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Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
October 17 — October 23, 2021
- Alaska currently has the highest number of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population among the 50 states.
- Hospital capacity is reaching a point in Alaska where it may become difficult to care for everyone who needs care, even for non-COVID health concerns. Some care may need to be delayed, there may be long wait times, and hospital beds may not be available.
- Hospitalizations are continuing to occur in younger Alaskans, with the median age of persons hospitalized due to COVID-19 in 2021 being about 9 years younger than in 2020.
- Among those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and with specimen collection dates from January 16, 2021 through October 23, 2021, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients had a median age 15 years younger than fully vaccinated patients.
- Very high levels of COVID-19 transmission are occurring throughout much of Alaska.
- All four of the largest boroughs (Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, and Kenai Peninsula Borough) continue to exhibit very high levels of community transmission.
- Rates in Juneau are quite high as well.
- 5,027 cases were reported in Alaskans the week of October 17–October 23. This is a 17.2% decrease from the number of cases reported the week before. It is not possible to know whether this reflects the start of a sustained downward trajectory.
- In the two largest boroughs (Municipality of Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough), weekly COVID-19 incidence does not appear to be increasing, but there is not clear evidence of sustained decreases. In Fairbanks North Star Borough there is evidence of modest declines in the number of new cases each week. Regardless of the trajectories, intense community transmission is continuing to occur and is causing significant illness, death, and demand on the health care system.
- The 7-day test-positivity rate in Alaska is nearly the highest it has ever been, indicating widespread community transmission and the need for more testing.
- While the intensity of COVID-19 transmission varies substantially between communities off the road system, COVID-19 cases are regularly reported from nearly all boroughs and census areas and some communities are experiencing extremely widespread transmission.
- Please get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Currently available COVID vaccines will help protect you, your family, and your community against COVID-19, including the delta variant.
- Wearing a mask when in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status is an important step to take to slow the spread of COVID-19. Most Alaskans live in an area with substantial or high community transmission where this action is needed to protect your health and the health of others.
- Continue to avoid crowds and practice social distancing – particularly when indoors.
- Seek testing if you have any symptoms or have been exposed to an infected person. If you do test positive, isolate right away, and notify your contacts. Ask them to get tested and, if they are unvaccinated, to quarantine.
- If you test positive and you’re at increased risk for severe COVID, obtain monoclonal antibody treatment. This has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing the risk of hospitalization. This treatment works best when given early.
- Persons at high risk includes but is not limited to persons who are elderly, immunocompromised, obese, pregnant, or have certain chronic underlying medical conditions.
- Alert levels are based on the case counts over the past 7 days as well as the daily number of reported cases over the past 7 days per 100,000 population.
- Alert levels have been changed to more closely mirror CDC’s community transmission indicator and are calculated by borough and census area, rather than by region.
*Rates based on <20 observations are statistically unreliable and should be used with caution.
**Rates based on <6 observations are not reported.
**Rates based on <6 observations are not reported.
- Anyone aged ≥12 years in Alaska is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
- If you have received an initial dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to get your second dose too. Scientific studies have shown that two doses of an mRNA vaccine are more effective than one dose of an mRNA vaccine, especially against emerging variants of concern.
- CDC recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of an mRNA vaccine.
- Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are authorized and recommended for certain persons who received the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine ≥6 months ago. Those eligible for a booster dose include:
- Persons aged ≥65 years, persons aged 18+ who live in long-term care settings, persons aged 18+ who have underlying medical conditions, and persons aged 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings. Caregivers of people at increased risk for serious disease also qualify.
- For people who received the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine, booster doses are recommended for everyone aged ≥18 years who was vaccinated ≥2 months ago.
- Learn more about who should get a booster dose and to find COVID-19 vaccines near you at covidvax.alaska.gov.
- Vaccinated persons with immunocompromising conditions should discuss with their health care providers the need for additional personal protective measures.
- To schedule your vaccine appointment visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322.
- To find clinics in your area you can visit vaccines.gov or text your zip code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish.
- The Alaska vaccine dashboard is available online for the most up-to-date data.
New Hospitalizations and Deaths
- Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 73 to 2,709. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
- 23.2% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of October 26, 2021.
- On October 23rd, there were 228 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 9.1% increase relative to the week before when there were 209 persons hospitalized.
- The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 19 to 678. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during October 17–October 23 may be reported in the future after death certificates are reviewed.
Variant TrackingThe most recent Genomic Surveillance data can be found on the “COVID-19 Variants” tab of the new Cases Dashboard.
Vaccine Breakthrough Cases
- Vaccine breakthrough (VB) infections of COVID-19 are those detected in a person who is at least 2 weeks beyond their second dose of a 2-dose series or the only dose of a 1-dose series.
- Alaska residents who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than those who are not fully vaccinated. (Age-standardized per capita rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations by vaccination status are updated monthly.)
- The following updated VB data are among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years with a specimen collection date from January 16–October 23, 2021.
- From January 16–October 23, 2021, 72 deaths, 229 hospitalizations, and 18,581 cases with a VB infection were reported among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years. These counts are provisional and subject to change as data are compiled and reviewed. In that same time frame, a total of 66,211 cases, 1,543 hospitalizations, and 379 deaths were reported.
- 72% of all cases, 85% of all hospitalizations, and 81% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years from January 16–October 23, 2021 were in people who were not fully vaccinated.
- Specimens from VB infections are described in the “COVID-19 Variants” tab of the new Cases Dashboard. More detailed information about hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccine breakthrough infections among Alaskan residents can also be found in the monthly report.
- Age-standardized per capita rates of COVID-19 cases by vaccination status are updated weekly. Many COVID-19 cases with specimen collection in the immediate past week (indicated by the grey box) may have not yet been reported or counted.
COVID-19 Communication Resources
(Seven day rolling average)
- New video PSAs to share:
- New social media posts to share: COVID-19 boosters | Celebrate Halloween Safely |Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Process |Help Protect Our Health Care System by Getting a Flu Shot
- Give AK a Shot sweepstakes: Weekly statewide drawings continue through Oct. 30 for newly vaccinated individuals and one drawing for individuals who received their vaccination between December 2020 and Sept. 1, 2021. Share their PSA
- Request support from DHSS
- DHSS offers free presentations upon request to groups about COVID-19, the vaccines, COVID-19 prevention, or other health topics upon request. Learn more or request a presentation on our Speaker’s Bureau web page.
- DHSS offers support for one-time or reoccurring COVID-19 vaccination events. Submit your request for support and provide information about the event by filling out this form.
- Can’t tune into a live ECHO videoconference but don’t want to miss out on the latest updates? The full schedule of ECHO sessions and access to COVID-19 ECHO videos and slideshows are available for download anytime on the DHSS ECHO web page.
(Seven day rolling average)
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: data.coronavirus.alaska.gov. All dashboard data are updated Monday through Friday.
- For DHSS media inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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