Alaska on Monday reported 153 new COVID-19 infections and no additional virus-related deaths, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
Monday’s case count comes as infections have dropped in recent weeks. The state saw infections peak in November and early December, which caused officials to worry about hospital capacity and triggered a “hunker down” order for the Anchorage Municipality.
By Monday, there were 54 people with COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state and another four patients suspected to have the virus. Eight of those people were on ventilators, the state health department said. Hospitalizations are roughly half of where they were during the peak in November and December.
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.
Despite the decrease in cases, Alaska remains in high alert status.
Vaccines arrived in the state during mid-December and by Monday nearly 44,000 people had received the first dose, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. Close to 12,000 people had received the second dose.
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 149 cases reported in Alaska residents Monday, 49 were in Anchorage and two in Eagle river; two were in Homer, four in Kenai, one in Nikiski and five in Soldotna; five were in Kodiak; one was in Cordova; 10 were in Fairbanks and three in North Pole; one was in Delta Junction; one was in Palmer, 12 in Wasilla and two in Willow; one was in Nome; three were in Utqiagvik; two were in Juneau; one was in Petersburg; one was in Sitka; one was in Wrangell; and three were in Bethel.
Among communities with populations under 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there was one in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area; one was in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; two were in the North Slope Borough; 12 were in the Northwest Arctic Borough; 12 were in the Bethel Census Area; one was in the Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula boroughs; and 10 were in the Kusilvak Census Area.
Four nonresidents tested positive for the virus, including two in Anchorage, one in Nome and one in Juneau.
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 Monday was 3.41% 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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