COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

DHSS: 413 new cases, 42 on peninsula

Affected communities include Kenai, Soldotna, Seward, Nikiski, Homer and Sterling.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 413 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, including 42 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Kenai with 17 cases, Soldotna with 16 cases, Sterling with three cases, Homer with two cases, Nikiski with two cases and Seward with two cases.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 870 tests and saw a positivity rate of 10.11%. South Peninsula Hospital has conducted 11,491 tests with 11,200 negative, 163 positive and 128 pending results.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 17,860, including 16,764 residents and 1,096 nonresidents. According to DHSS’ Coronavirus Response Hub, there are currently 10,652 active cases of COVID-19 in the state and 664 active cases in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is also high at 48.58.

High risk is defined as more than 10 cases per 100,000 people, intermediate risk is five to 10 cases per 100,000 people and low risk is fewer than five cases per 100,000 people.

The state reported five new hospitalizations and no new deaths. To date, 455 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 25 on the peninsula. Eighty four Alaskans have died, including four on the peninsula.

Currently, there are 95 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Nine of the patients are on ventilators.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 19,119 tests were conducted, is 7.12%. To date, 627,758 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 42 cases reported on the peninsula Wednesday, the state also reported 157 cases in Anchorage, 66 cases in Wasilla, 39 cases in Fairbanks, 14 cases in Juneau, 13 cases in North Pole, 12 cases in Bethel Census Area, nine cases in Palmer, eight cases in Bethel, seven cases in Eagle River, seven cases in North Pole, six cases in Kodiak, five cases in Sitka City and Borough, three cases in Northwest Arctic Borough, two cases in Kotzebue, two cases in Nome Census Area, two cases in Valdez-Cordova Census Area and one case each in Aleutians East Borough, Chevak, Chugiak, Delta Junction, Denali Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Ketchikan, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Utqiagvik, Willow and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

Eight nonresident cases were also reported. Three were reported in Anchorage, one was reported in Soldotna, one was reported in Delta Junction, one was reported in Prudhoe Bay, and two have locations that are still under investigation.

Statewide 6,475 Alaska residents have recovered from COVID-19.

Risk levels

Thirty five Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools continue to operate 100% remotely due to high case numbers reported on the peninsula.

Five smaller district schools, including Cooper Landing School, Hope School, Nanwalek School, Port Graham School and Tebughna School are currently operating at low-risk level, but may shift to 100% remote learning when there is a local positive COVID-19 case.

When schools operate at high-risk level, learning is conducted 100% remotely and buildings are closed to students.

In determining whether to reopen a school to on-site learning, the district and their Medical Advisory Team analyze 14-day positive case counts and the seven-day positivity trend, consult with medical providers and review their school decision matrix.

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.

During 100% remote learning, Get-It and Go meals are free for all students and can be picked up daily at school. Pre-K, kindergarten and special education intensive needs students can still attend classes in person during 100% remote learning.

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.

Susan B. English School in Seldovia shifted to 100% remote learning on Oct. 27 after the district confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 in the community. It will continue operating remotely through at least Nov. 6.

Central Peninsula — High Risk: The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had 38 resident cases reported by the state Wednesday for a total of 357 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.

100% remote learning will continue for central peninsula schools through at least Nov. 13. As of Wednesday, the central peninsula would need to lose 306 cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Central peninsula schools include Aurora Borealis Charter School, K-Beach Elementary, Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Sciences, Kenai Alternative School, Kenai Central High School, Kenai Middle School, Marathon School, Mountain View Elementary, Nikiski Middle-High School, Nikiski North Star Elementary, Redoubt Elementary, River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna Elementary School, Soldotna High School, Soldotna Montessori Charter School, Sterling Elementary and Tustumena Elementary.

Southern Peninsula — High Risk: The southern peninsula, or Homer, Fritz Creek, Anchor Point and “other South,” had two resident cases reported by the state Wednesday for a total of 32 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.

100% remote learning will continue for southern peninsula schools through at least Nov. 6. As of Wednesday, the southern peninsula will need to lose 13 cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Southern peninsula schools include Chapman School, Fireweed Academy, Homer Flex School, Homer High School, Kachemak Selo School, McNeil Canyon Elementary, Nikolaevsk School, Ninilchik School, Paul Banks Elementary, Razdolna School, Voznesenka School and West Homer Elementary.

Eastern Peninsula — High Risk: The eastern peninsula, or Seward, had two resident cases reported by the state Wednesday for a total of 13 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.

100% remote learning will for eastern peninsula schools will continue through at least Nov. 6. As of Wednesday, the eastern peninsula will need to lose seven cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Eastern peninsula schools include Moose Pass School, Seward Elementary, Seward High School and Seward Middle School.

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.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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