COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

More than 35,000 Alaskans have received inital COVID vaccine dose

More than 7,000 have already received both doses of their vaccine

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 296 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, including 11 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Kenai with three cases, Other North with three cases, Homer with one case, Other South with one case, Seward with one case, Soldotna with one case and Sterling with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 50,816, including 49,203 residents and 1,613 nonresidents.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,077 tests and saw a positivity rate of 2.6%. To date, the borough has conducted 57,070 tests.

As of Wednesday, Central Peninsula Hospital had conducted 10,948 tests with 10,178 negative, 719 positive and 34 pending results. CPH was treating four patients who were COVID-positive on Wednesday with no new cases at Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility.

CPH External Affairs Director Bruce Richards said Wednesday that 397 CPH employees had received the COVID-19 vaccine, including some who had already received their second dose. Most of the vaccines CPH is currently administering, Richards said, are second doses, with a “small number” of initial doses.

Of the 114,800 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the State of Alaska received for the months of December 2020 and January 2021, 35,383 initial doses have been administered and 7,965 vaccinations series have been completed. Meaning, 7,965 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 20.68.

The state also reported 17 new hospitalizations and one death. DHSS began including “probable deaths” in the death and case counts on Jan. 4. To date, 1,115 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 225 have died. Currently, there are 68 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Eight of the patients are on ventilators.

The individual who died was an Anchorage woman in her 70s.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 28,270 tests were conducted, is 4.06%. To date, 1,370,835 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 11 new cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 81 cases in Anchorage, 39 in Fairbanks, 27 in Bethel Census Area, 19 in Bethel, 18 in Wasilla, 12 in Eagle River, eight in Palmer, seven in Kusilvak Census Area, seven in North Pole, seven in North Slope Borough, seven in Petersburg, six in Ketchikan, six in Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, four in Kodiak, four in Unalaska, three in Fairbanks North Star Borough, three in Nome, three in Northwest Arctic Borough, two in Delta Junction, two in Utqiagvik and one each in Cordova, Denali Borough, Girdwood, Hooper Bay, Juneau, Kodiak Island Borough, Kotzebue, Other Copper River, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Stika and Valdez. One new resident case was reported with a location still under investigation.

Eight nonresident cases were also reported. Three were reported in Juneau. Two were reported in Fairbanks. One was reported in Anchorage. One was reported in Kenai and one has a location still under investigation.

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 to be 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 ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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