Sunday’s case count comes after several weeks of lower daily case numbers. Alaska saw a peak of cases in November and early December that caused concern for hospital capacity and ultimately led to a month-long hunker down order throughout Anchorage. Case numbers began declining in December.
As infections continue at steadily lower numbers, Acting Anchorage Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced last week that the city will relax COVID-19 restrictions. A new emergency order will go into effect Monday and will allow more people inside bars and restaurants and ease gathering size limits.
Despite the lower case numbers throughout January, Alaska is in the highest alert category based on the current per capita rate of infection. In Western Alaska, case counts remain high and are even increasing in some rural villages that are experiencing significant COVID-19 outbreaks.
The seafood industry has again been hit with multiple outbreaks among vessels and processing facilities in the Aleutian Islands. Some of the facilities have temporarily closed just as winter fishing season began.
Hospitalizations have fallen simultaneously with infection numbers, and are now less than a third of where they were during the peak in November and December. By Sunday, there were 38 people with COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state. Another four patients were believed to have the virus.
Health officials are urging Alaskans to continue taking the pandemic seriously, even as case numbers have dropped. Scientists at the state’s public health labs confirmed last week that a highly contagious variant of the virus reached Alaska last month.
The vaccine reached Alaska in mid-December. By Friday, when the state had released the most recent data, 90,777 people — about 12% of Alaska’s population — had been vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. That’s nearly twice the national average of 6.9%.
Health care workers and nursing home staff and residents were the first people prioritized to receive the vaccine. In early January, the state said Alaskans older than 65 were now eligible, although appointment slots are limited and have filled quickly.
Thousands of new vaccine appointments went live on the state’s website this week. Seniors and other eligible health care workers can call 907-646-3322 for assistance making a February appointment.
Of the 130 cases announced in Alaska residents Sunday, 41 were in Anchorage, one in Chugiak and two in Eagle River; one was in Homer, one in Nikiski, one in Seward and one in Soldotna; two were in Kodiak; 12 were in Fairbanks and two in North Pole; one was in Palmer and six in Wasilla; one was in Nome; one was in Kotzebue; three were in Douglas and two in Juneau; one was in Ketchikan; one was in Sitka; one was in Wrangell; four were in Unalaska; and eight were in Bethel.
Among communities with populations under 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, one was in the Kodiak Island Borough; four were in the Copper River area of the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; two were in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area; two were in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area; one was in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; two were in the Northwest Arctic Borough; 16 were in the Bethel Census Area; and nine were in the Kusilvak Census Area.
Seven infections were identified in nonresidents, including one in Anchorage, one in the Aleutians East Borough and two in Unalaska. T54he state health department was still investigating the location in three of the cases.
While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.
The state’s data doesn’t specify whether people testing positive for COVID-19 have symptoms. More than half of the nation’s infections are transmitted from asymptomatic people, according to CDC estimates.
Over the past week, 2.39% of all tests completed statewide came back positive.