COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: February 28 – March 6, 2021

Decreasing Statewide transmission
Rt 1.01
HIGH Statewide alert status
16.8
Adequate Hospital capacityModerate Test positivity
2.01%
30.56%
of Alaskan adults vaccinated
Red- quickly increasing, Rt>1.2

Orange- increasing, Rt 1-1.2

Yellow-decreasing, Rt<1
Red- 14-day average case rate per 100,000 people >10

Orange- 5-10

Yellow- <5
Red- <3 weeks until beyond capacity

Orange- 3-6 weeks

Yellow- >6 weeks
Red->5%

Orange- 2-5%

Yellow- <2%
At least one shot. Estimated
AK population 18 and older of 551,585 from census.gov. A small number of Alaskans aged 16 and 17 have been vaccinated and are included.

Brief status report

  • Virus transmission remained stable across Alaska with several regions seeing slight increases in cases and others continuing to see slow decrease.
  • Anyone 16 years or older who lives or works in Alaska is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Alaska is the first state to offer vaccines to everyone over a certain age without prerequisites.
  • Case rates have seen sharp declines in communities and areas where many Alaskans have been vaccinated, such as in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region. The speed of this decline is most likely attributable to a high rate of vaccination. Case rates are expected to decline as communities receive more vaccines to distribute and more Alaskans choose to get vaccinated.
  • Alaska is currently the most vaccinated state per capita. 58% of the State/IHS vaccine allocation so far has been administered.
  • 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 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.
  • Five cases of P.1, a variant of concern, have been identified so far in Alaska. All five  were in the Anchorage/Eagle River area. At least three of these cases are thought to be connected; investigation is ongoing. Two cases of B.1.1.7 have been identified in Anchorage; both were associated with travel. Alaska’s Public Health Laboratories continue to monitor for variants of concern as well as for other variants of interest, such as the B.1.429 variant first identified in California which may be associated with increased transmissibility.

What Alaskans can do

  • Every Alaskan who chooses to wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid indoor gatherings, and get vaccinated helps protect themselves and the health of all Alaskans. These are our best tools to decrease the chance of a new variant entering Alaska and spreading.
  • Fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or socially distancing. They can also visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 without wearing masks or socially distancing. Vaccinated people can also refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 so long as the vaccinated person is asymptomatic. We expect that CDC guidelines for people who have been vaccinated will continue to be updated as new evidence becomes available
  • 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.
COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Case trends and predictions

  • 884 cases were reported in Alaskans last week. This is a 6.5% 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 in most regions of Alaska compared with last week. The Anchorage case rate increased to 15.0 from 12.6. The Northern Southeast Region case rate increased from 27.0 to 32.6. The Southern Southeast Region case rate decreased from 18.4 to 9.0.
  • Persistently high case rates continue in Matanuska-Susitna Region with a case rate of 36.5 compared to 35.9 last week.
  • The Yukon-Kuskokwim Region continues to have decreasing case rates now down to 16.2 from 21.5 last week and a high of 155.8 six weeks prior.
  • The estimated statewide daily growth rate as of March 7, 2021 is -0.84% and new cases are expected to halve every 82.04 days based on current modeling, a little slower than last week.
COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Regional case trends

Behavioral Health RegionCase rates
Jan 24– Jan 30
Case rates
Jan 31– Feb 6
Case rates
Feb 7– Feb 13
Case rates
Feb 14– Feb 20
Case rates Feb 21–Feb 27Case rates Feb 28–Mar 5
Anchorage Municipality18.616.514.713.912.615.0
Fairbanks North Star Borough16.814.012.312.715.015.1
Interior Region except Fairbanks19.518.922.412.015.013.0
Juneau City and Borough13.913.07.07.28.55.8
Kenai Peninsula Borough8.95.46.15.55.76.8
Matanuska-Susitna Region21.624.336.234.935.936.5
Northern Southeast Region4.54.94.27.727.032.6
Northwest Region21.49.16.65.54.24.0
Southern Southeast Region4.36.111.214.818.49.0
Southwest Region25.520.327.018.74.84.5
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region131.9119.761.938.821.516.2
Statewide21.519.318.116.316.016.8

Vaccines status update

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Reported vaccinations as of March 8, 2020.

  • 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 can be found on covidvax.alaska.gov. 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. On March 8, 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 25%, and two shots, at 16%. 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.
  • The FDA authorized the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine on February 27. This is a one-shot COVID-19 vaccine that can be stored at refrigerated temperatures and is based on the adenovirus-vectored technology used in the company’s other vaccines. Clinical trials in tens of thousands of people around the world showed high efficacy even against new viral variants, meaning that the vaccine successfully prevents severe disease, hospitalization, and death. There were no serious safety concerns; expected side effects are similar to mRNA vaccines. Distribution of the state’s initial allocation of 8,900 vaccines began this week.
  • 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.

New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths

  • During the week of February 28 through March 6, 2021, 884 new Alaska cases were reported, a 6.5% increase from last week, for a total of 57,216 cumulative cases reported in Alaskans.
  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased to 1,258 with 10 reported as occurring this week. Hospitalization reports often lag and only 1,240 hospitalizations were reported at this time last week, so there are 18 hospitalizations newly reported this week including ones that began during previous weeks.
  • Deaths among Alaska residents increased by 4 (301 total). Two of these deaths occurred during 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 28–Mar 6 may be reported in future as death certificates are reviewed.
  • 117 new nonresident cases were identified this week, for a total of 2,459 cases.
COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Variant Tracking

  • Cumulative list of variants of concern identified in Alaska:
Test DateCityCOVID AcquisitionCOVID Variant Detected in the week
12/20/2020AnchorageTravelUK/ B1.1.7 
1/13/2021AnchorageTravelUK/ B1.1.7 
2/8/2021AnchorageCommunity acquiredBrazil/ P.1 
2/8/2021AnchorageSecondaryBrazil/ P.12/28-3/6
2/15/2021AnchorageUnder investigationBrazil/ P.12/28-3/6
2/15/2021Eagle RiverSecondaryBrazil/ P.12/28-3/6
2/15/2021Eagle RiverCommunity acquiredBrazil/ P.12/28-3/6
  • Five cases of P.1, a variant of concern have been identified so far in Alaska. All five were in the Anchorage/Eagle River area. Three of the cases are linked; investigation is ongoing. Alaska’s Public Health Laboratories continue to monitor for variants of concern as well as for other variants of interest.
  • Two cases of B.1.1.7, a variant of concern have been identified so far in Alaska. Both were in the Anchorage/Mat-Su area. Both were associated with travel.
  • Alaska’s Public Health Laboratories continue to monitor variants of interest, such as the B.1.429 variant first identified in California which may be associated with increased transmissibility.

Health care capacity

  • On March 8, 27 Alaskans with confirmed COVID-19 were hospitalized and 1 was reported to require a mechanical ventilator.
  • Hospital staffing can change quickly, particularly if a community has many health workers impacted by COVID-19.

Total Confirmed COVID-19 Beds Occupied

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Cases by Week Reported and Age Group

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Cases by Week Reported and Race

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Cases by Week Reported and Region

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Additional informational resources:

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

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