The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 841 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, including 808 residents and 33 nonresidents. On the Kenai Peninsula, 49 cases were reported, including 13 in Homer, 11 in Seward, seven in Kenai, five in Anchor Point, five in Soldotna, four in Kenai Peninsula Borough North and two in Kenai Peninsula Borough South. Two nonresident cases were reported in Seward.
The numbers come as Central Peninsula Hospital is operating at 110% capacity as of Wednesday, with 17 COVID-19 patients being treated. Of those, 14 are unvaccinated, six are in the ICU and one is on a ventilator.
DHSS also reported six new COVID deaths and 24 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, bringing statewide totals to 442 and 2,083, respectively. Among the deaths reported recently were an Eagle River man in his 60s, an Anchorage man in his 70s, two Anchorage women in their 70s and a Kenai woman in her 70s.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough continues to lag behind most other regions in the state for the percentage of residents 12 and older who are fully vaccinated, with that rate hovering around 47.3%, as of Wednesday. The only region with a lower vaccination rate is the Matanuska-Susitna area at 39.3%.
COVID-19 vaccines have been lauded by national, state and local health officials as both safe and efficacious. Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, which has an efficacy rate of more than 90%, received full FDA approval for use in people 16 and older last month. That vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, is still available for people between the ages of 12 and 15 under an emergency use authorization.
That is in addition to the Moderna vaccine and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, which are available to anyone 18 and older for emergency use.
Getting a vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money and are available through the Kenai Fire Department by calling 907-283-8270, by walk-in every week at the Soldotna Wednesday Market, and for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.
Many different businesses on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart and Walgreens, offer vaccines. Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 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.
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, Capstone Clinic and Central Peninsula Urgent Care.
In Soldotna, testing is available at the Central Peninsula Hospital, 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 announced Tuesday that it will not offer drive-thru testing this week due to short staffing.
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 Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.