COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: September 12 – September 18, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
September 12 — September 18, 2021

Intermediate Statewide transmission
Rt 1.1
HIGH Statewide alert status 781.9HIGH ALERT Hospital capacityHIGH Test positivity
9.6%
62.5%
of Alaskans aged 12+ are vaccinated
Red- Rt >1.2
Orange- Rt 1-1.2 Yellow- Rt <1
7-day case rate per 100,000 population. Red-  ≥100
Orange- 50-99.99
Yellow- 10-49.99
Blue- 0-9.99  
Multiple hospitals in Anchorage were at surge capacity the weekend of September 18th and September 19th due to high volumes of both COVID and non-COVID patients.Red->5%
Orange- 2-5%
Yellow- <2%
This includes people with at least one dose. Estimated AK population 12 and older of 607,022 from the AK Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

Case Trends

  • The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Alaska continued last week on an upwards trajectory.
  • Alaska currently has the highest number of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population among the 50 states.
  • Alaska currently has more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than were hospitalized with COVID-19 at the peak of the previous surge in late November and early December 2020.
  • Among the 50 states, Alaska had the tenth largest percentage increase in number of persons hospitalized with COVID-19 over the past two weeks.
  • Hospitalizations are continuing to occur in younger Alaskans, with the median age of persons hospitalized due to COVID-19 in 2021 being 6 years younger than in 2020.
  • Among those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and with specimen collection dates from January 16, 2021 through September 18, 2021, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients had a median age about 16 years younger than fully vaccinated patients.
  • 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.

  • 5,459 cases were reported in Alaskans between September 12–September 18. This is a 32.8% increase from the week before.
  • High levels of COVID-19 transmission are occurring in Alaska communities that are on the road system.
    • Per capita incidence rates in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Fairbanks North Star Borough have rapidly increased over the past few weeks and now equal or exceed rates in Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
    • Rates in Juneau are quite high as well.
  • The 7-day test-positivity rate in Alaska is continuing to climb and is 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.
  • Several factors are likely contributing to Alaska’s current surge:
    • The Delta variant
    • Vaccination rates (Alaska currently ranks 35th out of the 50 US states in terms of the proportion of the population that is fully vaccinated)
    • Waning immunity (both vaccine-induced and infection-induced immunity)
    • The degree to which people are engaging in community mitigation efforts to slow the spread, such as masking, social distancing, indoor ventilation, testing, isolation, and quarantine.

COVID-19 Guidance

Take action now to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and preserve health care capacity.

  • 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.

Borough/Census Area Alert Level Trends

  • 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.
Borough/Census AreaAlert Level
August 30
Alert Level
September 7
Alert Level
September 13
Alert Level
September 20
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality1,314454.71,399484.11,571543.72,570889.4
Fairbanks North Star Borough337346.9537552.7628646.4733754.4
Juneau City and Borough142446.9158497.3100314.7250786.8
Kenai Peninsula Borough406688.9471799.2275466.6369626.1
Matanuska-Susitna Region411383.0667621.6741690.6771718.5
Nome Census Area1291,320.524245.731317.323235.4
North Slope Borough68695.91982,026.42422,476.72552,609.8
Northwest Arctic Borough54712.158764.929382.454712.1
Chugach Census Area22325.921311.126385.124355.5
Copper River Census Area14518.7*23852.225926.316592.8*
Denali Borough6332.2*10553.7*5**9498.3*
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area24346.022317.138547.851735.2
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area19376.7*23456.031614.630594.8
Haines Borough20793.79357.1*6238.1*16634.9*
Petersburg Borough8250.9*4**0**2**
Sitka City and Borough32375.513152.5*10117.3*31363.7
Skagway Municipality3**1**2**1**
Wrangell City and Borough22924.86252.2*4**1**
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon4**4**1**4**
Ketchikan Gateway Borough97709.288643.468497.269504.5
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area21344.838624.023377.729476.2
Bethel Census Area147822.7110615.6148828.3178996.2
Kusilvak Census Area35432.734420.429358.656692.4
Aleutians East Borough3**9307.7*4**2**
Aleutians West Census Area8144.3*20360.88144.3*6108.2*
Dillingham Census Area38796.1641,340.938796.144921.9
Kodiak Island Borough66523.449388.549388.586681.9
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula5**7289.3*2**18743.8*
Statewide3,455474.04,067558.04,137567.65,699781.9

*Rates based on <20 observations are statistically unreliable and should be used with caution.
**Rates based on <6 observations are not reported.

Vaccination Status

  • 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.
  • 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.

Borough/Census Area Vaccination Coverage

This is the percent of Alaskans aged ≥12 years who received one or more doses of vaccine.

Borough/Census AreaSeptember 21
Aleutians East Borough88.8%
Aleutians West Census Area74.6%
Anchorage Municipality66.6%
Bethel Census Area79.0%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula91.8%
Denali Borough72,4%
Dillingham Census Area64.4%
Fairbanks North Star Borough54.3%
Haines Borough73.5%
Juneau City and Borough84.2%
Kenai Peninsula Borough51.8%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough70.7%
Kodiak Island Borough72.5%
Kusilvak Census Area82.8%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough45.2%
Nome Census Area84.6%
North Slope Borough41.1%
Northwest Arctic Borough68.0%
Petersburg Borough68.6%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area70.2%
Sitka City and Borough83.2%
Skagway Municipality87.1%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area37.5%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area66.0%
Wrangell City and Borough66.0%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon80.0%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area82.5%
Statewide62.5%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 77 to 2,211. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 21% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of September 21, 2021.
  • On September 18th, there were 201 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 2.9% decrease relative to the week before when there were 207 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 14 to 459. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during September 12–September 18 may be reported in the future after death certificates are reviewed.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

Variant Tracking

The most recent Alaska COVID Genomic Surveillance report was released on September 21st.

Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)457+420 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)7408 February 2021
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)2245+60130 May 2021
 
Variants of InterestCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)139024 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Iota (B.1.526)2404 February 2021
Mu (B.1.621)156+76 May 2021
Zeta (P.2)4027 January 2021

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.
  • The updated VB data are among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years with a specimen collection date from January 16–September 18, 2021. 
  • From January 16–September 18, 2021, 20 deaths, 135 hospitalizations, and 9,220 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 41,539 cases, 1,104 hospitalizations, and 161 deaths were reported.
  • 78% of all cases, 88% of all hospitalizations, and 88% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years from January 16–September 18, 2021 were in people who were not fully vaccinated. 
  • Specimens from VB infections are described in the weekly Alaska Genomics Report. More detailed information about hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccine breakthrough infections among Alaskan residents can also be found in the monthly report.
  • Age-adjusted per capita rates of COVID-19 cases by vaccination status are updated weekly. Many COVID-19 cases with specimen collection in the immediate past weeks (indicated by the grey box) may have not yet been reported or counted.

  • Age-adjusted per capita rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations by vaccination status are updated monthly. Alaska residents who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than those who are not fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Communication Resources

Statewide Percentage of Daily Tests with Positive Results
(Seven day rolling average)

Cases by Week of Onset and Age

Cases by Week of Onset and Race

Additional informational resources:

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

NEWS RELEASE: September 22 Unified Command Meeting

UNIFIED COMMAND DISCUSSES DASHBOARD AND BOOSTERS

SITKA, September 22, 2021 – Incident Commander Craig Warren stated it had been two weeks since Unified Command had met. He reported continued comments to field citizen concerns with the updated City and Borough of Sitka (CBS) COVID-19 Dashboard especially with the 14 positive COVID-19 cases from yesterday. He told of many questions surrounding if the positive cases were from travelers or secondary or community spread to know where in town it was taking place and know where to stay away from. He reminded that the metrics had always been provided by Public Health and the State Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology and the data was the only numbers Sitka would receive.

Public Health Nurse, Denise Ewing relayed the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee met to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine booster and review the data. Based on the scientific evidence available including safety and effectiveness data, the committee voted to recommend Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine boosters to limited groups. She said the recommendation would be discussed at the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting scheduled September 22 and 23, which anticipated further guidance for boosters and the CDC authorizing boosters for limited groups. She stated then Alaska providers would be able to provide booster vaccines to those specific groups. She stated more details and information would be out next week. To keep updated visit covidvax.alaska.gov. She said as we work on mitigation strategies and staying current with vaccines, she also urged all to not ignore six simple basics: stay active, get adequate sleep, pay attention to diet and nutrition, health care maintenance, cope with stress and anxiety, and to stay connected.

Thor Christianson, Logistics reported no issues with being able to get medical supplies although some brands were not available.

Public Information Officer Melissa Henshaw reported fewer inquiries and concerns of the changes to the CBS COVID-19 Dashboard and a few social media posts for when new information was available along with reminders of the recommended mitigation.

Janelle Vanasse, Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) reported continued implementation of their mitigation plan. She stated there were some positive COVID-19 cases that were caught through a combination of testing from those identified as close contacts as well as screening testing but that it had been contained and the mitigation plan had been working as designed. They were happy to be fully in person and continued to have quality education while mitigating COVID-19 and able to take care of students that needed to be isolated or quarantined.

Sitka School District (SSD) Superintendent Frank Hauser reported what had appeared to be a Labor Day spike in cases and relayed they had their first active COVID-19 cases connected to SSD buildings two weeks ago. He said it was students and/or vaccinated staff that had tested COVID-19 positive. The SSD website had a list of schools and cases which would continue to be updated. He reminded that COVID-19 was contracted from many situations and locations including travel, family, friends, or out in the community and they had couple of the students come to school with COVID-19 symptoms. The SSD contacted parents of the schools according to notification procedures (available for review on their website) and stated if parents were not contacted then their student was not in contact with any of the COVID-19 positive individuals. He asked that everyone keep students’ home if they were sick or if anyone in the household or among close contacts were sick. Several of the positive cases were identified using new screening testing. To date, they had tested hundreds of students along with staff and would continue to provide testing to bring students and staff back into buildings safely.

He stated the COVID-19 testing permission form could be found on the SSD website which could be filled out and returned to the office. Schools test weekly and the schedule was on page two of the form. The COVID-19 positive cases connected to buildings currently represent not even 1% of the student population. In contrast, those Alaskan districts that started school without masking, reported 10 times the COVID-19 positive cases and multiple school closures though most have switched to masking. SSD layered mitigations including masking and testing helped to identify and isolate positive cases and bring students back to in person learning safely. Several of the cases listed on the website would come off this week as those individuals would have competed their isolation period. Information on the SSD website would continue to be updated Monday through Friday, visit https://www.sitkaschools.org/.

