DHSS: New COVID-19 cases made public on Wednesday span from Homer to North Pole, two in critical condition

Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 5:41 PM AKDT
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The number of coronavirus cases in Alaska continues to grow. More than a dozen new cases have been recorded in Alaska, officials said Wednesday evening, totaling at least 59 cases across the state.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy, along with officials from the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and others from across the state provided the update on the status of coronavirus in Alaska, hosting a round table discussion on cases in the state.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said Wednesday that the number of cases includes 11 new ones from Anchorage, as well as cases from Homer, North Pole, and other locations. Eight of the new cases are in men and nine are in women. Two cases - one from Tuesday and one from Wednesday - are in Anchorage in critical condition. A third hospitalization was also announced, though location and condition were unknown at the time of publication.

In attendance at the round table Wednesday were Dunleavy, Zink, DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum and former State of Alaska Chief Medical Officer Jay Butler. Like Zink and Dunleavy have, Butler, too, pushed for social distancing and cleanliness.

"This reduces transmission of respiratory viruses," he said. "Overall, the goal is to use the least restrictive means, but also the means that will protect health and infrastructure as much as possible. A lot of things come down to what we do in terms of personal action."

The state treatment plan, which has been said to include sending people with critical needs to Anchorage, is still in the works.

"That is definitely a work in progress," Zink said. "People are in the hospital longer. I don't think any one facility can handle this. So we're thinking broadly about what that looks like. That's going to look slightly different in each community."

Zink said officials are also working on how to monitor people through telemedicine. For people who are in need of treatment but not ICU care, they may receive help outside of a hospital.

"It's important to remember we still have people to who need to give birth, people who have heart attacks," Zink said. "We're rapidly trying to learn and figure out how to apply that in a comprehensive way throughout communities."

Being able to learn from other areas affected by the virus - including overseas and in the Lower 48 - has allowed for Alaska to better prepare, Zink said.

"We're doing to see this outbreak happen in different areas in different ways," she said. "Part of it is looking at the local community: We are doing predictive modeling to figure out what a surge might look like, and real-time tracking how many beds are available (for treatment). And then we're working with communities to see, this is what you have this is what you need, and we're trying to address that gap."

This story is being updated. Pleas check back for more details.
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