Updated: 7 minutes ago Published: 7 minutes ago
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Alaska rose by more than 25% this week compared to last, though hospitalizations declined slightly. Here are a few main takeaways from the latest data available from the state Department of Health and Social Services:
• By Wednesday, there were 45 COVID-positive patients hospitalized around Alaska, a slight decrease from the 49 reported by the state a week earlier and far below peak numbers earlier in the pandemic. Just under 4% of Alaska’s hospital patients were COVID-positive. One required a ventilator.
• The state health department on Wednesday reported 2,872 cases in Alaska over a seven-day period, a 26% increase from 2,268 cases reported last week. This week’s total includes 2,226 cases among residents — up from 1,775 last week — and averages out to just over 410 cases per day. That data represents reported cases and not at-home tests, but can provide a sense of broader case trends, officials say.
• Health officials have said a rise in visitor cases primarily reflects the arrival of tourist season. Many of the cases involve cruise ship passengers, but the state is also seeing an increase in nonresident cases outside ports in Southeast Alaska, and from industries besides tourism.
• Alaska’s seven-day new case rate per 100,000 people fell from 10th to 15th highest in the nation this week, according to a CDC tracker. Nationally, cases have begun to fall again after rising through much of April and May.
• The regions with the highest seven-day case rates included the North Slope Borough, Bethel Census Area, Copper River Census Area, Aleutians East Borough, Skagway Municipality, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Wrangell City and Borough, and Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area — all at more than 400 cases per 100,000 people.
• The state reported no new deaths linked to the virus. In total, 1,252 COVID-19 deaths among residents and 34 among nonresidents have been reported since March 2020. Many of the deaths reported by the state in recent weeks occurred weeks to months earlier.
• According to Alaska’s coronavirus variant dashboard, the vast majority of the most recently sequenced viruses were the BA.2 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. But about 6.4% of the cases were another new omicron subvariant — BA.2.12.1 — that now makes up a majority of Lower 48 counts. In Alaska, this data is a delayed reflection of what’s happening in the community because of the lengthy process of labs sending samples to the state to be sequenced, officials say.
• As of Wednesday, 65.3% of eligible Alaskans as well as military personnel had completed their primary vaccine series. About 30.9% of eligible Alaskans were considered up-to-date on their vaccinations with at least one booster.
• 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.
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