COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

20 more COVID deaths pushes statewide total to 832

Most of the deaths took place in October.

The Alaska State Department of Health and Social Services announced another 20 COVID-19 deaths Friday, the majority of them occurring in October.

The deaths included residents of Ketchikan, the Dillingham Census Area, Anchorage, Houston, Wasilla, Palmer, Fairbanks and Utqiagvik. As of Friday, 832 Alaskans had died of COVID since the pandemic began.

Virus cases and hospitalizations have been trending downward statewide, but Alaska remained at a high COVID transmission alert level Friday — with an estimated rolling average of 397.6 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

The threshold for high alert level is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people in the span of one week.

On Nov. 12, there was a seven-day rolling average of 419.7 reported cases.

Friday’s new case count included 23 in Kenai, six in Soldotna, two in both the Kenai Peninsula Borough North and Sterling, and one each in Homer, the Kenai Peninsula Borough South and Nikiski.

Statewide there were 137 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Friday, with 18 patients on ventilators.

In an effort to maintain patient confidentiality, Central Peninsula Hospital does not report COVID hospitalizations if the number of inpatients dips below 11. As of Friday there were fewer than 11 COVID inpatients at the facility.

Health officials widely agree that vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID.

As of Friday, 55% of Alaskans 5 and older were fully vaccinated, and another 60% had received at least one dose. The Kenai Peninsula Borough lagged behind, with 46% of people 5 and older fully vaccinated and 50% with at least one shot.

Pfizer is approved for everyone 5 years and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are approved for anyone 18 and older.

Pfizer and Moderna boosters and additional doses are also available for adults 18 and older.

Getting a COVID vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.

Many organizations on the central peninsula, including Walmart, Walgreens, the Kenai Fire Department and Kenai Public Health, offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways. The clinic has extended its hours to Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

People who would like assistance scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.

COVID testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

In Kenai, testing is available at the Chignik Lagoon Clinic, Odyssey Family Practice, Kenai Public Health Center and Capstone Clinic.

In Soldotna, testing is available at the Peninsula Community Health Center, Urgent Care of Soldotna, Walgreens and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.

In Seward, testing is available at Providence Medical Center, Chugachmiut-North Star Health Clinic, Glacier Family Medicine, Seward Community Health Center and the Safeway pharmacy. The Seward Community Health Center at 417 First Avenue is offering drive-thru testing Tuesdays only. Bring a face covering and photo ID.

In Homer, testing is available at South Peninsula Hospital, or through other area health care providers at Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, Kachemak Medical Group and Homer Medical Center.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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