Omicron BA.5 COVID-19 variant hits Alaska

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Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 7:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Health reported another 2,496 positive tests over the last week across the state.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said the predominant strain in Alaska and across the country is the BA.5 subvariant of omicron.

“We’re in the thick of it right now,” McLaughlin said. “I haven’t seen any indication that it’s peaked yet.”

The Bethel Census Area, North Slope Borough, Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula — which the department combines in statistics — had the highest seven-day community case rates, greater than 400 cases in the past seven days per 100,000 people.

“So we are seeing a lot of repeat infections among people who have had prior COVID infection,” McLaughlin said. “We’re also seeing a lot of breakthrough infections among people who are vaccinated.”

With more at-home COVID-19 testing kits available, not as many cases are reported, and McLaughlin said he looks at indicators such as community case rates and hospitalizations.

“I think it’s there certain regions of the United States where they’re starting to now see a decrease in cases,” McLaughlin said. “But in Alaska, I would say we’re kind of right in the thick of that BA.5 wave.”

Since mid-April, hospitalizations have steadily increased, and in April, hospitalizations hovered around half what they are currently, according to the health department COVID-19 state data dashboard.

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