COVID-19 case rates (measured as the number of cases per 100,000 residents) for 10 regions of Alaska are plotted in this collection of graphs from the Department of Health’s Resipiratory Virus Snapshot on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The Kenai Peninsula, as of Feb. 17, has a case rate of 93.3 and is the only region that increased week-over-week in the most recent data. (Graph courtesy Alaska Department of Health)

COVID-19 case rates (measured as the number of cases per 100,000 residents) for 10 regions of Alaska are plotted in this collection of graphs from the Department of Health’s Resipiratory Virus Snapshot on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The Kenai Peninsula, as of Feb. 17, has a case rate of 93.3 and is the only region that increased week-over-week in the most recent data. (Graph courtesy Alaska Department of Health)

Kenai Peninsula COVID-19 case rate continues to climb

State reports three consecutive week-over-week increases to new high

Despite a sharp drop statewide in cases of COVID-19 reported by the State Department of Health, Kenai Peninsula case rates have increased for three consecutive weeks and this week are the highest reported since the state moved to a new reporting model last year.

Weekly cases of COVID-19 by region are reported via the department’s Respiratory Virus Snapshot. The snapshot was updated Wednesday, Feb. 21, to include data through Feb. 17. As of that day, the borough’s case rate — the number of cases per 100,000 residents — has risen to 93.3, the second highest local rate since the department moved away from its Alaska COVID-19 Data Hub to the snapshot in September.

Archived data from the defunct hub isn’t directly comparable to the data being reported in the snapshot.

A statewide increase in cases began to be reported on the snapshot in December. That rise echoed a national trend reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that started in November, but the Kenai Peninsula didn’t see the same sharp spike in cases until much later.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, elevated case rates in December held around 40 per 100,000. It wasn’t until January that the case rate jumped from 44.1 in the week ending Jan. 20 to 84.8 in the week ending Jan. 27.

Now, in the most recent data as of Feb. 17, that rate has climbed higher to 93.3, and the borough is the only of 10 regions included in the snapshot that is showing an increase week-over-week.

The rise reported this month indicates that COVID-19 activity in the borough is greater than reported during the holiday months or during another wave of viral activity around September.

During the week ending Feb. 17, the snapshot says only 380 COVID-19 cases were reported in Alaska. That’s down from 590 the week before, and the statewide count has been declining for the last four weeks, since Jan. 20.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long indicated that hospitalizations and deaths are a better indicator of COVID-19 activity than case counts — the state has not reported hospitalization data since the COVID-19 Data Hub was sunset in September, and stopped reporting deaths in March of last year.

Nationally, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have been declining since early January.

For more information about COVID-19 in Alaska, visit health.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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