Alaska News

Alaska reports no COVID-19 deaths Friday as hospitalizations continue trending down

Alaska on Friday reported 879 COVID-19 cases over two days as virus-related hospitalizations continued to decline statewide.

The state no longer updates its coronavirus dashboard on holidays, meaning the latest case count included cases reported for both Thursday and Friday.

The numbers reflect a recent and gradual decline in cases in Alaska — state data showed a 26% decrease in cases over the last week compared to the week before.

By Friday, there were 124 people hospitalized with COVID-19, state dashboard data showed, with about 14% of the state’s hospitalized patients considered to have active cases.

That’s a significant decrease from a high of more than 200 people hospitalized on average since September, and the lowest count the state has recorded since August.

Crisis standards of care are still officially enabled at approximately 20 of Alaska’s hospitals, but hospital officials have said that declining COVID-positive patient counts meant that facilities have not had to act on those standards in the last few weeks.

Some hospitals still have relatively high patient counts, but transfers between hospitals are much easier than they were a few weeks ago and staffing and resources are feeling less strained than they were before, hospital officials say.

Starting in July, a virus surge driven by the highly contagious delta variant caused a sharp rise in hospitalizations and deaths around Alaska — mostly among the unvaccinated — and stretched the health care system to a breaking point.

The impacts of that surge are still being borne out. While no new COVID-19 deaths were reported on Thursday or Friday, earlier in the week the state reported 90 additional deaths, most of which occurred in September and October 2021 — the deadliest months of the pandemic in Alaska so far.

COVID-19 deaths don’t always appear immediately in the state’s virus data. Sometimes they show up only after health officials review death certificates, a process that can sometimes take several weeks.

In total, the state has reported 801 COVID-19 deaths among residents, and 30 among nonresidents living in the state.

Alaska’s seven-day case rate — at 412.4 per 100,000, or about 2 1/2 times the national average — is now the third-highest among U.S. states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some Alaska communities, like the Native village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, continue to experience outbreaks. About 15% of the remote community of about 500 residents had COVID-19 as of Wednesday, KNOM reported.

The portion of COVID-19 tests returning positive results was 7.1% as of Friday based on a seven-day rolling average, a drop from a peak of above 10% in mid-October.

Of Alaskans 5 and older, 59% have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, state data showed.

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.

All Alaskans can also call the state’s coronavirus helpline at 907-646-3322 for assistance finding and making an appointment. That phone line is monitored from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.

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