Alaska reported a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations on Wednesday, even as the daily number of COVID-19 cases began to level off in the state.
The state also reported 567 new cases and two recent deaths involving an Anchorage man in her 70s and a Fairbanks woman in her 80s or older.
Although Alaska’s seven-day case rate has declined from an apparent peak in September, it remains the highest in the country and nearly five times the national average, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State health officials say cases have now plateaued, although they have reached high levels reflecting widespread transmission of the virus in Alaska.
The latest numbers from hospitals in particular reflect the continued pressure the highly contagious delta variant is placing on the state’s healthcare system – and the length and severity of many COVID-19-related hospitalizations.
“Hospitals are still very, very strained in our ability to provide care,” Dr. Anne Zink, Chief Medical Officer of Alaska, said on Wednesday.
“We really saw adoption early on in this big push; a lot of new people hospitalized, ”Zink said. “Unfortunately, however, people can stay in the hospital for a long time, so the total number of hospitalizations remains quite high.”
Hospitals reported 236 COVID-positive patients on Wednesday. Almost a quarter of all hospital patients in the state had COVID-19, the vast majority of whom were not vaccinated. Thirty-three people hospitalized are on ventilators.
In July and August – the most recent data available – only 19% of all COVID-19-related hospitalizations involved Alaskans who were vaccinated, according to a report compiled by the state’s health department.
Twenty healthcare facilities still have crisis care standards enabled, which can mean a wide range of things in different locations, but is ultimately considered the worst-case scenario, and indicates a heavy strain on the facility’s resources.
“We were in a crisis care committee meeting yesterday, and all the hospitals were just talking about how unusual this is, how stressed they are and how grateful they are for the extra staff,” Zink said. , referring to the hundreds of states. -Hired outside health workers who arrived in Alaska last month to assist hospitals under the record number of COVID-19 patients.
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It was not immediately clear when the two deaths reported by the state on Wednesday occurred. Fairbanks Memorial Hospital separately reported the death of a patient in his 60s.
A total of 690 residents and 26 non-residents of the state have died with the virus. Over the past week, Alaska’s death rate per 100,000 is the 10th highest among U.S. states, but when you consider the pandemic as a whole, Alaska has the fourth highest death rate. lowest in the country, according to CDC data.
“You can see that this wave really resulted in more Alaskans deaths than the previous wave,” Zink said. Since early July, 297 Alaskans have died from COVID-19.
While the daily number of viruses in the state recently plateaued, hospitalizations and virus-related deaths typically follow a few weeks after spikes in cases, and hospital administrators say it can take weeks for a decrease in cases is reflected in the number of hospitalizations.
About 64.9% of eligible Alaskans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 60.1% of eligible Alaskans are considered fully immunized.
Statewide, 8.8% of tests came back positive on Wednesday based on a seven-day moving average.