The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 626 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Thursday, including 43 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with 16 cases, Kenai with 14 cases, Nikiski with six cases, Seward with three cases, Sterling with two cases, Homer with one case and Other South with one case.
The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 39,345, including 37,962 residents and 1,383 nonresidents.
Thursday marked the 38th day in a row that the state has reported daily case increase of more than 500. According to the DHSS Coronavirus Response Hub, cases by onset data spiked in mid-November.
Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,438 tests and saw a positivity rate of 8.9%. The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is 88.3 cases on average per day. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is 88.23 cases on average per day.
Locally, Central Peninsula Hospital has conducted 9,761 tests with 9,087 negative, 622 positive and 47 pending results. As of Thursday, CPH was treating seven patients who were COVID-19 positive, including two who were on ventilators. Additionally, there were 10 COVID-positive residents at CPH’s Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility. Thirty of CPH’s total staff of around 1,000 were in quarantine.
As of Thursday, South Peninsula Hospital had conducted 14,604 tests with 14,016 negative, 412 positive and 176 pending results.
The state also reported 13 new hospitalizations and five new deaths. To date, 844 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 154 have died. Currently, there are 156 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Seventeen are on ventilators.
All five deaths were recent and include a Fairbanks man in his 80s, an Anchorage woman in her 80s, two Anchorage men in their 70s and an Anchorage man in his 60s.
Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 30,274 tests were conducted, is 6.73%. To date, 1,113,360 tests have been conducted in Alaska.
In addition to the 43 cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 231 cases in Anchorage, 100 cases in Fairbanks, 45 in Wasilla, 44 in Kodiak, 22 in North Pole, 19 in Eagle River, 16 in Juneau, 14 in Bethel, 12 in Kusilvak Census Area, 12 in Utqiagvik, nine in Palmer, five in Fairbanks North Star Borough, four in Delta Junction, four in Kotzebue, three in Chugiak, three in Girdwood, three in Valdez-Cordova Census Area, three in Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, two in Cordova, two in Craig, two in North Slope Borough and one each in Bethel Census Area, Big Lake, Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula Boroughs, Dillingham, Dillingham Census Area, Ketchikan, Mat-Su Borough, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Sitka, Tok, Unalaska and Willow.
Sixteen new nonresident cases were also reported. Twelve have locations still under investigation. Two were reported in Anchorage, one was reported in Fairbanks and one was reported in Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area.
School 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 Thursday, 602 cases had been reported in the central peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 551 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 Thursday, 99 cases had been reported in the southern peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 80 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, 22 cases had been reported in the eastern peninsula over the last two weeks, meaning the region will have to lose 15 cases to drop back into medium risk.
Cooper Landing School and Hope School were preventatively shifted by the district to medium-risk level on Dec. 4 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.