Omicron drives Alaska to new daily record in COVID cases

A person in a hospital gown walks around a parked car in a snowy parking lot
Cars are lined up at a Capstone testing site on C Street in Anchorage Friday (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

With the omicron variant dominating new infections in the state, Alaska recorded a new peak in COVID-19 cases this week. Daily case counts hit 1,843 on Wednesday, and 1,797 on Thursday.

Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said Thursday that omicron is spreading rapidly in Alaska. Before the arrival of the new variant, the average daily case count had been below 500 since Christmas. Now, between 80% and 95% of cases screened by the state public health lab have had a marker associated with omicron.

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Wednesday’s daily case count has slightly exceeded record days in September, at the height of the delta wave, and omicron cases are expected to continue climbing. In South Africa, omicron drove case counts higher for three weeks. 

So far, omicron seems to cause less serious illness than previous waves. The state reports that the number of new hospitalizations and deaths have declined since September. On Friday, there were 69 COVID-19 patients in Alaska hospitals, six were on ventilators.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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