COVID cases, hospitalizations remain high across Alaska

Last week’s COVID statistics remained poor across Alaska, with high rates of transmission, positive tests and hospital use. 

Alaska currently has the highest number of COVID cases reported over the last seven days, per 100,000 residents, out of any state. It comes as a time where hospitals are reaching capacity for both COVID patients and others, according to a weekly report from the state Department of Health and Social Services. 

 

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In total, there were 5,027 cases of COVID reported throughout the state the week of Oct. 17 to 23. While the number remains high, it marks a 17.2% decrease from the week before, but the report states it’s unknown whether this reflects the beginning of a sustained decrease. 

The number of positive COVID tests sits at 9.21%, and the seven day test positivity rate in the state is nearly the highest it has ever been, which indicates community transmission is widespread. 

While all four of the largest boroughs of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna, Fairbanks North Star and Kenai Peninsula are experiencing very high levels of community transmission, other areas of the state are as well. 

“While the intensity of COVID-19 transmission varies substantially between communities off the road system, COVID-19 cases are regularly reported from nearly all boroughs and census areas and some communities are experiencing extremely widespread transmission,” the report states. 

Statewide, 64.8% of all Alaskans aged 12 and older are vaccinated, a figure which includes people with at least one dose of a two dose vaccine series.

The state is continuing to urge people to get vaccinated, wear masks when in indoor public spaces, avoid roads and seek testing if showing symptoms. 

Vaccination rates vary widely by borough. Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula has a vaccination rate of 93.6%, followed by Aleutians East Borough with 89.9% and Skagway Municipality with 87.9%. The Southeast Fairbanks Census Area had the lowest rate of vaccination with 39.4%. 

Statewide, there was an increase of 73 hospitalizations reported, for a total of 2,709 and nearly a quarter of hospitalized patients had COVID. 

In early October, the Department of Health and Social Services activated its crisis standards of care for multiple health care facilities due to a shortage of resources within some hospitals. These shortages included a limited staff and difficulty transferring patients due to limited bed availability, as well as shortages of supplies like oxygen.