Alaska working through virus report backlog amid surge

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska reported more than 1,700 resident COVID-19 cases Friday, which state health officials said included reports from earlier this month as they work to clear a backlog that has built up during the latest case surge.

Health officials encourage looking at cases by their symptom onset date versus the date they were submitted to the state health department. Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, also recommended looking at weekly trends.

Zink said the high daily report includes a mix of current and older cases, “but it does not diminish the fact we continue to see tremendous COVID spread in our communities.”

Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist, told reporters there is no indication yet that Alaska has hit a peak.

The state is “in the biggest surge that we’ve experienced during the pandemic,” McLaughlin said. He said hospitals are overwhelmed and urged residents to get vaccinated and take other steps, such as wearing masks, keeping distance and avoiding crowds, to help bend the curve.

The department, in a report covering Sept. 12-18, said Alaska has more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than it did at the peak of a prior surge late last year.

The state on Friday reported 217 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

The state also reported 41 resident deaths related to COVID-19, some dating to the spring though most occurred in August, according to the health department.

The state has reported 514 resident deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.