13 new COVID-19 deaths identified in Alaska

State reports 593 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 5:45 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state of Alaska reported 593 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, as well as 13 additional deaths of Alaska residents, 12 of which were identified through routine death certificate review.

Some deaths related to COVID-19 get reported to the state shortly after they happen, but others are identified through the regular death certificate review process, which state health officials have said can sometimes take several weeks.

The one person who died recently was an Anchorage woman in her 60s. The 12 people whose deaths were identified through certificate review were a Fairbanks woman in her 60s, a Fairbanks woman in her 70s, an Anchorage man who was 80 or older, two Anchorage men in their 70s, an Anchorage woman in her 70s, an Anchorage man in his 60s, an Anchorage man in his 30s, a Soldotna woman in her 70s and three Homer residents — one man who was 80 or older and two men in their 50s.

The total number of COVID-related Alaska resident deaths recorded by the state is now 419.

COVID-19 hospitalizations also remain high, with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reporting on Tuesday that there are 121 people currently being hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide. Of those, 28 people are sick enough that they are on ventilators.

The state’s hospital data dashboard shows that, as of Monday, there were eight adult ICU beds left available in Anchorage and 34 adult ICU beds available statewide. More than 1,900 Alaska residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the state health department.

While high COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to stress the state’s hospital capacity, schools are also grappling with the virus turning up in classrooms. The City and Borough of Juneau on Monday reported in a press release that the Juneau School District identified five people at Riverbend Elementary who tested positive for COVID-19 and “were infectious while in school.”

The cases resulted in six classrooms at the school being closed Tuesday to allow time for contact tracing, according to the release. Four of those classrooms will reopen on Wednesday and two classrooms are quarantined.

Late Monday, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District reported that one of its eight high schools, Mat-Su Career & Tech High School, has moved into the medium risk category, which means masks were required for students and staff at that school starting Tuesday. The district’s website shows the school has had 12 COVID-19 cases identified over the last seven days.

The Mat-Su school district is the largest to not require masks on buses, despite a federal requirement to do so, and is currently dealing with bus route cancellations due to a shortage of drivers, some of whom tested positive for COVID-19.

In the Anchorage School District, one elementary school has moved a classroom to full online learning after COVID-19 cases were identified there. Birchwood ABC Elementary School has transitioned one classroom to online education for 10 days, according to the district’s website, and all close contacts have been notified.

Of the 593 new COVID-19 cases among Alaska resident reported on Tuesday, 562 of them were identified among residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 183
  • Fairbanks: 45
  • Wasilla: 37
  • Soldotna: 30
  • Nome Census Area: 29
  • Kenai: 26
  • Palmer: 20
  • Seward: 17
  • Eagle River: 16
  • Juneau: 15
  • Kodiak: 11
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 11
  • North Pole: 10
  • Homer: 9
  • North Slope Borough: 8
  • Craig: 6
  • Bethel Census Area: 5
  • Dillingham: 5
  • Haines: 5
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 5
  • Ketchikan: 5
  • Nikiski: 5
  • Utqiagvik: 5
  • Dillingham Census Area: 4
  • Salcha: 4
  • Sitka: 4
  • Sterling: 4
  • Douglas: 3
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 3
  • Nome: 3
  • Wrangell: 3
  • Aleutians East Borough: 2
  • Bethel: 2
  • Big Lake: 2
  • Copper River Census Area: 2
  • Houston: 2
  • Tok: 2
  • Willow: 2
  • Chugach Census Area: 1
  • Delta Junction: 1
  • Denali Borough: 1
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 1
  • Healy: 1
  • Ketchikan Gateway Borough: 1
  • Kotzebue: 1
  • Petersburg: 1
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area: 1
  • Unalaska: 1
  • Valdez: 1
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 1

The state also reported 31 additional nonresident COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — seven in Anchorage, three in Fairbanks, three in Seward, three in Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon, two in unknown parts of the state, two in Juneau, two in Kodiak, two in Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, two in Wasilla and one each in Girdwood, Homer, Ketchikan, Petersburg and Soldotna.

As of Tuesday, the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that 60% of all Alaskans age 12 and older have gotten at least an initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and that nearly 52% are fully vaccinated. The Juneau region remains the most highly vaccinated of the state’s major regions, while the Kenai Peninsula Borough and Matanuska-Susitna Borough are the two least vaccinated.

The statewide alert level remains high at 453.1 cases per 100,000. The alert level is based on the average daily case rate over the last seven days, and a high alert level indicates widespread transmission of the virus.

Since the pandemic began, the state has processed more than 2.67 million COVID-19 tests, and currently has a seven-day average positivity rate of 6.47%.

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