State reports additional COVID-19 cases, bringing total to 21

This transmission electron microscope image shows the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The virus was isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories)

State officials announced Saturday that they have found seven new cases of COVID-19 in five communities across Alaska. 

There is one case in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks, three in Ketchikan, one in Sterling and one in Soldotna. 

In a statement late Saturday, the state Department of Health and Social Services said the Anchorage and Soldotna cases were “travel-related with travel to the Lower 48.” The others were not related to travel and are under investigation.

Each of the adults who tested positive is currently quarantining in their own homes. None have been hospitalized, the statement said.

The state health department did not immediately return messages Saturday asking if the new people who tested positive for COVID-19 had been in contact with any others in the state known to have the virus.

Saturday’s announcement brings the total number of known cases of the virus in Alaska to 21.

According to the statement, State Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin said the biggest challenge to Alaska’s efforts to contain the virus is people continuing to interact with others when they have symptoms. 

“I can’t underscore this point enough: If you feel even mild symptoms of a respiratory infection, you need to immediately go home and stay away from others until your symptoms are resolved,” he said.

Related: Read more coronavirus coverage from Alaska Public Media.