Anne Davis, Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) reported continued remote work for staff, their offices remained closed unless by appointment, and staff was being tested every two weeks.

Henshaw relayed for Trish White, Harry Race Pharmacist of continued COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Friday mornings. The public may sign up at http://www.sitkapharmacies.com.

Finance Section Chief Melisa Haley reported meeting with FEMA to go over the projects that had mostly been paid out with the exception of one pending. She said there were admin fees to submit, but that once submitted it forced all projects closed and we would no longer be able to submit for reimbursement. She was leaning toward not submitting to allow for flexibility. She said that unless incurring significant expenses, it would not be worth the time to pursue federal funding, but that it was something to look into.

Due to the High Alert Level in Sitka, Sitka Unified Command recommends continued mitigation: face coverings are strongly encouraged for individuals regardless of vaccination status, maintaining physical distance of 6 feet along with following CDC guidelines CDC Guidelines.

We urge citizens to remain diligent and practice proper hygiene measures, such as washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with others. In addition, get tested but stay home if you feel ill, wear a face covering when around others, and clean and disinfect objects and surfaces on a regular basis.

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the flu – fever, aching, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and sometimes decreased sense of taste and smell. If you are concerned you might have contracted the coronavirus contact the COVID hotline at 966.8799. Outside of normal clinic hours, patients can contact the SEARHC 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1.800.613.0560 to be triaged by a registered nurse. 

The Sitka Emergency Unified Command continues to urge citizens to enroll for a vaccination online with Harry Race Pharmacy at Harry Race Pharmacy and with SEARHC at https://covid19.searhc.org/. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated to be safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus. Being vaccinated is the best way to protect our community.

The Emergency Operations Center encourages residents to prepare for any local emergency by ensuring each family member has a 14- day emergency supply kit, including any necessary medications.

For information on the local pandemic response, visit https://cityofsitka.org or https://covid19.searhc.org.

# # #

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: September 5 – September 11, 2021

Case Trends

  • The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Alaska continued last week on an upwards trajectory.
  • Alaska currently has more people hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to any other time during the pandemic.  
    • Among the 50 states, Alaska had the fourth largest percentage increase in number of persons hospitalized with COVID-19 over the past two weeks.
    • Hospitalizations are continuing to occur in younger Alaskans, with the median age of persons hospitalized due to COVID-19 in 2021 being 6 years younger than in 2020.
    • Among those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and with specimen collection dates from January 16, 2021 through September 11, 2021, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients had a median age more than 15 years younger than fully vaccinated patients.
    • 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.
  • 4,132 cases were reported in Alaskans between September 5–September 11. This is a 0.49% increase from the week before.
  • High levels of COVID-19 transmission are occurring in Alaska communities that are on the road system.
    • Per capita incidence rates in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Fairbanks North Star Borough have rapidly increased over the past few weeks and now equal or exceed rates in Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
    • Rates in Juneau are quite high as well.
  • The 7-day test-positivity rate in Alaska is continuing to climb and is 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.
  • Several factors are likely contributing to Alaska’s current surge:
    • The Delta variant
    • Vaccination rates (Alaska currently ranks 34th out of the 50 US states in terms of the proportion of the population that is fully vaccinated)
    • Waning immunity (both vaccine-induced and infection-induced immunity)
    • The degree to which people are engaging in community mitigation efforts to slow the spread, such as masking, social distancing, indoor ventilation, testing, isolation, and quarantine.

COVID-19 Guidance

Take action now to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and preserve health care capacity.

  • 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.

Borough/Census Area Alert Level Trends

  • 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.
Borough/Census AreaAlert Level
August 23
Alert Level
August 30
Alert Level
September 7
Alert Level
September 13
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality1,169404.51,314454.71,399484.11,571543.7
Fairbanks North Star Borough199204.8337346.9537552.7628646.4
Juneau City and Borough154484.7142446.9158497.3100314.7
Kenai Peninsula Borough394668.5406688.9471799.2275466.6
Matanuska-Susitna Region406378.4411383.0667621.6741690.6
Nome Census Area1371,402.41291,320.524245.731317.3
North Slope Borough59603.868695.91982,026.42422,476.7
Northwest Arctic Borough55725.354712.158764.929382.4
Chugach Census Area42622.122325.921311.126385.1
Copper River Census Area14518.7*14518.7*23852.225926.3
Denali Borough5**6332.2*10553.7*5**
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area9129.7*24346.022317.138547.8
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area13257.7*19376.7*23456.031614.6
Haines Borough391,547.620793.79357.1*6238.1*
Petersburg Borough1**8250.9*4**0**
Sitka City and Borough53621.832375.513152.5*10117.3*
Skagway Municipality5**3**1**2**
Wrangell City and Borough14588.5*22924.86252.2*4**
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon5**4**4**1**
Ketchikan Gateway Borough75548.497709.288643.468497.2
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area35574.721344.838624.023377.7
Bethel Census Area113632.4147822.7110615.6148828.3
Kusilvak Census Area40494.635432.734420.429358.6
Aleutians East Borough3**3**9307.7*4**
Aleutians West Census Area11198.4*8144.3*20360.88144.3*
Dillingham Census Area37775.238796.1641,340.938796.1
Kodiak Island Borough90713.766523.449388.549388.5
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula2**5**7289.3*2**
Statewide3,180436.33,455474.04,067558.04,137567.6

*Rates based on <20 observations are statistically unreliable and should be used with caution.
**Rates based on <6 observations are not reported.

