Alaska on Friday reported 57 virus-related deaths — only one of which occurred recently — along with 408 new COVID-19 cases over the past two days.
Fifty-six of the deaths were identified through a review of death certificates from August to November, the state health department said. Government agencies rely on death certificates to report COVID-19 deaths. If a physician judges that a COVID-19 infection contributed to a person’s death, it is included on the death certificate and ultimately counted in the state’s official toll, health officials say.
Since the pandemic first arrived in Alaska in March 2020, 915 Alaskans and 31 nonresidents in the state have died from the virus.
As of Friday, 67 COVID-positive people were hospitalized across the state, according to state data. The percentage of hospitalizations involving people who have tested positive for the virus is 5.1%.
About 67.1% of Alaskans 5 and older have received at least one vaccine dose while 60% of eligible Alaskans are considered fully vaccinated.
As the new omicron variant prompts global concerns and contributes to a surge in New York, state health officials continue to encourage vaccinations and booster shots as the best way to protect against serious illness from COVID-19. Alaska’s first and only omicron case was identified earlier this week, though officials expect more cases to emerge.
While there’s a high potential omicron could spread quickly, early data shows it might cause less severe symptoms, though it’s too early to say that with certainty, state epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin said this week.
Case counts and hospitalizations have been significantly lower so far this month than during the state’s most recent surge, which peaked earlier this fall and was driven by the highly contagious delta variant.
The deaths reported Friday involved one nonresident in the state and 56 Alaskans: 17 from Anchorage, 11 from Wasilla, four from Palmer, four from Soldotna, three from Fairbanks, three from Kenai, two from the southern Kenai Peninsula Borough, two from North Pole and one each from Homer, Juneau, Valdez, Sitka, the Bethel Census Area, Copper River Census Area, Dillingham Census Area, Nome Census Area, North Slope Borough and Southeast Fairbanks Census Area.
Of the 408 cases reported over Thursday and Friday, 403 involved Alaskans and five involved nonresidents.