COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

Kenai Peninsula cases continue rise

State reports more than 1,200 new COVID cases this week

As of Friday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s statewide alert level for COVID-19 cases remained high, following several days of double-digit increases in local case numbers.

The borough reported 13 news cases on Friday — five in Soldotna, three in Kenai and one each in Homer, Kenai Peninsula Borough North, Kenai Peninsula Borough South, Seward and Sterling.

As of Friday the borough has reported 127 new cases in the last 14 days, with a 14-day case rate of 15.03 cases per 100,000 as of Friday.

Over the past week, 1,249 COVID-19 cases were reported in Alaska. That includes 39 reported among nonresidents and 75 reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

In the state, 12 new hospitalizations and no deaths were reported over the past week. As of Friday, there were 43 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Alaska and 10 patients on ventilators. Additionally, 96 of 127 adult ICU beds were occupied. Only about 24% of all state ICU beds are available.

Vaccination update

More than one-third of eligible Alaska residents — 34.1% — were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday. More than 450,000 total vaccines have already been administered statewide.

That milestone comes weeks after Alaska became the first U.S. state to offer vaccines to everyone who was eligible. Other states have since followed suit. Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine is available to anyone 16 and older, while Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines are available to anyone 18 and older.

Of Alaskans 16 and older, 43.5% had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday. The rates are higher for Alaska’s seniors. Over 70% of Alaska residents 65 and older — 73.4% — had received one dose and 66.9% were fully vaccinated as of Friday.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 17,379 of 47,102 residents had already received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday.

NPR’s vaccine tracker shows 19.9% of the population nationwide, including children who are still ineligible, are fully vaccinated. Researchers estimate that 70% to 85% of the country must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to reach herd immunity, according to NPR.

Getting vaccinated

More than 160 COVID-19 vaccination appointments were available at the Nikiski Senior Center, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy and the Kenai Fire Department as of Friday at 5:45 p.m., according to PrepMod. The appointment locator can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov. Many providers are using the state’s program to schedule appointments, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov. Instructions on how to schedule an appointment with a provider that does not use the state’s scheduling system can be found on the provider map by clicking on the icon of the provider through which people would like to schedule an appointment. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at walmart.com/covidvaccine.

People who would like assistance scheduling an appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.

The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab. Rides will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis until the budgeted funds run out. In order to participate in the program, people must be going from an address located in Kenai to a clinic in Kenai and will need to provide proof of vaccination.

COVID-19 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 to the hospital at 907-235-0235 and to the SVT clinics at 907-226-2228. Testing is also available at Homer Public Health Center daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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 Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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