COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

159 new cases, 10 on peninsula

Affected peninsula communities include Kenai, Homer, Soldotna, Anchor Point and Sterling

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 159 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Tuesday, including 10 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Kenai with four cases, Homer with two cases, Soldotna with two cases, Anchor Point with one case and Sterling with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 50,522, including 48,918 residents and 1,604 nonresidents.

Of the 114,800 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the State of Alaska received for the months of December 2020 and January 2021, 29,803 initial doses have been administered and 5,976 vaccinations series have been completed. Meaning, 5,976 people have received both doses of their COVID vaccine.

The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the past two weeks, is high at 39.9. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s rate is also high at 20.6.

The state reported 15 new hospitalizations and one new death. To date, 1,098 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 224 have died. Currently, there are 71 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Seven of the patients are on ventilators.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 30,311 tests were conducted, is 4.4%. To date, 1,363,166 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 10 new cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 32 cases in Anchorage, 20 in Fairbanks, 14 in Wasilla, 13 in Bethel, 13 in North Slope Borough, eight in Bethel Census Area, eight in Juneau, eight in Palmer, seven in Kusilvak Census Area, five in North Pole, four in Sitka, two in Eagle River, two in Ketchikan, two in Utqiagvik and one each in Big Lake, Chugiak, Bristol Bay Borough/Lake & Peninsula, Nome Census Area, Northwest Arctic Borough, Tok and Unalaska.

Four new nonresident cases were also reported. One was reported in Anchorage. One was reported in Bethel. One was reported in Sitka and one was reported in Unalaska.

Who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine right now?

In determining who is able to get the COVID vaccine and when, the state considers recommendations from the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Vaccine allocation is divided into three phases.

Those phases are divided into sub-phases. Those sub-phases are then divided further into tiers. Front-line health care workers, along with residents and staff of long-term care facilities were given first priority in Phase 1a, Tier 1.

Phase 1a, Tier 2 includes front-line EMS and Fire Service personnel frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients, community health aides/practitioners and health care workers providing vaccinations. Vaccinations for people in Phase 1a, Tiers 1 and 2 began on Dec. 15.

Phase 1a, Tier 3 includes workers in health care settings who are at highest risk of contracting COVID-19 and who are essential to the health care infrastructure who meet specific criteria outlined by the state. Vaccinations for people in Phase 1a, Tier 3 began on Jan. 4.

People in Phase 1b Tier 1, meaning Alaskans who are 65 and older, were able to schedule appointments to receive the vaccine last week. The first appointments for people in that group began Monday.

Testing locations on the Kenai Peninsula

On the central peninsula, testing is available at Capstone Family Clinic, K-Beach Medical, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, Central Peninsula Urgent Care, Peninsula Community Health Services, Urgent Care of Soldotna, the Kenai Public Health Center and Odyssey Family Practice. Call Kenai Public Health at 907-335-3400 for information on testing criteria for each location.

In Homer, testing is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the lower level of South Peninsula Hospital’s Specialty Clinic as well as through SVT Health & Wellness clinics in Homer, Seldovia and Anchor Point. Call ahead at the hospital at 907-235-0235 and at the SVT clinics at 907-226-2228.

In Ninilchik, NTC Community Clinic is providing testing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The testing is only for those traveling, symptomatic, needing testing for medical procedures, or with a known exposure after seven days. Only 20 tests will be offered per day. To make an appointment to be tested at the NTC Community Clinic, call 907-567-3970.

In Seward, testing is available at Providence Seward, Seward Community Health Center, Glacier Family Medicine and North Star Health Clinic.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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