Alaska on Thursday reported 238 new coronavirus infections, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.
No new deaths related to COVID-19 were reported Thursday. In total, 301 Alaskans and four 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.
Although case counts and hospitalizations in Alaska remain far below what they were during the peak in November and December, the overall decline in cases has plateaued in recent weeks, and many regions of the state are still in the highest alert category based on their current per capita rate of infection.
Public health officials continue to encourage Alaskans to keep up with personal virus mitigation efforts like hand-washing, mask-wearing, social distancing and getting tested if symptomatic or exposed to someone with COVID-19.
By Thursday, there were 33 people with COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state, far below a peak in late 2020. Another five patients had test results pending.
Alaska this week became the first state to open up vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older who lives or works in the state. You can visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322 to sign up for a vaccine appointment. The phone line is staffed 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.
By Thursday, 183,859 people — about a quarter of Alaska’s population — had received at least their first vaccine shot, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. That’s above the national average of 18.8%. At least 126,145 people had received both doses of the vaccine.
Of the 226 cases identified among Alaska residents Thursday, there were 63 in Anchorage plus one in Chugiak and seven in Eagle River; 68 in Wasilla; 16 in Fairbanks; 10 in Palmer; five in North Pole; four in Petersburg; two in Sitka; two in Seward; two in Bethel; one in Soldotna; one in Kenai; one in Delta Junction; one in Juneau; and one in Wrangell.
Among smaller communities not named to protect individuals’ privacy, there were 29 in the Bethel Census Area; four in the Copper River Census Area; two in the Fairbanks North Star Borough; one in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area; three in Matanuska-Susitna Borough; one in the Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon region; and one in the Kusilvak Census Area.
There were also 12 new nonresident cases: eight in Unalaska, two in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks and one in Wasilla.
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