Vaccination Status

  • 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.
  • 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.

Borough/Census Area Vaccination Coverage

This is the percent of Alaskans aged ≥12 years who received one or more doses of vaccine.

Borough/Census AreaSeptember 14
Aleutians East Borough88.4%
Aleutians West Census Area74.4%
Anchorage Municipality65.9%
Bethel Census Area78.1%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula91.3%
Denali Borough71.6%
Dillingham Census Area64.1%
Fairbanks North Star Borough53.8%
Haines Borough73.4%
Juneau City and Borough83.8%
Kenai Peninsula Borough51.4%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough70.4%
Kodiak Island Borough71.7%
Kusilvak Census Area82.2%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough44.7%
Nome Census Area84.3%
North Slope Borough40.5%
Northwest Arctic Borough67.6%
Petersburg Borough68.5%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area69.5%
Sitka City and Borough82.8%
Skagway Municipality86.9%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area37.0%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area65.4%
Wrangell City and Borough65.4%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon79.7%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area82.3%
Statewide61.9%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 75 to 2,134. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 20.4% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of September 14, 2021.
  • On September 11th, there were 207 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 22.5% increase relative to the week before when there were 169 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 8 to 445. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during September 5–September 11 may be reported in the future after death certificates are reviewed.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

Variant Tracking

The most recent Alaska COVID Genomic Surveillance report was released on September 14th.

Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)453+120 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)7408 February 2021
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)1644+20630 May 2021
 
Variants of InterestCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)139024 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Iota (B.1.526)2404 February 2021
Mu (B.1.621)149+26 May 2021
Zeta (P.2)4027 January 2021

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.
  • The updated VB data are among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years with a specimen collection date from January 16–September 11, 2021. 
  • From January 16–September 11, 2021, 18 deaths, 117 hospitalizations, and 7,429 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 36,422 cases, 966 hospitalizations, and 142 deaths were reported.
  • 80% of all cases, 88% of all hospitalizations, and 87% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years from January 16–September 11, 2021 were in people who were not fully vaccinated. 
  • Specimens from VB infections are described in the weekly Alaska Genomics Report. More detailed information about hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccine breakthrough infections among Alaskan residents can also be found in the monthly report.
  • Age-adjusted 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) have not yet been reported or counted.
  • Age-adjusted per capita rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations by vaccination status are updated monthly. Alaska residents who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than those who are not fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Communication Resources

Statewide Percentage of Daily Tests with Positive Results
(Seven day rolling average)

Cases by Week of Onset and Age

Cases by Week of Onset and Race

Additional informational resources:

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

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: August 29 – September 4, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
August 29 — September 4, 2021

Intermediate Statewide transmission
Rt 1.10
HIGH Statewide alert status
558.0
HIGH ALERT Hospital capacityHIGH Test positivity
8.07%
61.3%
of Alaskans aged 12+ are vaccinated
Red- Rt >1.2
Orange- Rt 1-1.2 Yellow- Rt <1
7-day case rate per 100,000 population. Red-  ≥100
Orange- 50-99.99
Yellow- 10-49.99
Blue- 0-9.99  
Multiple hospitals in Anchorage were at surge capacity the weekend of August 28th and August 29th due to high volumes of both COVID and non-COVID patients.Red->5%
Orange- 2-5%
Yellow- <2%
This includes people with at least one dose. Estimated AK population 12 and older of 607,022 from the AK Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

Case Trends

  • The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Alaska continued last week on an upwards trajectory.

  • 4,112 cases were reported in Alaskans between August 29–September 4. This is a 16.7% increase from the week before.
  • Cases remain high or are increasing in most parts of the state on the road system. Per capita incidence rates in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Fairbanks North Star Borough area catching up to or exceeding those in Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Rates in Juneau are similarly high as well.  
  • 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.
  • The Delta variant has become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant in Alaska. This variant transmits more easily than other variants.

COVID-19 Guidance

  • Currently available COVID vaccines will help protect you, your family, and your community against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Getting vaccinated now is more important than ever.
  • If you do test positive, isolate right away, and notify your contacts. Ask them to get tested and, if they are unvaccinated, to quarantine.
  • Monoclonal antibody treatments are effective and reduce the risk of hospitalization. If you have COVID-19 or are a close contact, talk to a healthcare provider about whether treatment may be right for you. The treatments work best when given early.
  • In areas with substantial or high community transmission, 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.
  • Fully vaccinated persons who are close contacts to someone with COVID-19 do not need to quarantine but should get tested 3 to 5 days after exposure and wear a mask in public indoor areas for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

