8 COVID-19 deaths as Alaska sets daily record 760 new cases

A microscopic image of yellow blobs in a purple background
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (in yellow) — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (in blue/pink) cultured in a lab. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories)

8 Alaskans died and 15 residents were hospitalized with COVID-19, the state health department reported Thursday. The news comes as 760 people in Alaska tested positive for the disease, the highest single-day total for new cases. 

Most of the deaths were residents in their 70s or 80s, but a woman from Bethel in her 50s and a man in his 30s from the Kusilvak Census area in Western Alaska also died. 

Alaska has just two dozen free ICU beds available. Anchorage, where the bulk of the state’s healthcare capacity is located, is reporting just five free ICU beds, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard. Hospital capacity and staffing is a “significant concern” in the state, according to a weekly coronavirus summary from the Department of Health and Social Services. 

196 of the new cases reported today were in the Mat-Su Borough. Health officials said last week that a testing lab failed to report hundreds of positive tests from the borough, which could cause inflated case numbers there this week.

This week marks the ninth straight week that coronavirus transmission has increased in the state, according to DHSS.