COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Update: September 26 – October 2, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
September 26 — October 2, 2021

Case Trends

  • Alaska currently has the highest number of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population among the 50 states.
  • 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.   
    • Hospitalizations are continuing to occur in younger Alaskans, with the median age of persons hospitalized due to COVID-19 in 2021 being about 9 years younger than in 2020.
    • Among those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and with specimen collection dates from January 16, 2021 through October 2, 2021, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients had a median age 15 years younger than fully vaccinated patients.

  • Very high levels of COVID-19 transmission are occurring throughout much of Alaska.
    • All four of the largest boroughs (Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, and Kenai Peninsula Borough) continue to exhibit very high levels of community transmission.
    • Rates in Juneau are quite high as well.
  • The incidence of COVID-19 cases appears to have at least leveled off and might be decreasing. Regardless of the trajectory, intense community transmission is continuing to occur and is causing significant illness, death, and demand on the health care system.
  • 7,242 cases were reported in Alaskans between September 26–October 2. This is a 7.8% decrease from the week before. (A large backlog of lab reports was processed over the past two weeks, which increased the number of cases reported. The weekly change in reported cases may not reflect the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Alaska.)
  • The 7-day test-positivity rate in Alaska is nearly 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 and some communities are experiencing extremely widespread transmission.

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
September 13
Alert Level
September 20
Alert Level
September 27
Alert Level
October 4
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality1,571543.72,570889.43,1251,081.42,272786.2
Fairbanks North Star Borough628646.4733754.41,4311,472.8872897.5
Juneau City and Borough100314.7250786.8282887.5182572.8
Kenai Peninsula Borough275466.6369626.17061,198.0481816.2
Matanuska-Susitna Region741690.6771718.51,8481,722.2926863.0
Nome Census Area31317.323235.470716.663644.9
North Slope Borough2422,476.72552,609.82182,231.11511,545.4
Northwest Arctic Borough29382.454712.12012,650.71522,004.5
Chugach Census Area26385.124355.5921,362.857844.3
Copper River Census Area25926.316592.8*391,445.0331,222.7
Denali Borough5**9498.3*16885.9*8443.0*
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area38547.851735.250720.844634.3
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area31614.630594.847931.8521,030.9
Haines Borough6238.1*16634.9*411,627.010396.8*
Petersburg Borough0**2**0**481,505.2
Sitka City and Borough10117.3*31363.742492.827316.8
Skagway Municipality2**1**3**6523.1*
Wrangell City and Borough4**1**1**9378.3*
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon1**4**26981.924906.3
Ketchikan Gateway Borough68497.269504.549358.379577.6
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area23377.729476.241673.214229.9*
Bethel Census Area148828.3178996.2173268.22221,242.4
Kusilvak Census Area29358.656692.451630.647581.1
Aleutians East Borough4**2**0**13444.4*
Aleutians West Census Area8144.3*6108.2*22396.822396.8
Dillingham Census Area38796.144921.9751,571.3601,257.1
Kodiak Island Borough49388.586681.92001,585.91921,522.5
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula2**18743.8*662,727.3321,322.3
Statewide4,137567.65,699781.98,9151,223.16,099836.7

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

Vaccination

  • 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.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are approved and recommended by both the FDA and CDC for certain persons—including any person aged 65 or older—who received the primary series of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine 6 months ago. Many Alaskans who are at the highest risk for COVID-19 are now eligible to receive a Pfizer booster dose. Learn more about who should get a booster dose and to find COVID-19 vaccines near you at covidvax.alaska.gov.