Borough/Census Area Alert Level Trends

  • 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.
Borough/Census AreaAlert Level
August 16
Alert Level
August 23
Alert Level
August 30
Alert Level
September 7
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality924319.81,169404.51,314454.71,399484.1
Fairbanks North Star Borough123126.6199204.8337346.9537552.7
Juneau City and Borough122384.0154484.7142446.9158497.3
Kenai Peninsula Borough319541.3394668.5406688.9471799.2
Matanuska-Susitna Region233217.1406378.4411383.0667621.6
Nome Census Area1101,126.01371,402.41291,320.524245.7
North Slope Borough28286.659603.868695.91982,026.4
Northwest Arctic Borough33435.255725.354712.158764.9
Chugach Census Area23340.742622.122325.921311.1
Copper River Census Area3**14518.7*14518.7*23852.2
Denali Borough4**5**6332.2*10553.7*
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area686.5*9129.7*24346.022317.1
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area6119.0*13257.7*19376.7*23456.0
Haines Borough441,746.0391,547.620793.79357.1*
Petersburg Borough0**1**8250.9*4**
Sitka City and Borough32375.553621.832375.513152.5*
Skagway Municipality4**5**3**1**
Wrangell City and Borough4**14588.5*22924.86252.2*
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon0**5**4**4**
Ketchikan Gateway Borough83606.975548.497709.288643.4
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area23377.735574.721344.838624.0
Bethel Census Area42235.1113632.4147822.7110615.6
Kusilvak Census Area15185.5*40494.635432.734420.4
Aleutians East Borough5**3**3**9307.7*
Aleutians West Census Area3**11198.4*8144.3*20360.8
Dillingham Census Area16335.2*37775.238796.1641,340.9
Kodiak Island Borough72570.990713.766523.449388.5
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula4**2**5**7289.3*
Statewide2,285313.53,180436.33,455474.04,067558.0

*Rates based on <20 observations are statistically unreliable and should be used with caution.
**Rates based on <6 observations are not reported.

Vaccination Status

  • 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.
  • 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.

Borough/Census Area Vaccination Coverage

  • This is the percent of Alaskans aged ≥12 years who received one or more doses of vaccine.
Borough/Census AreaSeptember 7
Aleutians East Borough88.1%
Aleutians West Census Area74.1%
Anchorage Municipality65.2%
Bethel Census Area77.5%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula91.2%
Denali Borough71.1%
Dillingham Census Area63.5%
Fairbanks North Star Borough53.2%
Haines Borough73.3%
Juneau City and Borough83.5%
Kenai Peninsula Borough51.0%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough69.9%
Kodiak Island Borough70.8%
Kusilvak Census Area81.6%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough44.1%
Nome Census Area83.8%
North Slope Borough40.1%
Northwest Arctic Borough66.8%
Petersburg Borough67.8%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area68.9%
Sitka City and Borough82.5%
Skagway Municipality86.7%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area35.9%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area64.9%
Wrangell City and Borough65.0%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon79.5%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area81.9%
Statewide61.3%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 83 to 2,059. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 20.9% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of September 7, 2021.
  • On September 4th, there were 169 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is an 11.9% increase relative to the week before when there were 151 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 10 to 437. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during August 29–September 4 may be reported in the future after death certificates are reviewed.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

Variant Tracking

Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)452+120 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)7408 February 2021
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)1438+24230 May 2021
 
Variants of InterestCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)139024 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Iota (B.1.526)2404 February 2021
Mu (B.1.621)147+16 May 2021
Zeta (P.2)4027 January 2021

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.
  • The updated VB data are among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years with a specimen collection date from January 16–September 4, 2021.
  • From January 16–September 4, 2021, 17 deaths, 105 hospitalizations, and 6,378 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 33,039 cases, 894 hospitalizations, and 131 deaths were reported.
  • 81% of all cases, 88% of all hospitalizations, and 87% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years from January 16–September 4, 2021 were in people who were not fully vaccinated.
  • Specimens from VB infections are described in the weekly Alaska Genomics Report. More detailed information about hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccine breakthrough infections among Alaskan residents can also be found in the monthly report.
  • Age-adjusted 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) have not yet been reported or counted.

  • Age-adjusted per capita rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations by vaccination status are updated monthly. Alaska residents who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than those who are not fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Communication Resources

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

Statewide Percentage of Daily Tests with Positive Results
(Seven day rolling average)

Cases by Week of Onset and Age

Cases by Week of Onset and Race

Additional informational resources:

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

NEWS RELEASE: September 8 Unified Command Meeting

UNIFIED COMMAND DISCUSSES DASHBOARD METRICS

SITKA, September 8, 2021 – Incident Commander Craig Warren reported concerned citizens that had contacted him regarding the new metrics on the City and Borough of Sitka (CBS) COVID-19 Dashboard. He reiterated that the metrics had always been provided by Public Health and the State Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology. He said that the numbers were never “owned” by the CBS and that the CBS does not have access to those numbers without the state supplying them. The State requested the CBS follow their model which was similar to the Center for Disease and Control’s model (CDC). He said the data posted by the CBS was the best that could be provided. He relayed that there would no longer be a breakdown of gender and age. He reminded that it was not that the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was hiding anything, and the numbers shown were given from the State.

He reported that several questions were being asked of the case rates. He said case rates were based on the State’s census of Sitka at 8,523 which were normalized to 100,000 so that there was universal data across the country. For CBS to get into the light blue low alert level it would mean that CBS would have to of had zero cases in the last 7 days; a moderate alert level would be 1 to 4 cases over the last 7 days; substantial alert level would be between 5 and 8 cases over the last 7 days and 9 or more cases over the 7 days was considered a high alert level.

Shoshauna Schmidt filling in for Dr. Bruhl, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Chief Medical Officer and Incident Commander reported no inpatients with COVID-19 the morning of September 8. She told that SEARHC was awaiting formal guidance from federal and state agencies for the vaccine booster shot but that they were moving forward with their processes and would be ready; information about the booster can be found on the CDC website.

