Alaska on Monday reported 84 new COVID-19 infections and no new deaths, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
Monday’s case count continues a trend of declining infection numbers after a peak in November and early December that caused officials to worry about hospital capacity. Monday’s cases marked the first time since September that the daily count fell below 100: On Sept. 22, there were 56 cases.
Still, despite the decreasing case numbers, Alaska remains in the highest alert category based on its current per capita rate of infection.
Hospitalizations have also continued to fall, and are now less than a third of where they were during the state’s peak in November and December. By Monday, there were 53 people with COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state. One other patient was suspected of having the virus. Seven COVID-positive people were on ventilators.
No additional deaths were reported Monday. In total, 257 Alaskans and two nonresidents with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic reached the state in March. Alaska’s death rate per capita is still among the lowest in the country, but the state’s size and vulnerable health care system complicate national comparisons.
The vaccine reached Alaska in mid-December and by Monday, 80,300 people had been vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. Nearly 18,000 had received both doses of the vaccination. 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 people to receive the vaccination. In early January, the state said adults older than 65 were now eligible, although appointment slots are limited and have filled quickly.
Officials also announced Monday that new vaccine appointments for the month of February would go live on the state’s vaccination website (covidvax.alaska.gov) beginning on Thursday.
Most of those slots will open up right at noon, said Tessa Walker Linderman, while some will be released earlier and later in the day.
The number of available appointments will depend on how much vaccine the state receives in February, something the state expects to know by Tuesday, and will likely be reserved for adults 65 and older. The new appointments will begin on Feb. 4.
State officials told reporters Monday that vaccinations have been given to about a third of seniors, a group that is particularly susceptible to severe illness from the virus.
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. State officials said beginning later this week, those calls will be answered live.
Of the 83 cases reported in Alaska residents on Monday, 45 were in Anchorage plus six in Chugiak and four in Eagle River; one in Homer; one in Soldotna; one in Kodiak; three in Fairbanks and three in North Pole; one in Palmer; two in Sutton-Alpine; four in Wasilla; one in Kotzebue; one in Juneau; and three in Bethel.
Among communities with populations under 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were six in the Northwest Arctic Borough and one in the Bethel Census Area.
One case was reported in a nonresident 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.
Over the past week, 2.93% of all tests completed statewide came back positive.