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Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
February 7–13, 2021
Brief status report
- Virus transmission continues to slowly decrease across most areas of Alaska, although Western Alaska case rates remain high.
- Vaccination of Alaskans continues. Supply remains the main limiting factor.
- Alaska is currently the most vaccinated state per capita.
- DHSS encourages all Alaskans who are currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination to make appointments as soon as possible by visiting covidvax.alaska.gov or by calling 1-907-646-3322. The call line is now staffed Monday-Friday from 9AM-6:30PM and 9AM-4:30PM on weekends. Eligibility information can be found at covidvax.alaska.gov. Alaskans receiving health services through a Tribal Health Organization or the Department of Defense should contact those organizations directly to determine their eligibility.
- Alaska continues to monitor for new variants of concern.
- Every Alaskan who chooses to wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, and avoid indoor gatherings helps protect themselves and the health of all Alaskans.
- New virus strains may be more transmissible. Wearing well-fitting masks, distancing, vaccination, avoiding gatherings, following all travel requirements, and other mitigation measures are our best tools to decrease the chance of the new variant entering Alaska and spreading.
- To stop COVID-19, including new strains of virus, from coming into Alaska and spreading, testing within 72 hours before returning to Alaska or on arrival and then strict social distancing until the test result is available is recommended. A second test 5-14 days after arrival is also recommended if the traveler is not fully vaccinated. As of Jan 26, 2021, the CDC requires international travelers to show proof of a negative test from within the last 72 hours on arrival back in the US.
- CDC guidelines recommend regular asymptomatic testing for critical infrastructure workers and other groups at higher risk for COVID-19.
- Alaskans should get tested immediately at the first sign of any symptoms. Tests work best when obtained promptly after symptoms start. Testing early helps people know if they are positive quickly and helps prompt them to take immediate precautions to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
- Most Alaskans get COVID-19 from a friend, family member, or coworker. Many Alaskans who are diagnosed with COVID-19 report that they went to social gatherings, community events, church services, and other social venues while they were contagious but before they knew they had the virus.
- Alaskans should avoid indoor gatherings with non-household members, avoid crowds, wear masks when around non-household members, and stay 6 feet from anyone not in their household.
Case trends and predictions
- 1,121 new cases were reported in Alaskans last week. This is a 11% increase from the week before and still reflects continued high-level community transmission throughout much of Alaska.
- 14-day average daily case rates were similar or slightly decreased in most regions of Alaska compared with last week. Mat-Su Region had a larger increase from 24.3 to 36.2. The Southwest and Southern Southeast regions also saw increases, from 20 to 27 and 6 to 11, respectively.
- The highest case rates continue to be seen in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region, but a substantial decrease was seen over the last week from 119.7 to 61.9..
- The estimated statewide daily growth rate as of February 16, 2021 is -1.5% and new cases are expected to halve every 47 days based on current modeling, about half as slow as last week.
- The State of Alaska is working with federal, local, Tribal, and military partners to ensure that the distribution of vaccine goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.
- Currently eligible groups for vaccination include those in Phase 1a: healthcare workers and residents in nursing homes, and those in Phase 1b Tier 1, Alaskans aged 65 or older. Other groups in Phase 1b may not register at this time but may register as soon as vaccination opens for their phase and tier. All registration for vaccines should go through the registration system on covidvax.alaska.gov , which also has an eligibility tool for any Alaskan unsure of when they can receive the vaccine. All updates on phases and tiers will be posted on that website and new appointments are added on a continuous basis; Alaskans are encouraged to check it frequently.
- A limited amount of vaccine is currently available with more expected to be delivered in the coming months. As of February 16th, more than 128,000 Alaskans had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine and more than 65,000 had received both doses. On February 16, the New York Times vaccination tracker had Alaska leading all other states in the percent of the population that has received at least one shot, at 18%, and two shots, at 8.3%. The Alaska vaccine tracker is available online as is a vaccine dashboard for more up-to-date data.
- There is a several day lag in reporting some vaccinations so the dashboard does not yet reflect all vaccinations that have been given. All vaccines allocated to Alaska for December and January have been distributed.
- There are no plans to mandate a vaccine at the state level.
- The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is responsible for providing national recommendations for vaccine administration and allocation.
- During the week of February 6 through 13, 2021, 1,121 new Alaska cases were reported, an 11% increase from last week, for a total of 54,590 cumulative cases in Alaskans.
- Cumulative hospitalizations increased to 1,199 with 6 reported as occurring this week. Hospitalization reports often lag and only 1,187 hospitalizations were reported at this time last week, so there are 12 hospitalizations newly reported this week including ones that began during previous weeks.
- Deaths among Alaska residents increased by 8 (285 total). All deaths occurred prior to this past week. It is common to take more than a week for a death to be reported, and more deaths that occurred during Feb 6–13 may be reported in future as death certificates are reviewed.
- 197 new nonresident cases were identified this week, for a total of 2,177 cases.
Health care capacity
- On February 16, 28 Alaskans with confirmed COVID-19 were hospitalized and 2 were reported to require a mechanical ventilator.
- Hospital staffing can change quickly, particularly if a community has many health workers impacted by COVID-19.
Additional informational resources:
- The State of Alaska COVID-19 vaccine status update page.
- The State of Alaska COVID-19 information page provides more information about the virus and how individuals and businesses can protect themselves and others from transmission.
- For the most up-to-date case information, see the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub dashboard (note: some data may change as more information comes to light through contact tracing and other public health work).