Governor says Alaska will keep reopening as state sees biggest daily spike in COVID-19 cases

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Thursday that the state has seen its first positive case of...
Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Thursday that the state has seen its first positive case of COVID-19 the novel coronavirus. (KTUU)(KTUU)
Published: May. 31, 2020 at 1:57 PM AKDT
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The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced

the biggest spike in cases the state has seen since the pandemic began. This brings the state's total number of COVID-19 cases to 460.

Despite the spike in cases, Gov. Mike Dunleavy says Alaska will continue reopening and coronavirus restrictions will continue to be eased. “We don’t see this as any reason to get overly concerned,” he said.

The governor said that Alaska has the capacity to cope with a rise in COVID-19 cases. There are 10 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and nearly 900 available hospital beds in Alaska, Dunleavy said.

“We believe a caseload of 27 is manageable,” the governor added.

Fifteen of the new cases announced on Sunday are from Anchorage. Natasha Pineda, the director of the Municipality of Anchorage Health Department, said that is the second highest spike in cases in Anchorage since the pandemic began.

Ten of the new Anchorage cases come from the Providence Transitional Care Center. Dr. Michael Bernstein, the chief medical officer at Providence Alaska Center, said a majority of those cases are residents, some are caregivers. There were also two active cases associated with the care center for a total of 12.

Bernstein would not announce the exact breakdown of the cases, citing the need to protect privacy.

Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said that some of the cases seem to be linked to large celebrations on the Kenai Peninsula. She cautioned against large gatherings and advised that people stay home if they feel sick.

“We always knew that open never meant over,” Zink said about the new cases and the state reopening.

The governor rejected the idea of reintroducing mandates that stop Alaskans from gathering in large numbers, saying there is a comprehensive health plan the state is following. “We are not putting the economy ahead of health but they are intertwined,” Dunleavy said.

The governor did caution that if “things start going really sideways” that he would address the media and have a conversation with Alaskans about what happens next. “There’s never a never with this,” he added about the options for Alaska.

Ending the

for out-of-state arrivals will also continue.

According to a DHSS press release, 12 of the new cases come from Anchorage, four are from Wasilla, three are from Kenai, three are from Eagle River, two are from Homer, and one each are from Soldotna, Anchor Point, and another location within the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Here’s a breakdown of the demographics:

  • Male: 14
  • Female: 13
  • 10-19: 4 Cases
  • 20-29: 5 Cases
  • 30-39: 3 Cases
  • 40-49: 3 Cases
  • 50-59: 3 Cases
  • 60-69: 4 Cases
  • 70-79: 2 Cases
  • 80+: 3 Cases

Additionally, one new nonresident case was confirmed in a seafood industry worker in the Dillingham Census Area.

“There have been a total of 47 hospitalizations and 10 deaths with no new hospitalizations or deaths reported yesterday. Recovered cases now total 368, with no new recovered cases recorded yesterday,” the release from DHSS reads. “A total of 53,063 tests have been conducted.”

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