7 new deaths, new cases top 1,300

State reports record number of COVID-19 cases



Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services identified 1,364 new cases of COVID-19 across the state this week — including more than 200 cases reported on both Friday and Saturday — beating the record set the previous week for number of cases reported.

There were also 42 new hospitalizations — a single-week record — and seven additional deaths reported this week, with the latest death being a Fairbanks resident in his 90s.

As of Saturday, 530,500 COVID-19 tests had been conducted statewide, with 13,053 conducted in the previous week. The positivity rate of tests processed this week — 4.94% — has increased from the previous week’s positivity rate of 4.52%. The seven-day positivity rate for the Kenai Peninsula Borough is 6.63%. On the Kenai Peninsula, 22,670 tests have been conducted, and 503 of those tests have been processed in the last seven days.

There are currently 50 COVID-19 patients and 18 patients under investigation for the disease who are hospitalized, according to reporting from 23 facilities across Alaska. Nine of those patients are being treated on a ventilator. At this time last week, there were 44 COVID-positive hospitalizations, 22 patients under investigation and five patients on ventilators.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough reported 48 new cases this week. The region’s average case rate moved into the high-alert level on Thursday, with the borough currently averaging 10.6 cases per day per 100,000 people in the last 14 days.

Risk levels

Risk levels are one of the major tools the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District uses to determine the status of schools.

KPBSD also uses input from seven-day averages of positive cases, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Learning, and the COVID-19 Community Risk Level Medical Advisory Group.

DHSS created risk levels as part of a plan to reopen long-term care facilities to visitors, but DHSS says risk levels also can be used to inform decisions by other entities, including schools, institutions of higher learning and businesses.

The Alaska School Activities Association has game and practice guidelines for schools to consider when writing mitigation plans for any risk level.

With proper mitigation plans, the district allows practices to take place at any risk level. The district allows competitions to take place at medium- and low-risk levels. Competitions are not allowed at high-risk levels, with exceptions for season- and state-culminating events.

Central Peninsula — High Risk: The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had one resident case reported by the state Friday and eight cases on Saturday for a total of 62 cases in the last 14 days.

The central peninsula is high risk when there are 52 or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are 51 to 26 cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are 25 or fewer cases in the last 14 days.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at high risk, buildings are closed to students and learning is 100% remote. As of Oct. 14, the central peninsula is in 100% remote learning.

Southern Peninsula — Medium Risk: The southern peninsula, or Homer, Fritz Creek, Anchor Point and “other South,” had one resident case reported by the state Friday and one on Saturday for a total of 15 cases in the last 14 days.

The southern peninsula is at high risk when there are 20 or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are 19 to 10 cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are nine cases or fewer in the last 14 days.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at medium risk, “Buildings are open with possible social (physical) distancing protocols in place. Parents may select for students to learn remotely.”

Eastern Peninsula — High Risk: The eastern peninsula, or Seward, had no resident cases reported by the state Friday or Saturday, for a total of 10 cases in the last 14 days.

The eastern peninsula is at high risk when there are eight or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are four to seven cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are three or fewer cases in the last 14 days.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at high risk, buildings are closed to students and learning is 100% remote. Moose Pass Elementary, Seward Elementary, Seward Middle and Seward High School will continue remote learning through Oct. 23, and an evaluation about returning to on-site learning will be made on Oct. 22.

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.

This article is based on information reported by DHSS between Oct. 10 and Oct. 17.

Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at bmazurek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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