Alaska governor urges vaccinations as state reports 7 new deaths

COVID-19 hospitalizations remain high throughout the state
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 9:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, COVID-positive patients continue to fill Alaska hospitals and as the state reported seven additional COVID-related deaths on Tuesday, the governor urged residents to get vaccinated.

In the past, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has encouraged Alaskans to speak to their health care providers about the possibility of getting the vaccine, but only if that’s what they wanted.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Dunleavy took that a step further by saying he now urges Alaskans to become vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I strongly urge folks to get a vaccine,” he said. “Strongly urge them to do that. I strongly urge Alaskans to really be kind and respect each other.”

Dunleavy said the state will continue to get Alaska hospitals “what they need.”

“We just want to make sure that when somebody has to go to the hospital, whether it’s because of diabetes, a heart issue, a car accident God forbid — any of those things, or the virus, that they get the care that we all expect.”

At Alaska’s largest hospital, patients may have to prepare for potentially not getting that level of care they expect, as Providence Alaska Medical Center announced on Tuesday it has instituted crisis standards of care, which means treatment and resources are being prioritized for the patients who have the potential to most benefit from them.

On Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 691 new COVID-19 infections and seven recent deaths, six of which were among Alaska residents.

The people who recently died, according to the state health department, were all Anchorage residents — one man in his 70s, two men in their 60s and three men in their 50s. One nonresident woman also died recently while in Juneau.

This brings to the total number of Alaska resident COVID-related deaths to 451, and the number of nonresident deaths to 15.

COVID-19 hospitalizations also remain high in Alaska, putting strain on an already stressed health care system. The state’s hospital data dashboard on Tuesday showed that, as of Monday, there were at least 202 people being hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide. That number has soared from the 19 people hospitalized with the virus at the beginning of July.

Several facilities have been operating at or near capacity for weeks, have restricted their visitation policies and have limited elective procedures. Alaska’s hospital system was elevated to the high alert level on Thursday for the first time during the pandemic.

The hospital dashboard also shows that as of Monday, there were four adult ICU beds left open in Anchorage, and 23 statewide.

According to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard, about 47% of Alaska’s total population is fully vaccinated. More than 56% of Alaskans who are eligible for a vaccine — those 12 and older — are fully vaccinated, and almost 62% have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Kenai Peninsula, with 47.7% of eligible residents vaccinated, and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough at 39.8%, remain the two least vaccinated major regions of the state.

Since the pandemic began, the state has conducted more than 2.88 million COVID-19 tests, and currently has a seven-day average positivity rate of 9.1%. This positivity rate is inching closer to the all-time high, when it was 9.31% in November 2020.

Of the 691 new cases reported Tuesday, 676 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 246
  • Wasilla: 96
  • Fairbanks: 90
  • Palmer: 34
  • North Pole: 28
  • North Slope Borough: 25
  • Utqiagvik: 23
  • Eagle River: 20
  • Homer: 19
  • Juneau: 13
  • Kodiak: 13
  • Ketchikan: 10
  • Kenai: 5
  • Anchor Point: 4
  • Sitka: 4
  • Sutton-Alpine: 4
  • Bethel: 3
  • Big Lake: 3
  • Chugiak: 3
  • Soldotna: 3
  • Dillingham: 2
  • Girdwood: 2
  • Houston: 2
  • Nome: 2
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 2
  • Salcha: 2
  • Willow: 2
  • Chugach Census Area: 1
  • Copper River Census Area: 1
  • Craig: 1
  • Delta Junction: 1
  • Denali Borough: 1
  • Ester: 1
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 1
  • Healy: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 1
  • Ketchikan Gateway Borough: 1
  • Kodiak Island Borough: 1
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 1
  • Meadow Lakes: 1
  • Tok: 1
  • Valdez: 1

The state also reported an additional 15 nonresident COVID-19 cases throughout the state on Tuesday.

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