Alaska reports 3 new deaths, 871 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Bronson administration announces new partnership for a COVID-19 treatment center
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 5:07 PM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2021 at 8:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state reported over 800 additional COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and three new deaths, as Alaska’s largest city announced it will stand up a new COVID-19 treatment center.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 871 additional COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, 36 of which are among nonresidents. The state also reported three additional deaths of Alaska residents that were related to COVID-19.

The three deaths were all recent, according to the state health department. The people who died were an Anchorage woman in her 40s, a Soldotna man in his 70s and a man in 70s from the Northwest Arctic Borough. Since the pandemic began in March, the state has reported a total of 561 Alaska resident and 21 nonresident COVID-19 related deaths.

Alaska’s rate of new cases per capita remains the highest in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State hospitals remain overwhelmed with increasing COVID-19 patients at the same time they face a shortage of staff and resources. The state health department recently enabled crisis standards of care guidelines for 20 hospitals and medical facilities in response to those shortages.

Some of those facilities were already operating under crisis standards of care, a last resort framework of guidelines that helps providers make decisions about allocating care and treatment when resources are scarce. Some hospitals, like Providence Alaska Medical Center, have confirmed care rationing has happened in some circumstances, while others, like Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, reported they are not yet burdened to the point of having to make those decisions.

The state’s hospital data dashboard shows that, as of Monday, there were 194 people being hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, and that 38 of them are on ventilators.

The data show that as of Monday there was one adult ICU bed left open in Anchorage, and 19 still available statewide. As the current COVID-19 surge continues, rural hospitals are finding it more difficult to transfer patients to larger facilities like they normally would.

Also on Tuesday, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s office announced a new partnership with a local company to stand up an additional COVID-19 treatment center. It will be located in the former Golden Lion Hotel on 36th Avenue, which the city owns, and will provide COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and monoclonal antibody treatment.

The city has an existing monoclonal antibody treatment center being run by a state partnership with an operator at the Tikahtnu Commons. In recent weeks, shipping delays have caused a shortage of monoclonal antibodies for treatment centers in Alaska.

The private provider the city is partnering with is WEKA Medical, under the umbrella of the main company, WEKA, which stands for Wisdom, Experience, Knowledge and Abilities.

Corey Allen Young, a spokesperson for Bronson’s office, said in a follow up email that WEKA has independently sourced “an ample supply of doses.” The provider that runs the clinic in the Tikahtnu Commons gets its monoclonal antibody supply from the state, he said.

According to its website, WEKA provides a variety of surveillance, security and transport services, and was founded in 2011 by Todd and Crystal Herring.

Alaska Public Offices Commission records show the Herrings are donors to the Bronson campaign, as well as to a group called Open for Business Anchorage. According to its website, the group’s mission is to “invest aggressively and strategically in candidates, ballot initiatives, community involvement and legislation that is directly targeted at protecting and growing Anchorage’s economy.”

State business license records show that WEKA LLC was granted a business license in 2011 and that WEKA Tactical LLC was granted one in 2013. WEKA Medical, which will provide the COVID-19 treatment services, was just issued a business license by the state about two weeks ago, on Sept. 20.

According to the press release from the mayor’s office, the treatment center run by WEKA Medical “will have the capacity to treat hundreds of patients per week” and will “significantly increase” overall treatment capacity in the city.

Monoclonal antibody treatment helps reduce symptoms and can prevent hospitalization for certain groups of people who contract COVID-19. However, it must be taken shortly after a person is diagnosed and is encouraged for people who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Top state health officials still encourage vaccination as a preventative tool against the virus.

The state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that just over 58% of eligible Alaskans 12 and older are now fully vaccinated, and that 63.5% have gotten an initial vaccine dose.

The state health department reported on several days last week and on Monday that at least 60% of eligible Alaskans were fully vaccinated. A department spokesperson confirmed that Tuesday’s data of 58.3% was correct, and that the department is looking into the discrepancy.

State testing data shows that Alaska’s current average positivity rate over the last seven days is 9.86%.

Of the 871 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday, 835 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 240
  • Fairbanks: 102
  • Wasilla: 96
  • Bethel Census Area: 58
  • Palmer: 45
  • Kodiak: 32
  • North Pole: 29
  • Kenai: 28
  • Eagle River: 24
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 17
  • Juneau: 15
  • Soldotna: 15
  • Ketchikan: 10
  • Dillingham Census Area: 8
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 7
  • Girdwood: 7
  • Chugiak: 6
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 6
  • Nome: 6
  • Valdez: 6
  • Bethel: 5
  • Dillingham: 5
  • Homer: 5
  • Nome Census Area: 5
  • Big Lake: 4
  • Delta Junction: 4
  • Houston: 4
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 4
  • Petersburg: 4
  • Salcha: 4
  • Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon: 4
  • Seward: 3
  • Utqiagvik: 3
  • Willow: 3
  • Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula: 2
  • Copper River Census Area: 2
  • Haines: 2
  • Ketchikan Gateway Borough: 2
  • Sitka: 2
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area: 2
  • Cordova: 1
  • Denali Borough: 1
  • Hooper Bay: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 1
  • Kotzebue: 1
  • North Slope Borough: 1
  • Sterling: 1
  • Sutton-Alpine: 1
  • Unalaska: 1

The state also reported 36 additional nonresident COVID-19 cases on Tuesday throughout the state.

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

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