The number of Covid-19 virus infections in Alaska continues to grow, with the state returning to a “red” alert status Monday. Covid numbers in Fairbanks remain low but they are slowly creeping up.
The Department of Health and Social Services announced 456 new cases Monday which were identified over the weekend. According to the report, 167 people were identified with the virus on Friday, 187 on Saturday and 82 on Sunday.
The spread of the Delta variant, as well as unvaccinated people spending more and more time together, are playing a role in increased transmission, state health officials said.
“It's multifactorial; one (reason) is the fact that people are gathering more,” state epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin said. “As people gather indoors and even outdoors if they're really in close proximity to each other, there is the risk of transmission there.”
Fairbanks reported seven cases over the weekend and continues to have the lowest virus transmission in the state, but that rate is slowly increasing. On Monday, the two-week transmission average was 2.40 cases per 100,000 people, while on Friday it was 2.00 cases and on July 12 it was 1.30 cases.
Among other places locally, North Pole reported four new cases and Delta Junction reported two.
In the Denali Borough, one resident tested positive in the last seven days, bringing the total for July to two positive cases. This is compared to a total of four residents positive for Covid during the June, nine residents positive for Covid during May and 13 positive cases in the month of April.
“We are steadily trending down in our positive cases,” said Amber Renshaw, Denali Borough clerk.
Anchorage reported almost half of the new cases this weekend. In Sitka, 36 people tested positive, while Wasilla reported 21 new cases, Eagle River reported 17, Juneau and Soldotna 15 each, Cordova 14 and Homer 12. Other places in Alaska had less than 10 cases over the weekend.
Virus transmission across the state has been growing for the past few weeks. The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate over two weeks, is high at about eight cases per 100,000 people.
“Unfortunately, we're seeing more regions pop up into the red zone in terms of cases,” McLaughlin said last week.
The week of July 4, the number of Covid-19 cases grew by almost a third from the week before, and it was the fourth week in a row of week-over-week increases.
State officials continue recommending people to get vaccinated to prevent Covid-19 infection. According to the weekly report, about 97% of all cases, 96% of all hospitalizations and 98% of all deaths to date were in people who were not fully vaccinated.
Contact staff writer Alena Naiden at 459-7587. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMlocal.