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



State health officials reported Wednesday that four more Alaskans have died of COVID-19.

One is a Juneau woman in her 60s who died early Tuesday morning. The other three were Anchorage residents – two men, one in his 80s and another in his 70s. A woman in her 20s also died.

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

In addition to the people who died, 144 more people were diagnosed with COVID-19 infections by Tuesday, including one non-resident of the state. Most of them from the Anchorage area where 102 people tested positive. But there are more than a dozen from the Fairbanks North Star Borough and scattered around 15 other communities in the state.

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 more than more than 16% (16.67%). While the North Slope Borough (11.21%), Denali Borough (14.29%) and Yukon-Koyokuk Census Area (11.11%)  are all above 11%.

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.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information about the people who died.