Alaska sees hospitalizations from COVID-19 rise in July

COVID-19.(CDC via CNN Newsource)
Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 6:57 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is mirroring national trends when it comes to an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations. According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, statewide numbers have steadily increased in July from a low of 15 on the last day of June to 44 patients on July 12. Many of those patients are hospitalized in Anchorage.

On Tuesday, Dr. Holly Alfrey, chief medical officer for the Alaska Native Medical Center, said they have seen a substantial jump in patients with COVID-19 admitted to the hospital.

“Especially over the last week,” Alfrey said. “We’ve seen our numbers almost triple.”

Providence Alaska Medical Center is reporting the same thing.

“I’d say over the last 10 days we’ve seen a four-fold increase in admissions,” said Chief Medical Officer Michael Bernstein.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said the numbers are not large enough to cause great alarm, but they have prompted the state to start talking about the kind of help hospitals might need if the number of COVID-19 patients continues to increase.

“We are back, as state health officials, talking about being able to send extra resources, and how do we support, and do we need to think about other alternatives?” Zink said.

As of Tuesday, data from the state health department shows that 4.1% of all people currently hospitalized in Alaska are being hospitalized with COVID-19.

Doctors at both Providence and the Native Medical Center said recent case numbers have something in common: they’re occurring in people who aren’t vaccinated. Bernstein said they are also seeing more people who’ve contracted the strain of virus called the Delta variant.

“We know that it is more transmissible than the virus types that we’ve had in Alaska previously,” Bernstein said. “So because we have still a sizable portion of the population that isn’t vaccinated, this Delta agent is spreading.”

Doctors expressed hope that the increase will be temporary as more people become vaccinated.

“I hope Alaskans take this opportunity to really know that they are not out of (the woods), this is not over,” Zink said. “They are making a choice between getting COVID and getting the vaccine. And while every choice we make has risks and benefits associated with it, for the vast majority of people getting vaccinated it is a much safer choice at preventing illness and minimizing the impacts of this virus on your life.”

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