Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
December 12 — December 18, 2021
|Low Statewide transmission|
|HIGH Statewide alert status 159.1||LIMITED Hospital|
|Intermediate Test positivity |
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|
|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%|
|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.
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.
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 Area||Alert Level|
|Fairbanks North Star Borough||211||217.2||144||148.2||91||93.7||123||126.6|
|Juneau City and Borough||60||188.8||59||185.7||63||198.3||55||173.1|
|Kenai Peninsula Borough||99||168.0||117||198.5||74||125.6||72||122.2|
|Nome Census Area||80||818.9||65||665.4||58||593.7||45||460.6|
|North Slope Borough||35||358.2||12||122.8*||8||81.9*||4||**|
|Northwest Arctic Borough||70||923.1||74||975.9||35||461.6||17||224.2*|
|Chugach Census Area||10||148.1*||4||**||1||**||10||148.1*|
|Copper River Census Area||22||815.1||17||629.9*||7||259.4*||3||**|
|Southeast Fairbanks Census Area||19||273.9*||4||**||8||115.3*||2||**|
|Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area||8||158.6*||1||**||3||**||17||337.0*|
|Sitka City and Borough||8||93.9*||10||117.3*||26||305.1||23||269.9|
|Wrangell City and Borough||10||420.3*||4||**||1||**||0||**|
|Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon||3||**||1||**||1||**||3||**|
|Ketchikan Gateway Borough||91||665.4||104||760.4||67||489.9||52||380.2|
|Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area||3||**||23||377.7||13||213.5*||7||114.9*|
|Bethel Census Area||129||722.0||79||442.1||40||223.9||31||173.5|
|Kusilvak Census Area||41||506.9||64||791.3||55||680.0||52||642.9|
|Aleutians East Borough||2||**||0||**||1||**||0||**|
|Aleutians West Census Area||4||**||1||**||2||**||0||**|
|Dillingham Census Area||9||188.6*||23||481.9||13||272.4*||5||**|
|Kodiak Island Borough||9||71.4*||13||103.1*||19||150.7*||8||63.4*|
|Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula||4||**||10||413.2*||5||**||3||**|
*Rates based on <20 observations are statistically unreliable and should be used with caution.
**Rates based on <6 observations are not reported.
- 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 Area||December 20|
|Aleutians East Borough||95%|
|Aleutians West Census Area||74%|
|Bethel Census Area||80%|
|Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula||77%|
|Dillingham Census Area||65%|
|Fairbanks North Star Borough||66%|
|Juneau City and Borough||83%|
|Kenai Peninsula Borough||52%|
|Ketchikan Gateway Borough||70%|
|Kodiak Island Borough||72%|
|Kusilvak Census Area||80%|
|Nome Census Area||82%|
|North Slope Borough||42%|
|Northwest Arctic Borough||67%|
|Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area||69%|
|Sitka City and Borough||82%|
|Southeast Fairbanks Census Area||39%|
|Valdez-Cordova Census Area||65%|
|Wrangell City and Borough||65%|
|Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon||79%|
|Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area||83%|
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
The most recent Genomic Surveillance data can be found on the “COVID-19 Variants” tab of the Cases Dashboard.
|Variants of Concern||Cases Identified||Change from Previous Report||First Identified in Alaska|
|Delta (B.1.617.2-like)||6,197||+248||30 May 2021|
|Omicron (B.1.1.529-like)||1||0||29 November 2021|
|Variants Being Monitored||Cases Identified||Change from Previous Report||First Identified in Alaska|
|Alpha (B.1.1.7)||466||+5||20 December 2020|
|Beta (B.1.351)||7||0||20 March 2021|
|Epsilon (B.1.427/429)||144||+5||24 December 2020|
|Eta (B.1.525)||1||0||16 March 2021|
|Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)||77||+1||8 February 2021|
|Iota (B.1.526)||24||0||4 February 2021|
|Mu (B.1.621)||161||0||6 May 2021|
|Zeta (P.2)||4||0||27 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)|
|Region||Vaccine breakthrough (All ages)||Not fully vaccinated |
|Fairbanks North Star Borough||30||66|
|Juneau City and Borough||28||20|
|Kenai Peninsula Borough||15||59|
|Other Interior Region||8||19|
|Other Southeast Region – Northern||18||21|
|Other Southeast Region – Southern||20||36|
|Y-K Delta Region||27||42|
**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
- DHSS Insights Blog: Celebrate the Holidays Safely
- Revised webpages:
- New video PSAs to share:
- Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine Flyer: 5 Reasons to Vaccinate for Ages 5+
- Over-the-Counter Testing Flyer: At-home COVID-19 tests
- 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. 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:
- The State of Alaska COVID-19 vaccine status update page
- The State of Alaska COVID-19 information page provides more information about the virus and how individuals and businesses can protect themselves and others from transmission.
- For the most up-to-date case information, see the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub dashboard: data.coronavirus.alaska.gov. All dashboard data are updated Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (except holidays).
- For DHSS media inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional ECHO session details:
Updated December 23, 2021
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.