A vial of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Central Emergency Services Station 1 on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A vial of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Central Emergency Services Station 1 on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

COVID cases drop 31% statewide this week, 29.8% locally

Positive COVID-19 cases statewide dropped about 31% in the last week, according to data from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. From April 24 to April 30, Alaska saw 1,050 new cases, while the state reported 727 this week.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough cases dropped by a similar margin — 29.8% — from 47 in the last week of April to 33 by May 7.

Nearly half of Alaskans 16 and older were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday, at 48.1%. This is a statewide growth of 4.8% from last Friday, which is a higher increase than Alaska saw from April 24 to April 30. As of Friday, 54.7% of eligible Alaskans had received at least one vaccine dose.

On the peninsula, 45.9% of people had received at least one shot by Friday, and 41.5% were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This comes near the beginning of Alaska’s “Sleeves Up for Summer” campaign, which is designed to increase the vaccination rate by 25% in each census area by June 1. Additionally, starting in June travelers will have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at airports in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Ketchikan.

The Kenai Peninsula moved down to moderate risk last week, categorized by only having an average of between 4.8 to 10 positive COVID cases per 100,000 people. As of Friday, the borough averaged 9.45 cases per 100,000.

Alaska ended the week at a statewide high-alert level, with 17.01 per 100,000.

There were two new COVID fatalities this week: a Wasilla man in his 50s and a Fairbanks man in his 20s. The statewide death toll since the pandemic began increased to 343.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough ended the week ranked at No. 9 out of the 11 census regions in vaccine rollout at 41.5%. Juneau led on Friday with a 70.4% vaccination rate, while the Matanuska-Susitna Borough ranked No. 11, at 34.7%.

According to NPR’s COVID tracker on Friday, about 32.8% of the U.S. population across all ages had been fully vaccinated.

CNN reported the U.S. ended the week at No. 10 in the world in vaccine rollout, with Gibraltar in the lead at a 103% — many Spain residents who commute over the border also got their shots — vaccination rate. Included in the top five countries were Seychelles, Israel, the Falkland Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Getting vaccinated

Over 360 COVID-19 vaccination appointments were available across multiple central peninsula clinics as of Monday, according to PrepMod, the online portal through which appointments can be scheduled. PrepMod can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

These include appointments at Kenai Public Health, and the Soldotna Professional Pharmacy at Soldotna Prep School, CES Kasilof and the Sterling Community Center.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov. Many providers are using the state’s program to schedule appointments, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov. Instructions on how to schedule an appointment through alternative entities can be found on the map by clicking the icon of the preferred provider. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at walmart.com/covidvaccine.

People who would like assistance with 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.

The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab. 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.

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, Dena’ina Health Clinic, 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 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 from noon to 4 p.m. 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 Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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

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