COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19 cases continue to climb

Statewide hospitalizations decreased slightly

A fifth consecutive weekly jump in COVID-19 cases was reported by the State Department of Health on Tuesday, while hospitalizations held largely steady.

Statewide hospitalizations, of which a large spike was reported last week, decreased slightly according to state data updated Tuesday, with 49 state residents reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19. Last week, 52 patients were reported hospitalized, up from 33 the week before.

Of the patients hospitalized this week, three are on ventilators, and five are located in the Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Last week, the local region reported only two hospitalizations.

The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week. Deaths are reported in batches, as they are confirmed by the state. No information is provided about when these deaths occurred. The last update was last week, when 18 deaths were confirmed, including four in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. To date, there have been 1,436 deaths statewide from COVID-19 and 124 in the borough.

Due to the widespread availability of at-home COVID testing, officials say hospitalization and recent death data are more effective indicators of the virus’ spread than case counts.

For the period of Jan. 22 to Jan. 28, 792 new resident COVID-19 cases were reported. Case counts are up from last week, when officials reported 655 new resident cases for the period of Jan. 8 to Jan. 14. Weekly case counts have increased for five consecutive weeks, and this is the largest number of cases reported since Sept. 28.

For the most recent week, 29 cases were reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. This is down from 37 last week.

Officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines to minimize the infection’s impact on communities. Anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a primary vaccination series and can receive a booster.

An updated bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine is available in Alaska. These are designed to tackle both the original COVID-19 strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of omicron.

This new booster is available to eligible individuals at least two months after their last shot, whether that was a booster dose or their primary vaccine series.

Boosters are recommended whether or not a person has already contracted the virus.

As of Tuesday, 57.3% of Alaskans have completed a primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 11.7% are up to date on their vaccine and have received the bivalent booster. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 10.7% are up to date on their vaccine. In the borough, 48.8% — nearly half of all individuals — have not received even a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information on vaccine eligibility, visit https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/covid-19/vaccineinfo.aspx.

To find a COVID-19 or Influenza vaccine provider, visit vaccines.gov.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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