Alaska DHSS announces record number of new resident COVID cases

This afternoon, Alaska DHSS announced a total of 1,735 new resident COVID-19 cases across the state and 58 new non-resident cases. Of today’s new cases, 541 were reported in the Municipality of Anchorage. The state also announced an additional 41 deaths.

Because of a summer cyberattack, death data is backlogged, providing a partial explanation as to why Alaska’s death rate is low compared to other states, according to Joe McLaughlin, State Epidemiologist and Chief of the Alaska Section of Epidemiology at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Statewide, 217 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 and another 5 people are hospitalized suspected of having the virus (222). Also statewide, Alaska has a total of 103 patients in adult ICU beds, 47 of those are patients diagnosed with COVID-19, leaving just 20 available adult critical care beds available across in hospitals across the state.

In Anchorage, the total number of patients hospitalized, both diagnosed with and suspected of having COVID-19, was 113 according to the municipal COVID dashboard. Only 8 adult ICU beds were reported as being available in Anchorage this morning.

Of the 72 ventilators in use across the state, 41 of them are being used for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

The state has been deluged by both an alarming number of COVID cases and a high number of hospitalizations in recent weeks, as Republican Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and Republican Anchorage Mayor David Bronson refuse to mandate any form of COVID-19 mitigation strategies that would reduce the volume of patients being seen in Alaska hospitals.

Yesterday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy directed state employees to begin working remotely for the next month after Alaska Republican politicians had repeatedly ignored the continuing statewide surge of COVID-19 cases. It wasn’t immediately clear how keeping state employees home might significantly reduce the overall level of transmission of the virus in the state.

Anchorage Mayor David Bronson is intent on facing off with the Anchorage Assembly next Tuesday over a proposed ordinance introduced by Assemblymembers Zaletel and Peterson. The ordinance would mandate that masks be worn indoors and at large outdoor gatherings.

Zaletel and Peterson previously introduced a resolution which asked Mayor Bronson to direct that masks or face coverings be required in public indoor areas of Municipal buildings. That resolution was ultimately passed by the assembly but has been ignored by Mayor Dave Bronson, who has repeatedly refused to enact measures that would help reduce the volume of patients streaming into Anchorage hospitals and help protect public health and safety.

On social media today, Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy, who has ostensibly ignored the pandemic and allowed the virus to rampage unchecked across the state, recorded an unconvincing video in which he thanked Alaska healthcare workers for dealing with the onslaught of new patients his inaction has caused to stream into hospital emergency departments.

On Wednesday, Gov. Dunleavy imposed crisis-care standards for Alaska’s entire hospital system, declaring that a crushing surge in COVID-19 patients has forced rationing of strained medical resources.

The state health department has scheduled a news conference for later this afternoon.

This post was updated with additional information.