Thor Christianson, Logistics reported no changes in supplies, that he had heard from the public on the changes to the CBS COVID-19 Dashboard, and an ordinance for a mask mandate while in times of the high alert level would be on the next assembly agenda.

Public Information Officers Melissa Henshaw and Jessica Ieremia reported educational social media posting on vaccine approval and vaccination after having COVID-19 along with many CBS COVID-19 Dashboard calls, concerns, and questions.

Janelle Vanasse, Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) reported excitement of making it through their COVID-19 plan of a special strict alert level for the first 14 days that was planned regardless of the community alert level. This included quarantining for students for different periods of time and significant testing. She stated last week was the first week of weekly routine testing with no positive COVID-19 cases and a second week with a couple of positive results, so they were doing some close contacting, was executing their plan, and felt it was working. She recognized the Delta variant would be tricky but that it was important to keep to the plan in place. She informed that MEHS had not seen close contacts with positive results. She was hopeful that the plan would work in order to continue with in person learning.

Sitka School District (SSD) Superintendent Frank Hauser reported the SSD updated the alert levels to match the city and state’s models. He reminded that COVID-19 mitigation information could be found on the SSD website. He reminded that in this high alert level, masks for students and staff were required in schools. He said SSD encouraged those to wear masks over the holiday weekend and to test in school upon return. He asked those that felt like they had COVID-19 like symptoms, to stay home from school and test at SEARHC. He said there was no reported cases of secondary transmission in any school.

Anne Davis, Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) reported continued testing of staff and that their offices remained closed.

Trish White, Harry Race Pharmacist reported flu vaccines would be starting soon. She stated a COVID-19 vaccine clinic would take place on Friday next to Harry Race Pharmacy. She said hopefully by the end of September, the vaccine booster shot would be available and they were waiting for CDC guidance on it. Citizens may register for a vaccination clinic at Harry Race Pharmacy.  

Due to the High Alert Level in Sitka, Sitka Unified Command recommends continued mitigation: face coverings are strongly encouraged for individuals regardless of vaccination status, maintaining physical distance of 6 feet along with following CDC guidelines CDC Guidelines.

We urge citizens to remain diligent and practice proper hygiene measures, such as washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with others. In addition, get tested but stay home if you feel ill, wear a face covering when around others, and clean and disinfect objects and surfaces on a regular basis.

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the flu – fever, aching, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and sometimes decreased sense of taste and smell. If you are concerned you might have contracted the coronavirus contact the COVID hotline at 966.8799. Outside of normal clinic hours, patients can contact the SEARHC 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1.800.613.0560 to be triaged by a registered nurse. 

The Sitka Emergency Unified Command continues to urge citizens to enroll for a vaccination online with Harry Race Pharmacy at Harry Race Pharmacy and with SEARHC at https://covid19.searhc.org/. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated to be safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus. Being vaccinated is the best way to protect our community.

The Emergency Operations Center encourages residents to prepare for any local emergency by ensuring each family member has a 14- day emergency supply kit, including any necessary medications.

For information on the local pandemic response, visit https://cityofsitka.org or https://covid19.searhc.org.

# # #

COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: August 22 – August 28, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
August 22 — August 28, 2021

Intermediate Statewide transmission
Rt 1.12
HIGH Statewide alert status
474.0
Limited Hospital capacityHIGH Test positivity
7.3%
60.7%
of Alaskans aged 12+ are vaccinated
Red- Rt >1.2
Orange- Rt 1-1.2 Yellow- Rt <1
7-day case rate per 100,000 population. Red-  ≥100
Orange- 50-99.99
Yellow- 10-49.99
Blue- 0-9.99  
Multiple hospitals in Anchorage were at surge capacity the weekend of August 28th and August 29th due to high volumes of both COVID and non-COVID patients.Red->5%
Orange- 2-5%
Yellow- <2%
This includes people with at least one dose. Estimated AK population 12 and older of 607,022 from the AK Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

Case Trends

  • The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Alaska continued last week on an upwards trajectory.

  • 3,525 cases were reported in Alaskans between August 22–August 28. This is a 9.1% increase from the week before.
  • Cases remain high or are increasing in most parts of the state on the road system (including Kenai Peninsula Borough, Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and Fairbanks North Star Borough).
  • 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.
  • The Delta variant has become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant in Alaska. This variant transmits more easily than other variants.

COVID-19 Guidance

  • Currently available COVID vaccines will help protect you, your family, and your community against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Getting vaccinated now is more important than ever.
  • If you do test positive, isolate right away, and notify your contacts. Ask them to get tested and, if they are unvaccinated, to quarantine.
  • Monoclonal antibody treatments are effective and reduce the risk of hospitalization. If you have COVID-19 or are a close contact, talk to a healthcare provider about whether treatment may be right for you. The treatments work best when given early.
  • In areas with substantial or high community transmission, 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.
  • Fully vaccinated persons who are close contacts to someone with COVID-19 do not need to quarantine but should get tested 3 to 5 days after exposure and wear a mask in public indoor areas for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

