Alaska breaks single-day record high, reports more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases

The state is still leading the nation for new COVID-19 cases per capita
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 11:45 AM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 3:50 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska has once again broken the record for the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 1,251 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, 1,224 of which are among Alaska residents. The last record was set on Sept. 15, with a total count of 1,095 cases for residents and nonresidents.

Alaska also still leads the nation in new COVID-19 cases per capita, according to a New York Times tracking tool updated Wednesday.

The state also reported one additional COVID-19 related death, bringing the total number of Alaska resident deaths to 466. Fifteen nonresidents have also died with COVID-19 while in Alaska. The newly reported death was recent, according to the state health department. The person was an Anchorage man who was 80 or older.

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients remain high in Alaska as well, and state data show they’ve climbed slightly this week. By Wednesday, the state’s hospital data dashboard showed that as of Tuesday, 200 people infected by the virus are being hospitalized in Alaska. Thirty-four people, both COVID-positive and those suspected of having the virus, are on ventilators.

This is a significant jump compared to earlier this summer, when just 19 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in early July.

The hospital data dashboard also showed that, as of Tuesday, there were 21 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. The policy allows treatment and resources to be prioritized for patients who stand the best chance of benefitting from them.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration announced on Wednesday that it’s activated crisis standards of care statewide, to help all Alaska hospitals as they’re faced with an increase in COVID-19 patients and staffing shortages. Also on Wednesday, Dunleavy announced that starting next week, the more than 470 health care personnel Alaska requested through a federal agency will start arriving in the state to help temporarily relieve the pressure on hospitals.

Alaska’s current surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is largely being driven by the highly-contagious delta variant, which, according to the most recent situation report from the Alaska Sequencing Consortium, made up 97% of all Alaska COVID-19 cases that were sequenced the week beginning Aug. 22.

State data also shows that the majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Alaska are in people who are not vaccinated, though the number of vaccine breakthrough cases have increased over the summer. The most recent monthly COVID-19 update from the state Section of Epidemiology shows that at the beginning of the summer, just 8.6% of COVID-19 cases in the month of May were due to vaccine breakthrough in fully vaccinated Alaskans. By July, that percentage grew to 29.6% of the COVID-19 cases for that month.

Still, the data show that in July, about 80% of COVID-19 hospitalizations were among people who were not vaccinated.

The health department’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that 58% of all eligible Alaskans age 12 and older are now fully vaccinated and 62.6% have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Kenai Peninsula Borough and Matanuska-Susitna Borough remain the two least vaccinated of the state’s major regions, respectively.

Of the 1,251 new cases reported Wednesday, 1,224 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 445
  • Wasilla: 177
  • Fairbanks: 128
  • Palmer: 96
  • Juneau: 40
  • North Pole: 32
  • Bethel Census Area: 25
  • Kodiak: 25
  • Eagle River: 20
  • Utqiagvik: 20
  • Kenai: 16
  • Bethel: 14
  • Copper River Census Area: 14
  • Soldotna: 14
  • Chugiak: 12
  • Homer: 12
  • Valdez: 12
  • Delta Junction: 9
  • Dillingham: 9
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 9
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 9
  • Haines: 8
  • Ketchikan: 7
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 7
  • Dillingham Census Area: 5
  • Seward: 5
  • Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon: 5
  • Craig: 4
  • North Slope Borough: 4
  • Willow: 4
  • Big Lake: 3
  • Kotzebue: 3
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 3
  • Sutton-Alpine: 3
  • Anchor Point: 2
  • Denali Borough: 2
  • Houston: 2
  • Nikiski: 2
  • Salcha: 2
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area: 2
  • Tok: 2
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 2
  • Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula: 1
  • Cordova: 1
  • Douglas: 1
  • Hooper Bay: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 1
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 1
  • Nome: 1
  • Sitka: 1
  • Sterling: 1

The state also reported an additional 27 nonresident COVID-19 cases on Wednesday across Alaska.

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

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