Capital City Fire/Rescue firefighter/EMT Jessica Skiba holds a COVID-19 test sample at the city’s drive-thru screening site at the Hagevig Regional Fire Training Center in the Mendenhall Valley on Monday, June 29, 2020. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Capital City Fire/Rescue firefighter/EMT Jessica Skiba holds a COVID-19 test sample at the city’s drive-thru screening site at the Hagevig Regional Fire Training Center in the Mendenhall Valley on Monday, June 29, 2020. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

State reports 50 new COVID-19 cases

Third day in a row of high case counts

The state reported Thursday 50 new COVID-19 cases.

The 39 newly reported cases involving residents make it the third day in a row that there has been a new single-day record set for the reported number of cases involving residents. On Tuesday, 36 new resident cases were reported, and 38 were reported Wednesday.

Eleven new cases involving nonresidents were also reported.

No new cases were reported for Juneau.

Among residents, Alaska now has 468 active COVID-19 cases, and 528 recovered cases, according to data from the Department of Health and Social Services. There are 158 active nonresident cases.

There are three active cases in the capital city, according to City and Borough of Juneau’s COVID-19 dashboard, and one active nonresident case.

The state’s cumulative case count has surpassed 1,000 at 1,017. So far 535 Alaskans have recovered from COVID-19.

Most people develop only mild symptoms due to COVID-19. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia that can be fatal.

The rising case count has led some, including state lawmakers, to call for a mandate requiring cloth face coverings while in public spaces. But Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said he doesn’t want to force people to wear masks, but instead strongly urge people to do what’s best for themselves and others.

At a press conference Tuesday, Dunleavy urged Alaskans to remember to take health precautions even when celebrating the holiday over the weekend.

[Health officials say wear a mask —whether or not there is a mandate ]

Health officials have repeatedly urged Alaskans to wear cloth face coverings in public, wash hands and surfaces and social distance when possible.

Dunleavy said Tuesday Alaska’s spike in cases was not met with a similar spike in hospitalizations or deaths, and that the state’s health care capacity had been built up to a level able to cope with the pandemic. The COVID-19 virus also affected only a small percentage of the population, he said, and he urged caution to protect those people.

“The vast majority of Alaskans, many of them don’t even know they have the virus. This virus, although highly contagious, is concentrating the worst effects on those with underlying health effects and the elderly,” Dunleavy said Tuesday.

According to data from the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking project started by The Atlantic magazine, Alaska has one of the lowest positivity rates in the nation at 1%, only higher than Vermont and Connecticut. That also data shows 15.5% of Alaska’s population has been tested.

Alaska’s case count of 978 as of Wednesday works out to be 132.6 cases per 100,000 people, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC data typically lags behind the state’s newly reported figures.

Alaska’s number of cases per 100,000 people is also among the lowest in the nation, with only Montana, 101.9, and Hawaii, 59.9, having fewer cases per 100,000 people.

How the most recent patients acquired the disease is still under investigation by DHSS, according to the state’s data hub. Earlier in the week Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said contract tracing had become more difficult as states reopen because people are coming into contact with more people in new places.

• People with symptoms, even with mild symptoms, are encouraged to call City and Borough of Juneau’s COVID-19 Screening Hotline. It is staffed 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. The number is 586-6000.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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