Alaska reported 756 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and no new deaths.
Sunday’s numbers follow the highest-reported daily increase, which came Saturday with 933 new infections. Case counts have been spiking throughout the last month, repeatedly setting new records. Health officials nationwide have been expecting an increased number of infections after gatherings and travel during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The sharp uptick in cases throughout the last month has led to more deaths and hospitalizations.
In total, 142 Alaskans and one nonresident with COVID-19 that have died since the pandemic began here in March. Alaska’s overall death rate per capita is one of the lowest in the country, but state officials say it is difficult to compare Alaska to other states because of its vast geography and vulnerable health care system.
By Sunday, 153 Alaskans with COVID-19 were hospitalized, according to the Department of Health and Social Services’ COVID-19 dashboard. Another 11 people in the hospitals were suspected to have the virus. Only 32 intensive care unit beds out of 128 were available Sunday. In Anchorage, where the state’s sickest patients tend to end up, the intensive care unit was more than 75% full and only 10 beds out of 72 remained open.
Of the 750 new cases reported by the state Sunday among Alaska residents, there were 331 in Anchorage, plus 27 in Eagle River, seven in Chugiak and two in Girdwood; 162 in Wasilla, 38 in Palmer, three in Big Lake, one in Houston and one in Willow; 30 in Kodiak; 27 in Fairbanks and eight in North Pole; 22 in Utqiagvik; 20 in Soldotna, 17 in Kenai, eight in Homer, two in Nikiski, one in Anchor Point and one in Fritz Creek; 14 in Bethel; three in Juneau; two in Kotzebue; one in Delta Junction; one in Ketchikan; one in Sitka; and one in Unalaska.
Among communities smaller than 1,000 people not named to protect privacy, there were five in the Bethel Census Area; four in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area; three in the northern Kenai Peninsula Borough; three in the Kusilvak Census Area; two in the Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula boroughs; one in the Denali Borough; and one in the Nome Census Area.
Six cases were reported among nonresidents: two in Anchorage, one in Wasilla, two in Unalaska and one in an unidentified region of the state.
While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.
It is not clear how many people who tested positive for the virus were showing symptoms when they tested positive. The Centers for Disease Control estimates about a third of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.
State health officials continue to encourage Alaskans to avoid indoor gatherings with non-household members, and report that most Alaskans who contract the virus get it from a friend, family member or co-worker.
There was a 6.91% test positivity rate over the last seven days. Health officials have warned that a positivity rate above 5% indicates widespread community transmission.