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Health

Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: 430 cases reported Saturday through Monday, plus 13 deaths identified through certificate review – Anchorage Daily News

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Alaska reported 430 coronavirus infections and 13 deaths linked to COVID-19 between Saturday and Monday, according to data from the Department of Health and Social Services. The state no longer updates its coronavirus dashboard over the weekend, and instead includes those numbers in Monday’s report.

All the newly reported deaths were confirmed through a standard death certificate review completed over several months, officials said Monday.

Reviewing death certificates to confirm cause of death is a lengthy process that involves at least a monthlong delay between when a death occurs and when it’s reported by the state. CDC specialists rely on cause of death noted by a medical professional to certify each death.

This reporting process has been in place for decades and is considered the most accurate way COVID-19 deaths are tracked, health officials have said.

The newly reported deaths included: two people from Anchorage, one from Fairbanks, five from Wasilla, one from Houston, one from Palmer, one from a smaller community in the Bethel Census Area, one from Unalaska, and a nonresident in the Aleutians East Borough, state data showed.

These deaths occurred from January to April, with the most recent occurring over two weeks ago, Dr. Louisa Castrodale, an epidemiologist with the state health department, said in an email on Monday.

A slight increase in the daily case rate since March has somewhat plateaued, state health officials said last week. However, most regions in the state are still in the highest alert category based on their current per capita rate of infection, and health officials continue to encourage Alaskans to wear face coverings in public, avoid large gatherings, wash their hands frequently and get vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent further spread.

Alaska in March became the first state in the country to open 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 Monday, 304,181 people — about 49% of Alaskans eligible for a shot — had received at least their first dose. At least 254,470 people — about 42% of Alaskans 16 and older — were considered fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard.

Alaska in January led the country in per capita vaccinations, but has now fallen to 19th place among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 419 cases reported among Alaska residents over the last three days, there were 86 in Anchorage, plus three in Chugiak and seven in Eagle River; 125 in Fairbanks; 52 in Wasilla; 32 in North Pole; 30 in Palmer; 10 in Tok; eight in Soldotna; seven in Utqiaġvik; five in Ketchikan; four in Kenai; three in Juneau; two in Big Lake; two in Craig; two in Kodiak; one each in Delta Junction, Dillingham, Ester, Haines, Homer, Seward, Sitka, Skagway, Sutton-Alpine, Unalaska, Valdez and Willow; and four in unidentified regions of the state.

Among communities smaller than 1,000 people that aren’t named to protect residents’ privacy, there were seven in the Northwest Arctic Borough, four in the Kusilvak Census Area, four in the Prince of Wales and Hyder Census Area, two in the Bethel Census Area, two in the Copper River Census Area, two in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and one each in the Denali Borough, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Hoonah-Angoon and Yakutat region and the southern Kenai Peninsula Borough.

There were also 11 new cases among nonresidents: five in Fairbanks, two in Valdez, one in Anchorage, one in the Northwest Arctic Borough, one in Prudhoe Bay and one in Wasilla.

By Monday, there were 39 people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the state, far below a peak in late 2020.

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.

Of all the tests conducted over the past week, 2.79% came back positive.

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