Alaska reports 6 deaths, more than 800 COVID-19 cases Friday

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 4:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state reported over 800 additional COVID-19 infections on Friday and six additional COVID-related deaths, as hospitalizations remained high.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported five Alaska resident deaths Friday and one nonresident death. The residents who died were a Fairbanks woman in her 70s, an Anchorage man who was 80 or older, an Anchorage man in his 70s, an Anchorage man in his 50s and a woman 80 or older from the Bethel Census Area. The nonresident was a woman in her 50s who was diagnosed in Wasilla.

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital also reported two deaths on its own website on Friday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether those two deaths were included in Friday’s tally from the state.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the state has reported a total of 673 Alaska residents and 25 nonresidents who have died with COVID-19.

The state health department reported 877 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, 16 of which are among nonresidents. State data currently shows a 14% decrease in cases for the week of Oct. 15-21 from the week before, but Alaska still tops the nation for the rate of new cases over the last seven days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alaska’s hospitalizations due to the virus remains high as well, with the state reporting 232 people hospitalized across Alaska with COVID-19 on Friday. That’s down slightly from Thursday’s record high of 242, but still enough that the state’s health care system is highly stressed.

Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association President and CEO Jared Kosin said Thursday that even though it’s starting to feel as though virus transmission in Alaska is beginning to plateau, the health care system will not see that translate into relief inside hospitals for quite some time.

“We’re bracing for the level of stress we’ve been at for several more weeks,” Kosin said Thursday.

The factors of lengthy hospital stays and the complex care needs of COVID-19 patients mean the hospital system is going to take a while to “clear out” even if the state’s cases do start to plateau or even decrease, Kosin said.

“Until we see our hospitals normalize, as a health care system — frankly, as a society — we’re not out of it and we’re not going to be,” he said.

Of the 232 people currently being hospitalized with COVID-19, 32 of them are on ventilators according to the state’s hospital data dashboard. The dashboard shows there are 11 adult ICU beds left open in Anchorage and 20 available statewide.

Alaska is still seeing high rates of positive COVID-19 tests as well, though that rate is trending slightly downward. Testing data shows the state’s average positivity rate is 9.89% over the last seven days. Health experts say the threshold of 5% positivity indicates widespread community transmission of the virus.

The state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that close to 60% of all eligible Alaskans 12 and over are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Additionally, data shows 64.6% of eligible Alaskans have gotten at least an initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the 877 COVID-19 cases reported on Friday, 861 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 270
  • Wasilla: 108
  • Fairbanks: 71
  • Palmer: 37
  • Nome: 28
  • Eagle River: 27
  • Kenai: 27
  • North Pole: 26
  • Juneau: 25
  • Bethel Census Area: 18
  • Soldotna: 18
  • Ketchikan: 16
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 13
  • Valdez: 13
  • Dillingham Census Area: 9
  • Homer: 9
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 9
  • Chugiak: 8
  • Kodiak: 8
  • Nikiski: 8
  • Kotzebue: 7
  • Nome Census Area: 7
  • North Slope Borough: 7
  • Seward: 7
  • Sitka: 7
  • Big Lake: 6
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 6
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area: 6
  • Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon: 6
  • Bethel: 5
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 5
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 5
  • Sterling: 5
  • Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula: 4
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 4
  • Tok: 4
  • Sutton-Alpine: 3
  • Denali Borough: 2
  • Dillingham: 2
  • Houston: 2
  • Petersburg: 2
  • Salcha: 2
  • Aleutians East Borough: 1
  • Chevak: 1
  • Copper River Census Area: 1
  • Delta Junction: 1
  • Haines: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 1
  • Kodiak Island Borough: 1
  • Skagway: 1
  • Willow: 1

The state also identified 16 additional nonresident COVID-19 cases throughout Alaska on Friday, five of which were in Anchorage.

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