CDC reports bump in COVID-19 hospitalizations but Alaska sees case rates remain flat

CDC reports bump in COVID hospitalizations but Alaska sees case rates remain flat
Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 3:45 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 12.5% increase in the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the last week of July but Alaska’s numbers are looking different, according to state health officials.

The Alaska Department of Health tracks COVID cases weekly and reports them monthly, with the most recent report released Aug. 8. Louisa Castrodale, an epidemiologist for the state, said cases have averaged around 200 per month for most of the summer and in the latest count, hospitalizations for COVID have gone down.

The counts don’t reflect everyone who is sick, Castrodale said, because many people are taking tests at home and never see a doctor. Still, she said, broader trends show no large uptick in the numbers.

“Are we seeing the numbers of hospitalizations really increase? Are we seeing sort of reports of like big outbreaks? We’re not going to be able to track and we aren’t tracking every single case,” she said. “But we are looking for those broad-strokes trends.”

Castrodale said even though COVID is not at a high level of concern in Alaska right now, the department is always keeping a close watch on both local numbers and national trends. She emphasized that it’s still important for people to protect themselves. She recommends staying up to date on vaccines, adding that health officials are expecting a new COVID booster to be released this fall. Beyond that, she said, don’t take chances if you are feeling sick.

“If you’re not feeling well, if you think you might have a fever, or you know you have a fever and you have symptoms, those are the times to stay home, not go to work, not to go to big public events. Really to take care of yourself for your own sake but also for the sake of others.”

She said the department follows CDC guidelines advising people who do test positive to isolate for five days.