Alaska reports 5 COVID deaths and near-record hospitalizations as plateau of high cases continues

Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska on Thursday reported 833 new coronavirus cases, five deaths and near-record hospitalizations.

“Cases really haven’t been decreasing. Basically, we’ve been at a level-off period for the last six weeks, at least, probably closer to two months,” Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist, said Thursday afternoon during a call with reporters.

While case counts have seesawed some days, they’ve generally plateaued, McLaughlin said. Alaska continues to lead the country in its rate of COVID-19 cases, according to The New York Times. 

The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus hit a record high on Wednesday, at 243. On Thursday, there were 233 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 30 of them on ventilators, according to state health department data.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said about one in five patients hospitalized in the state has COVID-19. She said despite an influx of hundreds of out-of-state health workers earlier this month, hospital resources are still stretched. 

“We continue to do everything we can to not get to the point that we’re making a decision between who gets which specific resource,” she said. “But that work has actually increased over the last week, from what we’ve seen before.” 

Since Monday, the state health department has reported 22 Alaskan deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total number of resident deaths linked to the virus to 695.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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