Two more Alaskans died of the COVID-19 illness brought on by the coronavirus and 14 more people were diagnosed with the disease, the state Department of Health and Social Services said Saturday.
A middle-aged man from Anchor Point developed symptoms and subsequently died of COVID-19 out of state March 29, the department said. An older woman Fairbanks who was confirmed as a positive case March 27 died Friday, the department added,.
The state now has a total of 171 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. The 14 new cases are distributed as follows: Anchorage: 7; Eagle River/Chugiak: 1; Fairbanks: 3; North Pole: 1; Juneau: 1; and Anchor Point 1, the department said.
“Our hearts go out to the families of these deceased Alaskans,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a statement. “This is a heartbreaking reminder of how important it is for all of us to continue doing our part to slow down the transmission of this virus by strictly adhering to the social distancing and travel mandates and other health advisories.”
On Friday, state health officials recommended Alaskans wear cloth face coverings in certain public areas to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Use of face coverings was not mandated, and the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said the best thing residents can do is stay a minimum of 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from others. But she said if they must go out in public — to the grocery store, for example — they should consider wearing a covering over their nose and mouth.
This is in line with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said studies indicate that many people with the virus lack symptoms. Alaska’s health alert says the main purpose of the coverings is to reduce the release of respiratory droplets into the air when a person speaks, coughs or sneezes.