KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Alaska's cumulative count of resident COVID-19 cases crested 9,000 on Wednesday, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
With 9,005 resident cases and 991 nonresident cases counted as of midnight Wednesday, the state has tallied 9,996 cases of the virus since March.
The upward trend of COVID-19 cases continued on Wednesday, after 129 new positive test results and a new death were recorded in Alaska.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in Alaska rose to 60, after the death of an Anchorage woman in her 70s, according to DHSS.
New statewide cases
Of the 129 cases recorded on Wednesday, 123 involved Alaskans, according to DHSS.
One of those cases was attributed to Ketchikan. DHSS on Thursday had yet to count seven cases that have been locally recorded by the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center during the past week.
Anchorage accounted for 52 of the cases recorded in the state on Wednesday.
Fairbanks charted 15 new positive test results and the Bethel Census Area counted 12 cases.
North Pole and Eagle River both recorded six cases. Palmer tallied five cases.
Utqiagvik, Wasilla and Kenai each counted three new cases.
Two new cases per area were recorded in the Northwest Arctic Borough, the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, the Kenai Peninsula Borough (north) and Kodiak.
Several areas throughout the state counted one new case apiece. These areas included Juneau, Seward, Sterling, Nome, Cordova, Valdez, the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, the North Slope Borough and the Nome Census Area.
Of the state's 9,005 resident cases, 3,897 were considered to be active as of midnight Wednesday, according to DHSS.
Three of the six nonresident cases were recorded in Wasilla. One was counted in Anchorage. Two of the six cases were still under investigation for location by DHSS, and all cases remain under investigation for industry.
As of midnight Wednesday, Alaska had counted 991 nonresident cases, with 367 of those cases classified as active, according to DHSS.
No new cases were counted in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough on Thursday.
After five cases were recorded on Wednesday — all connected to the same location — Ketchikan's cumulative COVID-19 case count was 77 as of 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the local EOC.
Eight of those 77 cases remained active on Thursday evening, the highest number of active cases yet to be recorded in Ketchikan.
The community risk level on Thursday was moderate.
Statewide risk level
Although Ketchikan on Wednesday and Thursday was at a moderate risk level, Alaska continued at a high risk level.
A state's risk level is set by the average number of new cases recorded over a rolling 14-day period for every 100,000 state residents, according to DHSS.
In Alaska, the average daily case rate per 100,000 Alaskans has increased consistently during the past week.
On Wednesday, the average number of new cases over a 14-day period was 17.63 per 100,000 Alaskans — an increase from Tuesday's 17.22 cases, according to DHSS.
DHSS also examines the number of new cases per 100,000 Alaskans over a seven-day timeframe. On Wednesday, that number was 19.27, which was a slight drop from Tuesday's 19.39 new cases per 100,000 residents.
A high risk level is defined as when 10 or more average daily cases are counted per 100,000 residents.
As of midnight Wednesday, 320 hospitalizations had been counted in Alaska. Six of those hospitalizations involve nonresidents.
Forty-six Alaskans were hospitalized on Wednesday; 33 as patients positive for COVID-19 and 14 as persons under investigation for the virus.
Six Alaskans were utilizing ventilators in state hospitals on Wednesday, according to DHSS.
Out of the state's 1,500 inpatient beds, 934 were occupied on Wednesday, leaving 540 available.
Of the 230 intensive care beds in state hospitals, 139 were occupied. Ninety-one ICU beds were open on Wednesday, according to DHSS.
COVID-19 in Alaska schools
Schools in two Alaska school districts reported cases of COVID-19 earlier this week.
All members of the Homer High School football team are in a 14-day quarantine after one member tested positive for COVID-19.
Homer High School continues to be open to in-person learners and a contact tracing investigation was completed.
The Tuesday case was the first case associated with a Homer school, according to the Homer News. It is the fourth case reported in the Kenai Peninsula School District, after Soldotna High School and Seward Elementary School recorded cases in September.
Palmer's Colony High School closed on Thursday due to a case of COVID-19 that was announced on Wednesday, according to an Anchorage Daily News article that cited an announcement from the school district's spokesperson.
A contact tracing investigation was initiated.
The Matanuska-Susitna School District has tallied 16 cases across 15 schools and one administrative building, ADN reported.
A total of 491,171 COVID-19 tests have been collected in Alaska, with a positivity rate of 4.53%, the highest rate since the pandemic began in Alaska.
In Ketchikan, 17,920 tests have been administered, with a local positivity rate of 1.32%. Results were pending from 124 tests on Thursday, according to the EOC.
Weekly DHSS data
DHSS on Wednesday evening released a summary of this past week's case data, stating that Alaska saw a "sharp acceleration in new cases last week."
Alaska is tied with Tennessee at spot #13 for the state that has the highest daily case rate per capita over the past seven days, a move from the week prior's position at #24.
DHSS noted that Alaska is "worse off" than Alabama and Kansas, two states with an average of 19.6 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Areas of specific concern for DHSS are Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Northwest Arctic Borough.
"If Anchorage were its own state, it's seven-day case rate (18.4) would put it at rank six, between Utah and Idaho, and if Fairbanks were a state, it's seven-day rate of 33.6 would make it fifth in the nation, just behind Montana," the update stated.
Additionally, the Northwest Arctic Borough this past week had a seven-day average case rate of 63.7, which "puts it at a higher average case rate this week than any states this week," DHSS reported.
Twenty-four states — including Alaska — had average daily case rates over 15 this past week.
The state's cases are expected to double every 22 days, with a daily projected growth rate of 3%, according to DHSS. This is a jump from last week's prediction of cases doubling every 105 days with a growth rate of 0.66%.