Anchorage patient first to die from COVID-19 in Alaska

The Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

The first person to die in Alaska from COVID-19 passed away Friday at Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

State health officials said the patient was a 63-year-old woman with underlying health issues. Her death came as Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced new health mandates Friday restricting Alaskans movement and travel in the state.

“We believe that her death was as a result of this virus, although that is going to be exacerbated by her underlying medical condition,” Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said.

Alaska Native Medical Center spokeswoman Shirley Young said the patient had come to the hospital for treatment of an issue previously thought to be unrelated to COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, on Monday. The patient tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Young said.

“At that time, the patient was doing well, following the self-isolating protocol in their residence,” Young said. “But shortly thereafter, the emergency department at ANMC was notified that the patient’s condition was deteriorating rapidly and advised the patient to return to the hospital.”

Hospital staff put the woman into isolation to decrease exposure to staff or other patients, Young said. After being admitted to the hospital’s negative pressure unit, the patient died on Friday.

It’s the first person to have died in Alaska of COVID-19. An Alaskan died from the disease March 16 in Washington state.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Alaska continues to grow. By Friday, the state reported 85 known cases, up from 69 the day before.

Read the latest coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska