Alaska on Tuesday reported 130 new COVID-19 infections and the virus-related death of a man from Fairbanks in his 60s, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
Tuesday’s case count continues a trend of steeply declining infection numbers over the past month. The state saw infections peak in November and early December, which caused officials to worry about hospital capacity and triggered a December “hunker down” order for the Anchorage Municipality.
By Tuesday, COVID-19 outbreaks were identified at two of Alaska’s largest seafood processing plants, both in the Aleutian Islands, just as lucrative crab and pollock seasons get underway.
An outbreak at the UniSea plant in Unalaska has the facility on lockdown after 55 workers tested positive for the virus, and at a Trident Seafoods plant 35 miles away on Akutan Island, four worker cases have been identified.
As of Tuesday, there were 58 people with COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state and another three patients suspected to have the virus. Hospitalizations are now less than half of where they were during the peak in November and December.
In total, 229 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.
Vaccines first arrived in the state in December and by Tuesday nearly 56,869 people had received the first dose, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. Over 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 have filled quickly.
For more information about vaccination appointments, 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 125 cases reported in Alaska residents Tuesday, there were 29 in Anchorage plus one in Chugiak; one in Homer; one in Kenai; one in Soldotna; one in Sterling; five in Kodiak; three in Fairbanks plus two in North Pole; one in Big Lake; two in Knik-Fairview; three in Palmer; 21 in Wasilla; three in Willow; one in Utqiagvik; five in Kotzebue; one in Sitka; two in Unalaska; and 12 in Bethel.
Among communities with populations under 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were two in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; 14 in the Bethel Census Area; and 14 in the Kusilvak Census Area.
Five nonresidents tested positive for the virus, including two in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks, one in Nome, and one in an unidentified region 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.
- Annie Berman