Alaska reported six deaths and 877 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday as hospitalizations linked to the virus hovered over record territory.
The latest tally is part of what health officials described this week as a potential plateau in new cases, although officials say there is not enough evidence to say the cases have started to grow. decline and that the current counts are still extremely high.
Alaska’s case rate per 100,000 over the past week remains the highest in the country, according to CDC data.
The newly reported deaths involved five residents, including an Anchorage man in his 50s, an Anchorage man in his 70s, an Anchorage man in his 80s or older, a woman from the Bethel census area in those 80 or older and a Fairbanks woman in her 70s. The state also reported another non-resident death involving a woman in her 50s who was diagnosed in Wasilla.
The Fairbanks Memorial Hospital separately reported two deaths from COVID-19 involving patients. It was not immediately clear whether these deaths were reflected in state data.
In total, 673 deaths of residents linked to the virus and 25 non-resident deaths have been reported in Alaska since January 2020.
There were 225 people hospitalized with the virus around Alaska on Friday – just below the new record of 235 set Thursday. Prior to this week, the previous record for hospitalizations was 223 on September 25.
Administrators say COVID-19-related hospitalizations are likely to remain at high levels across much of the state for at least the next few weeks. Hospitalizations are considered a lagging indicator, which means it will take a few weeks for the decline in cases to be reflected in hospitals.
“I just hope we all realize that we are not out of this business yet,” said Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, on Friday.
In Mat-Su, nearly half of all hospital patients have been sick with COVID-19, and no intensive care beds have remained available, state data shows. In the borough of Fairbanks North Star, a third of all hospital patients had COVID-19, and three intensive care beds remained open.
After months of prolonged stress on the state’s healthcare system, it’s easy to become oblivious to those kinds of numbers, Kosin said.
But “managing a hospital floor with this level of admissions that otherwise wouldn’t be there at this volume is unprecedented,” he said. “Until we can eliminate these admissions and truly stop seeing sustained volumes at these levels, our hospital system is in many ways compromised. “
[Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective in younger children]
Crisis care standards are active in 20 health facilities across the state, and Kosin said challenges persist around full intensive care units, scarce resources and occasional rationing of care. A boost from outside health workers under contract with the state helped, but it did not resolve the crisis inside hospitals, Kosin said.
“Everyone is under pressure right now,” he said.
Just under 65% of Alaskans aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Over the past week, 9.89% of all COVID-19 tests came back positive.