Alaska on Friday reported four more COVID-19 deaths, just over 800 new cases of the virus and yet another day of high hospitalizations.
The deaths involved two Anchorage men in their 50s and 70s, respectively, along with a Nome man in his 60s and a Soldotna man in his 80s or older.
Transmission of the virus appears to have plateaued somewhat over the past six to eight weeks, but case counts, hospitalizations and deaths statewide have remained stubbornly elevated, even as cases around the country have begun to fall.
Alaska’s seven-day case rate remains the highest among U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By Friday, there were at least 220 people hospitalized with COVID-19. In facilities, hundreds of state-contracted health care workers from out of state have helped relieve some of the burden on Alaska’s hospitals. But continually high counts of COVID-19 patients still mean strained resources, long emergency room wait times and an exhausted workforce.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday cleared low doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 for emergency use — though Alaska vaccine providers and pediatricians will still need to wait to begin administering shots until at least next week. That’s when recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected.
Roughly 65% of Alaskans 12 and older have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 60% are considered fully vaccinated.
Since the start of the pandemic, 699 Alaska residents and 26 nonresidents have died with the virus.
About 9.17% of COVID-19 tests returned positive results based on a seven-day rolling average Friday.
[Correction: This story has been updated to remove a reference to FDA approval of low doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5-11; the FDA has granted emergency use authorization, not full approval.]