COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: December 19 — December 25, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
December 19 — December 25, 2021

Low Statewide transmission
Rt0.87
HIGH Statewide alert status 139.9LIMITED Hospital
capacity
Intermediate Test positivity
4.89%
67.5%
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 25, 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 and dozens of Alaskans are hospitalized with COVID-19 each week.
  • 1,076 cases were reported in Alaskans the week of December 19–December 25. This is a 0.75% increase from the number of cases reported the week before. Larger numbers of cases have been reported since December 25, indicating an upwards trajectory.
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases has increased in the Anchorage Municipality, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the City and Borough of Juneau. All four have also experienced recent increases in percent positivity, which suggests that this pattern reflects increased incidence of COVID-19 and is not an artifact of testing. There is not a clear upwards or downwards trajectory in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
  • 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.
  • Community transmission of the Omicron variant has been identified in Anchorage. The proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Alaska currently due to the Omicron variant is unclear, but preliminary laboratory evidence suggests that the number of cases due to the Omicron variant is rapidly increasing in Alaska and contributing to the overall rise in cases.

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 to quarantine. The CDC recommends people should quarantine if they are unvaccinated, more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (and not yet boosted), or more than 2 months out from their Janssen vaccine (and not yet boosted).
  • If you test positive and you’re at increased risk for severe COVID, consider obtaining monoclonal antibody treatment or oral antivirals. These have been shown to be effective treatments for reducing the risk of hospitalization. These treatments work 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 AreaAlert Level
December 6
Alert Level
December 13
Alert Level
December 20
Alert Level
December 27
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality579200.4466161.3435150.5393136.0
Fairbanks North Star Borough144148.29193.7123126.6125128.7
Juneau City and Borough59185.763198.355173.173229.8
Kenai Peninsula Borough117198.574125.672122.278132.4
Matanuska-Susitna Region286266.5217202.2181168.710799.7
Nome Census Area65665.458593.745460.619194.5*
North Slope Borough12122.8*881.9*4**661.4*
Northwest Arctic Borough74975.935461.617224.2*15197.8*
Chugach Census Area4**1**10148.1*2**
Copper River Census Area17629.9*7259.4*3**6222.3*
Denali Borough3**0**0**1**
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area4**8115.3*2**7100.9*
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area1**3**17337.0*1**
Haines Borough3**0**4**0**
Petersburg Borough13407.7*3**6188.1*6188.1*
Sitka City and Borough10117.3*26305.123269.929340.3
Skagway Municipality2**1**1**1**
Wrangell City and Borough4**1**0**1**
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon1**1**3**9339.9*
Ketchikan Gateway Borough104760.467489.952380.252380.2
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area23377.713213.5*7114.9*7114.9*
Bethel Census Area79442.140223.931173.518100.7*
Kusilvak Census Area64791.355680.052642.935432.7
Aleutians East Borough0**1**0**1**
Aleutians West Census Area1**2**0**4**
Dillingham Census Area23481.913272.4*5**7146.7*
Kodiak Island Borough13103.1*19150.7*863.4*13103.1*
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula10413.2*5**3**4**
Statewide1,715235.31,278175.31,160159.11,020139.9

*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 ≥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 27
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 Borough67%
Haines Borough72%
Juneau City and Borough84%
Kenai Peninsula Borough53%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough71%
Kodiak Island Borough73%
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-Angoon80%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area83%
Statewide67.5%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 44 to 3,248. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 6.7% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of December 27, 2021.
  • On December 25th there were 55 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 15.4% decrease relative to the week before when there were 65 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 30 to 945. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during December 19–December 25 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)6,239+4230 May 2021
Omicron (B.1.1.529-like)6+529 November 2021
    
Variants Being MonitoredCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)466020 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)144024 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)7708 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 25, 2021.
  • From January 16–December 25, 2021, 112 deaths, 344 hospitalizations, and 25,954 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 94,696 cases, 2,037 hospitalizations, and 634 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 25, 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 19–December 25)
RegionVaccine breakthrough (All ages)Not fully vaccinated
(All ages)
Anchorage Municipality256279
Fairbanks North Star Borough8482
Juneau City and Borough3644
Kenai Peninsula Borough2753
Matanuska-Susitna Borough51101
Northwest Region2314
Other Interior Region105
Other Southeast Region – Northern1628
Other Southeast Region – Southern2628
Southwest Region179
Y-K Delta Region3116

**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.

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 30, 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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