Alaska reported 751 cases of COVID-19 over three days as a statewide outbreak caused by the highly infectious delta variant continued over the weekend.
New cases reported have followed an upward trend in cases and hospitalizations which started in July. Last week, the state was averaging more than 200 new cases per day and coronavirus-related hospitalizations had reached levels not seen since the winter.
The number of Alaskans hospitalized with COVID-19 remained stable over the weekend. According to the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services dashboard on Monday there were 98 people hospitalized with the virus, including 18 on ventilators – down slightly from Friday’s 100 total hospitalizations.
During the state Worst peak last winter, the number of hospitalizations linked to the virus fluctuated between 150 and 160.
Hospital administrators said last week that recent hospitalizations were in patients on average younger and sicker than before, and that the vast majority of hospitalizations were in unvaccinated people.
A total of 382 Alaskans and seven non-residents have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit the state last spring.
On Monday, all areas of the state remained at a high alert level, shown in red on ms. The state ranks the high alert as a two-week average of more than 10 cases per 100,000 people. This suggests widespread community transmission, with many undetected cases and frequent outbreaks.
The state’s test positivity rate also continued to rise on Monday. Of all the tests done in the past week, 6.01% were positive. Epidemiologists have said that a positivity rate above 5% is of concern, as it indicates higher transmission and insufficient detection of the virus.
A geographical breakdown of the newly reported cases was not immediately available.
As the number of cases grows, a growing number of health officials, communities and other institutions are once again asking Alaskans to wear masks.
The state’s health department said last week that even fully vaccinated Alaskans in communities with high COVID-19 transmission should consider re-masking in indoor public spaces. This recommendation was in line with recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.
In Anchorage, the local school district said it would also recommend that the school board require universal indoor masking for the fall to limit the spread of the virus. The Anchorage school board is due to review the principal’s plan at its next school board meeting on Tuesday.
The Southeast Alaska communities of Sitka and Juneau have adopted mask mandates in response to federal guidelines and increases the number of cases. But in Anchorage, Mayor Dave Bronson said last week he had no plans to impose masking or enact other restrictions.
The University of Alaska said over the weekend that starting Monday, it will begin requiring indoor face masks on all of its campuses in communities where the level of risk is classified as “high” or ” substantial “as defined by CDC guidelines -” except when you are in a private residence or alone in a private office with the door closed, “according to a statement signed by the university’s acting president Pat Pitney. Currently, this includes almost all communities in Alaska.
Health officials continue to encourage Alaskans to get vaccinated, calling the vaccine the best tool the state has to deal with the increase in cases and hospitalizations caused by the virus. As of Monday, 48% of all Alaskans had received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 44% of the population were considered fully vaccinated.
As of Monday, the state announced that it will resume updating its coronavirus dashboard every day of the week.