Alaska News

Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: 174 cases and two deaths reported over the weekend as hospitalizations jump

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Alaska on Monday reported 174 new coronavirus infections identified since Friday, and two COVID-19-related deaths, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.

The two recent resident deaths were of an Anchorage woman in her 70s, and an Anchorage man who was in his 80s or older. In total, 374 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.

For the past three weeks, case counts in Alaska have been gradually increasing, causing the state to move back up to the intermediate alert level last week. Health officials continue to encourage Alaskans to get vaccinated against the virus, noting that the vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe illness from the virus, including the more contagious variants.

The recent rise in cases can likely be attributed in part to the highly contagious delta variant first identified in India in December and in Alaska in May, health officials have said. The newer strain has been linked to higher hospitalization rates, and is considered the most transmissible variant yet.

[Related: Alaska health officials are trying to boost vaccine rates, and eyeing incentives, as concerns about delta variant loom]

Hospitalizations have also started to rise again statewide. By Monday, state data showed there were 46 people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 hospitalized around the state — up from 28 total hospitalizations on Friday.

By Monday, roughly 56% of the state’s population age 12 and older had received at least their first dose of the vaccine while 51% of all residents 12 and older were considered fully vaccinated. Among all states, Alaska ranked No. 28 in the country for most vaccinated residents per capita.

Of the 159 new resident cases reported, there were 72 in Anchorage, 11 in Sitka, nine in Eagle River, seven in Hooper Bay, six in Soldotna, six in Wasilla, five in Cordova, four in Fairbanks, four in Homer, four in Seward, three in Chugiak, three in Juneau, three in Kenai, two in Ketchikan, two in Sterling, and one each in Douglas, Kodiak, Kotzebue, North Pole, Palmer, and Petersburg.

Among smaller communities, there were seven in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough, two in the Bethel Census Area, and one each in the Kusilvak Census Area, Mat-Su Borough, and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

There were also 15 new nonresident cases identified: three in Anchorage, three in Fairbanks, three in Petersburg, one in Healy, one in Soldotna, and four in unidentified regions of the state.

Of all the coronavirus tests completed in the state over the last week, 2.5% came back positive.

Note: The health department now updates its coronavirus dashboard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays excluding holidays.

— Annie Berman