COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

DHSS: 589 COVID-19 new cases

26 cases were reported on the Kenai Peninsula

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 589 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Monday, including 26 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Kenai with 10 cases, Soldotna with six cases, Homer with four cases, Sterling with three cases, Nikiski with two cases and Other North with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 37,539, including 36,196 residents and 1,343 nonresidents.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,911 tests and saw a positivity rate of 8.58%. The current 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 higher at 104.02.

Locally, South Peninsula Hospital has conducted 14,343 tests with 13,763 negative, 403 positive and 177 pending results.

As of Monday, Central Peninsula Hospital was treating 13 patients who were COVID-19 positive, including three who were on ventilators. Additionally, there were seven COVID-positive residents at CPH’s Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility and 24 staff in quarantine.

The state also reported six new hospitalizations and three new deaths. To date, 790 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 145 have died. Currently, there are 164 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Twenty four of the patients are on ventilators.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 36,319 tests were conducted, is 6.5%. To date, 1,082,140 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 26 cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 222 cases in Anchorage, 87 in Wasilla, 42 in Eagle River, 38 in Kodiak, 35 in Fairbanks, 26 in Palmer, 16 in Bethel, 12 in Chugiak, 11 in Kusilvak Census Area, seven in Bethel Census Area, seven in North Pole, five in Delta Junction, three in Utqiagvik, three in Valdez-Cordova Census Area, two in Big Lake, two in Juneau, two in Nome, two in Valdez and one each in Aleutians East Borough, Haines, Mat-Su Borough, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Sitka, Willow, Wrangell, Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area and one with a location still under investigation.

Thirty two nonresident cases were also reported. Twenty nonresident cases were reported in Unalaska; seven have locations still under investigation. One nonresident case each was reported in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and Wasilla.

Schools update

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District announced in November that remote learning would be extended for central, southern and eastern peninsula schools through the end of the academic quarter on Dec. 18.

Pre-K, kindergarten and special education intensive needs students, who shifted to remote learning following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s statewide alert on Nov. 12, were allowed to resume on-site learning on Dec. 2, with increased COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place.

In determining whether to reopen a school to on-site learning, the district and their Medical Advisory Team analyze 14-day positive case counts, analyze the seven-day positivity trend, consult with medical providers and public health and review their school decision matrix. The district has said their medical advisory team now includes a mental health professional.

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, Port Graham School and Tebughna 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.

Central Peninsula — High Risk: The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had 57 resident cases reported by the state Sunday and Monday for a total of 679 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. As of Monday, the central peninsula will need to lose 628 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 13 resident cases reported by the state Sunday and Monday for a total of 152 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. As of Monday, the southern peninsula will need to lose 133 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 no resident cases reported by the state Sunday and Monday for a total of 21 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. As of Monday, the eastern peninsula will need to lose 14 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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