COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19: Cases rising; hospitalizations steady

The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week

According to the Alaska COVID-19 Data Hub, updated Wednesday, 19 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19. One patient is on a ventilator. Hospitalizations are unchanged from last week, when DOH reported that 19 patients were hospitalized, but the state hasn’t reported a patient on a ventilator since Sept. 7.

According to state data, as of Wednesday, two patients were hospitalized in the Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak and the Chugach census area. This is down from last week, when three hospitalizations were reported in the area.

The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week. Deaths are reported in batches, as they are confirmed by the state. The state reported 20 deaths last week. The state did not specify a time frame during which those deaths occurred, and they are not necessarily recent.

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

For the period of Oct. 26 to Nov. 1, 379 new resident COVID-19 cases were reported. Case counts are up from last week, when officials reported 358 new resident cases for the period of Oct. 19 to Oct. 25.

The Alaska Department of Health announced last week that as of Wednesday, nonresident COVID cases will no longer be reported on the COVID-19 Dashboard.

For the most recent week, 42 cases were reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. This is up from 30 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 everyone 5 and up 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 as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of omicron. At a public health ECHO two weeks ago, State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said that BA.5 is being detected in 96.7% of tested cases in Alaska.

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 Wednesday, 68.3% of Alaskans have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 28.2% have received the first booster. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, only 23.6% are up to date on their vaccine.

According to DOH, as of Wednesday vaccine reporting on the COVID-19 dashboard will also be changing, only reporting the number and percentage of Alaskans who have completed their primary vaccine series and received the bivalent booster.

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

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DOH’s COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

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

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