The number of Alaskans who have died from COVID-19 now tops 1,000.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Wednesday reported an additional 63 resident COVID-19 deaths. Two of them are from the new year, and the rest happened earlier in the pandemic, according to state data. The deaths include Alaskans from Anchorage to Bethel to Utqiaġvik, with the youngest in his 30s and the oldest in her 90s.
Wednesday’s report brings the total number of Alaskan COVID-19 deaths to 1,018.
Also on Wednesday, the state health department reported that it had tallied 10,202 COVID-19 cases in the state since Jan. 14. The daily case count on Tuesday hit a near-record 2,673 cases. That number doesn’t include at-home test results.
Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said the spike in cases driven by the omicron variant seems to be tapering off on the East Coast. But here in Alaska, it’s still going strong.
“The West seems to be a little bit behind that, as well as Alaska, where we continue to be on this upward trajectory,” she said during a public update Wednesday from state health officials. “We were a little bit later to this omicron surge in the West as well as here in Alaska, and we continue to see this surge across the state.”
Nationally, Zink said, 99.5% of cases are the omicron variant.
The CDC has said cloth masks are less effective than respirators, like N95s or KN95s, at preventing the spread of omicron. But, Zink said, any mask is still better than no mask.
“Masks and respirators are effective,” she said. “They’re not perfect, but they’re very effective tools at reducing transmission, particularly when they’re worn consistently and correctly.”
Across the state, about 70% of Alaska residents age 18 and up have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 29% have received a booster, according to the health department.
There were 116 COVID patients hospitalized in Alaska as of Wednesday afternoon with 38 ICU beds available, 15 of them in Anchorage.