DHSS COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update for March 14-20, 2021

Decreasing Statewide transmission
Rt 0.98
HIGH Statewide alert status
17.3
Adequate Hospital capacityModerate Test positivity
2.36%
40.55%
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 16 and older of 569,699 from census.gov (American Community Survey 2019)

Brief Status Report

  • Virus transmission remained stable across Alaska with slightly lower daily case rates and test positivity. Many regions saw slight decreases in average daily case rates for the first time in four weeks, however the Interior Region except Fairbanks and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region have had significantly increasing case rates over the past two weeks.
  • Anyone 16 years or older who lives or works in Alaska is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Alaska is the first state to offer vaccines to everyone over a certain age without prerequisites.
  • More vaccinations lead to fewer COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. Vaccinations are the key to ending this pandemic.
  • Alaska is currently the second most vaccinated state per capita. 76.1% 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. The call line can also be used to answer general questions about vaccine safety and to request appointments to receive a specific type of vaccine. Alaskans receiving health services through a Tribal Health Organization or the Department of Defense should contact those organizations directly to determine their eligibility.
  • No new COVID variants of concern were detected in Alaska during the past week.
  • The available SARS CoV-2 Monoclonal antibody products have been found to have varying effectiveness to current variants of concern. This week, Eli Lilly has stopped the distribution bamlanivimab alone, however etesevimab is available to pair with existing bamlanivimab doses as well the bamlanivimab/etesevimab combined packaging. Modeling predicts Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody product (casirivimab/indevimab) is maintaining is original activity against variants of concern.  

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

  • 837 cases were reported in Alaskans last week. This is a 9.9% decrease 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 improving in most regions of Alaska compared with last week. The Anchorage case rate increased slightly to 16.6 from 16.5 with a low of 12.6 three weeks prior. The Interior Region except Fairbanks increased to 47.1 from 30.0 last week. Four weeks ago the rate was 12.0. The Northern Southeast Region case rate decreased from 17.2 to 6.0. The Juneau City and Borough rate is 4.3, which is the lowest level in more than five weeks.
  • Rates also decreased in Fairbanks North Star, Kenai Peninsula, and Southern Southeast.  
  • Persistently high case rates continue in Matanuska-Susitna Region though are slightly improved 36.7 from 38.5.
  • Both Interior Region except Fairbanks and Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region saw sharp increases in their daily case rates. The Interior Region rate is 47.1, up from 30.0 last week. The YK Delta rate is 34.1, up from 29.7 last week.
  • The estimated statewide daily growth rate as of March 21, 2021 is -0.26% and new cases are expected to halve every 271.17 days based on current modeling.
COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Regional Case Trends

Behavioral Health RegionCase rates
Feb 7– Feb 13
Case rates
Feb 14– Feb 20
Case rates Feb 21–Feb 27Case rates Feb 28–Mar 6Case rates Mar 7– Mar 13Case rates Mar 14-Mar 20
Anchorage Municipality14.713.912.615.016.516.6
Fairbanks North Star Borough12.312.715.015.113.711.7
Interior Region except Fairbanks22.412.015.013.030.047.1
Juneau City and Borough7.07.28.55.86.34.3
Kenai Peninsula Borough6.15.55.76.87.66.2
Matanuska-Susitna Region36.234.935.936.538.536.7
Northern Southeast Region4.27.727.032.617.26.0
Northwest Region6.65.54.24.04.75.3
Southern Southeast Region11.214.818.49.06.14.0
Southwest Region27.018.74.84.54.35.3
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region61.938.821.516.229.734.1
Statewide18.116.316.016.817.817.3

Vaccines Status Update

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update
 Reported vaccinations as of March 22, 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.
  • Anyone 16 years or older who lives or works in Alaska is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. All registration for vaccines should go through the registration system on covidvax.alaska.gov . Appointments can also be made by calling 1-907-646-3322. The call line is staffed Monday-Friday from 9AM-6:30PM and 9AM-4:30PM on weekends. The call line can also be used to answer general questions about vaccine safety and to request appointments to receive a specific type of vaccine.
  • On March 22, the New York Times vaccination tracker had Alaska as the third highest state by percent of the population that has received at least one shot, at 32%, and two shots, at 20%. 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.
  • Three vaccines are currently available in Alaska: Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is an adenovirus-vectored technology.  
  • 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.
  • More vaccinations lead to fewer COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.
  • Healthcare providers play a key role in building public confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to their roles as health advisers, protectors, and advocates, healthcare personnel were the first group offered COVID-19 vaccinations. Health workers are a trusted voice that can have a powerful influence on their families and communities when it comes to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Here are the CDC’s Six Ways to Help Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence:
  • Encourage leaders in your family, community, or organizations to be vaccine champions.
  • Have discussions about COVID-19 vaccines where people can openly discuss their views and ask questions.
  • Share key messages through multiple channels that people trust and that promote action.
  • Help educate people about COVID-19 vaccines, how they are developed and monitored for safety, and how individuals can talk to others about the vaccines.
  • Learn more about finding credible vaccine information. When you come across COVID-19 information, cross-check with CDC.gov and learn how to respond to misinformation you encounter.
  • When vaccine is offered to you, make visible your decision to get vaccinated and celebrate it!

New Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths

  • During the week of March 14 through March 20, 2021, 837 new Alaska cases were reported, a 9.9% decrease from last week, for a total of 58,993 cumulative cases reported in Alaskans.
  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased to 1,318 with 8 reported as occurring this week. Hospitalization reports often lag and only 1,279 hospitalizations were reported at this time last week, so there are 39 hospitalizations newly reported this week including ones that began during previous weeks.
  • Deaths among Alaska residents increased by 4 (306 total). One 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 Mar 14–Mar 20 may be reported in future as death certificates are reviewed.
  • 27 new nonresident cases were identified this week, for a total of 2,521 cases.
COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Variant Tracking

  • No new COVID variant cases were detected during the week of March 14-20
  • Cumulative list of variants of concern identified in Alaska:
Test dateCityACQUISITIONVARIANTWeek identified
12/20/2020AnchorageTravelUK/ B1.1.71/24-1/30
1/13/2021AnchorageTravelUK/ B1.1.72/14-2/20
2/8/2021AnchorageCommunity acquiredBrazil/ P.12/21-2/27
2/8/2021AnchorageSecondaryBrazil/ P.12/28-3/6
2/15/2021AnchorageCommunity acquiredBrazil/ P.12/28-3/6
2/15/2021Eagle RiverSecondaryBrazil/ P.12/28-3/6
2/15/2021Eagle RiverCommunity acquiredBrazil/ P.12/28-3/6
  • This week the CDC added B.1.427 and B.1.429 to the list of variants of concern. Subsequent to the CDC’s changes, Alaska is adjusting surveillance practices and public outputs. B.1.427 and B.1.429 cases are not currently included in this summary.
  • 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.
  • The available SARS CoV-2 Monoclonal antibody products have been found to have varying effectiveness to current variants of concern.  Bamlinivimab alone is unlikely effective against B.1.351 (S Africa), P.1 (Brazil), B.1.427/B.1.429 (CA), and B.1.526 (NY).  Given this resistance Eli Lilly has stopped the distribution bamlanivimab alone, etesevimab is available to pair with existing bamlanivimab doses as well the bamlanivimab/etesevimab combined packaging. Modeling predicts Regeneron (casirivimab/indevimab) is maintaining is original activity against B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, B.1.427/B.1.429, and B.1.526. The manufacturers have updated their package insert with the addition of a section on viral susceptibility. 

Health Care Capacity

  • On March 22, 40 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.

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:

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