Alaska on Friday reported seven virus-related deaths and 632 new COVID-19 cases over the past two days as hospitalizations continued to tick downward.
The deaths involved four Anchorage residents — a man in his 50s, a man in his 60s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 80s or older — plus a Soldotna woman in her 50s, an Anchor Point man in his 60s and a man from the Copper River Census Area in his 60s, according to the state health department.
Friday’s new case numbers included 493 positive test results returned Wednesday and 139 from Thursday. Alaska’s seven-day case rate per 100,000 ranks 18th in the country, according to CDC data.
The continuing decline in virus hospitalizations and case rates in Alaska comes as the emergence of the new omicron variant in several countries triggers global concerns, prompting travel bans and sending stock markets plummeting.
A World Health Organization panel classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern — the same category that includes the delta variant, which fueled the sharp surge that ramped up over the summer in Alaska and brought with it record cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Eighty-nine hospital patients in Alaska have active COVID-19 cases, state data showed. Earlier in the week, COVID-positive hospitalizations dropped below 100 for the first time in weeks. Virus hospitalizations remain well under a high of over 230 recorded earlier this fall.
After health care facilities statewide reported falling COVID-19 patient numbers, some Anchorage hospitals, including Providence Alaska Medical Center and Alaska Regional Hospital, recently relaxed their visitor policies.
About 7.8% of all Alaska hospital patients are COVID-positive, reflecting a decrease from Wednesday. Those numbers don’t include some people recovering from the disease who need continued care, at times for weeks.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has reported 847 COVID-19 deaths involving Alaskans and 30 among out-of-state residents.
Measured over the course of the pandemic, Alaska’s death rate is the fifth lowest in the nation, according to data from the CDC. Alaska’s number of deaths per 100,000 over the past week ranked 13th in the country.
The state’s test positivity rate — the number of positive tests out of total performed — was 5.69% as of Friday, or just over the 5% level that generally indicates enough testing is occurring.
About 61% of Alaskans age 5 or older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine while 55% are considered fully vaccinated.
The state health department’s COVID-19 data update Friday includes two days’ worth of reporting due to the Thanksgiving holiday.