Alaska’s unprecedented COVID-19 crisis escalated Thursday, with the state reporting seven new deaths, a record 1,330 new cases and a near-record 209 hospitalizations.
This is the third time in two weeks that the daily record has been broken: the previous records were recorded on Wednesday, with 1,251 cases, and on September 15, with 1,095 cases.
As of Thursday, 209 people were hospitalized in the state with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a state dashboard. This is a near record, and well above the previous peak of last winter.
Hospitals say these numbers are likely an underestimate of the true impact of COVID-19, as they do not include some long-term COVID-19 patients who are no longer positive but still require hospital care.
The new figures come a day after state officials announced they would implement statewide crisis care standards, a worst-case scenario that forces hospitals to ration care due to resource and personnel limitations.
These limitations and the still high number of COVID-19 patients have overwhelmed health facilities across the state. At least one rural heart patient recently died when a bed in Anchorage was not available.
The state also announced Wednesday that it had signed a contract to bring nearly 500 healthcare workers from Lower 48 to Alaska, among other efforts to help hospitals struggling with staff shortages.
Alaska’s per capita case rate is the highest in the country, according to a New York Times tracker.
Statewide, 8.95% of tests performed in the past week yielded positive results.
Among eligible Alaskans aged 12 and older, 62.7% had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 58.3% were considered fully vaccinated on Thursday.
A total of 473 residents and 15 non-residents of the state have died from COVID since the start of the pandemic.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.