COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

DHSS: 3 deaths, 16 new peninsula cases

Affected communities include Soldotna, Other North, Homer, Kenai, Seward and Sterling

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 359 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, including 16 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with seven cases, Other North with three cases, Homer with two cases, Kenai with two cases, Seward with one case and Sterling with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 44,828, including 43,361 residents and 1,467 nonresidents.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 964 tests and saw a positivity rate of 10.79%. To date, the borough has conducted 51,603 tests. The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high at 58.01. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is also high at 66.77.

The state also reported 13 new hospitalizations and three new deaths. To date, 961 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 196 have died. Currently, there are 111 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Fifteen of the patients are on ventilators.

The three deaths are an Anchorage woman in her 70s, an Anchorage man in his 60s and an Anchorage man in his 80s.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 26,037 tests were conducted, is 4.91%. To date, 1,222,027 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 16 new cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 118 cases in Anchorage, 40 in Palmer, 33 in Eagle River, 33 in Fairbanks, 25 in Wasilla, 20 in Kodiak, 14 in Bethel, nine in North Pole, eight in Tok, seven in Utqiagvik, four in Bethel Census Area, four in Sitka, three in Unalaska, two in Delta Junction, two in Dillingham Census Area, two in Girdwood, two in Northwest Arctic Borough, two in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and one each in Aleutians West Census Area, Big Lake, Chugiak, Cordova, Craig, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kusilvak Census Area, North Slope Borough, Other Chugach and Valdez.

Four nonresident cases were also reported. Two were reported in Juneau. One was reported in Unalaska and one has a location still under investigation.

School risk levels

Winter break began for most KPBSD schools on Dec. 18. School will resume on Jan. 4.

The central peninsula is considered high risk when 52 or more cases have been reported in the region in the last 14 days. As of Wednesday, 342 cases had been reported in the central peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 290 cases in order to drop back into medium-risk level.

The southern peninsula is considered high risk when 20 or more cases have been reported in the region in the last 14 days. As of Wednesday, 74 cases had been reported in the southern peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 55 cases to drop back into medium-risk level.

The eastern peninsula is considered high risk when eight or more cases have been reported in the region in the last 14 days. As of Wednesday, 23 cases had been reported in the eastern peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 16 cases to drop back into medium risk.

Cooper Landing School and Hope School were preventatively shifted to medium-risk level on Dec. 4 by the district in response to growing COVID-19 cases on the peninsula.

Susan B. English School, Nanwalek School and Port Graham School were open for on-site learning and operating at low-risk level at the conclusion of the academic quarter, Dec. 18.

During 100% remote learning, Get-It and Go meals are free for all students and can be picked up daily at school. Operational risk levels, case incidence rates and case numbers by community are updated daily on the district’s risk levels dashboard at covid19.kpbsd.org/dashboard.

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.

On Dec. 25, testing in Homer will be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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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