COVID-19 infections soaring in Alaska as Omicron becomes dominant variant

Two new cases of the virus confirmed for Cordova

New cases of the novel coronavirus are soaring in Alaska, with state health officials confirming 2,872 more people testing positive and one additional death between Thursday, Dec. 29 and Monday, Jan. 2, including seven resident cases in the Copper River census area and two in Cordova.

Department of Health and Social Services officials continued to remind everyone that choosing to get vaccinated is the single most important action people can take to protect themselves and their community. Vaccine is available for everyone ages 5 and older. Protective measures against the Omicron variant are the same as for other COVID variants, including vaccination, masking, hand washing, physical distancing and testing to help reduce transmission of the virus.

DHSS officials also shared an update on the Omicron variant, noting that as Omicron becomes the predominant variant that Sotrovimab should be considered the preferred COVID-19 monoclonal antibody in Alaska as it retains activity against Omicron. A monoclonal antibody is an antibody made by cloning a unique white blood cell to mimic natural antibodies to protect against infectious diseases.  Sotrovimab is available in Alaska, but in a much more limited resource due to the supply chain, the CDC said.

As of Jan. 3, just 57.7% of residents were fully vaccinated and 62.9% of residents 5 and older had received at least their first vaccine dose.

The number of residents hospitalized since the global pandemic reached Alaska in the early spring of 2020 has reached 154,369 people and 5,720 nonresidents. The resident death toll climbed to 947, including a nonresident in is 50s diagnosed in Fairbanks. There are 55 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and two others under investigation for the virus for a total of 57 hospitalized, six of them on respirators.

The statewide alert level remains high, based on reported number of cases per 100,000 people over the seven days ending on Jan. 3.

The latest reported resident cases include:

  • Anchorage 1,491
  • Greater Wasilla Area, 231
  • Juneau 184
  • Eagle River 143
  • Fairbanks 119
  • Greater Palmer Area 75
  • Sitka 44
  • Kodiak 33
  • North Pole 31
  • Chugiak 30
  • Northwest Arctic Borough 29
  • Ketchikan 26
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area 21
  • Haines 20
  • Utqiagvik 19
  • Nome 18
  • Homer, Soldotna 14
  • Girdwood 13
  • Bethel, Kenai 12
  • Kotzebue 11
  • Tok, Unalaska 10
  • Kusilvak Census Area 9
  • Dillingham Census Area, Seward 8
  • Copper River Census Area, Sterling 7
  • Bristol Bay/Lake and Peninsula Borough, Houston/Big Lake Area 6,
  • Delta Junction, Dillingham 5
  • Valdez 4
  • Hoonah-Angoon, Yakutat, Hooper Bay, Nome Census Area, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area 3
  • Anchor Point, Big Lake, Cordova, Healy, Nikiski, Petersburg, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Skagway 2
  • Aleutians East Borough, Denali Borough, Ester, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Kenai Peninsula Borough-South, Kodiak Island Borough, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Metlakatla and Willow 1

The 126 nonresident cases included:

  • Anchorage 12
  • Fairbanks 10
  • Kodiak 8
  • Juneau 6
  • Wasilla 5
  • Eagle River, Homer, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kotzebue, Sitka, 2
  • Delta Junction, Palmer, Prudhoe Bay, Unalaska and one undisclosed location 1

Testing continues with a total of 3,710,012 tests conducted to date, including 27,706 tests in the seven-day period ending Jan. 2.

The highest percentage of people vaccinated in Alaska are 77.8% in the Juneau region and 73.5% in the Yukon-Kuskokwim-Delta Region. The lowest vaccination rates are 47.9% on the Kenai Peninsula region and 40.6% in the Matanuska-Susitna region.