COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: October 17 — October 23, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
October 17 — October 23, 2021

Intermediate Statewide transmission
Rt0.93
HIGH Statewide alert status 660.9HIGH ALERT Hospital capacityHIGH Test positivity
9.21%
64.8%
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 23rd and October 24th 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 9 years younger than in 2020.
    • Among those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and with specimen collection dates from January 16, 2021 through October 23, 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.
  • 5,027 cases were reported in Alaskans the week of October 17–October 23. This is a 17.2% decrease from the number of cases reported the week before. It is not possible to know whether this reflects the start of a sustained downward trajectory.
  • In the two largest boroughs (Municipality of Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough), weekly COVID-19 incidence does not appear to be increasing, but there is not clear evidence of sustained decreases. In Fairbanks North Star Borough there is evidence of modest declines in the number of new cases each week. Regardless of the trajectories, intense community transmission is continuing to occur and is causing significant illness, death, and demand on the health care system.
  • 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
October 4
Alert Level
October 11
Alert Level
October 19
Alert Level
October 25
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality2,272786.22,471855.12,322803.51,928667.2
Fairbanks North Star Borough872897.5702722.5744765.8481495.1
Juneau City and Borough182572.8150472.1178560.2145456.4
Kenai Peninsula Borough481816.26631,125.0484821.3482817.9
Matanuska-Susitna Region926863.0898836.91,2171,134.2760708.3
Nome Census Area63644.91031,054.485870.11071,095.3
North Slope Borough1511,545.456573.167685.771726.6
Northwest Arctic Borough1522,004.51632,149.51161,529.7911,200.1
Chugach Census Area57844.359873.955814.747696.2
Copper River Census Area331,222.726963.318666.9*341,259.7
Denali Borough8443.0*17941.3*7387.6*6332.2*
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area44634.336519.041591.039562.2
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area521,030.934674.133654.218356.9*
Haines Borough10396.8*9357.1*1**2**
Petersburg Borough481,505.216501.7*3**6188.1*
Sitka City and Borough27316.823269.99105.6*24281.6
Skagway Municipality6523.1*1**0**6523.1*
Wrangell City and Borough9378.3*2**1**4**
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon24906.3471,774.919717.5*7264.4*
Ketchikan Gateway Borough79577.663460.646336.389650.7
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area14229.9*3**7114.9*16262.7*
Bethel Census Area2221,242.42381,332.01901,063.4152850.7
Kusilvak Census Area47581.1911,125.168840.860741.8
Aleutians East Borough13444.4*1**0**0**
Aleutians West Census Area22396.84**8144.3*3**
Dillingham Census Area601,257.1611,278.0651,361.8921,927.5
Kodiak Island Borough1921,522.51311,038.8100793.0111880.2
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula321,322.315619.8*281,157.0361,487.6
Statewide6,099836.76,083834.55,912811.14,817660.9

*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.
  • Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are authorized and recommended for certain persons who received the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine ≥6 months ago. Those eligible for a booster dose include: 
    • Persons aged ≥65 years, persons aged 18+ who live in long-term care settings, persons aged 18+ who have underlying medical conditions, and persons aged 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings. Caregivers of people at increased risk for serious disease also qualify.
  • For people who received the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine, booster doses are recommended for everyone aged ≥18 years who was vaccinated ≥2 months ago.
  • 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 26
Aleutians East Borough89.9%
Aleutians West Census Area75.6%
Anchorage Municipality69.1%
Bethel Census Area81.6%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula93.6%
Denali Borough74.9%
Dillingham Census Area67.8%
Fairbanks North Star Borough56.9%
Haines Borough76.2%
Juneau City and Borough84.3%
Kenai Peninsula Borough54.0%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough72.3%
Kodiak Island Borough74.7%
Kusilvak Census Area85.3%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough47.7%
Nome Census Area86.4%
North Slope Borough42.9%
Northwest Arctic Borough70.9%
Petersburg Borough70.6%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area72.0%
Sitka City and Borough84.5%
Skagway Municipality87.9%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area39.4%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area68.7%
Wrangell City and Borough68.2%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon82.2%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area85.4%
Statewide64.8%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 73 to 2,709. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 23.2% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of October 26, 2021.
  • On October 23rd, there were 228 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 9.1% increase relative to the week before when there were 209 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 19 to 678. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during October 17–October 23 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)4,199+2330 May 2021
 
Variants Being MonitoredCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)464+320 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)139-124 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)76+18 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 23, 2021. 
  • From January 16–October 23, 2021, 72 deaths, 229 hospitalizations, and 18,581 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 66,211 cases, 1,543 hospitalizations, and 379 deaths were reported.
  • 72% of all cases, 85% of all hospitalizations, and 81% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years from January 16–October 23, 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. Race abbreviations include AI/AN (American Indian or Alaska Native), Asian/NHOPI (Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander), and UI/Unknown (Under investigation or unknown).

Additional informational resources:

Additional ECHO session details:

These ECHO sessions are produced and facilitated by UAA’s Center for Human Development Alaska ECHO project in partnership with the State of Alaska, Department of Health & Social Services

Upcoming Session Highlights:

Pop-Up ECHO: Training for Pediatric Vaccine Administration
This Friday, Oct. 29th from 12-1pm 
Registration link:  https://echo.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMsf-Ghrz8jG9z6nOsEIMtUs1qLyB4wlasC
This special pop-up ECHO session aims to support Vaccine Providers in advance of the anticipated approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5-11. This session will offer demonstrations of techniques, share what resources for providers are available, COVID-19 updates, and provide time for Q&A discussion with our hub team of experts.

Palliative Care ECHO
Tuesday Nov. 2nd from noon-1pm

Registration link: https://echo.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIrcO2gqTksGtztVm5GiISIXI7vMidLpWBO
Our next session will include a didactic presentation Meeting People Where They Are: Providing Palliative Care to Rural Populations by guest presenter Nancy Joiner APRN, ACHPN from the University of North Dakota’s Center for Rural Health, and end with an open forum where providers can share their knowledge and experience, and participate in a Q&A session with our hub team of experts.

Regular Series

**Join us for 2 new and returning ECHO series on Behavioral Health & Addictions, starting November 2021**

Co-Occurring Behavioral Health, Opioid and Stimulant Use Disorders ECHO Returning with new didactics!
1st & 3rd Wednesdays from 12:00pm-1:00pm, November 3, 2021 – April 20, 2022
The Co-Occurring Behavioral Health (COBH), Opioid and Stimulant Use Disorders ECHO facilitates a virtual network for behavioral health providers to learn best practice care through real-time access to experienced subject matter experts and their peers. Each session includes a brief lecture, de-identified case presentation for participants to receive feedback on complex cases, and open discussion facilitated by an interdisciplinary team.

Data Waivers ECHO New ECHO!
2nd Wednesdays from 12:00pm-1:00pm, November 10, 2021 – September 14, 2022
The Data Waivers ECHO facilitates a virtual network for clinical providers to learn and implement best practices for offering buprenorphine and other medically assisted treatment (MAT) services under a data waiver. Each session includes a brief lecture, de-identified case presentation for participants to receive feedback on complex cases, and open discussion facilitated by an interdisciplinary 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.

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

The Vaccine ECHO for providers provides planning and operation updates to vaccine providers across Alaska, while answering any questions you may have.

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.

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
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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