Alaska on Thursday reported two virus-related deaths and 341 new COVID-19 infections, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
The deaths involved an Anchorage man in his 60s and a Fairbanks man in his 70s, state officials say. Both were recent.
In total, 227 Alaskans and one nonresident with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic reached the state in March. Alaska’s death rate per capita is among the lowest in the country, though the state’s size and vulnerable health care system complicate national comparisons.
By Thursday, 65 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized around Alaska and another 10 patients were suspected of having the virus, according to the state health department. Hospitalizations have declined sharply since high numbers were reported in November and early December.
The state’s daily case counts have also fallen significantly during recent weeks, but the statewide alert level is still high.
Vaccines reached Alaska in mid-December. By the most recent update Wednesday, 35,383 people had received their first dose of vaccine with 7,965 having received both doses required for the vaccine to be fully effective, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard.
State officials this week said the state has allocated the vaccine received for December and January, but there are still appointments and large clinics occurring in the coming days and weeks.
For more information, the public can visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322 and leave a message. A recording says calls will be returned in the order they’re received within 48 hours but users report longer delays.
Of the 333 new cases reported Thursday among Alaska residents, there were 110 in Anchorage plus three in Chugiak, 12 in Eagle River and two in Girdwood; 42 in Fairbanks and seven in North Pole; two in Big Lake, 23 in Palmer and 28 in Wasilla; 12 in Bethel; one in Homer, two in Kenai, five in Soldotna and two in Sterling; six in Juneau; three in Kodiak; three in Unalaska; two in Nome; two in Utqiagvik; one in Ketchikan; one in Petersburg; one in Cordova; and one in Valdez.
Among communities smaller than 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were 21 in the North Slope Borough; 12 in the Bethel Census Area; nine in the Kusilvak Census Area; three in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; three in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; two each on the northern and southern Kenai Peninsula; two in the Copper River Census Area; two in the Nome Census Area; two in the Northwest Arctic Borough; one in the Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula boroughs; and one in the Kodiak Island Borough.
Eight cases were reported Thursday among nonresidents, including three in Anchorage and five in unidentified regions of the state.
While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.
The state’s data doesn’t specify whether people testing positive for COVID-19 have symptoms. More than half of the nation’s infections are transmitted from asymptomatic people, according to CDC estimates.
The statewide test positivity rate as of Thursday was 3.68% over a seven-day average. Health officials say anything above 5% can indicate inadequate testing and widespread community transmission. The state peaked at over 9% positivity in November.
— Zaz Hollander
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