2 deaths, 338 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday

Governor Dunleavy urges Alaskans to get vaccinated as delta variant continues to spread in the state
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 9:08 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Health and Social services reported 338 new cases of COVID-19 and two recent virus-related deaths on Wednesday as Gov. Mike Dunleavy called on more Alaska residents to get vaccinated.

According to the weekly case update from the state health department, statewide transmission of the virus is high, and hospital capacity is limited. State data shows there are 101 people hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide, along with three people hospitalized for suspected cases. Of those, 20 patients are on ventilators.

There are just six adult ICU beds available in Anchorage out of 70, according to state data, and 90 adult non-ICU beds available out of 629.

The two people who recently died were an Anchorage man in his 60s, and a nonresident in his 70s who was in Anchorage at the time of his death. To date, the state has reported a total of 385 Alaska residents and eight nonresidents whose deaths have been related to COVID-19.

Dunleavy in a Wednesday press release encouraged “every eligible Alaskan” to get vaccinated. The state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that as of Wednesday, just over 58% of all Alaskans age 12 and older have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 52.6% are fully vaccinated.

Alaska once led the nation in vaccination rates and was the first state to open vaccines to all residents 16 and older. As of Wednesday, Alaska was ranked 29th out of U.S. states in terms of doses administered per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the press release, Dunleavy said the vaccine is “a safe, free, and widely available tool to put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror.”

According to the release, Dunleavy has been vaccinated since June. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and a spokesperson for the governor’s office previously told the Associated Press he had been fully vaccinated, but at the time did not say when.

Dunleavy had contracted COVID-19 himself in February.

“Vaccines are our best way of keeping Alaskans out of the hospitals, or heaven forbid, lose their life, to COVID,” Zink said in the press release. “Nothing is more effective in fighting this virus and getting us all back to normal than this game-changing tool.”

One of the factors driving the continued surge in COVID-19 cases in Alaska is the delta variant. To date, 429 cases of the variant have been identified across the state. In its case update Wednesday, the health department added 178 cases of the delta variant to the total count since its last report.

A weekly report from the Alaska Sequencing Consortium shows that the delta variant accounted for 96% of all COVID-19 cases that were sequenced in Alaska during the week starting July 11.

The number of vaccine breakthrough cases of COVID-19 remain low, according to the weekly update. According to the department, from Jan. 1 to July 31 of this year, 94% of all cases, 94% of all hospitalizations and 97% of all Alaska resident deaths have been in people who were not vaccinated.

That means just 6% of cases, 6% of all hospitalizations and 3% of Alaska resident deaths from that time period were attributed to vaccine breakthrough cases.

Of the 338 new cases reported Wednesday, 323 of them were identified among residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 129
  • Kodiak: 22
  • Wasilla: 22
  • Fairbanks: 15
  • Eagle River: 14
  • Ketchikan: 12
  • Soldotna: 12
  • Sitka: 11
  • Homer: 9
  • Juneau: 9
  • Kenai: 9
  • Palmer: 7
  • Nome Census Area: 6
  • Anchor Point: 4
  • Big Lake: 4
  • Craig: 3
  • North Pole: 3
  • Seward: 3
  • Bethel Census Area: 2
  • Copper River Census Area: 2
  • Cordova: 2
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 2
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 2
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 2
  • Skagway: 2
  • Sutton-Alpine: 2
  • Utqiagvik: 2
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 2
  • Bethel: 1
  • Douglas: 1
  • Healy: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 1
  • Nikiski: 1
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 1
  • Sterling: 1
  • Tok: 1
  • Valdez: 1

The state also reported 15 additional nonresident cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — four in Anchorage, two in the Copper River Census Area, two in Juneau, two in Skagway, two in Wasilla, and one each in Soldotna, Fairbanks and an unknown part of the state.

The statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate over the last 14 days per 100,000 people, remains high at 32 cases per 100,000. All individual regions of the state are also in the high alert level. The state health department noted that, starting next week, it will transition to using a four-level alert system to “better align with the CDC’s reporting levels.”

Since the pandemic began, the state has conducted more than 2.52 million COVID-19 tests, and currently has a seven-day average positivity rate of 6.01%.

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