State reports 4 deaths on another day of triple-digit COVID-19 cases in Alaska

Samples for COVID-19 testing are collected using a cotton swab like the one pictured here from the lab at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation hospital in Bethel, Alaska. (Katie Basile / KYUK)

Four more Alaskans have died recently of COVID-19, state health officials reported Wednesday.

One is likely a Juneau woman in her 60s who died early Tuesday morning. The other three were Anchorage residents: A woman in her 20s, a male in his 80s and another male in his 70s, according to state Department of Health and Social Services.

So far, 64 Alaskans have died with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Also on Wednesday, the state reported another 144 new COVID-19 infections. All but one are Alaska residents. Most of the recently-diagnosed Alaskans are from the Anchorage area, where 102 people have tested positive. About a dozen people are from the Fairbanks area. And the rest are scattered from Utqiaġvik to Nome to Bethel to Soldotna to Juneau.

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The state’s positivity rate — that’s the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are positive — is at 4.48% for the last week. That can be a measure of how fast the virus is spreading in the community.

State and federal health officials have said that anything over a 5% positivity rate can indicate that the virus is spreading undetected and communities may need to do more testing.

But, while the state’s average is below that threshold – some communities are well above it.

State data shows that the Dillingham Census Area has a positivity rate of about 17%. While the North Slope Borough, Denali Borough, Yukon-Koyokuk Census Area and North Slope Borough are all above 11%.

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The Fairbanks North Star Borough and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough also have higher test positivity rates than that 5% threshold.

Medical officials reported that 56 people in the state are currently in the hospital being treated with COVID-19, or are waiting on test results.