COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

DHSS: 577 new cases, 47 on the peninsula

Wednesday marked the 37th day in a row that the state reported a daily case increase of more than 500.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 577 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, including 47 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with 13 cases, Kenai with 10 cases, Homer with nine cases, Other North with six cases, Nikiski with four cases, Seward with two cases, Sterling with two cases and Anchor Point with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 38,707, including 37,342 residents and 1,365 nonresidents.

Wednesday marked the 37th day in a row that the state has reported a daily case increase of more than 500.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,433 tests and saw a positivity rate of 9.56%. The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high at 88.09. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is higher at 100.6.

As of Wednesday, Central Peninsula Hospital had conducted 9,716 tests with 9,038 negative, 615 positive and 57 pending results. CPH was treating three patients who were on ventilators, including two who were COVID-positive. In total, the hospital was treating seven patients who were COVID positive. CPH reported two new COVID-19 deaths from Tuesday. Additionally, there were 10 COVID-positive residents at CPH’s Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility and 33 of CPH’s total staff of around 1,000 in quarantine.

Also as of Wednesday, South Peninsula Hospital had conducted 14,551 tests with 13,966 negative, 411 positive and 174 pending results.

The state also reported 20 new hospitalizations and four new deaths. To date, 831 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 149 have died. Currently, there are 165 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation. Nineteen of the patients are on ventilators.

The four deaths, which were all recent, include a Kenai man in his 70s, a Soldotna man in his 80s, an Anchorage woman in her 70s and a Yakutat and Hoonah-Angoon man in his 80s.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 28,212 tests were conducted is 6.63%. To date, 1,099,555 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 47 cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 192 cases in Anchorage, 59 in Fairbanks, 58 in Wasilla, 39 in Kusilvak Census Area, 31 in Kodiak, 28 in Utqiagvik, 23 in Palmer, 18 in Eagle River, 17 in North Pole, 15 in Bethel, 11 in Bethel Census Area, six in Delta Junction, three in Big Lake, three in Juneau, three in North Slope Borough, two in Chugiak, two in Denali Borough, two in Healy, two in Ketchikan, two in Northwest Arctic Borough and one each in Cordova, Kotzebue, Mat-Su Borough, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Willow and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area. Two resident cases have locations still under investigation.

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

Risk levels

As of Tuesday, 34 Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools were operating at high risk until at least Dec. 18, including all on the central peninsula. Two other district schools were operating at medium risk. Tebughna School also shifted to high risk and 100% remote learning until winter break on Tuesday due to confirmation of a positive COVD-19 case in the community.

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, 661 cases had been reported in the central peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 610 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, 145 cases had been reported in the southern peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 126 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, 19 cases had been reported in the eastern peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 12 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 continue to be open for on-site learning and operate at low-risk level.

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.

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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