Alaska News

Hospitalizations remain high as state reports 380 COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Alaska’s COVID-19 hospitalizations remained high Wednesday as cases continued to rise.

According to data from the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, there were 110 people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alaska by Wednesday — up from 109 total hospitalizations on Tuesday and 101 on Monday.

The state on Wednesday also reported 380 new COVID-19 cases, and no virus-related deaths.

The latest hospitalization numbers provided by the hospital association differed from data reported by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services dashboard for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jared Kosin, president of the hospital association, said the state’s hospitalization numbers were inaccurate due to a reporting error. Over the last two days, a long-term care facility had mistakenly reported its recent COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations in the statewide reporting system.

“It was a reporting glitch, and it’s being corrected,” Kosin said. “We caught it since we are constantly watching these numbers, and we were able to validate that that’s what’s going on.”

A spokeswoman with the state health department confirmed the error. The state “concurs with ASHNHA that a reporting error was made which will be corrected,” said Elizabeth Manning, health department spokeswoman, in an email.

Alaska’s current number of virus-related hospitalizations remain concerning, Kosin said.

“It feels very intense right now” in Alaska hospitals, he said. “The Mat-Su has gotten busier than it has been. We’re seeing a slow uptick in Fairbanks, and on the Kenai peninsula, It seems like they’ve been hovering at a fairly busy level in terms of COVID patients,” Kosin said.

By Wednesday, 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.

Alaska’s recent coronavirus-related hospitalizations have mainly involved people who are unvaccinated, hospital administrators say. At Providence Alaska Medical Center, between 94% and 96% of recent coronavirus-related hospitalizations have been people who are unvaccinated, a hospital spokesperson said Wednesday.

The state’s test positivity rate continued to rise on Wednesday, too. Of all the tests conducted over the past week, 7.26% were positive.

“Our percent positivity has continued to go up, and that’s probably because we’re not doing enough testing,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s top epidemiologist, during a public information call on Wednesday.

The state updated its COVID-19 testing guidance this week to better align with CDC recommendations, McLaughlin said.

Anyone experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 — “even mild, cold-like symptoms” should get tested immediately, he said.

Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated people who are close contacts of someone who has tested positive should get tested between three and five days after exposure, McLaughlin added.

A new testing site in Anchorage at the Alaska Airlines Center opened Wednesday in response to an increased demand for testing in the municipality. 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.

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