Alaska reports 2 COVID-19 deaths, over 300 new cases and continued drop in hospitalizations Thursday

Alaska on Thursday reported two resident deaths tied to COVID-19 as the number of people hospitalized with the virus continued to drop.

The state also reported 347 new resident cases and two nonresident cases.

Additional information about the two deaths wasn’t immediately available. So far, 853 Alaska residents and 30 nonresidents have died with the virus since the start of the pandemic.

[Anchorage’s busiest COVID-19 testing site, at Loussac Library, closes with no notice as city switches contractor]

COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decrease. By Thursday, the state was reporting 71 patients with active cases of the virus hospitalized statewide. About 7% of all hospital patients in the state are COVID-positive. Those numbers don’t include some people recovering from the disease who need continued care, at times for weeks.

That’s a significant decrease from a high of more than 200 people hospitalized on average since September, peaking at more than 240 in October.

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The state’s test positivity rate — the number of positive tests out of total performed — was 5.2% as of Thursday, or just over the 5% level that generally indicates enough testing is occurring.

Through most of September and October, Alaska had the highest seven-day case rate in the country. By Wednesday, Alaska ranked 17th among states for its seven-day COVID-19 case rate, with 271.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Health officials have called vaccination the best tool Alaskans have to prevent future surges. About 61% of Alaskans 5 and older have received one dose of the shot while 55% are considered fully vaccinated. Alaska currently ranks in the bottom third of the nation — at 31st — for its vaccination rate.

Measured over the course of the pandemic, Alaska’s death rate is the sixth lowest in the nation, according to data from the CDC. Alaska’s number of deaths per 100,000 over the past week ranked 19th in the country.