Alaska over the weekend reported three more COVID-19 deaths and 1,547 new cases of the virus.
On Saturday, the state reported 625 cases, plus 564 on Sunday and 358 on Monday, according to data from the Department of Health and Social Services. Alaska recently been in the midst of a case plateau — with case rates still high though not increasing and instead staying relatively level from day to day with some see-sawing, health officials say.
The deaths announced Monday included an Anchorage woman in her 80s or older, an Anchorage man in his 70s and a Fairbanks man in his 60s. Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, 702 Alaskans and 26 non-residents have died of COVID-19.
By Monday, 190 people were hospitalized for the virus, which follows a week in which COVID-19 hospitalizations rose to record levels with 236 hospitalized COVID-19 patients midweek.
But it’s too early to say whether the decrease is encouraging, said Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association. Last week there were extremely high COVID-19 case counts at hospitals on the Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna Borough and in Anchorage, Kosin said.
“It continues to be extremely challenging to operate in this environment,” he said.
The state is in its darkest days of the pandemic, Kosin said, and the numbers won’t be encouraging until hospitalizations sink to more consistent lows.
Data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention showed Alaska with the highest case rate in the nation Monday. For the past seven days, Alaska had 623.5 cases per 100,000 people, more than four times the national rate.
Other largely rural western states like Montana and Wyoming have also led the nation in high case rates. On Monday, the two states followed Alaska in the national ranking, with 494 and 475.5 cases per 100,000 people respectively.
The portion of COVID-19 tests returning positive results was trending down by Monday, with 8.53% of tests positive based on a seven-day rolling average.