COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19: Hospitalizations jump, 4th consecutive week of rising cases

4 patients are on ventilators and two are located in the Gulf Coast region

A large jump in statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations was reported by the state Tuesday, with 52 state residents reportedly hospitalized with the disease. This is the highest number of hospitalizations reported by the state since Sept. 14.

Of those patients, four are on ventilators and two are located in the Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Last week, 33 hospitalizations were reported statewide, with one hospitalization reported in the Gulf Coast.

The state reported 18 new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week, including four in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Deaths are reported in batches, as they are confirmed by the state. No information is provided about when these deaths occurred. 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. 15 to Jan. 21, 655 new resident COVID-19 cases were reported. Case counts are up from last week, when officials reported 650 new resident cases for the period of Jan. 8 to Jan. 14. Weekly case counts have increased for four consecutive weeks, though this is the smallest jump in numbers reported in that time.

For the most recent week, 37 cases were reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. This is up from 22 last week.

Officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines to minimize the infection’s impact on communities. At this point, 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, 57.2% of Alaskans have completed a primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 11.5% are up to date on their vaccine and have received the bivalent booster. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 10.6% 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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