COVID-19 follow-up in Alaska: 257 new cases reported Sunday, no new deaths


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No new deaths were reported on Sunday. A total of 223 Alaskans and one non-resident with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic hit the state in March. Alaska’s per capita death rate is among the lowest in the country, although the size of the state and vulnerable health care system complicate national comparisons.

On Sunday, 76 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized and six more people in hospitals were suspected of having the virus.

The state’s daily number of cases has declined dramatically in recent weeks, after the state saw a sharp increase in November and early December. Although infections have declined, health officials continued to worry about a spike in cases after the holidays. The statewide alert level is still high.

Vaccines reached Alaska in mid-December, and by Friday 25,058 people had received the first dose of the vaccine, according to the state’s Vaccine Monitoring Dashboard. Healthcare workers and adults over 65 are now eligible for the vaccination, although appointment slots are limited and fill up quickly when the scheduling window opened on Wednesday.

Appointments for vaccines are made at or by calling 907-646-3322, leaving a message and awaiting a callback from an operator.

Of the 251 new cases reported Sunday among residents of Alaska, 85 were in Anchorage, one in Chugiak and four in Eagle River; one was in Homer, one in Kenai, one in Nikiski, one in Seward, three in Soldotna, and two in Sterling; seven were at Kodiak; two were in Cordoba; 25 were at Fairbanks and four at the North Pole; eight were in Palmer, 40 in Wasilla, and one in Willow; one was in Kotzebue; two were in Juneau; one was in Ketchikan; one was in Sitka; three were in Unalaska; and 11 were at Bethel.

Among communities of less than 1,000 people not named for privacy protection, there was one case in the northern Kenai Peninsula and two in the southern part of the borough; two were in the borough of Fairbanks North Star; two were in the Yukon-Koyukuk census region; 14 were in the borough of North Slope; three were in the Northwestern Arctic Borough; 18 were in the Bethel census area; and three were in the Kusilvak census area.

Six cases were reported Sunday among non-residents, including three in Anchorage, one in Eagle River, one in Wasilla and one case in a location still under investigation.

While people can be tested more than once, each case reported by the state’s health department represents only one person.

State data does not specify whether people who test positive for COVID-19 have symptoms. More than half of the country’s infections are transmitted by asymptomatic people, according to CDC estimates.

The statewide test positivity rate on Sunday was 4.49% over a seven-day average. Health officials say anything over 5% can indicate inadequate testing and widespread community transmission. The condition peaked at over 9% positivity in November.

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