Alaska on Wednesday reported 180 new COVID-19 infections and one coronavirus-related death involving a Bethel Census Area resident, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.
Wednesday’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. For two days this week, the daily case count fell into the double digits for the first time since September.
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 Wednesday, there were 49 people with COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state, and no other patients suspected of having the virus. Five COVID-positive patients were on ventilators.
The man whose death was reported Wednesday was in his 60s, according to the state health department. In total, 259 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 Wednesday, 84,746 people — just under 12% of Alaska’s population — had been vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. At least 21,100 people 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.
New vaccine appointments for the month of February will go live on the state’s vaccination website (covidvax.alaska.gov) beginning on Thursday at noon.
For more information about vaccination appointments, visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322 to receive assistance making an appointment.
Of the 170 cases reported in Alaska residents on Wednesday, there were 53 in Anchorage plus two in Chugiak and 13 in Eagle River; 22 in Wasilla; 19 in Bethel; 11 in Palmer; six in Unalaska; four in Seward; two in Fairbanks; two in North Pole; two in Utqiagvik; two in Juneau; two in Ketchikan; one in Kodiak; one in Valdez; one in Delta Junction; one in Tok; one in Big Lake; and one in Nome.
Among communities with populations under 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were 11 in the Bethel Census Area; six in the Kusilvak Census Area; two in the North Slope Borough; two in the Aleutians East Borough; one in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; one in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area; and one in the Dillingham Census Area.
Ten nonresidents also tested positive: three in Anchorage, five in Unalaska and two 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, 2.87% of all tests completed statewide came back positive.