Alaska sets new COVID hospitalization record, reports 801 new cases Wednesday

State reports four additional deaths
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 2:59 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 3:27 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska on Wednesday set a new record high for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 at one time, as well as reported 801 new COVID-19 infections.

The Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association reported on Wednesday afternoon that there are at least 166 people hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout the state, according to President and CEO Jared Kosin. This is higher than any other number at any point in the pandemic in Alaska, including last winter’s extended surge.

Over the weekend, Alaska had tied its previous record for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, which was 151. That number grew to 152 by Tuesday and jumped to 166 today.

On Tuesday, Kosin said Alaska is now at the worst point of the pandemic.

“It feels different now,” he said. “It’s more stressful, our caregivers are exhausted. This is not where we want to be.”

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services also reported 801 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday — 765 of which were among Alaska residents.

The state also reported four additional COVID-related deaths of Alaska residents on Wednesday. All four were recent, according to the state health department, and they were an Anchorage man who was 80 or older, an Anchorage man in his 70s, an Anchorage man in his 40s and a woman in her 40s from the Bethel Census Area.

In total, the state has reported that 435 Alaska residents and 13 nonresidents have died with COVID-19.

According to the monthly COVID-19 update prepared by the state’s Section of Epidemiology, just close to 3% of COVID-19 cases in Alaska in the month of March were in people who were already fully vaccinated. By July, the report shows that 29.6% of Alaska COVID-19 cases were in people who were vaccinated.

In the month of June, just nearly 12% of the state’s total COVID-19 hospitalizations were among people who were fully vaccinated, the report shows, and in July, 19% of those hospitalizations were among fully vaccinated people. That means about 80% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in July were unvaccinated people.

“While both the number and proportion of hospitalizations among fully vaccinated persons was higher in July than any previous month, fully vaccinated persons were still much less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than persons who were not fully vaccinated,” the report states.

Much of Alaska’s surge in cases and hospitalizations is due to the highly contagious delta variant, health officials have said.

According to the most recent situation report by the Alaska Sequencing Consortium, the delta variant accounted for 99% of the Alaska COVID-19 cases that were sequenced during the week that began on Aug. 8. According to the report, more than 1,000 cases of the delta variant have been identified in Alaska so far.

“We’ve seen this (variant) hitting all around the world and of course states in the Lower 48,” Kosin said on Tuesday. “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.”

Hospitals across the state have reported operating close to or at capacity for weeks. Administrators say it’s a combination of an increase in COVID-19 patients along with the normal busy operations that come during summer, staffing shortages and staff burnout. Hospitals have tightened their rules for visitors and temporarily suspended elective procedures in an effort to relieve some of the pressure.

Of the 801 new cases reported Wednesday, 765 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 275
  • Fairbanks: 71
  • Wasilla: 50
  • Palmer: 32
  • Soldotna: 30
  • North Pole: 29
  • Juneau: 25
  • Kenai: 25
  • Bethel Census Area: 23
  • Ketchikan: 20
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 17
  • Utqiagvik: 17
  • Sterling: 11
  • Eagle River: 10
  • Homer: 9
  • North Slope Borough: 8
  • Seward: 8
  • Tok: 6
  • Bethel: 5
  • Kodiak: 5
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 5
  • Nikiski: 5
  • Unalaska: 5
  • Chugiak: 4
  • Copper River Census Area: 4
  • Craig: 4
  • Healy: 4
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 4
  • Sitka: 4
  • Willow: 4
  • Anchor Point: 3
  • Dillingham Census Area: 3
  • Douglas: 3
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 3
  • Girdwood: 3
  • Ketchikan Gateway Borough: 3
  • Kotzebue: 3
  • Nome Census Area: 3
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 3
  • Aleutians East Borough: 2
  • Big Lake: 2
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 2
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 2
  • Sutton-Alpine: 2
  • Wrangell: 2
  • Chevak: 1
  • Delta Junction: 1
  • Denali Borough: 1
  • Houston: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 1
  • Petersburg: 1
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area: 1

The state also reported an additional 36 nonresident COVID-19 cases on Wednesday — six in unknown parts of the state, six in Anchorage, five in Fairbanks, four in Juneau, three in Healy, three in Sitka, two in Ketchikan, two in Palmer, two in Prudhoe Bay, and one each in Kenai, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area and Skagway.

As of Wednesday, the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that just over 55% of all Alaskans age 12 and older are now fully vaccinated, and that nearly 61% have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the pandemic began, the state has conducted more than 2.47 million COVID-19 tests, and currently has a seven-day average positivity rate of 7.47%.

Editor’s note: this article has been updated with additional information.

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