Alaska COVID cases, while still high, are declining

Alaska is experiencing the highest rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents seen anywhere in the country, even as overall cases continue to decline. 

According to the state’s COVID dashboard, cases for the week beginning Feb. 2 were 36% lower than the previous week, with mid-January marking the highwater mark for cases, largely driven by the highly-infectious omicron variant. 

 

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By way of hospitalizations, there were 119 COVID-positive patients, six of whom were on ventilators, in hospitals across the state.

While the declining cases are good news, the Centers for Disease Control still shows Alaska having the highest number of proportional cases with more than 30,100 cases per 100,000 residents, a number rivaled only by Mississippi. All areas of the state are experiencing high case rates, meaning more than 100 per 100,000, according to the state dashboard. 

 

 

Cases and hospitalizations are trending down, and according to recent projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, deaths will likely continue to drop over the coming months. 

Daily infections, according to the projections, likely also peaked in mid-January, and will continue to decline. 

 

 

In a policy paper, the Institute said that the U.S. strategy to manage the epidemic should include three issues. These include preparing for new variants that may lead to immune escape, and prompt another surge. This should include maintaining surveillance, expanding production of antivirals, and promoting vaccinations. 

Second, it recommends that as omicron subsides, schools, workplaces and communities should move to a more normal life. 

“Nimble responses to future waves of the pandemic will benefit from not prolonging the transition out of the current phase,” the policy recommendation states. 

Third, it states that there will likely be a winter surge of omicron or another variant later in 2022 as immunity wanes and hospitals will likely face a double surge of COVID and flu. Hospitals should plan accordingly now for that.