Alaska reports more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases over the last 5 days as omicron’s spread continues

COVID-19 hospitalizations also on the rise in the state
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 2:48 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2022 at 4:37 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state is still trending at near-record numbers when it comes to daily COVID-19 cases, according to the latest release by the state health department, with a five-day combined total of more 10,000 additional COVID-19 infections.

According to Wednesday’s data release, the state saw an average of 1,992 new resident cases per day, with the highest coming Tuesday when 2,673 new cases were detected, the second-highest count in a single day since the start of the pandemic almost two years ago. Alaska saw it’s highest single-day case count Jan. 12 when 2,925 resident cases were reported by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

The state has been releasing case counts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but did not release updated totals Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

The latest data shows 2,609 new Alaska resident cases reported for Friday, 2,064 cases for Saturday, 1,333 for Sunday, 1,283 for Monday, and 2,673 cases for Tuesday. It reflected a 38% increase in new cases over the previous week compared to the week of Jan. 5 to Jan. 11.

The state also reported a total of 240 additional nonresident cases over the last five days.

Hospitalizations in the state also ticked upward, going from 103 on Friday to 116 on Wednesday. This isn’t anywhere near the record number of hospitalizations Alaska saw during the delta variant surge this past fall, which was close to 250, but marks a significant increase from when hospitalizations were hovering in the 50s just a few weeks ago.

Hospitalizations and deaths are some of the most lagging indicators, health experts have said, when it comes to evaluating the level of virus spread in a community. Some Alaska hospitals have restricted visitation rules in the wake of the omicron variant, which is highly transmissible and is causing more health care staff to call out due to catching the virus or being exposed to it than during previous surges.

Close to 10% of all Alaskans hospitalized in the state are being hospitalized with COVID-19, according to state’s hospital data dashboard.

While state data shows 66 confirmed cases of the omicron variant in Alaska, state health experts have said the true total is likely higher than what’s being officially reported, due to the amount of time it takes to sequence COVID-19 case samples.

State data on Wednesday also showed an additional 63 COVID-19-related deaths of Alaska residents, for a total of 1,018 since the pandemic began. COVID-19 deaths are recorded and verified through the death certificate review process. It’s a routine process, state health officials have said, but can sometimes take up to several weeks and result in large numbers of deaths being reported at one time.

According to the state health department, the Alaskans who died ranged in age from their 90s to their as young as their 30s. Of the 63 additional Alaska resident deaths, 18 were from Anchorage,13 were from Wasilla, five from the Bethel Census Area, four were from Palmer, three were from Juneau, three were from Kenai, three were from Fairbanks, two were from Soldotna, two were from the Copper River Census Area, two were from Delta Junction, and one each were from Utqiagvik, Seward, North Pole, Nikiski, Kotzebue, Houston/Big Lake, Hoonah-Angoon plus Yakutat, and Dillingham.

The state has also recorded one additional nonresident death related to COVID-19, for a total of 33.

This week, the federal website for people to order at-home COVID-19 tests went live, but there are special considerations for Alaskans. The tests must be kept above a certain temperature, so Alaskans should make sure someone is home to receive the delivery of tests. Only residential addresses and residential P.O. Boxes may be used for the federal program, and tests will likely be delivered in seven to 12 days after placing an order.

According to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard, 61.3% of all eligible Alaskans plus veterans and military members are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 68.6% have gotten at least an initial vaccine dose. The data shows that 24.3% of eligible Alaskans and military have gotten a booster dose.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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