COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

More than 55,000 Alaskans have received initial vaccine

DHSS announced 153 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Monday

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 153 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Monday, including 12 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with five cases, Kenai with four cases, Homer with two cases and Nikiski with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 52,093, including 50,447 residents and 1,646 nonresidents.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,397 tests and saw a positivity rate of 1.65%. To date, the borough has conducted 58,561 tests.

As of Monday, Central Peninsula Hospital had conducted 11,133 COVID-19 tests with 10,326 negative, 723 positive and 67 pending results. CPH was also treating three patients who were COVID-19 positive with none on ventilators and no new cases among residents at Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility.

Of the 114,800 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the State of Alaska received for the months of December and January, 55,342 initial doses have been administered and 11,743 vaccinations series have been completed. Meaning, 11,743 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 at 36.11. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s rate is also high at 19.34.

The state reported no new hospitalizations and no deaths. DHSS began including “probable deaths” in the death and case counts on Jan. 4. To date, 1,130 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 228 have died. Currently, there are 58 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.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 35,402 tests were conducted, is 3.41%. To date, 1,410,760 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 12 new cases on the Kenai Peninsula, the state also reported 49 cases in Anchorage, 12 in Bethel Census Area, 12 in Northwest Arctic Borough, 12 in Wasilla, 10 in Fairbanks, 10 in Kusilvak Census Area, five in Kodiak, three in Bethel, three in North Pole, three in Utqiagvik, two in Eagle River, two in Juneau, two in North Slope Borough, two in Willow and one each in Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula Boroughs, Cordova, Delta Junction, Nome, Petersburg, Sitka, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and Wrangell.

Four nonresident cases were also reported. Two were reported in Anchorage, one was reported in Juneau and one was reported in Nome.

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 earlier this month, with the first vaccines for people in that group administered Jan. 11.

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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