More than 100 COVID-19 cases were reported on the Kenai Peninsula on Tuesday, according to data from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. That includes 70 resident cases on the central peninsula, 17 cases in Seward and nine cases in Homer. Another five nonresident cases were reported on the peninsula. Statewide, 593 new cases were reported on Tuesday.
Thirteen COVID deaths were reported Tuesday, including 12 that were identified through death certificate review and one that occurred recently. The deaths include a Soldotna woman in her 70s, two Homer men in their 50s and one Homer man 80 or older.
Those numbers come as Central Peninsula Hospital hits new highs for the number of COVID-19 inpatients. CPH External Affairs Director Bruce Richards said Tuesday that the hospital was treating 20 COVID-19 inpatients as of that morning, with overflow space “stocked and ready to go.” That number had dropped to 18 COVID-positive inpatients by Tuesday evening, leaving the hospital with three open beds, Richards said.
Twenty inpatients is a record for the hospital for the most COVID inpatients treated in a single day, which it hit for the first time last week. The hospital’s previous record was 16, which it hit in November of 2020.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough reported a COVID-19 vaccination rate among Alaskans 12 and older of 45.8% as of Tuesday, putting the region 10th out of 11 state regions. The only region with a lower vaccination rate is the Matanuska-Susitna Region at 37.9%.
COVID-19 vaccines have been touted by national, state and local health officials as both safe and effective. Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, which has an efficacy rate of more than 90%, received full FDA approval for use in people 16 and older on Monday. That vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, is still available for people between the ages of 12 and 15 under an emergency use authorization.
That is in addition to the Moderna vaccine and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, which are available to anyone 18 and older for emergency use.
Getting a vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money and are available through the Kenai Fire Department by calling 907-283-8270, by walk-in every week at the Soldotna Wednesday Market, and for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.
Many different businesses on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart and Walgreens, offer vaccines. Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which 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.
People who would like assistance scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. 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.
Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.
In Kenai, testing is available at the Chignik Lagoon Clinic, Odyssey Family Practice, Kenai Public Health Center, Capstone Clinic and Central Peninsula Urgent Care.
In Soldotna, testing is available at the Central Peninsula Hospital, Peninsula Community Health Center, Urgent Care of Soldotna, Walgreens and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.
In Seward, testing is available at Providence Medical Center, Chugachmiut-North Star Health Clinic, Glacier Family Medicine, Seward Community Health Center and the Safeway pharmacy. Starting Aug. 17, the Seward Community Health Center is offering drive-thru testing Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
In Homer, testing is available at South Peninsula Hospital, or through other area health care providers at Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, Kachemak Medical Group and Homer Medical Center.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.