The state reported 526 new infections total for Monday and Tuesday including 55 nonresident cases, another relatively high number, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services dashboard. Nearly half the new nonresident cases, or 27, came out of the seafood industry in Unalaska, according to a state health department spokesperson. The remaining cases were scattered around the state in small numbers.
In addition to 379 Alaskans who have died with the virus as reported by the state, a Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta resident in their 80s died due to complications of COVID-19 on Monday, according to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. Officials in the City and Borough of Juneau reported 29 new resident cases over two days. The assembly was meeting Wednesday night to decide whether to extend emergency declaration. An outbreak in Sitka that has sent over a dozen people to the local hospital continued to grow, with 28 cases reported over Monday and Tuesday.
Multiple communities statewide are seeing sharp rises in cases. More than half of the newly reported cases were in the Anchorage area. The Yukon-Kuskokwim region also reported 28 cases over two days, plus a new hospitalization.
The highly contagious delta variant first identified in Alaska in May is fueling a “rapid acceleration phase” right now, state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said in a briefing Wednesday. “Most of this is driven by people who are unvaccinated.” Hospitalizations around the state, especially in Anchorage, are also at levels not seen since the winter. The state was reporting 94 people with COVID-19 hospitalized as of Wednesday.
Most regions of Alaska are at the highest alert level. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations Monday urging people in areas where coronavirus transmission is classified as substantial or high to wear masks when they are indoors in public places.
Zink said fully vaccinated Alaskans with a known close contact that tested positive for the virus should consider getting tested, as should anyone who is experiencing any symptoms of the virus, regardless of vaccination status. Health officials continue to encourage Alaskans to get vaccinated, noting that the vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe illness, including from the more contagious variants. “There have been changes in the virus, which have resulted in changes in the science, which have resulted in changes in the messaging from the CDC and from us,” Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said during a briefing Wednesday.
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- Alaska Reports Over 375 COVID-19 Infections in One Day, Highest Count Since Early January
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