Alaska on Thursday reported 203 new COVID-19 infections and the coronavirus-related death of an Anchorage woman in her 70s, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
Thursday’s case count continues a trend of steeply declining infection numbers over the past month. Infections in Anchorage and Alaska peaked in November and early December, prompting concerns about hospital capacity that spurred a December “hunker down” order for the Municipality of Anchorage.
As of Thursday, there were 56 people with COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state and another two patients suspected to have the virus. Seven of these patients are on ventilators, and 6.1% of all hospital patients had tested positive for COVID-19. Hospitalizations are now less than half of where they were during the peak in November and December.
In total, 252 Alaskans and two nonresidents with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic reached the state in March. On Wednesday, a record 24 deaths were reported by the state, the majority of which were identified during a review of death certificates completed over the last several months. Alaska’s death rate per capita is still 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 Thursday at least 67,173 people had received the first dose, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. At least 14,663 people had received the second dose. Alaska has currently vaccinated more residents per capita than any other state, according to a national tracker.
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 202 cases reported in Alaska residents Thursday, there were 40 in Anchorage plus 11 in Eagle River and one in Girdwood; 22 in Fairbanks; 18 in Wasilla; 15 in Juneau; nine in Palmer; eight in Kenai; eight in Bethel; seven in North Pole; six in Unalaska; three in Anchor Point; three in Kodiak; two in Seward; two in Sutton-Alpine; two in Douglas; two in Ketchikan; one in Soldotna; one in Homer; one in Tok; and one in Sitka.
Among communities with populations under 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were 30 in the Kusilvak Census Area; three in the Bethel Census Area; one in the southern Kenai Peninsula Borough; one in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; one in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; one in the Northwest Arctic Borough; one in the Aleutians East Census Area; and one in the Dillingham Census Area.
One nonresident in an unidentified region of the state also tested positive for the virus.
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.
Over the past week, 3.53% of all tests completed statewide came back positive.
— Annie Berman