Alaska on Thursday reported 445 new cases of COVID-19 as a downward trend in infections continues.
The state now ranks seventh highest nationally for its COVID-19 case rate over the past week, at 371 per 100,000 people. Through most of September and October, Alaska had the highest case rate per capita.
The recent steady drop in cases has translated to some relief at the state’s hospitals, where 137 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 by Thursday, including 18 people on ventilators. Just under 14% of all hospital patients in the state have COVID-19.
Those numbers don’t include some people who are recovering from the disease and need continued care, often for several weeks after they are admitted.
Alaska’s hospitals were stretched thin for months during the COVID-19 surge. As the situation worsened, the state contracted several hundred out-of-state health care workers and some hospitals activated crisis standards of care.
Those standards are officially still active at some hospitals, but as admissions have declined, administrators report generally improved conditions, better ability to transfer patients when needed, and less of a strain on staffing and bed availability.
The state on Thursday reported no new deaths related to COVID-19. In total, the virus-related deaths of 812 Alaskans and 30 nonresidents have been recorded since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Statewide, about 60% of Alaskans ages 5 and older have received their first dose of the vaccine while 54% are considered fully vaccinated.
Though cases have fallen from recent peaks, health officials say boosting the state’s vaccination rate will be key to preventing future surges in infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Alaska currently ranks 32nd in the country among all states and Washington, D.C., for its per capita vaccination rate, according to CDC data compiled by The New York Times.