Novel coronavirus

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab.

Credit: NIAID-RML

While state vaccinations are rapidly ramping up, Alaska reported 24 new COVID-19 related deaths Wednesday, bringing the state death toll to 251.

 

The state of the virus

A North Pole woman in her 70s died recently from COVID-19, and a North Pole man in his 80s passed away from the virus in the past several months, according to the news release from the Department of Health and Social Services

The other 22 recently reported deaths happened across the state over the past several months: nine in Anchorage, three in Kodiak and Wasilla each, two in Bethel and Palmer each, and one in Eagle River, Homer and in Kenai each.

State officials also reported on Wednesday 167 new people identified with COVID-19 in Alaska. Locally, Fairbanks saw 20 more new cases, North Pole saw six, and one case was registered somewhere else in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Among other Alaska locations with a high number of new cases, 49 new people tested positive in Anchorage, 22 in Wasilla and 11 in the Kusilvak Census Area.

 

The state of vaccinations

In good news, Alaska now counts more people who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than residents who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to another news release from the department.

Reported to date, there have been 59,392 COVID-19 vaccinations and 50,732 Alaska resident COVID-19 cases, according to the department’s website.

As of Wednesday, Alaska is also ranked first among states for the percentage of people per capita who have been given at least one shot.

“The pandemic is not yet over, but we wanted to celebrate this milestone achievement in our fight to defeat COVID-19,” Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said in the release. “We have teamwork and many Alaskans to thank for how quickly we’ve been able to vaccinate our most vulnerable residents.”

Of almost 51,000 state vaccinations, only 13,270 people received two doses of the vaccine. Dr. Zink said that while it’s important to celebrate successes, Alaskans should continue following the precautions in the light of high virus transmission.

“Until we can protect more people through vaccination, we can all — including those who have been vaccinated — help keep the virus under control,” she said. “Keep wearing masks, maintain physical distance from others, keep your social circles small, get tested if you feel sick or may have been exposed, and when it’s your turn to do so, please consider getting vaccinated.”