Alaska on Wednesday reported 27 additional COVID-19 deaths and 863 cases over two days as case rates in the state continued to decline.
The latest numbers included 850 cases among residents and another 13 among nonresidents, as well as 90 hospitalized COVID-positive patients statewide — down from 103 hospitalized as of Monday.
Generally, new case data does not reflect the number of people testing positive using at-home tests, which are increasingly popular as health officials encourage frequent testing as a way to prevent viral spread.
The newly reported deaths included 12 people from Anchorage, four from Wasilla, two from Juneau, and one from each from Fairbanks, North Pole, Palmer, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Houston/Big Lake, the southern Kenai Peninsula, the Bethel Census Area and the Kusilvak Census Area.
One person was in their 20s, two were in their 50s, eight were in their 60s, six were in their 70s and 10 were in their 80s. Twelve were women and 15 were men.
The state now reports COVID-related deaths only on Wednesdays. Since the pandemic began, a total of 1,108 Alaskans and 33 nonresidents have died from the virus.
Despite reporting fewer cases week by week, Alaska’s seven-day new case rate is still the second-highest in the nation, behind Maine, according to a CDC tracker. That’s likely because Alaska’s omicron wave began and peaked a few weeks behind other states, Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s state epidemiologist, said Wednesday.
“We’re still seeing a higher activity than in other states in general. But we’re definitely on a steep downward trajectory,” he said.
State health officials last week confirmed they are monitoring BA.2, the new “stealth” omicron subvariant, which first arrived in Alaska last month but does not appear to cause more severe illness than other strains.
State health officials said this week that N95 masks — which work particularly well at preventing omicron from spreading between people — are now available for free at many grocery stores, pharmacies and public health centers around the state.
Data shows vaccines appear to work well against symptomatic infection, especially for people who have received boosters.
Unvaccinated Alaskans are more than nine times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than Alaskans who are fully vaccinated, including boosters, according to the state. Unvaccinated Alaskans are about two and a half times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than Alaskans who completed their primary vaccination series only.
As of Wednesday, 62.1% of eligible Alaskans had completed their primary vaccine series. Just 26.5% had received a booster.