Alaska’s COVID hospitalizations have hit a new high

The Emergency Department and Day Surgery entrance at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

The state of Alaska logged 1,024 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, continuing its ranking as the state with the highest case rate in the nation. The state is also seeing its highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began. 

On Thursday, there were 242 patients with the coronavirus in Alaska hospitals, 30 of them on ventilators. Roughly 1 in 5 patients in Alaska has COVID-19. On a Zoom call with reporters, Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink noted that the hospitalizations aren’t necessarily all Alaska residents, some are nonresidents hospitalized in the state. 

“They don’t discriminate based on residency, so that’s just the hospitals are reporting in the data to us on who is in their hospital at that time,” Zink said.

While case counts remain high, Alaska’s death rate from COVID-19 is still low compared to other states. Alaska has the fourth lowest death rate in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Still, the virus is now among the leading causes of death in Alaska, according to Rebecca Topol, who’s in charge of vital records with the state Department of Health and Social Services.

“It is the third leading cause of death for 2021, with cancer and heart disease being the first two,” Topol said.

While total COVID-19 cases began to plateau last week, state health officials say that there are no signs of a significant decline. 

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.

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