Alaska on Friday reported the virus-related death of a Fairbanks man in his 80s as well as 305 new COVID-19 infections, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
In total, 228 Alaskans and one nonresident with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic reached the state in March, including 23 deaths that were reported since Jan. 1. 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 Friday, 72 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized around Alaska and another five patients were suspected of having the virus, according to the state health department. Hospitalizations have declined to less than half the numbers reported during a peak 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 Friday, 43,992 people had received their first dose of vaccine and 10,954 had 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 296 new cases reported Friday among Alaska residents, there were 63 new cases in Anchorage, plus three in Chugiak and 20 in Eagle River; 36 in Wasilla; 30 in Fairbanks; 13 in Palmer; 11 in North Pole; 11 in Bethel; six in Cordova; four in Sterling; four in Kodiak; four in Juneau; four in Sitka; three in Unalaska; two in Valdez; two in Kenai; two in Soldotna; two in Utqiagvik; two in Hooper Bay; one in Anchor Point; one in Sutton-Alpine; and one in Ketchikan.
Among communities smaller than 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were 16 in the Bethel Census Area; 15 in the Nome Census Area; 13 in the Northwest Arctic Borough; 11 in the Kusilvak Census Area; four in the Kodiak Island Borough; four in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; two in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; one in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough; one in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; one in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; one in the Aleutians East Borough; one in the Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula boroughs; and one in the Dillingham Census Area.
Nine cases were reported Friday among nonresidents, including three in Anchorage, one in Cordova, one in Wasilla and four 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 Friday 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.
— Annie Berman