Borough/Census Area Alert Level Trends

  • 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.
Borough/Census AreaAlert Level
August 9
Alert Level
August 16
Alert Level
August 23
Alert Level
August 30
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality894309.4924319.81,169404.51,314454.7
Fairbanks North Star Borough105108.1123126.6199204.8337346.9
Juneau City and Borough59185.7122384.0154484.7142446.9
Kenai Peninsula Borough333565.0319541.3394668.5406688.9
Matanuska-Susitna Region223207.8233217.1406378.4411383.0
Nome Census Area53542.51101,126.01371,402.41291,320.5
North Slope Borough18184.2*28286.659603.868695.9
Northwest Arctic Borough29382.433435.255725.354712.1
Chugach Census Area32474.023340.742622.122325.9
Copper River Census Area8296.4*3**14518.7*14518.7*
Denali Borough7387.6*4**5**6332.2*
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area4**686.5*9129.7*24346.0
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area9178.4*6119.0*13257.7*19376.7*
Haines Borough1**441,746.0391,547.620793.7
Petersburg Borough2**0**1**8250.9*
Sitka City and Borough52610.132375.553621.832375.5
Skagway Municipality2**4**5**3**
Wrangell City and Borough4**4**14588.5*22924.8
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon0**0**5**4**
Ketchikan Gateway Borough59431.483606.975548.497709.2
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area16262.7*23377.735574.721344.8
Bethel Census Area40223.942235.1113632.4147822.7
Kusilvak Census Area19234.9*15185.5*40494.635432.7
Aleutians East Borough12410.3*5**3**3**
Aleutians West Census Area1**3**11198.4*8144.3*
Dillingham Census Area14293.3*16335.2*37775.238796.1
Kodiak Island Borough88697.872570.990713.766523.4
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula1**4**2**5**
Statewide2,086286.22,285313.53,180436.33,455474.0

*Rates based on <20 observations are statistically unreliable and should be used with caution.
**Rates based on <6 observations are not reported.

Vaccination Status

  • Anyone aged 12+ 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.
  • 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.

Borough/Census Area Vaccination Coverage

  • This is the percent of Alaskans aged 12+ who received one or more doses of vaccine.
Borough/Census AreaAugust 31
Aleutians East Borough88.0%
Aleutians West Census Area73.5%
Anchorage Municipality64.6%
Bethel Census Area76.7%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula90.8 %
Denali Borough70.4%
Dillingham Census Area62.2%
Fairbanks North Star Borough52.4%
Haines Borough73.1%
Juneau City and Borough83.0%
Kenai Peninsula Borough50.4%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough69.3%
Kodiak Island Borough70.2%
Kusilvak Census Area81.3%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough43.5%
Nome Census Area83.6%
North Slope Borough39.8%
Northwest Arctic Borough67.7%
Petersburg Borough66.9%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area68.5%
Sitka City and Borough82.2%
Skagway Municipality85.7%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area35.4%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area64.5%
Wrangell City and Borough65.0%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon79.2%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area81.4%
Statewide60.7%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 52 to 1,976. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 16.5% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of August 31, 2021.
  • On August 28th, there were 151 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 14.4% increase relative to the week before when there were 132 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 21 to 427. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during August 22–August 28 may be reported in the future after death certificates are reviewed.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

Variant Tracking

Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)451+120 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)7408 February 2021
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)1196+23830 May 2021
 
Variants of InterestCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)139-124 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Iota (B.1.526)2404 February 2021
Zeta (P.2)4027 January 2021

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.
  • The updated VB data are among Alaskans aged 12+ with a specimen collection date from January 16th through August 28th. 
  • From January 16–August 28, 2021, 16 deaths, 85 hospitalizations, and 5,162 cases with a VB infection were reported among Alaska residents aged 12+. These counts are provisional and subject to change as more data are compiled. In that same time frame, a total of 29,184 cases, 802 hospitalizations, and 121 deaths were reported.
  • 82% of all cases, 89% of all hospitalizations, and 87% of deaths among Alaska residents age 12 and up from January 16 through August 28, 2021 were in people who were not fully vaccinated. 
  • Specimens from VB infections are described in the weekly Alaska Genomics Report. More detailed information about hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccine breakthrough infections among Alaskan residents can also be found in the monthly report.

COVID-19 Communication Resources

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.

Statewide Percentage of Daily Tests with Positive Results
(Seven day rolling average)

Cases by Week of Onset and Age

Cases by Week of Onset and Race

Additional informational resources:

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

NEWS RELEASE: September 1 Unified Command Meeting

UNIFIED COMMAND DISCUSSES CASE RATE DECLINE AND DASHBOARD IMPLEMENTATION

SITKA, September 1, 2021 – Deputy Incident Commander Rob Janik reported the case rate continued to decline which was reassuring. He said it was attributed to mitigation measures that the businesses, citizens, and visitors have enacted along with the increase in vaccination that has been seen in the spike since the beginning of July. He thanked and gave appreciation from the response of those that made the community safer. He reminded of the transitions of a new reporting model that would take place September 1 to incorporate changes to the City and Borough of Sitka’s COVID-19 Dashboard. He reported that the mitigation guidance had been refined and it would be published for recommended steps for each level of risk.

Dr. Bruhl, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Chief Medical Officer and Incident Commander stated it was good to see the overall case number in Sitka declining. He told of regional increased cases in Juneau and Klawock. He said the hospital in Sitka had not had large numbers of hospitalizations and that it was intermittently one or two patients for COVID-19 related issues. He told of the continued problem, especially in the Anchorage area, that many hospitals were full and not able to accept patients and transfers which could be an issue if Sitka had sick people that needed to be transferred. He stated they had been able to find other places to transfer to and gave the example of Seattle or other locations in Alaska. He said some patients have struggled in terms of lengths of time in the hospital. Overall, the situation in the state continued to affect the ability to provide care in smaller communities.  

