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Alaska reports second case of omicron variant in an Anchorage resident

The person had recently traveled out of state
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 4:43 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska on Wednesday reported the second confirmed case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the state, in an Anchorage resident who had recently traveled out of state. Also on Wednesday, the state reported 235 additional COVID-19 infections over the last two days and 30 additional deaths related to the virus, most identified through death certificate review.

According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the second omicron case was identified through genomic sequencing by an out-of-state laboratory. The person had recently tested positive in Anchorage “following domestic travel out of state in December,” the state said in an email.

“The person, when contacted by a contract tracer, was already isolating at home with mild illness and had outreached close contacts,” the email states.

The state health department noted that while this is only the second confirmed case of the omicron variant in Alaska, the variant is spreading rapidly through the country and the world. Earlier this week, omicron became the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States. So far, health experts say the variant appears to spread much faster, but results in milder cases than the delta variant.

The state of Alaska expects more omicron cases to be detected soon, the email stated.

“Protective measures against the variant remain the same as for the other COVID virus variants,” the state health department wrote. “The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) encourages Alaskans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they haven’t already done so and to get boosted if they’re eligible.”

Also this week, the Anchorage School Board voted to extend its current masking policy for staff and students to at least Jan. 15, over concerns about the rapid spread of the omicron variant and what it might mean for Anchorage families returning from traveling over the winter break.

Also on Wednesday, the state reported 30 additional COVID-19-related deaths of Alaska residents. According to the state health department, only four of those deaths are recent, and the rest occurred from September to December and were identified through the death certificate review process. This process is routine, but can sometimes take up to several weeks.

The people who died ranged in age from their 20s to over 80. Eight were Wasilla residents, five were Anchorage residents, four were from the Bethel Census Area, three were Palmer residents, two were North Pole residents, and one each was a resident of Fairbanks, Houston, Ketchikan, the greater Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Soldotna, Willow, the Copper River Census Area and the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area.

These deaths bring the total number of COVID-19-related Alaska resident deaths since the pandemic began to 945. A total of 31 nonresidents have died in Alaska with the virus, the state has reported.

On Wednesday, the state reported 235 additional COVID-19 cases over the last two days, nine of which were among nonresidents. State data shows COVID-19 cases continuing to decline in Alaska, with a 12% decrease in new cases last week compared to the week before. Alaska, which during the state’s delta variant surge was first in the nation for its rate of new COVID-19 cases per capita, now ranks 40th among all states for new cases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Wednesday, the state is reporting there are 56 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, which is down from 65 people on Monday. According to the state’s hospital data dashboard, about 5% of all Alaskans currently being hospitalized are being hospitalized with COVID-19.

The state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that just over 60% of all eligible Alaskans age 5 and older are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 67.4% have gotten at least an initial vaccine dose. The state reports that 20.6% of eligible Alaskans have gotten a booster shot.

Due to the upcoming Christmas holiday, the next data report from the state will be made on Monday, Dec. 27.

Of the 235 COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday, 226 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 90
  • Ketchikan: 19
  • Fairbanks: 18
  • Greater Wasilla area: 13
  • Juneau: 9
  • Greater Palmer area: 6
  • Kenai: 6
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 5
  • Sitka: 5
  • Anchor Point: 4
  • Homer: 4
  • Nome Census Area: 4
  • Bethel: 3
  • Bethel Census Area: 3
  • Sterling: 3
  • Eagle River: 2
  • Girdwood: 2
  • Hooper Bay: 2
  • Kotzebue: 2
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 2
  • Nome: 2
  • North Pole: 2
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 2
  • Seward: 2
  • Soldotna: 2
  • Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula: 1
  • Chevak: 1
  • Chugiak: 1
  • Copper River Census Area: 1
  • Delta Junction: 1
  • Dillingham Census Area: 1
  • Houston/Big Lake: 1
  • Kodiak: 1
  • Nikiski: 1
  • North Slope Borough: 1
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 1
  • Utqiaġvik: 1
  • Willow: 1
  • Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon: 1

Of the nine additional nonresident cases of COVID-19 reported by the state Wednesday, four were in Anchorage, two in the Northwest Arctic Borough and one each in Fairbanks, Kenai and Juneau.

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