78 new COVID-19 cases reported as Alaska drops back to intermediate alert level

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 5:25 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 78 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as Alaska’s statewide alert level in relation to virus transmission dropped from high to intermediate for the first time since last year.

The state’s alert level, which is based on the 14-day average case rate, is now 9.95 cases per 100,000 people, according to DHSS. Any rate higher than 10 puts a community in the high alert level. Alaska had been in the high alert level since Sept. 13, 2020, according to a release from the office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The state’s average case rate peaked at 91.3 per 100,000 in December.

“Due to the efforts of Alaskans protecting our most vulnerable, the early and rapid vaccination of our high risk population, and the widespread availability of vaccines and therapeutics, Alaska has seen a significant decline in COVID cases,” Dunleavy is quoted as saying in the press release. “... With low cases, low hospitalizations and more Alaskans vaccinated, we can feel safe and enjoy a busy summer season as we focus on economic recovery.”

The state reported no additional deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday. With 362 COVID-19-related deaths of Alaska residents, the state still has one of the lower death rates in the country.

All 78 new cases reported Thursday were among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 19
  • Fairbanks: 12
  • Ketchikan: 9
  • Hooper Bay: 7
  • Wasilla: 7
  • Delta Junction: 3
  • Homer: 3
  • Metlakatla: 3
  • Eagle River: 2
  • Healy: 2
  • North Pole: 2
  • Palmer: 2
  • Big Lake: 1
  • Kenai: 1
  • Kodiak: 1
  • Salcha: 1
  • Seward: 1
  • Sterling: 1
  • Willow: 1

There are currently 20 people being hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide, according to state data, along with three people being hospitalized for suspected cases.

Since the state’s last report on variant strains of the virus, 52 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been identified in Alaska, according to DHSS. That variant has showed up in Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks and the Southeast. Three additional cases of the P.1 variant have been added since the state’s last report, as well as one additional case of the B.1.351 variant.

DHSS did not update vaccination counts on its vaccine monitoring dashboard on Thursday. According to rates that were current on May 17, more than 53% of Alaska residents age 16 and older had gotten one dose of a vaccine and more than 47% were fully vaccinated. In Anchorage, 50% of residents age 16 and older were fully vaccinated as of May 17, according to DHSS.

The state has conducted more than 2.21 million COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began, and currently has a seven-day average positivity rate of 1.69%.

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