Alaska this month became the first state in the country to open up vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older who lives or works in the state. You can visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322 to sign up for a vaccine appointment; new appointments are added regularly. The phone line is staffed 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.
By Wednesday, 201,687 people — about 28% of Alaska’s population — had received at least their first vaccine shot, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. That’s above the national average of 22% of the population. At least 139,766 people — about 19% of the state population — were considered fully vaccinated.
Although case counts and hospitalizations in Alaska remain far below what they were during the peak in November and December, the overall decline in cases has slowed in recent weeks, and several regions of the state are still in the highest alert category based on their current per capita rate of infection.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough currently has the highest case rate in the state, at 38.41 cases per 100,000 people — nearly four times the state’s “high alert” threshold.
Public health officials continue to encourage Alaskans to keep up with personal virus mitigation efforts like hand-washing, mask-wearing, social distancing and getting tested if symptomatic or exposed to someone with COVID-19.
By Wednesday, there were 32 people with COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state, far below a peak in late 2020 but trending slightly up compared to recent weeks. Another 11 patients had test results pending.
Of the 172 cases identified among Alaska residents Wednesday, there were 56 in Anchorage, plus one in Chugiak, nine in Eagle River and two in Girdwood; 46 in Wasilla; 13 in Fairbanks; 10 in Delta Junction; nine in Palmer; three in Willow; three in Houston; two in Juneau; two in Soldotna; two in Big Lake; one in Cordova; one in Kenai; one in Seward; one in North Pole; one in Petersburg; one in Bethel; one in Dillingham; and one in an unidentified region of the state.
Among smaller communities not named to protect individuals’ privacy, there were two in the Copper River Census Area; one in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; one in the Nome Census Area; one in the North Slope Borough; and one in the Bethel Census Area.
There were also five new nonresident cases identified: two in the North Slope Borough, one in Prudhoe Bay, one in Anchorage and one in an unidentified region of the state.
While people might get tested more than once, each case reported by the state health department represents only one person.
The state’s data doesn’t specify whether people testing positive for COVID-19 have symptoms. More than half of the nation’s infections are transmitted from asymptomatic people, according to CDC estimates.