Alaska over the weekend reported 750 new cases of COVID-19, continuing down a path of decreasing daily case counts.
Fairbanks Memorial Hospital reported two additional deaths among two COVID-19 patients ages 52 and 79, according to a release from the hospital Monday morning.
COVID-19 hospitalizations had decreased significantly by Monday, with 112 patients who had active cases of the virus hospitalized statewide.
The portion of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, at 11%, is about half of what it was during a peak in hospitalizations earlier in the fall. 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.
The decreases follow a period in which cases and hospitalizations peaked and then continued at high levels in September and October.
Cases reported over the weekend included 287 on Saturday, 305 Sunday and 158 Monday.
Alaska ranked eighth among states for its COVID-19 case rate on Monday with 394 cases per 100,000 people. Through most of September and October, Alaska had the highest case rate per capita in the country.
By Monday, cases rates nationally had risen 18% over the last seven days while hospitalizations had increased by 6.4%, said state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin, who received the updated figures while on a call with officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The highest case counts were among states that are cold, like New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, Alaska and Colorado, which shows the virus’s seasonality, he said.
“The colder regions of the country are being disproportionately impacted,” McLaughlin said. “This is consistent with what we know about respiratory pathogens like cold viruses and influenza viruses, is that they tend to be more pronounced during the winter months when people are inside together, sharing air and in closer proximity to each other.”
Alaska is just coming off its major surge fueled by the Delta variant of the virus. But when it comes to what the future could look like in the state, the virus can be unpredictable.
“While we are on this downward trajectory and we’re very happy about that, we also need to make sure that we remain vigilant and don’t let down our guard, especially as we enter the holiday season,” McLaughlin said.
He underscored the importance of vaccinations, as well as the availability of vaccine boosters to anyone ages older than 18 if they’re far enough away from their previous dose of the vaccine.
Additionally, ensuring good indoor ventilation, masking and avoiding crowds can all help reduce transmission.