Alaska reports 6 deaths, more than 800 new COVID-19 cases

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 2:22 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 5:44 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska reported new six deaths and more than 800 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, as hospitalizations remains high and the current surge in cases continues.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 861 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, 835 of which are among Alaska residents. The state also reported six additional COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total number of Alaska resident deaths to 465. Fifteen nonresidents have also died with COVID-19 while in Alaska.

The six deaths were recent, the state health department reported, and they were an Anchorage man age 80 or older, two Anchorage men in their 70s, an Anchorage woman in her 70s, a Soldotna woman in her 70s and a woman from the Dillingham Census Area in her 70s.

The surge driven largely by the highly contagious delta variant has continued in Alaska for weeks. A COVID-19 tracker by the New York Times shows that Alaska ranks first for the most cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days.

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients remain high in Alaska as well, though by Tuesday, the state’s hospital data dashboard showed that as of Monday they had dipped back below 200. The data show there were at least 196 people being hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide on Monday. Of those patients, 34 are on ventilators.

This is still a significant jump from earlier this summer, when in early July there were just 19 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alaska.

The hospital data dashboard also showed that, as of Monday, there were 16 adult ICU beds left open statewide and just two left available in Anchorage. The state’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center, continues to operate under crisis standards of care as its resources and staff are being overwhelmed. These standards of care allow treatment and resources to be prioritized for patients who stand the best chance of benefitting from them.

The delta variant continues to be a driving factor of Alaska’s current surge. According the most recent situation report from the Alaska Sequencing Consortium, the delta variant accounted for 97% of the COVID-19 cases sequenced during the week that started Aug. 22.

The majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths that have occurred in Alaska so far have been among unvaccinated people, though the number of breakthrough infections is increasing. According to a monthly COVID-19 update from the state Section of Epidemiology, close to 12% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in June were due to vaccine breakthrough cases. By July, that percent rose to 19.4%.

The update shows that about 30% of all Alaska COVID-19 cases for July were considered vaccine breakthrough cases. Overall, the most recent weekly case update from the state health department shows that, from Jan. 16 through Sept. 11, 80% of all COVID-19 cases, 88% of all hospitalizations and 87% of deaths among Alaska residents have been among unvaccinated people.

The health department’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that just over 57% of all eligible Alaskans age 12 and older are now fully vaccinated and 62.5% have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the 861 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday, 835 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 322
  • Wasilla: 58
  • Fairbanks: 55
  • Eagle River: 48
  • Juneau: 45
  • Palmer: 30
  • Kenai: 25
  • Utqiagvik: 24
  • Chugiak: 21
  • North Slope Borough: 19
  • Bethel Census Area: 15
  • Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula: 15
  • North Pole: 15
  • Sitka: 12
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 11
  • Soldotna: 11
  • Bethel: 10
  • Craig: 8
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 7
  • Ketchikan: 6
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 6
  • Haines Borough: 5
  • Kotzebue: 5
  • Sterling: 5
  • Tok: 5
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 5
  • Dillingham: 4
  • Houston: 4
  • Nikiski: 4
  • Unalaska: 4
  • Homer: 3
  • Kodiak Island Borough: 3
  • Valdez: 3
  • Anchor Point: 2
  • Chevak: 2
  • Denali Borough: 2
  • Dillingham Census Area: 2
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 2
  • Yakutak plus Hoonah-Angoon: 2
  • Big Lake: 1
  • Copper River Census Area: 1
  • Delta Junction: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 1
  • Kodiak: 1
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 1
  • Meadow Lakes: 1
  • Skagway: 1
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area: 1
  • Sutton-Alpine: 1

The state also reported 26 additional nonresident COVID-19 cases across Alaska on Tuesday.

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

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