COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: December 26 — January 1, 2022

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
December 26 — January 1, 2022

HIGH Statewide transmission
Rt1.64
HIGH Statewide alert status 506.1LIMITED Hospital
capacity
HIGH Test positivity
12.78%
67.8%
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-fourth highest number of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population among the 50 states.
  • Hospital capacity was strained during the Delta variant wave of COVID-19 and continues to be limited as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly. 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 and 2022 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 January 1, 2022, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients had a median age 14 years younger than fully vaccinated patients.

  • High levels of COVID-19 transmission are occurring throughout much of Alaska and the pandemic is on a rapid upward trajectory in Alaska. Dozens of Alaskans are hospitalized with COVID-19 each week.
  • 3,576 cases were reported in Alaskans the week of December 26–January 1. This is a 232% increase from the number of cases reported the week before. While differences in testing and reporting due to the holidays make quantifying the rate of increase more challenging, this increase in cases is the largest week-over-week increase recorded in Alaska in terms of the absolute number of cases and is also among the largest in terms of the proportional increase.
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases has rapidly increased in the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and the City and Borough of Juneau. There was also an increase in cases in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. 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, but many boroughs and census areas have seen recent and large increases in COVID-19 cases.
  • Community transmission of the Omicron variant has been confirmed in Anchorage. Preliminary laboratory evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is rapidly becoming the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant in Alaska and is driving the sharp acceleration of the pandemic in Alaska. 

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. People who are up to date on their COVID vaccination do not need to quarantine. Learn more about who needs to quarantine here.
  • 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.
  • 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 13
Alert Level
December 20
Alert Level
December 27
Alert Level
January 3
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality466161.3435150.5393136.02,180754.4
Fairbanks North Star Borough9193.7123126.6125128.7224230.5
Juneau City and Borough63198.355173.173229.8259815.2
Kenai Peninsula Borough74125.672122.278132.4100169.7
Matanuska-Susitna Region217202.2181168.710799.7439409.1
Nome Census Area58593.745460.619194.5*25255.9
North Slope Borough881.9*4**661.4*35358.2
Northwest Arctic Borough35461.617224.2*15197.8*44580.2
Chugach Census Area1**10148.1*2**9133.3*
Copper River Census Area7259.4*3**6222.3*7259.4*
Denali Borough0**0**1**4**
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area8115.3*2**7100.9*18259.5*
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area3**17337.0*1**23456.0
Haines Borough0**4**0**321,269.8
Petersburg Borough3**6188.1*6188.1*5**
Sitka City and Borough26305.123269.929340.372844.8
Skagway Municipality1**1**1**2**
Wrangell City and Borough1**0**1**2**
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon1**3**9339.9*6226.6*
Ketchikan Gateway Borough67489.952380.252380.250365.6
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area13213.5*7114.9*7114.9*5**
Bethel Census Area40223.931173.518100.7*40223.9
Kusilvak Census Area55680.052642.935432.717210.2*
Aleutians East Borough1**0**1**2**
Aleutians West Census Area2**0**4**12216.5*
Dillingham Census Area13272.4*5**7146.7*14293.3*
Kodiak Island Borough19150.7*863.4*13103.1*57452.0
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula5**3**4**6247.9*
Statewide1,278175.31,160159.11,020139.93,689506.1

*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 ≥12 years old who received the primary series of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine ≥5 months ago or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine ≥6 months ago should receive a booster dose.
  • Everyone who received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine ≥2 months ago should receive a booster dose, preferably of an mRNA 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 AreaJanuary 3
Aleutians East Borough96%
Aleutians West Census Area74%
Anchorage Municipality76%
Bethel Census Area81%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula77%
Denali Borough75%
Dillingham Census Area65%
Fairbanks North Star Borough67%
Haines Borough73%
Juneau City and Borough84%
Kenai Peninsula Borough53%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough71%
Kodiak Island Borough73%
Kusilvak Census Area80%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough46%
Nome Census Area82%
North Slope Borough42%
Northwest Arctic Borough67%
Petersburg Borough68%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area69%
Sitka City and Borough83%
Skagway Municipality82%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area39%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area65%
Wrangell City and Borough65%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon80%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area83%
Statewide67.8%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 21 to 3,269. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 5.7% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of January 3, 2022.
  • On January 1st there were 52 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is a 5.5% decrease relative to the week before when there were 55 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 2 to 947. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during December 26–January 1 may be reported in the future after death certificates are reviewed.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

Variant Tracking

Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)6,251+1230 May 2021
Omicron (B.1.1.529-like)7+129 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–January 1, 2022.
  • From January 16, 2021–January 1, 2022, 112 deaths, 349 hospitalizations, and 27,832 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 98,217 cases, 2,061 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, 2021–January 1, 2022 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 November.
  • 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 26–January 1)
RegionVaccine breakthrough (All ages)Not fully vaccinated
(All ages)
Anchorage Municipality10791014
Fairbanks North Star Borough85117
Juneau City and Borough14590
Kenai Peninsula Borough3846
Matanuska-Susitna Borough163262
Northwest Region6242
Other Interior Region3131
Other Southeast Region – Northern7053
Other Southeast Region – Southern3624
Southwest Region6848
Y-K Delta Region3531
  • 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:

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

Regular Series

Alaska Medical Provider ECHO (formerly COVID-19 for AK Healthcare Providers)
Monthly on the 1st 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 3:00-4:00 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.

Co-Occurring Behavioral Health, Opioid and Stimulant Use Disorders ECHO
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.

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