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Alaska News

Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: 271 new cases reported Sunday, no new deaths

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: January 17
  • Published January 17
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Alaska on Sunday reported 271 new COVID-19 cases statewide and no additional deaths, 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 Sunday, 65 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized across the state and another five people in the hospitals were suspected to be infected. Hospitalizations are at roughly half the level reported in November and early December when the state saw the highest peak in cases, hospitalizations and deaths since the virus reached Alaska in March. At the time, officials feared hospitals could become overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections.

Cases have decreased throughout recent weeks, but the state remains in high alert status.

Vaccines arrived in Alaska during mid-December and by Friday, 43,992 Alaskans had received the first dose, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. Nearly 11,000 Alaskans had received the second dose of the vaccine by Friday, the most recent data available.

Health care workers and nursing home staff and residents were the first group to receive the vaccinations. Early this month, the state opened up the vaccines to adults older than 65, although appointment slots are limited and filled up quickly when the scheduling window opened.

For more information about vaccination appointments, 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 some users have reported longer delays.

Of the 265 cases reported in Alaska residents Sunday, 55 were in Anchorage, three in Chugiak and five in Eagle River; one was in Anchor Point and one in Homer; three were in Kodiak; three were in Cordova and one in Valdez; 29 were in Fairbanks and six in North Pole; one was in Delta Junction; two were in Big Lake; eight in Palmer and 18 in Wasilla; one was in Nome; six were in Utqiagvik; two were in Juneau; 24 were in Unalaska; eight were in Bethel; and one was in Hooper Bay.

Among communities smaller than 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there was one in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough; one was in Kodiak Island Borough; one was in the Copper River area of the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; one was in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; three were in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; one was in the Nome Census Area; three were in the North Slope Borough; four were in the Northwest Arctic Borough; one was in the Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon area; 43 were in the Bethel Census Area; five were in the Bristol Bay Lake and Peninsula boroughs; four were in the Dillingham Census Area; and 19 were in the Kusilvak Census Area.

Six cases were reported in nonresidents, including two infections in Anchorage, one in Wasilla and three infections with the location still under investigation.

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 Sunday was 3.52% 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.

- Tess Williams


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