An acceleration of the pandemic in Alaska continued on Tuesday, with the state reporting 637 new COVID-19 cases, one death, and 14 new hospitalizations, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
The death of a man from Anchorage in his nineties marked the state’s 100th COVID-19 mortality. In total, 99 Alaskans with COVID-19 have died and one nonresident has died. Alaska’s overall death rate per capita remains among the lowest in the country but has been rising in recent weeks.
As of Tuesday, there were 119 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alaska and 11 were on ventilators, according to state data. Another 17 people who were hospitalized were suspected to have COVID-19.
Cases reported over the weekend — 745 Saturday and 654 Sunday — marked the highest and second-highest daily numbers in the state since the pandemic began in March. Case counts in the state have been accelerating for nearly two months. All regions of the state were in the highest alert category as of Tuesday, indicating widespread community transmission and frequent outbreaks.
Alaska’s rising case numbers and hospitalizations are part of a national trend: all 50 states reported increasing caseloads this past week, and more than 1 million new cases were identified in the U.S. Deaths are also rising, with a national average of more than 1,100 a day.
Of the 631 cases reported in Alaska residents, 433 were in Anchorage, plus 10 in Chugiak, 52 in Eagle River and two in Girdwood; three in Homer; 15 in Kenai; one in Nikiski; one in Seward; 16 in Soldotna; two in Sterling; three in Kodiak; one in Healy; 20 in Fairbanks; three in North Pole; five in Palmer; one in Sutton-Alpine; 20 in Wasilla; two in Nome; two in Utqiagvik; one in Kotzebue; five in Juneau; two in Sitka; eight in Bethel; and four in Dillingham.
Among communities smaller than 1,000 people that are not named to protect privacy, there was one case in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough; one in the southern Kenai Peninsula Borough; four in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; two in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; two in the North Slope Borough; one in Aleutians West Census Area; two in the Bethel Census Area; four in the Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula area; and two in the Kusilvak Census Area.
Another six cases were reported in nonresidents: one in Anchorage and five in an unidentified region of the state.
Of the new cases, it is not reported how many patients were showing symptoms of the virus when they tested positive. While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department only represents one person.
A note on the state’s data dashboard Tuesday indicated that the surge in cases has caused some data reporting to lag “far behind real-time," particularly the number of recovered cases.
In the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Alaska, which currently has the highest average case rate in the state — and among the highest in the country — officials on Monday issued a statement recommending a monthlong regional lockdown due to “exponential” transmission of the virus.
And in Anchorage, which has the second-highest rate, health officials are now urging everyone to get tested regardless of symptoms. The Anchorage Assembly voted Monday to extend the municipality’s emergency declaration period to Jan 15.
An outbreak at the Anchorage Pioneer Home that began this month has grown to include 15 residents and seven staff members, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said in a statement on Tuesday. One resident who tested positive as part of this outbreak has been hospitalized, and none have died.