On Sunday, 27 more cases of COVID-19 were reported in Alaska, the largest single-day quantity since the beginning of the pandemic.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy addressed the media and public Sunday evening in a special press conference with Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, Providence Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Bernstein and Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda.
Alaska now has recorded 460 resident cases of COVID-19 with 368 individuals listed as recovered. Of the 27 new cases, four were in Wasilla.
“We’re not having this press conference because we are overly concerned. This is our largest number so far but we’re in the process of understanding it,” said Dunleavy. “I think our low numbers might have some folks believing this doesn’t impact them or it’s not something that’s going to affect them or their families, but the fact is the virus is out there. We know it’s here in Alaska. We know it’s been in many cities and communities in Alaska. We’ve done a pretty good job of keeping it at bay. We’re doing a pretty good job at testing, but we’ve always said the numbers are going to go up.”
No changes were reported in hospitalizations, deaths or recovered cases. A total of 47 people have been hospitalized, 10 of whom are currently receiving care at hospitals. A total of 53,036 tests have been conducted. In the Mat-Su, there have been 5,142 tests for COVID-19 accounting for 4.83 percent of the population. The Mat-Su now has 29 cases of COVID-19 and seven in the last nine days.
“We definitely see ongoing community spread in the Mat-Su, Anchorage and Kenai region, particularly down in the south Kenai region and as we’re doing interviews it appears to be that these seem to be linked at least some of the cases into clusters relating to some large celebrations that happened,” said Dr. Zink. “We always knew that open never meant over.”
Dunleavy said on Friday that the mandatory 14-day quarantine for out of state travelers arriving in Alaska would be lifted this Friday on June 5 and that additional information would be provided on Monday. Chief Medical Officer at Providence Dr. Michael Bernstein reported that a resident at one of Providence’s care facilities had tested positive on Friday and all residents and caregivers at Providence Transitional and Providence Extended care were tested. Bernstein reported that 12 individuals had tested positive, accounting for most of Anchorage’s 15 total cases on Sunday. Dunleavy was asked about if the largest single-day total was enough of a spike to warrant reissuing restrictions of businesses and social gatherings and went as far as to say that it wasn’t impossible, but unlikely.
“We have a society and an economy, we have a comprehensive approach to health and life that needs to continue the, again this pandemic is a problem. It’s persistent. That’s why we’re here today, but at the same time the idea that we can stop the virus, eliminate the virus by hunkering down and closing everything down it’s our conclusion I think the conclusion of most of those in the medical field as well as policy makers, economists etc., that that’s going to have more of a detrimental effect on society, more of a detrimental effect on the economy,” said Dunleavy. “The ideas of just shutting down to try and eliminate as many cases as possible, that’s something that we believe at this point is not necessarily good for the whole of Alaska, all of our health care, not just this virus, mental health, emotional health you name it, and so we’re going to watch it. There’s never a never in this because it’s always evolving it’s a fluid situation.”