COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: December 12 — December 18, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

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

Low Statewide transmission
Rt0.84
HIGH Statewide alert status 159.1LIMITED Hospital
capacity
Intermediate Test positivity
3.38%
67.2%
of Alaskans aged 5+ 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 facilities continue to have a high number of inpatients, which results in delays in admitting patients from emergency departments as well as other operational challenges.Red->5%
Orange- 2-5%
Yellow- <2%
This includes people with at least one dose. Estimated AK population 5 and older of 680,580 from the AK Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
  • Alaska currently has the forty-fifth highest number of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population among the 50 states.
  • Hospital capacity has been strained during the Delta variant wave of COVID-19 such that in some hospitals, 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 5 years younger than in 2020.
    • Among those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and with specimen collection dates from January 16, 2021 through December 18, 2021, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients had a median age 14 years younger than fully vaccinated patients.

  • Substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission are occurring throughout much of Alaska.
  • 1,068 cases were reported in Alaskans the week of December 12–December 18. This is a 24.4% decrease from the number of cases reported the week before and indicates a downward trajectory. The course of the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult to predict, and the pattern of declining cases may not be sustained in future weeks.  
  • In the Anchorage Municipality and Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the number of new COVID-19 cases appears to be continuing to decline. There is not a clear upwards or downwards trajectory in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the Kenai Peninsula Borough or the City and Borough of Juneau.  
  • Regardless of the trajectories, high levels of community transmission are widespread, and dozens of Alaskans are hospitalized with COVID each week.
  • The intensity of COVID-19 transmission varies substantially between communities outside the largest boroughs. COVID-19 cases are regularly reported from nearly all boroughs and census areas and some communities are experiencing 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 and get a booster dose if you are eligible (see below for more information). Currently available COVID vaccines will help protect you, your family, and your community against COVID-19.
  • 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 include but are not limited to persons who are elderly, immunocompromised, obese, pregnant, or have certain chronic underlying medical conditions.
  • 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
November 29
Alert Level
December 6
Alert Level
December 13
Alert Level
December 20
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality652225.6579200.4466161.3435150.5
Fairbanks North Star Borough211217.2144148.29193.7123126.6
Juneau City and Borough60188.859185.763198.355173.1
Kenai Peninsula Borough99168.0117198.574125.672122.2
Matanuska-Susitna Region340316.9286266.5217202.2181168.7
Nome Census Area80818.965665.458593.745460.6
North Slope Borough35358.212122.8*881.9*4**
Northwest Arctic Borough70923.174975.935461.617224.2*
Chugach Census Area10148.1*4**1**10148.1*
Copper River Census Area22815.117629.9*7259.4*3**
Denali Borough0**3**0**0**
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area19273.9*4**8115.3*2**
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area8158.6*1**3**17337.0*
Haines Borough1**3**0**4**
Petersburg Borough381,191.613407.7*3**6188.1*
Sitka City and Borough893.9*10117.3*26305.123269.9
Skagway Municipality0**2**1**1**
Wrangell City and Borough10420.3*4**1**0**
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon3**1**1**3**
Ketchikan Gateway Borough91665.4104760.467489.952380.2
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area3**23377.713213.5*7114.9*
Bethel Census Area129722.079442.140223.931173.5
Kusilvak Census Area41506.964791.355680.052642.9
Aleutians East Borough2**0**1**0**
Aleutians West Census Area4**1**2**0**
Dillingham Census Area9188.6*23481.913272.4*5**
Kodiak Island Borough971.4*13103.1*19150.7*863.4*
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula4**10413.2*5**3**
Statewide1,958268.61,715235.31,278175.31,160159.1

*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 ≥5 years in Alaska is now 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.
  • Everyone ≥18 years old who received the primary series of an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine ≥6 months ago should receive a booster dose.
  • For people who received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, a boosterdose (either the Janssen vaccine again or an mRNA vaccine) is recommended for anyone aged ≥18 years who was vaccinated ≥2 months ago.
  • Adolescents aged 16 and 17 who received the primary series of the Pfizer vaccine ≥6 months ago may receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Learn more about who should get a booster dose and to find COVID-19 vaccines near you at covidvax.alaska.gov.
  • 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 ≥5 years who received one or more doses of vaccine.

Borough/Census AreaDecember 20
Aleutians East Borough95%
Aleutians West Census Area74%
Anchorage Municipality75%
Bethel Census Area80%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula77%
Denali Borough75%
Dillingham Census Area65%
Fairbanks North Star Borough66%
Haines Borough72%
Juneau City and Borough83%
Kenai Peninsula Borough52%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough70%
Kodiak Island Borough72%
Kusilvak Census Area80%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough45%
Nome Census Area82%
North Slope Borough42%
Northwest Arctic Borough67%
Petersburg Borough68%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area69%
Sitka City and Borough82%
Skagway Municipality82%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area39%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area65%
Wrangell City and Borough65%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon79%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area83%
Statewide67.2%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 56 to 3,204. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 6.7% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of December 20, 2021.
  • On December 18th there were 65 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 1.5% decrease relative to the week before when there were 66 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 58 to 915. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during December 12–December 18 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 Cases Dashboard.

Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)6,197+24830 May 2021
Omicron (B.1.1.529-like)1029 November 2021
 
Variants Being MonitoredCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)466+520 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)144+524 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)77+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 ≥5 years with a specimen collection date from January 16–December 18, 2021.
  • From January 16–December 18, 2021, 112 deaths, 340 hospitalizations, and 25,328 cases with a VB infection were reported among Alaska residents aged ≥5 years. These counts are provisional and subject to change as data are compiled and reviewed. In that same time frame, a total of 93,437 cases, 2,023 hospitalizations, and 631 deaths were reported.
  • 73% of all cases, 83% of all hospitalizations, and 82% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥5 years from January 16–December 18, 2021 were in people who were not fully vaccinated. 
  • More detailed information about hospitalizations, deaths, repeat and vaccine breakthrough infections among Alaska residents can also be found in the monthly report, which includes data through October.
  • Age-standardized per capita rates of COVID-19 cases by vaccination status are updated weekly. Some COVID-19 cases with specimen collection in the immediate past week (indicated by the grey box) may have not yet been reported or counted.

  • The following table shows by region the number of vaccine breakthrough cases and the number of cases among persons who are not fully vaccinated.
 Cases (December 12–December 18)
RegionVaccine breakthrough (All ages)Not fully vaccinated
(All ages)
Anchorage Municipality157222
Fairbanks North Star Borough3066
Juneau City and Borough2820
Kenai Peninsula Borough1559
Matanuska-Susitna Borough49108
Northwest Region2840
Other Interior Region819
Other Southeast Region – Northern1821
Other Southeast Region – Southern2036
Southwest Region****
Y-K Delta Region2742

**To protect privacy, data are excluded from rows in which any value is <5.

  • A variety of factors may affect the proportion of vaccine breakthrough cases by region. In communities with higher vaccination coverage, a larger proportion of cases is expected to occur among fully vaccinated persons. Other potential factors include the extent of prior infection in a region and differences in testing practices between regions.

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:

Updated December 23, 2021

DHSS, UAA ECHO

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

Important Note: Most Division of Public Health ECHO series will be taking a break from December 20-December 31 for the winter holidays. Please check individual ECHO registration pages for additional information on holiday scheduling.

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