Alaska still had the highest COVID-19 case rate in the country on Monday as hospitals continued to contend with staffing challenges.
The state is in the midst of a surge in cases driven by the highly contagious — though seemingly less severe — omicron variant of the virus. On Monday, health officials reported 4,447 new COVID-19 cases among residents and nonresidents over the course of the weekend.
The state continued to lead the nation in cases per 100,000 people over the last week, only behind Palau and Guam for highest case rates, according to a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker.
Last week, the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said that Alaska’s surge of the hyper-contagious omicron variant started a few weeks after other states that have recently seen a decline in cases.
By Monday, 154 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state’s general acute care and critical access hospitals.
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The situation at hospitals is difficult, according to Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association. The main point of stress for facilities continues to be staff who are out, an issue that has persisted for the past week or so, he said.
However, the problem does not appear to be intensifying, he said.
“We’re kind of in flux,” Kosin said. “And staffing is a major stressor, I’d say, across the state, but it’s not getting worse — it seems to be consistently challenging.”
At Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage on Monday afternoon, beds were still available at the near-capacity intensive care unit, while 80 staff across the hospital system were out, according to spokesman Mikal Canfield.
The state did not report any additional COVID-19 deaths Monday. Since March 2020, there have been 1,052 COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents and 33 nonresident deaths.
By Monday, 61.7% of the state had completed their vaccination series, while 25.5% had received a booster dose.