ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Fairbanks man in his 80s has died from COVID-19 and another 305 confirmed infections were reported Friday, health officials in Alaska said as the state continues vaccination efforts.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said 228 state residents and one nonresident have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March, including 23 deaths since Jan. 1, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The death rate per capita is among the lowest in the country, though the state’s geographical size and vulnerable health care system complicate national comparisons, officials said. Hospitalizations and daily confirmed case counts have also declined in recent weeks.
Officials said many people have been tested for COVID-19 more than once, but that each case count represents one person. The data does not specify if people who test positive are experiencing symptoms.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The state received the coronavirus vaccine in mid-December, health officials said. About 44,000 people have received the first dose and another 10,900 had received both doses required for the vaccine to be fully effective.
Health care workers and adults older than 65 are now eligible for vaccination, although appointment slots are limited and have filled up quickly since being offered last week.