Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update for March 7-13, 2021

Increasing Statewide transmission
Rt 1.02
HIGH Statewide alert status
17.8
Adequate Hospital capacityModerate Test positivity
2.19%
36.19%
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 slight increases in daily case rates and test positivity. Several regions continue to see small but steady increases in cases and others continuing to see slow decreases.
  • 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 most vaccinated state per capita. 67.6% 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.
  • No new COVID variants of concern were detected in Alaska during the past week.

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

  • 929 cases were reported in Alaskans last week. This is a 8.0% 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 16.5 from 15.0 with a low of 12.6 two weeks prior. The Interior Region except Fairbanks increased to 30.0 from 13.0. Northern Southeast Region case rate increased from 27.0 to 32.6. The Northern Southeast Region case rate decreased from 32.6 to 17.2.
  • Persistently high case rates continue in Matanuska-Susitna Region increasing to 38.5 from 36.5. This is the region’s third week of increasing rates. 
  • The estimated statewide daily growth rate as of March 14, 2021 is 0.01% and new cases are expected to double every 5,206 days based on current modeling, a little faster than last week.
COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Regional Case Trends

Behavioral Health RegionCase 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 6Case rates Mar 7– Mar 13
Anchorage Municipality16.514.713.912.615.016.5
Fairbanks North Star Borough14.012.312.715.015.113.7
Interior Region except Fairbanks18.922.412.015.013.030.0
Juneau City and Borough13.07.07.28.55.86.3
Kenai Peninsula Borough5.46.15.55.76.87.6
Matanuska-Susitna Region24.336.234.935.936.538.5
Northern Southeast Region4.94.27.727.032.617.2
Northwest Region9.16.65.54.24.04.7
Southern Southeast Region6.111.214.818.49.06.1
Southwest Region20.327.018.74.84.54.3
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region119.761.938.821.516.229.7
Statewide19.318.116.316.016.817.8

Vaccines Status Update

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

 Reported vaccinations as of March 15, 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
  • A limited amount of vaccine is currently available with more expected to be delivered in the coming months. On March 15, the New York Times vaccination tracker had Alaska as the second highest state by percent of the population that has received at least one shot, at 28%, and two shots, at 18%. 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.

CDC’s Six Ways to Help Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

  1. Encourage leaders in your family, community, or organizations to be vaccine champions.
  2. Have discussions about COVID-19 vaccines where people can openly discuss their views and ask questions.
  3. Share key messages through multiple channels that people trust and that promote action.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 7 through March 13, 2021, 929 new Alaska cases were reported, an 8% increase from last week, for a total of 58,061 cumulative cases reported in Alaskans.
  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased to 1,279 with 8 reported as occurring this week. Hospitalization reports often lag and only 1,258 hospitalizations were reported at this time last week, so there are 21 hospitalizations newly reported this week including ones that began during previous weeks.
  • Deaths among Alaska residents increased by 1 (302 total). None 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 7–Mar 13 may be reported in future as death certificates are reviewed.
  • 35 new nonresident cases were identified this week, for a total of 2,494 cases.
COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update

Variant Tracking

  • No new COVID variant cases were detected during the week of March 7-13
  • 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
  • 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 15, 32 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

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

One-Year Anniversary

Today marks the one‐year anniversary of the first COVID‐19 case in Alaska. We spend today remembering those who have lost loved ones, who continue to cope with health issues due to COVID‐19 and who have struggled or had their lives disrupted in other ways.

Over the past year, our community has been resilient and rallied together. We have taken care of one another and remained vigilant with our prevention measures to protect our community, our first responders, and our schools. We have been a leader in vaccination efforts and were one of the first places in the nation to make vaccinations available to those age 16 and older. Now, more than half of our eligible population has been vaccinated against COVID‐19.

We ask you to continue to be good neighbors and community partners as we round the turning point heading into the next stage of recovery from this trying time. With the resiliency of Alaskans, we are poised to make Sitka the standard by which all other cities are measured.

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

Travel Restrictions For Entry To Canada

Canada still has restrictions in place for entry, even for Alaskans driving straight through. Keep in mind that you will not be able to determine for certain if you are allowed to enter Canada until you are physically at the border and speak directly with that nation’s border authorities. We encourage you to read more about Canada’s rules and restrictions before beginning your trip at http://dot.alaska.gov/covid19info/canadian-border.shtml.

COVID-19 Vaccine Available to All Alaskans Age 16 and Older

At this time, anyone 16 and up, who lives or works in Alaska, is eligible to be immunized against COVID-19. Sitka, this is our shot! Summer is around the corner and we’re ready to protect our great state.

There are two options for vaccine registration in Sitka:

Harry Race Pharmacy, in collaboration with the State of Alaska, is offering vaccination clinics at the Sitka Fire Hall.  To schedule an appointment, visit: https://www.sitkapharmacies.com/covid-19 Those with questions may call 907.966.2102.

SEARHC is also offering vaccination clinics. Registration is available at https://covid19.searhc.org/. Individuals will receive an email from SEARHC to schedule a vaccine appointment.

The Pfizer vaccine is an option for ages 16 and up. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines are options for people ages 18 and up. All available vaccines are safe, recommended options to prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19.

Please assist your Elders and family members with online vaccine registration.

New CDC Guidance For Those Fully Vaccinated

The CDC has just released new guidance for those who are fully vaccinated (fully vaccinated means two weeks after the second dose for Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or two weeks after the first and only dose of the Janssen vaccine).

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we must continue to follow precautions when in public, like masking up and keeping six feet from others. But based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

Please read the guidance for more details: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html?fbclid=IwAR1BTDFDoHihl72wfUDH96N0UPwKh1V7m0T7f6O-uhfRz12VqxgrlM1StRE

Traveling for Spring Break?

Spring break is right around the corner! If your family or student travels outside the state, please know what is required before returning to school. All travelers are advised to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of returning to Sitka. Free testing is also available at the Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport upon arrival. Have fun – and stay safe!

Learn more about the State of Alaska’s guidance for travelers at www.AlaskaSafeTravels.com.