Alaska on Tuesday recorded 66 more deaths tied to COVID-19, state data showed, most of which occurred this month and last.
The additional 65 Alaska resident deaths and one nonresident death brought the state’s total COVID-19 death tally up by over 10%. A total of 659 Alaska residents and 24 nonresidents have now died with the virus since January 2020.
Roughly 32% of Alaska’s 659 resident deaths tied to COVID-19 have occurred since the start of August — long after vaccines became widely available — during a sharp surge driven by the highly contagious delta variant.
Fifty-six of the newly reported deaths were identified through death certificate reviews. Government agencies rely on death certificates to report COVID-19 deaths. If a physician judges that a COVID-19 infection contributed to a person’s death, it is included on the death certificate and ultimately counted in the state’s official toll, health officials say.
Of the deaths reported Tuesday, 10 occurred in October, 44 occurred in September and nine occurred in August, along with one each in July, May and April. September 2021 is now the deadliest month of the pandemic so far.
The newly reported resident deaths involved 35 men and 30 women. Nineteen were Alaskans in their 80s or older, eight were in their 70s, 14 were in their 60s, 11 were in their 50s, six were in their 40s, six were in their 30s and one was in his 20s. They lived across the state: 19 were from Anchorage, 14 from Wasilla, six from Fairbanks, four from Palmer, three from Big Lake, three from Kenai, two from Juneau, two from Ketchikan, two from the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough and one each from North Pole, Homer, Seward, Hooper Bay, Cordova, Kotzebue, the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, the Kusilvak Census Area, the Bethel Census Area and the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area.
The nonresident who died was a woman in her 70s diagnosed with COVID-19 in Valdez.
Over the long weekend, Alaska also reported 2,842 more virus cases. The state reported 724 cases Saturday; 1,022 cases Sunday; 580 on Monday; and 516 on Tuesday. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services didn’t update its COVID-19 data on Monday due to the Alaska Day holiday.
By Tuesday, roughly 11% of COVID-19 tests conducted had returned positive results, based on a seven-day rolling average.
After weeks of recording the highest case rate among U.S. states, Alaska as of Tuesday had the fourth-highest seven-day COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Montana, Wyoming and Idaho all had higher rates than Alaska, though all four were far above the national average.
Hospitalizations rose to 213 patients hospitalized with the virus and 11 others with suspected cases by Tuesday, according to state data.
Twenty health care facilities in Alaska have activated crisis standards of care, though not all are operating in crisis mode and any decisions to prioritize treatment are fluid and made on a daily basis.