Alaska reports more than 3,200 COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 2:28 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2022 at 6:12 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state has reported more than 3,200 additional COVID-19 infections over the past three days, as an upward trend in new cases continues with the rapid spread of the omicron variant. Hospitalizations also rose over the weekend.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 3,284 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, 76 of which are among nonresidents. Of the Alaska resident cases, there were 1,620 cases reported for Friday, 812 for Saturday and 776 for Sunday. The single-day total of 1,784 cases last Wednesday remains the record high number of cases reported in a single day since the pandemic began.

COVID-19 cases in Alaska began to increase dramatically in late December, a spike state health experts are attributing to the fast-spreading omicron variant. It is now likely the dominant strain in Alaska, the state epidemiologist has said.

On Monday, the state updated its data to reflect that there are now 20 confirmed cases of the omicron variant in Alaska. State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin has said the true number is likely much higher, citing the somewhat lengthy specimen sequencing process and the fact that a state laboratory in Fairbanks had to shut down due to inclement weather.

State case data shows there’s been a 124% increase in new cases over the last week compared to the week of Dec. 27 - Jan. 2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alaska’s rate of new cases per capita is over 1,000, but not nearly the highest in the United States. The nationwide average rate of new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days is over 1,400.

Hospitalizations due to the virus also rose on Monday, up to 80 compared to 70 on Friday. Early studies have suggested that, while it is much more transmissible, the omicron variant may not be as virulent as the delta variant, but Alaska hospitals are remaining vigilant nonetheless and preparing for a potential impact to services.

Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, said last week that hospitals are facing a new problem with omicron that wasn’t experienced during the delta variant surge this past fall: more health care workers are calling out due to being sick with COVID-19, or for being exposed to it.

As more health care workers have to call out, services within Alaska hospitals could be impacted, Kosin said.

“The hospitalizations were such a key metric that we kind of all had our heads wrapped around before,” Kosin said Friday. “It’s a different equation than before.”

According to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard, nearly 61% of all eligible Alaskans, and military members and veterans, are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 68.2% have gotten at least an initial vaccine dose. The vaccine data shows that 23% of eligible Alaskans and military have gotten a booster shot.

Of the 3,284 COVID-19 cases reported by the state on Monday, 3,208 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 1,650
  • Juneau: 211
  • Fairbanks: 200
  • Kodiak: 172
  • Greater Wasilla area: 132
  • Eagle River: 95
  • Sitka: 75
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 60
  • Nome Census Area: 54
  • Greater Palmer area: 44
  • North Pole: 44
  • Utqiaġvik: 34
  • Bethel: 31
  • Nome: 30
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 29
  • Ketchikan: 26
  • Homer: 25
  • Soldotna: 25
  • Haines: 21
  • Kotzebue: 21
  • Chugiak: 20
  • Kenai: 20
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 18
  • Unalaska: 16
  • Anchor Point: 15
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 13
  • Seward: 13
  • Craig: 10
  • Valdez: 10
  • Bethel Census Area: 9
  • Hoonah-Angoon plus Yakutat: 8
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 8
  • Sterling: 6
  • Aleutians East Borough: 5
  • Wrangell: 5
  • Aleutians West Borough: 4
  • Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula: 4
  • Copper River Census Area: 4
  • Cordova: 4
  • Kodiak Island Borough: 4
  • North Slope Borough: 4
  • Tok: 4
  • Dillingham: 3
  • Houston/Big Lake: 3
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 2
  • Delta Junction: 2
  • Dillingham Census Area: 2
  • Girdwood: 2
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 2
  • Denali Borough: 1
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 1
  • Fritz Creek: 1
  • Ketchikan Gateway Borough: 1
  • Nikiski: 1
  • Sutton-Alpine: 1
  • Willow: 1
  • Unknown residency: 1

Of the 76 additional nonresident COVID-19 cases reported Monday, 21 are in Anchorage, 13 are in the Aleutians West Borough and 11 are in the Aleutians East Borough.

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

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