COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

226 new cases statewide, 6 on peninsula

The state reported no new hospitalizations or deaths on Wednesday

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 226 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, 48 of which were reported among nonresidents. Six cases were reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, including two in Seward, one in Anchor Point, one in Homer, one in Nikiski and one in Soldotna. As of Wednesday, the borough was considered to be at “intermediate” risk level.

DHSS redesigned the layout of their COVID dashboard, which can now be accessed at alaska-coronavirus-vaccine-outreach-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com.

Over the past week, 857 COVID-19 tests were conducted on the Kenai Peninsula, resulting in a 1.4% positivity rate. To date, the borough has conducted 62,017 tests. Statewide, 29,972 tests were conducted over the past week, which saw a positivity rate of 2.37%. To date, 1,520,206 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In total, the state has been allocated 174,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for the months of December, January and February. As of Wednesday, 129,941 had been administered, though that number is expected to be higher due to a lag in reporting. According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 6,112 people in the “Kenai Region” had received the COVID-19 vaccine and 1,896 had already received both doses. As of Wednesday, 98,265 Alaskans had received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, with 28,911 having already received both.

Two COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be hosted at Beacon Occupational Health in Kenai on Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will offer one vaccination clinic in the morning and one in the afternoon. Those vaccinated in the morning will receive Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, while those vaccinated in the afternoon will receive Moderna’s. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have efficacy rates of more than 90% and require two doses to be fully effective. The clinic is being offered in conjunction with the Kenai Fire Department.

The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab. The city council approved $5,000 for the program at their Jan. 20 meeting. Rides will be offered on a first-come first-served basis until the budgeted funds run out. In order to participate in the program, people must be going from an address located in Kenai to a clinic in Kenai and will need to provide proof of vaccination.

As of Monday, people eligible to receive the vaccine included most health care workers and Alaskans over the age of 65. People can check their eligibility on the DHSS COVID vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

The state also reported no new hospitalizations or deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state’s totals to date to 1,182 and 277, respectively. As of Wednesday, there were 42 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Alaska, including two who were considered persons under investigation for the disease. Ten of the patients were on ventilators.

In addition to the six new cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 45 cases in Anchorage, 32 in Wasilla, 24 in Palmer, 14 in Fairbanks, six in Eagle River, five in Bethel Census Area, five in Dillingham Census Area, five in Juneau, four in Tok, three in Ketchikan, three in Kodiak, three in North Pole, three in Other Copper River, three in Sitka, three in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, two in Nome Census Area, two in Unalaska and one each in Aleutians East Borough, Bethel, Big Lake, Douglas, Houston, Kusilvak Census Area, Petersburg, Utqiagvik, Valdez and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

Forty eight nonresident cases were also reported. Twenty three were reported in Anchorage, 15 in Aleutians East Borough, five in Unalaska, one in Kodiak, one in North Slope Borough and three with locations under investigation.

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.

COVID-19 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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