Alaska News

Alaska reports 5 more COVID-19 deaths, continued high hospitalizations

Alaska on Monday reported five additional COVID-19 deaths, 229 hospitalizations and 1,686 more cases recorded over the weekend.

The state occupied the top spot in the country for the highest case rate Monday, with 550 cases per 100,000 people over the past week — over four times the national average of 124.7 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

While there have been some slight ups and downs among case rates, hospitalizations and deaths, the state has so far continued on a level trajectory, state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said Monday.

“We’re not seeing at this point any clear downward trend in cases,” he said.

On Friday, there were 529 more cases identified, with another 800 positive test results coming in Saturday and 357 cases Sunday, state data showed Monday.

Nationally, cases rates are currently highest in large, rural states like Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and North Dakota, McLaughlin said. They’re all seeing similar sustained, high case rates.

Over a fifth of Alaska’s hospitalized patients in Alaska were COVID-positive as of Monday, continuing a weeks-long stretch of elevated virus hospitalization numbers. High case counts and hospitalizations pushed 20 facilities statewide to activate crisis standards of care last month, though the situation varies widely from facility to facility and day to day.

[September was Alaska’s deadliest pandemic month. Here’s what that might tell us about the future of COVID-19 in the state.]

Hospitalizations hit a record high once again on Friday, further underscoring just how full the state’s hospitals are, said Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association.

While hospitalizations might dip a bit for a few days, they’ve continued to bounce back up, both in Anchorage and at hospitals on the Kenai Peninsula, in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and in the Interior, Kosin said.

[What’s bringing people to Anchorage’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics: Work mandates, high case counts and good timing]

An influx of hundreds of state-contracted health workers from Outside has brought some relief to hospitals dealing with staffing shortages. But, Kosin said, capacity constraints continue to be the same with intensive care units in overflow and spillover status.

“Our hospitals are still getting hit really hard,” he said.

The five additional deaths reported Monday mean that so far, 678 Alaskans and 25 nonresidents have died with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, state data showed.

The deaths involved a Kodiak man in his 50s, an Anchorage woman in her 50s, an Anchorage man in his 50s, a Wasilla man in his 40s and an Anchorage woman in her 70s.

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital on Monday also reported the death of a 53-year-old with COVID-19. It wasn’t immediately clear whether that death was reflected in state data.

Statewide, 9.21% of tests came back positive based on a seven-day rolling average.

Sponsored