Alaska’s daily COVID-19 count dips over the weekend

A traveler who recently arrived on a flight from out of state prepares to get tested for COVID-19 at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday, June 22, 2020. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska officials reported 185 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the lowest-one day case count for the state since October. No new hospitalizations or deaths were reported. Saturday’s count was higher, at 339.

Last week, case counts statewide declined somewhat after record breaking highs in November. Anchorage tends to drive those numbers, and state health officials say the city’s shutdown measures are one explanation for the decline.

On Friday, Anchorage health officials acknowledged that the city is in a much better situation, but warned that, health care capacity is still an issue with ICU beds in short supply.

The first round of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines were administered beginning last week to health care workers. It takes five weeks after vaccination to be fully protected from the virus, but officials expect to see fewer health care workers getting sick or needing to quarantine in a few months.

Officials say widespread herd immunity — meaning, high enough vaccination rates to protect the whole community — isn’t likely to be seen for at least six to eight months. Until then, they say, masking, social distancing and avoiding gatherings are essential to protect health care workers and make it safe for schools to reopen.