Alaska News

COVID-19 hospitalizations rise as Alaska reports 258 new virus cases and one death

COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state rose significantly Tuesday, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services dashboard. That data showed 114 people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alaska — a jump from 102 total hospitalizations on Monday.

Health officials say the vast majority of recent coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the state have been among people who are unvaccinated. The Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage reported 22 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday evening. None of those in their intensive care unit had been vaccinated, a hospital spokesperson said.

The state on Tuesday also reported 258 new COVID-19 cases and one virus-related death of a man from Tok in his 80s. Coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations in Alaska have been on the rise since July, driven mostly by the delta variant, which is about twice as contagious as the original virus.

In total, 392 Alaskans and eight nonresidents have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic reached the state last spring.

As cases rise, officials in Anchorage announced that a new testing site at the Alaska Airlines Center will open Wednesday to keep up with increased demand. That site will be open seven days a week, from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. Anchorage residents can visit to find a free testing site near them.

By Tuesday, 48.8% of all Alaskans had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 44% of the entire population was considered fully vaccinated. Among only eligible Alaskans 12 and older, those percentages were higher: 58.5% had received one dose, and 52.8% had completed their vaccination series. Health officials continue to urge Alaskans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and others.

The state health department said recently that even fully vaccinated Alaskans in communities with high COVID-19 transmission should consider masking up again in public, indoor spaces. That recommendation is in line with recent guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of all the tests conducted over the past week, 6.97% were positive — a slight increase from Monday. Epidemiologists have said a positivity rate over 5% is a cause for concern, because it points to higher transmission and not enough virus detection.

The CDC also says that anyone with even mild COVID-19 symptoms — including a fever or chills, a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, a headache, new loss of taste or smell, a sore throat, a runny nose, nausea, or diarrhea — plus anyone who is a close contact of someone who has tested positive, should get tested regardless of vaccination status.

Of the 237 new cases reported among Alaska residents, there were 71 in Anchorage, 17 Fairbanks, 16 in Kenai, 15 in Wasilla, 11 in Soldotna, ten in Sitka, nine in Eagle River, nine in Juneau, seven in Ketchikan, six in Haines, six in Palmer, six in Valdez, five in Utqiaġvik, four in Kodiak, four in North Pole, three in Metlakatla, three in Tok, two in Bethel, two in Chugiak, two in Craig, two in Girdwood, two in Homer, two in Nikiski, two in Nome, two in Seward, and one each in Anchor Point, Cordova, Delta Junction, Douglas, Healy and Hooper Bay.

Among smaller communities, there were three in the North Slope Borough, two in the Aleutians East Borough, Bethel Census Area, and one each in the Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula boroughs, the Copper River Census Area and Prince Of Wales-Hyder Census Area.

There were 21 nonresident cases also identified: five in Petersburg, four in Fairbanks, three in Anchorage, two in Juneau, one in Delta Junction, one in Dillingham, one in Soldotna, one in Utqiagvik and three in unidentified regions of the state.

—Annie Berman