The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 341 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Thursday, including 14 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with five cases, Kenai with two cases, Other North with two cases, Other South with two cases, Sterling with two cases and Homer with one case.
The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 51,157, including 49,535 residents and 1,622 nonresidents.
Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,263 tests and saw a positivity rate of 2.14%. To date, the borough has conducted 57,595 tests.
As of Thursday, Central Peninsula Hospital had conducted 10,966 tests with 10,218 negative, 719 negative and 12 pending results. CPH was treating three patients who were COVID-positive on Thursday. The hospital continues to administer second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to staff members.
Of the 114,800 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the State of Alaska received for the months of December and January, 39,367 initial doses have been administered and 10,424 vaccinations series have been completed. Meaning, 10,424 people have received both doses of their COVID vaccine.
The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the past two weeks, is high. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s rate is also high at 21.17.
The state also reported 11 new hospitalizations and two deaths. DHSS began including “probable deaths” in the death and case counts on Jan. 4. To date, 1,126 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 227 have died. Currently, there are 81 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Ten of the patients are on ventilators.
The two deaths include an Anchorage man in his 60s and a Fairbanks man in his 70s.
Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 31,300 tests were conducted, is 3.68%. To date, 1,382,276 tests have been conducted in Alaska.
In addition to the 14 new cases on the Kenai Peninsula, the state also reported 110 cases in Anchorage, 42 in Fairbanks, 28 in Wasilla, 23 in Palmer, 21 in North Slope Borough, 12 in Bethel, 12 in Bethel Census Area, 12 in Eagle River, nine in Kusilvak Census Area, seven in North Pole, six in Juneau, three in Chugiak, three in Fairbanks North Star Borough, three in Kodiak, three in Unalaska, three in Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, two in Big Lake, two in Dillingham Census Area, two in Girdwood, two in Nome, two in Nome Census Area, two in Northwest Arctic Borough, two in Other Copper River, two in Utqiagvik and one each in Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula Boroughs, Cordova, Ketchikan, Kodiak Island Borough, Petersburg and Valdez.
Eight nonresident cases were also reported. Five have locations still under investigation and three were reported in Anchorage.
Who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine right now?
In determining who is able to get the COVID vaccine and when, the state considers recommendations from the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Vaccine allocation is divided into three phases.
Those phases are divided into sub-phases. Those sub-phases are then divided further into tiers. Front-line health care workers, along with residents and staff of long-term care facilities were given first priority in Phase 1a, Tier 1.
Phase 1a, Tier 2 includes front-line EMS and Fire Service personnel frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients, community health aides/practitioners and health care workers providing vaccinations. Vaccinations for people in Phase 1a, Tiers 1 and 2 began on Dec. 15.
Phase 1a, Tier 3 includes workers in health care settings who are at highest risk of contracting COVID-19 and who are essential to the health care infrastructure who meet specific criteria outlined by the state. Vaccinations for people in Phase 1a, Tier 3 began on Jan. 4.
People in Phase 1b Tier 1, meaning Alaskans who are 65 and older, were able to schedule appointments to receive the vaccine last week, with the first appointments for people in that group given on Monday.
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.