Alaska News

Alaska reports 78 COVID-19 cases, no deaths Thursday as state alert level drops to intermediate

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Alaska on Thursday reported 78 new coronavirus infections and no deaths linked to COVID-19, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.

Alaska’s average daily case counts are now trending down significantly statewide. State officials announced Thursday that on average over the past two weeks, there were 9.95 cases per 100,000 people across Alaska. Dipping below 10 cases per 100,000 means the state went from a high alert level to an intermediate alert level this week, for the first time since September.

However, a few regions in the state are still in the highest alert category, with more than 10 cases per 100,000 people. That includes the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, a swath of Interior Alaska and the southern Southeast region, where Ketchikan has been grappling with the spread of the virus. Officials are strongly recommending that Ketchikan residents follow stricter COVID-19 mitigation protocols as a result of the increase in cases.

Anyone 12 and older who lives or works in Alaska can now receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Alaskans can visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322 to sign up for a vaccine appointment, and new appointments are added regularly. The phone line is staffed from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.

Only Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for children as young as 12; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved only for those 18 and older.

About 315,049 people — about 53.1% of Alaskans age 16 and older — have received at least their first dose of vaccine. At least 275,567 people — 47.4% of Alaskans 16 and older — are considered fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard, which was last updated on Tuesday.

[Alaska’s new COVID-19 vaccine strategy means more flexibility — and more waste]

By Thursday, there were 23 people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state, far below a peak in late 2020.

In total, 362 Alaskans and seven nonresidents with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic reached the state last spring. Alaska’s death rate per capita remains among the lowest in the country, though the state’s size, health care system and other factors complicate national comparisons. Four recent deaths were reported by the state Tuesday.

Of the 78 cases reported Thursday among Alaska residents, there were 19 in Anchorage plus two in Eagle River; 12 in Fairbanks; nine in Ketchikan; seven in Wasilla; seven in Hooper Bay; three in Homer; three in Delta Junction; three in Metlakatla; two in Palmer; two in Healy; two in North Pole; one in Kenai; one in Seward; one in Sterling; one in Kodiak; one in Salcha; one in Big Lake; and one in Wasilla.

No new nonresident cases were identified Thursday.

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 and Morgan Krakow

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