SARS-CoV-2

An image from an electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

The downward trend of Covid-19 cases continues in Alaska. On Friday, the state reported 632 new cases, seven deaths and 10 hospitalizations over the past two days, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. There were 68 new cases in Fairbanks and hospitalizations across the state have decreased substantially.

Just as cases related to the Delta variant appear to be getting under control in Alaska, a new variant was detected in South Africa earlier this week which the World Health Organization said is of concern.

Cases

There were 487 new resident cases reported on Wednesday and another 138 on Thursday. Of these cases, 68 were in Fairbanks. Cases last week decreased by 3.6% compared to the week prior, which “indicates a downward trajectory,” according to DHSS.

Alaska’s case rate dropped to 18th in the nation earlier this week. However, cases in other parts of the country, particularly the Great Lakes region, have been surging.

Deaths

The state on Friday reported seven recent resident deaths over the past two days. The Alaskans who succumbed to the virus were residents of Anchorage, Anchor Point, Soldotna and the Copper River Census Area. Their ages ranged from 50 years old to 80 or older.

There have been at least four deaths in Fairbanks this week; two were reported on Sunday, one on Tuesday and another on Wednesday.

The deaths were of people ages 52 to 79.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations have dropped significantly over the past few weeks. According to DHSS data, 89 people are currently hospitalized with the virus. As of Friday, Covid patients accounted for only 7.8% of total hospitalizations.

Eight patients are on ventilators and 102 of the state’s 123 Intensive Care Unit beds are occupied, leaving 21 available.

Vaccinations

Statewide, 61% of Alaskans five and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 55% are considered fully vaccinated. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 48% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to DHSS.

Health officials are encouraging Alaskans 18 and older who are a few months out from their last shot to receive their booster shots.

Alaskans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should receive a booster after six months, while those who got the Johnson & Johnson shot should get a booster after two months.

Omicron variant

A new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, was discovered in South Africa earlier this week. The Omicron variant has a large number of mutations, according to the WHO, and has been detected at “faster rates than previous surges in infection.” In response to rising cases in Africa related to the Omicron variant, the United States announced that it will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries.

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

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