said that if the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery is allowed to proceed without these minimal protocols in place that the consequences would be devastating and generational, and due to the state’s failure to fulfill is fundamental duty to protect its citizens.