DHSS Weekly COVID-19 Case Analysis: October 25-31

Data previously included in this report can be found on the data hub. DHSS has also published summaries of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations and EPI Bulletin: Summary of COVID-19 Hospitalizations, respectively.

Brief status report

  • Virus transmission across Alaska accelerated for the fifth record week in a row.
  • Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are rising and hospital capacity is a concern.
  • Testing is not keeping up with new cases.
  • Alaskans should get tested immediately at the first sign of any symptoms. Testing is our best tool for understanding virus transmission and risk in our communities.
  • Most Alaskans get COVID-19 from a friend, family member or coworker. Alaskans should avoid indoor gatherings with non-household members, wear masks when around non-household members and stay six feet from anyone not in their household.

Cases by Week Reported and Age Group

Case trends and predictions

  • For the fifth week in a row, more cases (2,602) were reported in Alaskans this week than any previous week, a 29% increase over last week.
  • The statewide positivity rate is at a record high for the fifth week in a row. Increases in testing are not keeping up with increases in cases.
  • Cases are increasing in both urban and rural regions. The largest increase in cases was again in the Anchorage Municipality, which averaged 178 new cases a day this week, for a 14-day case rate of 55.8. The largest increase in case rate was in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region, which averaged 25 new cases a day this week, for a 14-day case rate of 122.4. Mat-Su Borough had the second largest increase in case rate, from 25.8 to 47.0, with the average of 59 new cases a day this week predicting continued sharp increases in cases.
  • An updated model epidemic curve predicts Alaska’s cases will continue to accelerate over the next week and are expected to double again within the next 2-3 weeks or sooner, with a daily growth rate near 4%.

New cases, hospitalizations and deaths

  • The week of October 18-24 saw 2,602 new cases in Alaskans, for a total of 15,622 cumulative cases in Alaskans.
  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased to 441 with 26 reported as occurring this week.
  • Deaths among Alaska residents increased by 15 to 83 total, 4 of which are reported as occurring in the past week. It is common to take more than a week for a death to be reported.
  • There were 32 nonresident cases identified this week, for a total of 1,084.

How COVID-19 spreads in Alaska

  • Most new infections among Alaskans are from community spread, not from travel. Most Alaskans get the virus from someone they work, socialize, or go to school with.
  • Many cases do not have a clear source, meaning that contact tracers have not been able to identify where the person got the virus. This means that there are cases in our communities that we do not know about.
  • 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.
  • Cases continue to increase fastest among Alaskans aged 20-39, however the proportion of cases in older Alaskans increased slightly again this week. This follows patterns seen in other states of increases in viral transmission occurring in younger age groups first, then followed by increases in older age groups, after which typically an increase in hospitalizations and deaths is seen.

Regional case trends

Behavioral Health RegionAverage new cases Sept 5- Sept 19Average new cases Sept 12- Sept 26Average new cases Sept 20- Oct 3Average new cases Sept 27- Oct 10Average new cases Oct 4- Oct 17Average new cases Oct 18- Oct 24Average new cases Oct 25- Oct 31
Anchorage Municipality13.216.121.528.932.240.455.8
Fairbanks North Star Borough15.916.321.235.033.329.933.7
Interior Region except Fairbanks North Star Borough3.14.97.911.317.121.625.6
Juneau City and Borough16.312.37.47.814.123.529.5
Kenai Peninsula Borough1.82.53.68.012.025.744.7
Matanuska-Susitna Region4.74.05.99.711.525.847.0
Northern Southeast Region3.14.24.92.82.47.77.3
Northwest Region15.627.930.735.739.136.235.2
Southern Southeast Region***2.24.33.25.0
Southwest Region3.53.54.76.47.29.216.1
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region8.48.77.122.337.2100.1122.4
Statewide10.211.716.321.424.333.345.9

*Insufficient data; low case rate

Positivity rates

  • The statewide test positivity rate went from 5.9% to 6.6% this week, which is the fifth week in a row that it is the highest it has ever been.
  • Currently, the national average is 6.6%. Since Alaska’s per-capita testing capacity is more robust than 90% of states, a positivity rate at the national average is concerning. Source: Johns Hopkins
  • Test positivity can tell us if testing is adequate in an area. The goal is a positivity rate <2%. If the rate is over 5%, it means we are likely missing a lot of cases in that area.
  • Test positivity is affected by the number of tests performed as well as the number of new cases in an area.

Health care capacity

  • Hospitalizations hit record highs for the second week in a row.
  • Currently, 79 Alaskans with confirmed COVID-19 are hospitalized and 6 are requiring a mechanical ventilator.
  • Hospital staffing can change quickly, particularly if a community has many health workers impacted by COVID-19.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

COVID-19 and travel

  • Travel is not currently thought to be a main factor in most new COVID-19 infections in Alaska, meaning that most Alaskans who get COVID-19 are getting it from social, work or family contacts rather than travel.
  • Travel for gatherings remains risky and gets more risky as cases rise across the US. The risk is from being in close contact and enclosed spaces with others while traveling as well as gathering with friends and family members indoors who may have COVID-19 and not know it.
  • Alaskans must follow Health Mandate 10.1 when returning from out-of-state travel.

What Alaskans should do

  • Anyone with even one new symptom of COVID-19 (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea), even if it is very mild, should get tested for COVID-19 right away and immediately isolate themselves from others by staying home, staying away from others, and not leaving their house except to seek testing or other medical care. Tests are most accurate in the first few days of symptoms, so testing as soon as possible after the first symptom starts is important, even if the symptom is very mild. Getting tested right away also helps contact tracers move as quickly as possible.
  • Alaskans can help contact tracers work to slow the spread of COVID-19 by answering the phone promptly and providing accurate information.
  • Alaskans should avoid gatherings, wear masks when around any non-household member, keep six feet of distance from anyone not in their household and wash hands frequently to slow community transmission of COVID-19.

Further information

  • The Frequently Asked Questions webpage is often the quickest route to an answer regarding testing, travel, health mandates and other COVID-19 information.
  • Please see the State of Alaska COVID-19 information for 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. Some data may change as more information comes to light through contact tracing and other public health work.
  • For questions regarding DHSS COVID response, including mandates and alerts, email covidquestions@alaska.gov.

For DHSS media inquiries, please contact clinton.bennett@alaska.gov.

Leave a Reply