Alaska News

Alaska reports over 1,200 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as hospitalizations rise slightly

Alaska reported 1,239 new COVID-19 cases and a slight uptick in hospitalization numbers on Wednesday.

There were 204 people hospitalized with COVID-19 by midweek, compared to roughly 180 the week before. The small fluctuations reflect the ups and downs of people with the virus seeking hospital care, said Jeannie Monk, senior vice president for the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association.

Many hospitals are above capacity, with more patients than normal, and have staff out due to virus exposure. Despite the slight decrease in cases last week, Monk said, the situation is generally the same.

“Facilities are very grateful for additional staff but they are still under a tremendous amount of stress,” Monk said of the additional state-contracted health care workers who have been arriving in Alaska this month.

Twenty health care facilities around the state are operating under crisis standards of care, though not all have enacted crisis mode and any decisions to prioritize treatment are fluid and made on a daily basis.

Wednesday’s high case count was reported the same day that Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson vetoed a citywide mask ordinance passed by the city Assembly. Assembly members are on track to consider overriding his veto at their Thursday meeting.

[Anchorage Assembly set to vote on override after mayor vetoes emergency ordinance requiring masks]

Alaska had the highest seven-day per capita COVID-19 case rate nationally on Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alaska’s held the top spot in the national rankings for several weeks as the highly contagious delta variant continues sweeping through the state.

Still, Alaska’s overall death rate per capita is among the lowest in the country since the pandemic began, and Alaska currently falls in the bottom third among U.S. states for its per capita death rate over the past week. At least 590 Alaskans and 22 nonresidents have died with coronavirus infections. The state reported no new deaths Wednesday.

Cases in Alaska recently have been leveling off, the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said Wednesday during a public call. Zink said she’s hoping to see a decrease in cases soon.

“It’s great to see that our numbers are not continuing to climb at the moment,” Zink said.

The state also had a 10.67% positivity rate based on a weeklong rolling average.

“We’ve plateaued,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin. “We haven’t really shown signs of significant decreasing trends yet.”

And while cases have plateaued, they’re plateauing at a high number, Monk said.

“We may have leveled off, but that doesn’t mean we are in a good place,” Monk said. The number of patients with COVID-19 is high. Staff are stressed and there’s a lot of virus spread statewide. “It’s not a place where anybody wants to be for the long term.”

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