Covid-19 cases are continuing to decline in Alaska, but hospitalizations have increased slightly both in Fairbanks and statewide.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 362 new cases Tuesday in addition to 1,089 over the weekend. Fairbanks residents accounted for a total of 95 of the cases. There were two deaths and 15 hospitalizations over the weekend followed by seven deaths and 20 more hospitalizations on Tuesday.

Cases

Covid cases continue their downward trend, dropping by another 27% this past week, according to DHSS statistics. On average, daily case totals have been below 400 cases a day — a significant drop from September when 800 new cases were reported consistently.

The state reported 427 cases on Saturday, 349 on Sunday, 313 on Monday. Fairbanks reported 75 new cases on Saturday through Monday and 20 on Tuesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alaska has dropped to fourth in the nation for transmission rate. The case rate of 412 per 100,000 residents is still several times the national average of 170, however, and the majority of the state remains on the high alert level.

Deaths

There were two Covid deaths reported over the weekend, both of Anchorage women in their 80s or older. Of seven deaths reported Tuesday, four were among residents of Anchorage, one was of a Juneau resident, one person was a resident of Hoonah-Angoon/Yakutat and one lived in the Kusilvak. There were two deaths at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital reported on Saturday, of patients ages 35 and 69.

Hospitalizations

After finally decreasing a few weeks ago, there was a slight uptick in hospitalizations over the weekend, as a total of 35 people were hospitalized between Saturday and Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, 143 people are hospitalized with the virus, which is 15.3% of all patients. Twenty patients are on ventilators. Of the hospitalized patients, 88 are currently in the Intensive Care Unit, leaving 30 ICU beds available.

In Fairbanks, hospitalization numbers are a bit higher. On Tuesday, 19 people (26% of patients) were Covid positive. FMH has seven open ICU beds.

FMH announced that they had deactivated crisis standards of care on Nov. 3 in response to lowering hospitalization numbers. Although they did not base the decision off of a specific percentage, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Angelique Ramirez explained that the strain on hospital resources eased up when Covid admissions dropped below 20%. For medical providers, 20% is the marker of extreme stress.

Vaccination rate

The best way to lower hospitalization and death rates is to get vaccinated, according to health officials. As of Tuesday 60% of Alaskans age 5 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 54% are considered fully vaccinated.

The vaccination rate in the Fairbanks North Star Borough is lagging behind that of the state. Currently, 47% of FNSB residents 5 and older are fully vaccinated.

Ramirez is hopeful that FMH will not need to reinstate crisis standards, but acknowledged that this is a possibility as long as the vaccination rate in the FNSB is low. “We’re not out of the woods,” Ramirez said, adding that “We know that transmission rates can change quickly.”

Unvaccinated individuals between 18 and 48 are 14 times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid than vaccinated people. This is slightly higher in people ages 50 to 64; unvaccinated Alaskans are 15 times more likely to need to be hospitalized than their vaccinated peers.

Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 907-459-7544 or mthomas@newsminer.com.

Recommended for you