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Alaska reports 2 deaths, 347 new COVID-19 cases over last 2 days

Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 5:15 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state reported two additional deaths of Alaska residents and 347 additional COVID-19 infections since Monday, as Alaska’s case rate continues to fall.

On Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 347 COVID-19 cases over the last two days — 283 on Tuesday and 64 on Wednesday. Cases are reported to the public the day after they are reported to the state, and the state health department now only reports new cases on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Of the 347 cases reported on Wednesday, just five were identified among nonresidents. The first case of the omicron variant was identified in Alaska on Monday through genomic sequencing. The Anchorage Health Department said the person who tested positive for the omicron variant had recently traveled internationally.

A spokesperson for the state health department clarified on Tuesday that the case specimen was collected on Nov. 29, and that state labs didn’t receive it until Dec. 6. The specimen was sent to Fairbanks on Dec. 7 to begin the sequencing process.

The state reported two additional COVID-19-related deaths of Alaska residents on Wednesday. The two deaths reported were a Fairbanks woman in her 60s and an Anchorage man in his 60s. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the state has officially recorded a total of 859 deaths of Alaska residents and 30 deaths of nonresidents related to the virus.

State case data shows that COVID-19 cases in Alaska continue to decrease, while hospitalizations due to the virus have slightly increased since Monday. The state case data shows a 27% decrease in cases last week compared to the week of Dec. 1-Dec. 7.

Once the state with the highest rate of new COVID-19 in the nation during the delta variant surge, Alaska now ranks 33rd among all states according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitalizations due to the virus increased slightly to 69 patients, up from 63 when the state last reported data on Monday. That figure does not include patients who are recovering from COVID-19 but are still require hospital care.

According to the state’s hospital data dashboard, there are 10 people statewide who require a ventilator and 5.8% of all hospitalized patients in Alaska are hospitalized with COVID-19. There are 22 adult ICU beds available in the entire state of Alaska.

Alaska’s rate of positive COVID-19 tests also slightly increased from Monday to Wednesday after an extended stretch of consistent decreasing. The state testing data shows that Alaska’s rolling average positivity rate for tests is 3.61%, up from 3.57% on Monday. Health experts have used the threshold of 5% to indicate when there is widespread transmission of the virus within a community.

The vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that 59.9% of all Alaska residents age 5 and up are fully vaccinated, while 67% have received at least one dose. The state also reported that 19.3% of Alaska residents 5 and older have gotten booster shot since Aug. 13.

Alaska’s COVID-19 case rate remains high, although half of the boroughs and census areas in the state have dipped blow that designation. The CDC reported rate for Alaska’s COVID-19 positive cases per 100,000 residents over the last week is 174.6. Of the 28 boroughs and census areas across Alaska, 14 remain at a high alert level, seven are categorized as substantial, six are moderate and the Denali Borough is the only area in the state at a low alert level.

The state also reported that 50 resident cases were added to the state’s overall total following data verification procedures.

Of the 347 COVID-19 cases reported by the state on Wednesday, 342 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 91
  • Greater Wasilla area: 47
  • Fairbanks: 27
  • Juneau: 20
  • Ketchikan: 18
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 18
  • North Pole: 15
  • Eagle River: 13
  • Chugiak: 12
  • Greater Palmer area: 12
  • Bethel Census Area: 9
  • Sitka: 8
  • Homer: 7
  • Kenai: 4
  • Nome: 4
  • Soldotna: 4
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 4
  • Bethel: 3
  • Hooper Bay: 3
  • Houston/Big Lake area: 3
  • Willow: 3
  • Anchor Point: 2
  • Kotzebue: 2
  • Cordova: 1
  • Dillingham: 1
  • Dillingham Census Area: 1
  • Haines: 1
  • Ketchikan Gateway Borough: 1
  • Nome Census Area: 1
  • North Slope Borough: 1
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 1
  • Prince Of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 1
  • Salcha: 1
  • Seward: 1
  • Sutton-Alpine: 1
  • Utqiagvik: 1.

Of the five nonresident COVID-19 cases reported by the state on Wednesday, one was from Anchorage, one from Bethel, one from Seward, one from Wasilla and one with both the location and purpose under investigation.

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