  • 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 AreaOctober 5
Aleutians East Borough89.0%
Aleutians West Census Area75.4%
Anchorage Municipality67.8%
Bethel Census Area80.1%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula92.5%
Denali Borough73.2%
Dillingham Census Area65.9%
Fairbanks North Star Borough55.5%
Haines Borough75.0%
Juneau City and Borough83.5%
Kenai Peninsula Borough52.8%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough71.6%
Kodiak Island Borough73.4%
Kusilvak Census Area83.8%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough46.4%
Nome Census Area85.4%
North Slope Borough42.0%
Northwest Arctic Borough69.2%
Petersburg Borough69.9%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area71.0%
Sitka City and Borough84.0%
Skagway Municipality87.5%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area38.1%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area66.7%
Wrangell City and Borough66.5%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon81.3%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area84.2%
Statewide63.5%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 109 to 2,451. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 20.7% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of October 5, 2021.
  • On October 2nd, there were 213 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 5.3% decrease relative to the week before when there were 225 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 26 to 558. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during September 26–October 2 may be reported in the future after death certificates are reviewed.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

Variant Tracking

The most recent Genomic Surveillance data can be found on the “COVID-19 Variants” tab of the new Cases Dashboard.

Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)461+220 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)7508 February 2021
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)3,187+57430 May 2021
 
Variants of InterestCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)140+324 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Iota (B.1.526)2404 February 2021
Mu (B.1.621)161+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.
  • Alaska residents who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than those who are not fully vaccinated. (Age-standardized per capita rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations by vaccination status are updated monthly.)
  • The following updated VB data are among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years with a specimen collection date from January 16–October 2, 2021. 
  • From January 16–October 2, 2021, 43 deaths, 172 hospitalizations, and 13,183 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 52,525 cases, 1,278 hospitalizations, and 252 deaths were reported.
  • 75% of all cases, 87% of all hospitalizations, and 83% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years from January 16–October 2, 2021 were in people who were not fully vaccinated. 
  • Specimens from VB infections are described in the “COVID-19 Variants” tab of the new Cases Dashboard. More detailed information about hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccine breakthrough infections among Alaskan residents can also be found in the monthly report.
  • Age-standardized 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) may have not yet been reported or counted.

COVID-19 Communication Resources

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

Cases by Week of Onset and Age


Note: Quality assurance efforts are ongoing to attribute cases to the correct date on the onset date epi curve. Some recent cases will be reattributed to different weeks.

Cases by Week of Onset and Race


Note: Quality assurance efforts are ongoing to attribute cases to the correct date on the onset date epi curve. Some recent cases will be reattributed to different weeks.

Additional informational resources:

Additional ECHO session details:

  • Alaska Medical Provider ECHO (formerly COVID-19 for AK Healthcare Providers)
    Bi-monthly on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month from 7-8 pm
  • School Health ECHO
    Every Monday from 3:30-4:30 p.m Register
    • The School Health ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for professionals in the education setting (administrators, school-based nurses, etc.) to interface with a team of medical and education experts in Alaska.
  • Vaccine ECHO for Providers
    Weekly on Tuesday from 2-3 p.m. Register
  • Palliative Care ECHO
    Monthly on the first Tuesday from 12-1 p.m.
    • This monthly ECHO is for all Alaskan healthcare disciplines supporting patients with serious illness, and aims to provide support and up-to-date information regarding Palliative Care during this period of COVID-19.
  • Public Science ECHO
    Weekly on Wednesday from 12-1 p.m. register via Zoom
    • The Alaska Public Health Science ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for the general public to interface with our Public Health Leadership Team to explore the science of the COVID-19 virus, other public health topics, and current best practices. Or view via concurrent livestream to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/akechoprograms
  • Local Government Public Health ECHO
    Monthly on the third Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. Register
    • The Local Government Public Health Analysis ECHO is a virtual learning environment intended for local Alaska government leaders to interact with the State Public Health Leadership team and focuses on pandemic mitigation tools available, and how to use them.
  • Healthcare Specific Situational Awareness ECHO
    Weekly on Thursday from 12-1 p.m.  Register
    • The Healthcare Specific Situational ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for healthcare professionals to interface with our Public Health Leadership Team to explore current best practices and the most recent information related to Public Health.
  • Perinatal ECHO
    Monthly on 3rd Thursday from 6-7 p.m. Register
    • The Alaska Perinatal ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for medical providers caring for pregnant patients and their newborns.
  • EMS ECHO
    Monthly on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday 1-2 p.m Register
    • The EMS ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for Emergency Medical Services and related personnel in Alaska to amplify best practices. Sessions are topic-driven and typically include a guest presenter or a brief lecture with an interactive case or process discussion.

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