He said that testing continued to be available in the consolidated area across from the hospital between the hours of noon and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

He reported that SEARHC had been able to get a supply of BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card point of care tests and shared them with the Sitka School District and were available to Mt. Edgecumbe High School. He stated SEARHC had been providing vaccines to patients who were immunocompromised, that medical staff was working with patients to get them in, and they had given over 150 in the last week. He stated that it was considered a third vaccine and not a booster. He reported the continued complex and slightly conflicting information coming from US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about booster vaccines. He said the core information was that booster vaccines would be offered throughout the country starting September 20. SEARHC had been working diligently to accommodate for it. He noted the future opportunity to use a QR code to register for it.

He felt that the big message that came out of the CDC was that the Delta variant had not been vaccine failure and that those unvaccinated were ending up in the hospital, very sick, and even dying. He noted a statewide call last week that Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) had not had a single admission to the ICU for a COVID-19 patient that was vaccinated. He said that not that it couldn’t happen, but that the unvaccinated accounted for 95 to 97% of all hospitalizations in the Anchorage area which was affecting the healthcare system.

He felt there was an opportunity for everyone to encourage people to get the vaccine. He said it had been given to billions of people, hundreds of thousands in North America with not many significant side effects. He relayed that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists were now strongly recommending pregnant and lactating women get vaccinated. The vaccine was available, and he encouraged those who were not yet vaccinated to carefully consider getting vaccinated.

Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing reported cases continued to trend down and stated to keep up the awesome work that everyone was doing. She said plan on getting vaccinated noting it was not too late and encouraged those to finish their series if they hadn’t. She said to continue to wear masks, distance and plan for the booster shot to be taken 8 months after the second dose. She said that more information would come as time progressed about the booster.

Thor Christianson, Logistics reported medical supplies remained easy to get but no purchases had been made. As Assembly Liaison, he told of an ordinance that would be at the next Assembly meeting on September 14 mandating masks for when the Sitka Emergency Operations Center risk level was in high alert.

Janelle Vanasse, Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) reported making it through the first phase of entrance for students. She thanked SEARHC, the health clinic at Mt. Edgecumbe for the level of care and amount of testing along with checking in on those that had been identified as COVID-19 positive, and she thanked Public Health as well. She stated excitement with their plan and different levels of quarantine with 10 positive cases and very little spread among their own population and no outbreaks. She said most students were back to in person learning except those that had close contact with a COVID-19 positive case, late arrival, and those still quarantining. She reported they would continue with heightened mitigation through the week and then would shift into the plan of following the risk level of the community.

Sitka School District Superintendent Frank Hauser reported that students in the district were in class and learning. He stated pleased with the progress of the school year thus far. He reminded of the three-day weekend and to wear masks, asking everyone to do their part so that there wouldn’t be a spike like from the fourth of July. He said he would be speaking at the School Board meeting about the new 7-day alert level calculations. He thanked Public Health and SEARHC for their continued support.

Anne Davis, Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) reported status quo for STA of remote work for staff and offices closed to the public. She told of mandatory COVID-19 testing for staff and that they were monitoring things closely.  

Trish White, Harry Race Pharmacist reported a vaccine clinic would take place on Friday next to Harry Race Pharmacy with a few first, many second, and a few third dose vaccines scheduled. She said soon a flu vaccine clinic would take place on Friday afternoons. She relayed that after September 20th a booster would be available to be administered 8 months out from the second dose. She said they had administered about 12 first dose vaccines since the spike from the beginning of July. Citizens may register for a vaccination clinic at Harry Race Pharmacy.  

Due to the High alert Level in Sitka, Sitka Unified Command recommends coninued mitigation: face coverings are strongly encouraged for individuals regardless of vaccination status, maintaining physical distance of 6 feet along with following CDC guidelines CDC Guidelines.

We urge citizens to remain diligent and practice proper hygiene measures, such as washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with others. In addition, get tested but stay home if you feel ill, wear a face covering when around others, and clean and disinfect objects and surfaces on a regular basis.

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the flu – fever, aching, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and sometimes decreased sense of taste and smell. If you are concerned you might have contracted the coronavirus contact the COVID hotline at 966.8799. Outside of normal clinic hours, patients can contact the SEARHC 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1.800.613.0560 to be triaged by a registered nurse. 

The Sitka Emergency Unified Command continues to urge citizens to enroll for a vaccination online with Harry Race Pharmacy at Harry Race Pharmacy and with SEARHC at https://covid19.searhc.org/. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated to be safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus. Being vaccinated is the best way to protect our community.

The Emergency Operations Center encourages residents to prepare for any local emergency by ensuring each family member has a 14- day emergency supply kit, including any necessary medications.

For information on the local pandemic response, visit https://cityofsitka.org or https://covid19.searhc.org.

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Unified Command Revised COVID-19 Mitigation Guidance for Sitka

The Unified Command revised the Local Mitigation Guidance for Sitka. Changes include alert level name changes to align with the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), added travel mitigations for High and Substantial levels, and recommendations for masks/face coverings regardless of vaccination rate.

Sitka remains in High Alert Level.