COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: October 3 — October 2, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
October 3 — October 9, 2021

Intermediate Statewide transmission
Rt1.02
HIGH Statewide alert status 834.5HIGH ALERT Hospital capacityHIGH Test positivity
10.65%
63.9%
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 October 9th and October 10th 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

  • 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 10 years younger than in 2020.
    • Among those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and with specimen collection dates from January 16, 2021 through October 9, 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 number of COVID cases each week appears to have plateaued statewide and in many boroughs and census areas. In Fairbanks North Star Borough there is evidence of modest declines in the number of new cases each week. The incidence of COVID-19 in the Municipality of Anchorage appears to have either plateaued or be increasing. Regardless of the trajectory, intense community transmission is continuing to occur and is causing significant illness, death, and demand on the health care system.
  • 5,695 cases were reported in Alaskans between October 3–October 9. This is a 21.4% decrease from the number of cases reported the week before. However, a large number of backlogged cases were not counted the week of September 26 and consequently the nominal decrease in reported cases does not reflect the true 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 20
Alert Level
September 27
Alert Level
October 4
Alert Level
October 11
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality2,570889.43,1251,081.42,272786.22,471855.1
Fairbanks North Star Borough733754.41,4311,472.8872897.5702722.5
Juneau City and Borough250786.8282887.5182572.8150472.1
Kenai Peninsula Borough369626.17061,198.0481816.26631,125.0
Matanuska-Susitna Region771718.51,8481,722.2926863.0898836.9
Nome Census Area23235.470716.663644.91031,054.4
North Slope Borough2552,609.82182,231.11511,545.456573.1
Northwest Arctic Borough54712.12012,650.71522,004.51632,149.5
Chugach Census Area24355.5921,362.857844.359873.9
Copper River Census Area16592.8*391,445.0331,222.726963.3
Denali Borough9498.3*16885.9*8443.0*17941.3*
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area51735.250720.844634.336519.0
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area30594.847931.8521,030.934674.1
Haines Borough16634.9*411,627.010396.8*9357.1*
Petersburg Borough2**0**481,505.216501.7*
Sitka City and Borough31363.742492.827316.823269.9
Skagway Municipality1**3**6523.1*1**
Wrangell City and Borough1**1**9378.3*2**
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon4**26981.924906.3471,774.9
Ketchikan Gateway Borough69504.549358.379577.663460.6
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area29476.241673.214229.9*3**
Bethel Census Area178996.2173268.22221,242.42381,332.0
Kusilvak Census Area56692.451630.647581.1911,125.1
Aleutians East Borough2**0**13444.4*1**
Aleutians West Census Area6108.2*22396.822396.84**
Dillingham Census Area44921.9751,571.3601,257.1611,278.0
Kodiak Island Borough86681.92001,585.91921,522.51311,038.8
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula18743.8*662,727.3321,322.315619.8*
Statewide5,699781.98,9151,223.16,099836.76,083834.5

*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.
  • 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

Borough/Census AreaOctober 12
Aleutians East Borough89.3%
Aleutians West Census Area75.5%
Anchorage Municipality68.1%
Bethel Census Area80.6%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula93.1%
Denali Borough73.8%
Dillingham Census Area66.6%
Fairbanks North Star Borough55.8%
Haines Borough75.4%
Juneau City and Borough83.8%
Kenai Peninsula Borough53.2%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough71.8%
Kodiak Island Borough73.8%
Kusilvak Census Area84.3%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough46.7%
Nome Census Area85.8%
North Slope Borough42.3%
Northwest Arctic Borough69.9%
Petersburg Borough70.2%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area71.5%
Sitka City and Borough84.1%
Skagway Municipality87.5%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area38.5%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area68.0%
Wrangell City and Borough66.9%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon81.5%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area84.4%
Statewide63.9%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 76 to 2,527. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 18.8% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of October 12, 2021.
  • On October 9th, there were 177 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 16.9% decrease relative to the week before when there were 213 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 16 to 574. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during October 3–October 9 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
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)3,453+26618 May 2021
 
Variants of InterestCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)461020 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)140024 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)7508 February 2021
Iota (B.1.526)2404 February 2021
Mu (B.1.621)16106 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 9, 2021. 
    • From January 16–October 9, 2021, 48 deaths, 193 hospitalizations, and 15,330 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 57,745 cases, 1,358 hospitalizations, and 278 deaths were reported.
    • 73% of all cases, 86% of all hospitalizations, and 83% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years from January 16–October 9, 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

  • The new COVID-19 monthly report for August 2021 is now available. It’s full of helpful data and information to help Alaskans understand Alaska’s trends. Check it out: COVID-19 Update Hospitalizations, Deaths, and Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, through August 2020, Section of Epidemiology, Alaska Division of Public Health
  • Video PSAs to share:
  • Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are authorized and recommended by both the FDA and CDC for certain populations. 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.
  • Recent social media posts and graphics to share:  Alaska Responders Relief Line| Winterize +Immunize | Starting a Family?
  • Check out the new Sleeves Up for School dashboard showing vaccine rates for 12-18 year old Alaska residents. 
  • Give AK a Shot sweepstakes: Weekly statewide drawings continue through Oct. 30 for newly vaccinated individuals and one drawing for individuals who received their vaccination between December 2020 and Sept. 1, 2021. Share their PSA
  • Bounce Back Alaska: Resiliency resources for youth, parents, educators, and families
  • Request support from DHSS
    • DHSS offers free presentations upon request to groups about COVID-19, the vaccines, COVID-19 prevention, or other health topics upon request. Learn more or request a presentation on our Speaker’s Bureau web page. 
    • 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.
  • Can’t tune into a live ECHO videoconference but don’t want to miss out on the latest updates? The full schedule of ECHO sessions and access to COVID-19 ECHO videos and slideshows are available for download anytime on the DHSS ECHO web page.

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:

  • Special Pop-Up Session: Alaska Medical Providers: Applying Crisis Standards of Care in Your Practice 
  • Perinatal ECHO Session: Critical Congenital Heart Defects
    • Thursday, October 21, 6:00-7:00pm
    • Register at: https://echo.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwlce-hqTIjHtAfH-NNvFOK3shfHD3Np92O
    • This session will feature a didactic presentation on critical congenital heart defects in Alaska by Dr. James Christiansen, pediatric cardiologist, and Chris Barnett, epidemiologist and program manager of the Alaska Birth Defects Registry. We will also have case presentations by pediatric cardiologists, Dr. Scott Wellmann and Dr. Kevin Kollins. As always, we will have ample time for Q&A and discussion with presenters and the hub team.
  • 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
    • This ECHO aims to increase knowledge and share best practices among medical providers across Alaska as well as to increase access to information for those living in rural areas of the state.
    • Register for our Alaska Medical Providers ECHO here: https://echo.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwud-yuqT4pGNSr7F2eJ1jscT16rUsoGAj-
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Long Term Care Facilities ECHO 
    • Second Wednesday of the month from 4-5 p.m. Register 
    • Please join other staff and administrators of Alaska’s assisted living homes and residential care facilities to gather, learn, share, and grow. COVID has disrupted the fabric of our daily life and we can always learn from each other as we adjust to the new normal.
  • 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
  • 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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