Alaska sets new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, reports 6 new deaths

One of the people who died with COVID-19 was an Anchorage woman in her 20s. The state also reported more than 600 new cases.
Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 3:35 PM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 at 5:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska has surpassed its previous record for the highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 at one time.

The state health department reported six new COVID-19 related deaths on Tuesday, four of which were among Alaska residents and two of which were nonresidents who died while in Alaska. All the deaths were recent, the state reported.

The Alaska residents who recently died were an Anchorage man in his 70s, and Anchorage woman in her 30s, and Anchorage woman in her 20s and a Dillingham Census Area man in his 60s.

The nonresidents who recently died in Alaska were two men in their 70s who both died in Anchorage. These deaths bring the totals to 431 Alaskans and 13 nonresidents whose deaths have been related to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the state’s hospital data dashboard showed there are 152 people being hospitalized with the virus statewide. That’s one greater than the previous record of 151, which was initially set back in Dec. 2020. The state reached 151 again this past weekend.

The state’s hospital dashboard is current through the previous day.

Jared Kosin, president of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, told Alaska’s News Source that his organization has a way of accessing the state’s latest hospitalization numbers and was still in the process of going through analysis. He said the best available information at this point is the dashboard, showing 152 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

“The bottom line is, we are at the worst point of the pandemic,” Kosin said. “It feels different now. It’s more stressful, our caregivers are exhausted, this is not where we want to be.”

According to Alaska Department of Health and Social Services hospital data, there are 19 COVID-19 patients sick enough that they are on ventilators. The data dashboard also shows that, as of Monday, there were five adult ICU beds left available in Anchorage, and 20 left available statewide.

Alaska’s hospitals have for weeks been asking for help dealing with unsustainably high capacity. Hospital administrators say it’s due to the combination of an increase in COVID-19 patients seeking medical care, the return of elective surgeries, a staffing shortage and staff burnout.

Many of Alaska’s new COVID-19 cases and increased hospitalizations are being spurred by the highly contagious delta variant.

“We’ve seen this (variant) hitting all around the world and of course states in the Lower 48,” Kosin said. “And what it’s doing to us — the way our health care system’s been set up, especially with the workforce and how extended and exhausted people have been going at this pace for over a year and a half, we’re not well situated to be back in a worse case scenario.”

If current case and hospitalization trends continue to go upward, Kosin said Alaska’s is going to be “in bad shape.”

Last week, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced some efforts to help relieve stress on the state’s hospitals, including expediting the process for getting health care workers licensed in Alaska.

The state also reported 634 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday. Of those, 601 cases were among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 148
  • Wasilla: 63
  • Juneau: 59
  • Palmer: 39
  • Ketchikan: 25
  • Bethel Census Area: 24
  • Kenai: 23
  • Eagle River: 21
  • Fairbanks: 19
  • Kodiak: 17
  • Soldotna: 15
  • Nome Census Area: 12
  • Chugiak: 11
  • Utqiagvik: 10
  • Big Lake: 9
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 8
  • Seward: 8
  • Sterling: 8
  • Dillingham Census Area: 6
  • Homer: 6
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 5
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 5
  • Nikiski: 5
  • Bethel: 4
  • Douglas: 4
  • Girdwood: 4
  • Valdez: 4
  • Dillingham: 3
  • Houston: 3
  • Kotzebue: 3
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 3
  • Copper River Census Area: 2
  • Delta Junction: 2
  • Denali Borough: 2
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 2
  • North Pole: 2
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area: 2
  • Tok: 2
  • Willow: 2
  • Aleutians East Borough: 1
  • Anchor Point: 1
  • Chugach Census Area: 1
  • Cordova: 1
  • Ester: 1
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 1
  • Ketchikan Gateway Borough: 1
  • North Slope Borough: 1
  • Prince Of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 1
  • Sutton-Alpine: 1
  • Unalaska:

The state also reported an additional 33 nonresident COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — 10 in Juneau, six in Anchorage, three in the Denali Borough, three in Kodiak, two in unknown parts of the state, two in Fairbanks, two in Ketchikan, two in Soldotna, two in Wasilla and one in Seward.

As of Tuesday, the state health department’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that 55% of all Alaskans age 12 and older are now fully vaccinated. The data shows 60.7% have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate over the last seven days per 100,000 people, remains high, at 479.1 cases per 100,000. A high alert level indicates widespread transmission of the virus.

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