Alaska’s confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed for six weeks. On Friday, they stopped.

A colored scanning electron micrograph shows a cell (gray) heavily infected with particles of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

After 41 straight days of climbing COVID-19 infection numbers, the state of Alaska reported no new confirmed cases of the virus on Friday.

According to Saturday’s update, which reflects data through Friday, nine more Alaskans have recovered from the virus. That brings the state’s total to 217, or about two-thirds of the 339 people who have been tested positive for the virus. Nine people have died.

However, the reprieve won’t last, as a resident of a Sitka long-term care center tested positive for the case Saturday.

Sitka’s first case of COVID-19 is at a 15-bed long-term care center, SEARHC says

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said in a prepared statement that the zero reported cases Friday are a moment to celebrate.

“But it doesn’t mean we can let our guard down,” she said.

The state is also reporting that several thousand more tests have been performed than were reported in the past several days, bringing the state’s total to more than 15,700.

Read all of Alaska Public Media’s coronavirus coverage here

The change is not because of a substantial increase in testing, however. Instead, the Department of Health and Social Services attributed it to a data error in a media release.

That omission didn’t impact the response to positive test results as each one of those was still reported to state epidemiologists, the department said.

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