Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink announced Friday that the COVID-19 virus was expanding exponentially in Alaska and the announcement of seven new cases one day later put an exclamation point after that statement by jumping the total to 21.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced on Saturday the addition of an additional case in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Sterling and Soldotna and three new cases in Ketchikan.

The Soldotna and Anchorage cases were both travel-related the rest were non-travel related and are currently being investigated. 

“All of the new cases are isolating themselves at home and their close contacts are being asked to selfquarantine for 14 days and monitor for symptoms,” said Alaska’s State Epidemiologist, Dr. Joe McLaughlin, “The biggest challenge in our containment effort is when people continue to interact with others when they have symptoms. I can’t underscore this point enough: If you feel even mild symptoms of a respiratory infection, you need to immediately go home and stay away from others until your symptoms resolve.” 

The mayors of Ketchikan Gateway Borough, the City of Ketchikan and the City of Saxman issued a joint proclamation strongly urging the citizens of Ketchikan to “hunker down, shelter in place, and stay home, in order to contain the spread of COVID19.”

“It is vital that every person is doing as much as possible to slow the spread of this disease,” added Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “Social distancing is critical. Stay home as much as you can and, even if you’re healthy, stay away from those more vulnerable to severe illness, including those 60 or older, or anyone who might have an underlying medical condition.”