COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases reported to Alaska’s health department held relatively steady over the past week as the “stealth” omicron subvariant remains prevalent. Even though the state’s weekly data doesn’t reflect home test results, it may be indicative of broader pandemic trends.
Here are a few main takeaways from the latest data available:
• By Wednesday, there were 33 COVID-positive patients hospitalized around Alaska, just one more than last week and far below peak numbers earlier in the pandemic. Fewer than 3% of Alaska’s hospital patients were COVID-positive, and no one was on a ventilator.
• The regions with the highest per capita case rates this week were the Northwest Arctic Borough, Denali Borough, Bethel Census Area, Ketchikan Gateway Borough and Sitka, all at more than 400 cases per 100,000 people. That data represents reported cases and not at-home tests, but regional levels still provide a sense of larger case trends, officials say.
• The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Wednesday reported 1,469 cases of COVID-19 in Alaska over a 7-day period, a very slight drop from the total number of cases reported last week, and representing an average of around 210 cases per day. This data does not include at-home tests, which do not get reported to the state and have grown in popularity this year.
• The state reported one more death linked to the virus, involving an Anchorage man in his 70s. In total, 1,220 COVID-19 deaths among residents and 33 among nonresidents have been reported since March 2020. Many of the deaths reported by the state in recent weeks occurred weeks to months earlier.
• Alaska’s 7-day new case rate per 100,000 people fell from fifth-highest in the nation last week to 10th highest this week, according to a CDC tracker.
• According to Alaska’s coronavirus variant dashboard, the vast majority of the most recently sequenced viruses were the BA.2 stealth omicron subvariant, which appears more transmissible than other variants but not more virulent or better at evading immune responses conferred by vaccination or prior infection.
• As of Wednesday, 64.9% of eligible Alaskans as well as military personnel had completed their primary vaccine series. That number has been very slowly ticking up in recent weeks.
• The FDA approved another Pfizer or Moderna booster shot for those 50 and older, as well as for certain younger individuals with severely compromised immune systems, if it’s been at least four months since their last vaccination. Information about getting a vaccine shot or booster in Alaska is available at covidvax.alaska.gov.
• The state health department now updates all of its COVID-19 data only on Wednesdays.