Alaska News

Alaska reports 3 deaths, 668 virus cases as vaccines become available for children as young as 5

Alaska on Wednesday reported three virus-related deaths and 668 new cases of COVID-19 as part of a recent downward trend in virus cases statewide.

Wednesday’s newly reported deaths included a Soldotna man in his 60s, a Fairbanks woman in her 80s or older and a man from a smaller community in the Copper River Census Area in his 80s or older.

By Wednesday, there were 183 people with COVID-19 hospitalized around the state — a significant drop from last week, when a record 236 hospitalizations were reported. Of current patients, 29 required mechanical ventilation, and roughly 18% of all hospital patients were COVID-positive.

COVID-19 cases in Alaska

Despite the downward case trend, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Wednesday continued to show Alaska with the highest case rate in the nation. Over the past seven days, Alaska had 570.9 cases per 100,000 people, nearly four times the national rate.

“There’s a lot of red still,” said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, referencing a map showing Alaska’s virus case rate during a public science call on Wednesday.

The portion of COVID-19 tests returning positive results had fallen to 7.75% Wednesday, based on a seven-day rolling average.

On Wednesday, vaccine providers around Alaska began offering child-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to kids ages 5 to 11, following federal and state guidance.

Zink said she recommended that parents speak to their providers about getting their young children vaccinated, calling it a safe and effective choice.

Even though children are at a much lower risk than adults of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, there’s still a risk — provisional data from the CDC last updated Wednesday reported a national total of 680 COVID-19 deaths among children and teens ages 18 and younger over the course of the pandemic so far.

[‘Like a hallway pass’: Younger children across US start getting COVID-19 vaccinations]

“When we look at the risk of COVID versus the risk of vaccine, we just consistently see that the vaccine is much more safe compared to getting COVID,” Zink said.

At a Wednesday afternoon vaccine clinic run by the Anchorage School District, a line of kids and their parents stretched out the door.

Parents seeking children’s vaccine options at Anchorage-area providers can look for those designations at anchoragecovidvaccine.org, which lists many, but not all, vaccine providers available.

Sixty-five percent of Alaskans 12 and older have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 cases in Alaska
COVID-19 cases in Alaska
COVID-19 cases in Alaska
COVID-19 cases in Alaska
COVID-19 cases in Alaska
COVID-19 cases in Alaska
COVID-19 cases in Alaska

Annie Berman

Annie Berman covers health care for the Anchorage Daily News. She's a fellow with Report for America, and is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. A veteran of AmeriCorps and Vista volunteer programs, she's previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in the Bay Area.

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