A sign seen near Twin Lakes on Sept. 17 encourages residents to wear cloth face coverings while in public. State public health officials reiterated that advice during a news briefing Thursday.(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

A sign seen near Twin Lakes on Sept. 17 encourages residents to wear cloth face coverings while in public. State public health officials reiterated that advice during a news briefing Thursday.(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

State counts new deaths, sheds light on old ones

77 people have died so far, according to data.

The state added six to its tally of residents who have died with COVID-19.

The newly reported deaths bring the number of Alaskans who have died with the illness to 77, according to Alaska Department of Health and Social Services data.

Only one of the deaths, an Anchorage man in his 40s, was recent, the department said in a news release.

The other five people, —a Fairbanks woman in her 80s, a Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area woman in her 70s, an Anchorage woman in her 80s, an Anchorage man in his 70s and an Anchorage man in his 70s who died out of state —were identified during standard death certificate review, according to the state.

[Governor predicts difficult months ahead, encourages working together]

The newly counted deaths seem to be in line with trends noted in an Alaska Section of Epidemiology bulletin released on Thursday. The bulletin, which analyzed information about the 67 Alaskans who died with COVID-19 as of Oct. 15, stated death rates were highest among people 80 and older. People 70 and older had the next highest death rate.

Page 1 of b2020_13

Page 1 of b2020_13

Contributed to DocumentCloud by Ben Hohenstatt (Juneau Empire) • View document or read text

Of the people who died with COVID-19, 85% required hospitalization and 40% were admitted to an intensive care unit, according to the bulletin. The vast majority — 91% — of the deaths happened either at the hospital or within three days of discharge. Underlying conditions were also a commonality among the deceased.

Among the 57 people for whom medical history was obtained, 54% had one to three underlying medical conditions, 40% had four to six and 5% had more than seven.

The numbers also presented some stark distances.

Mortality rates were disproportionately high among two groups of people —Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and American Indians and Alaska Natives. The rate was 83.6 per 100,000 people for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and 26.7 for Indigenous people. The mortality rate for white people was 6.6 per 100,000 people.

Through Oct. 15, 25 white people had died, 24 Indigenous people and seven Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

The disparities in mortality rates “highlight enduring systemic health and social inequities that have put many people of color at increased risk for COVID-19 acquisition, hospitalization and death,” according to the bulletin. It was also a sentiment repeated by state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin during a news briefing.

McLaughlin said exactly what is causing the difference in mortality rates is unknown. He said homes that contain adolescents and young adults —two populations most at risk for contracting COVID-19 —and older adults — a population more likely to become severely sick or die with COVID-19 — could be part of the cause.

“It may have to do with access to care,” he said. “It may have something to do with multi-generational homes.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

More in News

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Monday, Nov. 23

The most recent state and local numbers.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Saturday, Nov. 21

The most recent state and local numbers.

This July 2014 photo shows Margerie Glacier, one of many glaciers that make up Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. U.S. officials on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, released details on proposed land conservation purchases for the coming year amid bipartisan objection to restrictions on how the government’s money can be spent. (AP Photo / Kathy Matheson)
Land conservation plan stirs fight over Trump restrictions

It would buy up private property inside the boundaries of Glacier Bay National Park.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Nov. 20

The most recent state and local numbers.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sherry Simpson and a BMW she loved to drive in New Mexico, where she moved after leaving Alaska. (Courtesy Photo / Scott Kiefer)
Alaska Science Forum: Remembering a gift of observation

Consider this, a closing tribute to a modest superstar.

Travelers wait on Oct. 12 in Juneau International Airport to be tested for COVID-19. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
CDC pleads with Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel

Similar sentiments have been shared at state level.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Thursday, Nov. 19

The most recent state and local numbers.

Yearling brown bear cubs near the Russian River Ferry. (Photo by Matt Conner/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Judge delivers victory for opponents of brown bear trapping in refuge

U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason ruled against proposed changes to the refuge’s public use regulations

Most Read