COVID-19 follow-up in Alaska: 10 deaths and 429 cases reported on Tuesday

We provide this important information without a subscription as a public service. But we depend on the support of readers to do this work. Please consider supporting freelance journalism in Alaska, at just $ 1.99 for the first month of subscription.

Four of the deaths were recent, involving: an anchorage woman in the 1980s, an anchorage woman in the 1970s, an anchorage man in the 1970s, and an anchorage man in the 1960s.

The other six deaths have been identified through a standard revision of death certificates in the past few months, according to the state health department. These involved a man from Matanuska-Susitna district in the 1980s, an Anchorage woman in the 1980s, two Anchorage men in the 1970s, an Anchorage woman in the 1960s and a Big Lake man in the 1940s.

The number of cases on Tuesday reflected an increase after Monday and Sunday’s reports of 152 and 185 cases, respectively, were the lowest the state has seen in October.

By November, the number of infections had risen to a national high. Hospitalizations and deaths followed, with a report of 18 deaths reported on December 12.

State officials said infections and hospitalizations appear to be leveling off nationwide, noting in a weekly summary that there has been a 35% drop in new cases in the last week compared to the previous week.

However, the number of infections reported daily remains higher than reports in the spring, summer and early fall, and problems with hospital capacity and staff remain a concern, state officials say.

They attribute part of the decline in Anchorage’s “hunker down” orders in effect during the month and continue to urge Alaska to avoid meetings with people outside their holiday household.

As of Tuesday, there were 115 people with COVID-19 in Alaska hospitals and another six people in hospital with suspected cases. Nationwide, 67 intensive care beds were available as of Tuesday.

In all, 193 Alaska and one non-resident with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic began here in March. Alaska’s overall per capita death rate is among the lowest in the country, but officials say the state’s vast geography and vulnerable health care system make it difficult to compare to other states.

As of Tuesday morning, the state’s vaccine website showed that 7,118 people in the state had been vaccinated so far. This tracker shows the number of vaccines given a little behind the real time.

Health officials continue to recommend basic disease prevention practices, including wearing a mask, social distancing and hand washing.

Of the 426 cases reported Tuesday to Alaska residents, there were 179 in Anchorage, plus nine in Chugiak and 16 in the Eagle River; one in Anchor Point; seven in Homer; three in Kenai; four in Seward; eight in Soldotna; 27 in Kodiak; one in Valdez; 16 in Fairbanks, plus one in the North Pole; one in Tok; 20 in Palmer; 83 in Wasilla; one in Willow; two in Utqiagvik; one in Kotzebue; 18 in Juneau; and 13 at Bethel.

Among the communities of less than 1,000 people who were not named to protect privacy, there was one case in the Valdez-Cordova census area; one in the Yukon-Koyukuk census area; one in the Mat-Su neighborhood; one in the North Slope neighborhood; seven in the Bethel census area; one in the Gulf of Bristol plus the Lake and Peninsula area; one in the Dillingham census area; and two in the Kusilvak census area.

There were also three cases among non-residents currently in Alaska, all in Anchorage.

While people could be tested multiple times, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.

It is not clear how many people who tested positive for the virus showed symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that about one-third of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

The national test positivity rate on Tuesday was 4.66% compared to the 7-day average. Health experts say that any more than 5% may indicate inadequate testing and potentially widespread community transmission. The state reached a peak of over 9% test positivity in mid-November.