COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

DHSS reported 427 new statewide cases as 1st vaccine shipments arrive

Affected communities include Kenai, Homer, Soldotna, Seward, Nikiski, Other South and Sterling

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 427 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Monday, including 15 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Kenai with four cases, Homer with three cases, Soldotna with three cases, Seward with two cases, Nikiski with one case, Other South with one case and Sterling with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 41,573, including 40,160 residents and 1,413 nonresidents.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,835 tests and saw a positivity rate of 7.57%. To date, the borough has conducted 49,094 tests. The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high at 85.6. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is also high at 81.26.

As of Monday, Central Peninsula Hospital had conducted 9,963 tests with 9,249 negative, 640 positive and 67 pending results. CPH was treating one patient who was COVID-19 positive and had no patients on ventilators. Also as of Monday, 28 of CPH’s total staff of around 1,000 were in quarantine and there were nine positive residents at Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility.

The state also reported three new hospitalizations and no new deaths. To date, 872 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 175 have died. Currently, there are 140 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Twelve of the patients are on ventilators.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 35,353 tests were conducted, is 5.33%. To date, 1,147,560 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 15 cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 194 cases in Anchorage, 62 in Fairbanks, 16 in Kusilvak Census Area, 15 in North Pole, 14 in Bethel, 10 in Kodiak, 10 in Palmer, nine in Eagle River, seven in Wasilla, six in Chugiak, six in Fairbanks North Star Borough, five in Bethel Census Area, four in Delta Junction, three in Juneau, three in North Slope Borough, three in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, two in Nome, two in Sitka, two in Tok and one each in Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula Boroughs, Cordova, Dillingham, Dillingham Census Area, Healy, Hooper Bay, Ketchikan, Kodiak Island Borough, Kotzebue, Mat-Su Borough, Prudhoe Bay, Valdez and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

Seven new nonresident cases were also reported. Three were reported in Anchorage. Three have locations still under investigation and one was reported in Soldotna.

School risk levels

As of Monday, 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 last week due to confirmation of a positive COVID-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 Monday, 545 cases had been reported in the central peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 494 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 Monday, 98 cases had been reported in the southern peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 79 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 Monday, 24 cases had been reported in the eastern peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 17 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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