A week after reopening, Alaska hits highest single-day increase with 27 new cases of COVID-19

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Credit: NIAID-RML.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced there were 27 new cases of COVID-19 in Alaska residents and one new non-resident case, making for the highest single-day single since this pandemic began.

The state’s total count of resident cases has reached 460 with 21 total additional cases identified in non-resident visitors. Today’s case load includes 12 cases in Anchorage, four in Wasilla, three in Eagle River, two in Homer, one in Soldotna, one in Kenai Peninsula Borough and one in Anchor Point.

There were no new deaths or hospitalizations in the latest report.

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Following the latest results, the governor announced an unexpected Sunday news conference with state public health officials, officials from Anchorage and Providence. The news conference is expected for 5 p.m.

The spike in cases comes one week after the state pushed to a full reopening, easing health mandates that limited capacities in stores and restaurants just in time for a busy Memorial Day weekend. While state and local officials have pushed for personal responsibility as the state reopens, some legislators and public health officials have warned that strong measures are still required.

“I’ve first-hand witnessed a false sense of security with the easing of various health mandates,” said Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, the Bethel Democrat who chairs the House Health and Social Services Committee, during a hearing Wednesday. “There’s a sense that somehow we eradicated COVID’s presence in Alaska enough to ease these health mandates but we also understand that the easing of these health mandates does not make the virus less contagious or the serious cases any less serious.”

The day after that hearing, the state announced 13 new resident cases of COVID-19 (which has been revised down after some of the new cases were identified to actually be non-residents) making it the highest in several weeks. State public officials said at the time that there was no common link between the new cases.

On Friday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Friday that he would be replacing the state’s 14-day quarantine—which a doctor told legislators on Wednesday was a “joke” because it had been voluntary—with a streamlined system where people could enter Alaska and travel freely as long as they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of when they boarded a plane.

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