Three new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunelavy said at a press conference in Anchorage Thursday. Two of the new cases were in the Fairbanks area and one in Ketchikan, which brings the total number of cases in the state to 12.
Because of the increasing number of cases and the strain on the availability of medical supplies, the state mandates that all elective medical procedures, including dental procedures, be put on hold.
“Postponing things that are elective, if some sort of procedure that isn’t life threatening,” said Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer for the state of Alaska. Zink said this was part of an effort to free up personal protective gear for medical professionals in a time of national shortages.
State medical investigators were trying to track the travel patterns of the Fairbanks cases, as neither of those people had traveled outside the state in the past two weeks, Zink said. She said it was “concerning” that neither patient had traveled outside of the state.
Zink said the state was only testing people who have shown symptoms of COVID-19 because asymptomatic people may still be carrying the virus but tests might not pick it up.
“You may not have enough of the virus in you,” Zink said. “Just because you test negative you may develop symptoms in the following days.”
The state wanted to be strategic in how it employed its testing, she said.
Dunleavy said he had been on a phone call Thursday morning with President Donal Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other governors to discuss mitigation strategies and economic relief.
The state would have additional information about economic relief Friday, Dunleavy said, referencing the newly created economic stabilization group led by former Gov. Sean Parnell and former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.
Information on the coronavirus is available from websites for the City and Borough of Juneau, the State of Alaska at coronavirus.alaska.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider.