Alaska sets new record for COVID hospitalizations for third day

State reports more than 700 new cases, but no new deaths, on Thursday
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 4:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska continues to set new records for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 this week, with a new record high of at least 169 reported by the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association on Thursday.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services also reported 727 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, but no additional deaths. In total, the state has reported 435 Alaska resident deaths and 13 nonresident deaths that have been related to COVID-19.

Alaska has set a new record for the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients almost every day this week. The state reported it had tied its previous record of 151 over the weekend. Then the state reported 152 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, which jumped to 166 on Wednesday and then 169 on Thursday.

In an interview earlier this week, Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association President and CEO Jared Kosin said that if this hospitalization trend continues, Alaska is going to be “in bad shape.” Hospitals around the state have been operating near or at capacity for weeks now as the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 pushes both bases and hospitalizations upward.

According to the most recent situation report by the Alaska Sequencing Consortium, health officials reported that 99% of COVID-19 cases that were sequenced during the week that began Aug. 8 turned out to be the delta variant. The state has identified more than 1,000 delta cases so far.

The state health department’s hospital data dashboard shows that there are 25 COVID-19 patients currently on ventilators statewide.

It also shows that, as of Wednesday, there were three adult ICU beds left open in Anchorage and 16 available statewide. Nearly 17% of all people hospitalized in Alaska are hospitalized with COVID-19.

In a report to the Mat-Su school board Wednesday night, Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said that hospitals are full this time of year as it is, and that Alaska’s hospitals are “incredibly stressed and full” right now.

“When we have 17% of all hospitalizations because of COVID ... it starts to really limit the ability to care for all patients,” Zink said.

Zink told the school board that her job has made it abundantly clear that vaccines are important. The tools needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 right now, Zink said, include masking and surveillance testing.

“I would hate to see any friend of my kid, anyone in this community, showing up in my emergency department sick and struggling to breathe, and asking what they could have done differently,” she said.

Of the new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday, 682 of them are among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 230
  • Fairbanks: 89
  • Wasilla: 55
  • Palmer: 37
  • Utqiagvik: 34
  • Juneau: 27
  • North Pole: 25
  • Eagle River: 16
  • Kenai: 14
  • Bethel Census Area: 12
  • Soldotna: 11
  • Ketchikan: 10
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 9
  • Homer: 8
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 8
  • Unalaska: 7
  • Dillingham Census Area: 6
  • Kodiak: 6
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 5
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 5
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 5
  • Douglas: 4
  • Nome Census Area: 4
  • Seward: 4
  • Sterling: 4
  • Chugiak: 3
  • Delta Junction: 3
  • Houston: 3
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 3
  • Sutton-Alpine: 3
  • Valdez: 3
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 3
  • Bethel: 2
  • Big Lake: 2
  • Cordova: 2
  • Dillingham: 2
  • Girdwood: 2
  • Hooper Bay: 2
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 2
  • Willow: 2
  • Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon: 2
  • Copper River Census Area: 1
  • Craig: 1
  • Healy: 1
  • Kotzebue: 1
  • Metlakatla: 1
  • Nikiski: 1
  • Nome: 1
  • Sitka: 1

The state also identified an additional 45 nonresident COVID-19 cases on Thursday — 11 in Anchorage, nine in Fairbanks, eight in Ketchikan, five in Bristol Bay/Lake and Peninsula Borough, two each in Juneau, Petersburg and Unalaska, and one each in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Nome, Seward, Soldotna, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and an unknown part of the state.

The state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that 55.3% of all Alaskans age 12 and older are now fully vaccinated, and that 61% have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the pandemic began, the state has conducted more than 2.76 million COVID-19 tests, and currently has a seven-day average positivity rate of 7.22%.

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