JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — State health officials expressed cautious optimism Thursday about lower COVID-19 case numbers in Alaska following an extended surge in cases that strained hospital capacity. 

Numbers recently have been trending downward after hitting a bit of a plateau, said Dr. Anne Zink, the state's chief medical officer.

“Hoping to continue to see a downward trend,” she told reporters. “This pandemic continues to have all sorts of twists and turns, and just because it turns downward doesn't mean it's going to continue downward or stay there. It takes active work from Alaskans getting vaccinated, distancing, masking.”

Data provided by the state health department, based on the onset date, shows weekly case numbers rose from June into September. The onset date refers to when COVID-19 symptoms began or when testing occurred, according to the department.

The department shows most of Alaska still under a high alert level, a calculation based on cases over a seven-day period, and some communities are experiencing outbreaks. 

The department on Thursday reported 442 new resident cases of COVID-19 and said 139 people diagnosed with COVID-19 were hospitalized. The number of those hospitalized was over 200 late last month, according to information provided by the department.

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