COVID-19 follow-up in Alaska: 654 new cases reported Sunday as hospitalizations continue to rise

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Alaska reported 654 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday as hospitalizations hit a new high and the number of beds available in intensive care units declined.

The cases reported Sunday are the second highest daily number in Alaska since the pandemic began here in March. The state’s record number came just a day before, when officials reported that another 745 Alaskans had contracted the virus. The high number of cases over the weekend comes after weeks of rising cases and rising deaths in Alaska.

Since March, 98 Alaskans with COVID-19 have died and Alaska’s overall per capita death rate remains among the lowest in the country. A non-resident has died in Alaska after testing positive for the virus, health officials said last week.

Hospitalizations hit a new high on Sunday, as 118 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized. 23 other people hospitalized were suspected of having COVID-19. Health officials have pointed out for weeks that the increase in the number of cases could overwhelm Alaskan hospitals. Staffing capacity in hospitals has also been a major concern.

Only 30 adult intensive care unit beds remained open statewide on Sunday.

Across the country, COVID-19 infections are on the rise, forcing states to impose new warrants in an attempt to control the spread and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Governor Mike Dunleavy called the virus an “imminent threat” and issued an emergency alert last week asking Alaskans to avoid social gatherings, wear masks and wash their hands.

Of the 642 cases reported among residents of Alaska, 339 were in Anchorage, six in Chugiak, 30 in Eagle River, and two in Girdwood; two were in Anchor Point, seven in Homer, 14 in Kenai, two in Nikiski, two in Seward, 25 in Soldotna and one in Sterling; 12 were in Kodiak; one was in Ester, 58 in Fairbanks, 12 in the North Pole and five in Delta Junction; one in Big Lake, seven in Palmer and 32 in Wasilla; two were in Nome; one was in Utqiagvik; two were in Kotzebue; 15 were in Juneau; five were in Ketchikan; two were Metlakatla; 13 were in Sitka; one was in Wragell; five were at Bethel; and one was at Dillingham. The state has reported two confirmed cases at unknown locations.

Among communities of less than 1,000 who are not named to protect privacy, there have been three cases in the northern Kenai Peninsula and two in the southern part of the borough; three were in the Valdez-Cordova census area; three were in the Yukon-Koyukuk census region; two were in the Matanuska-Susitna district; one was in the Nome census area; three were in the borough of North Slope; one was in the eastern district of the Aleutians; 12 were in the Bethel census area; four were in the combined boroughs of Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula; and one was in the Kusilvak census area.

On Sunday, 12 more cases were reported among non-residents, including two in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks, one in Prudhoe Bay and one in the eastern Aleutians borough. Seven of the cases were in unknown areas, the state reported.

Among the new cases, it is not stated how many patients showed symptoms of the virus when they tested positive. While people can be tested more than once, each case reported by the state’s health department represents only one person.

The state’s testing positivity on Sunday was 8.35% on a seven-day moving average. A positivity rate above 5% may indicate high community transmission and not enough testing, health officials said.

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