COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

Central peninsula schools enter ‘medium’ risk level

DHSS announced 143 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Tuesday.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 143 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Tuesday, of which 137 are among residents. Affected communities include Anchorage with 59 cases, Fairbanks with 21 cases, Bethel Census Area with 14 cases, Wasilla with seven cases, Eagle River with six cases, Kodiak with five cases, Kotzebue with four cases, North Pole with three cases, Utqiagvik with three cases, Palmer with three cases, Kenai with two cases, Douglas with two cases and one each in Seward, Soldotna, Big Lake, Houston, Nome Census Area, Northwest Arctic Borough, Bethel and Dillingham.

Six nonresident cases were reported in Anchorage, Kenai and Fairbanks, as well as two more with locations under investigation. The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 9,732, including 8,752 residents and 980 nonresidents.

Additionally, DHSS announced that since Sept. 21, 28 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Fairbanks Pioneer Home, including nine residents and 19 staff. All are considered recovered, per DHSS.

“The other five Pioneer Homes are closely monitoring their staff and residents and are adjusting their testing frequency based on whether they have had any recent cases,” the release said.

The statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high, and is trending up, according to DHSS.

“Statewide numbers are again at all-time highs for the 14-day average case rate (17.14 cases per 100,000 population) and percent positivity (4.09% for a 7-day rolling average),” the Tuesday release said.

The state reported no new deaths. To date, 305 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Alaska and 58 people have died. Currently, there are 44 people hospitalized because of COVID-19 in Alaska, including 11 who are under investigation for the disease. Seven of the patients are on ventilators.

The average daily positivity rate in Alaska for the past seven days, during which 18,344 tests were conducted is 4.09%. To date, 488,184 tests have been conducted in Alaska. Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough conducted 650 tests and saw a 1.85% positivity rate, according to DHSS’ Coronavirus Response Hub.

Locally, Central Peninsula Hospital has conducted 6,122 tests with 5,904 negative, 127 positive and 87 pending results. South Peninsula Hospital has conducted

Statewide 4,965 people have recovered from COVID-19.

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 also is using risk levels to make determinations on practices and games for activities and sports.

Central Peninsula — Medium Risk

The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had three resident cases reported by the state Tuesday for a total of 28 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 medium risk, “Buildings are open with possible social (physical) distancing protocols in place. Parents may select for students to learn remotely.”

For sports, ASAA allows practices and competitions to take place at medium-risk level, but more restrictions are in place than at low-risk level.

Southern Peninsula — Low Risk

The southern peninsula, or Homer, Fritz Creek, Anchor Point and “other South,” had no resident cases reported by the state Tuesday for a total of two 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 low risk, “Buildings are open and learning is conducted with additional protocols for health, safety, and continuity. Parents may select for students to learn remotely.”

For sports, ASAA allows practices and competitions to take place at low-risk level, but fewer restrictions are in place than at medium-risk level.

Eastern Peninsula — Medium Risk

The eastern peninsula, or Seward, had one resident case reported by the state Tuesday for a total of six 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 medium risk, “Buildings are open with possible social (physical) distancing protocols in place. Parents may select for students to learn remotely.”

For sports, ASAA allows practices and competitions to take place at medium-risk level, but more restrictions are in place than at low-risk level.

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 continues to be available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at South Peninsula Hospital’s main entrance on the lower level 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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