Almost 150,000 people in Alaska had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, with the state continuing to lead the nation in vaccine rollout. The milestone comes just one day after Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said during a press briefing on Thursday that Dunleavy is “stable” and doing well. That’s as opposed to “critical,” Zink said.
A press release Thursday identified Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, as the House lawmaker who tested positive for COVID-19. According to the release, Cronk tested positive on Wednesday evening and quarantined immediately after receiving his results at his residence in Juneau. Cronk is experiencing mild symptoms. His staff all tested negative as of Thursday morning.
State health officials announced during a Wednesday press briefing that 103,120 pairs of vaccine, or about 206,240 doses, were allocated to Alaska for the month of March. That includes 60,760 doses for the state and 32,720 for Indian Health Service (IHS). Of the 60,760 doses allocated to the state, 32,760 are Pfizer and 28,000 are Moderna. Of the 32,720 allocated to IHS, 18,720 are Pfizer and 14,000 are Moderna. In addition to those allocations, the state is also receiving a supplemental February allocation of 9,640 pairs of vaccine, including 6,070 for the state and 3,570 for IHS.
These allocations do not include doses allocated to the VA, to the Department of Defense, through the CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination or via an FQHC partnership.
The 103,120 figure is comparable to the allocations Alaska received for December, January and February combined, which came out to 174,400 pairs of vaccine, or 348,800 doses.
According to the state’s vaccine tracker, 244,493 doses had been administered as of Thursday, including 149,992 first doses and 95,257 second doses. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 15,944 doses had been administered as of Thursday, including 10,204 initial doses and 5,766 second doses.
The state is also awaiting final approval of a COVID vaccine from Johnson & Johnson by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is scheduled to meet Friday to consider the company’s submission of the vaccine for emergency use authorization. State health officials said Thursday that, if approved, the state would receive 8,900 pairs for the first two weeks.
As of Thursday, people eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska included most health care providers, pre-K through 12th grade education staff, people 65 or older, people 50 or older with certain high-risk medical conditions and pandemic response staff among others. As of Wednesday, people who help seniors 65 and older get vaccinated are eligible to be vaccinated as well. Both the senior and the person helping need to schedule an appointment at the same location and time and the person assisting doesn’t need to meet other eligibility requirements to be vaccinated.
People who are unsure of whether or not they are eligible to be vaccinated can take an eligibility quiz on the state’s vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.
Alaska continues to lead the nation in vaccine rollout. According to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard, 20.6% of Alaska’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That is compared to the nationwide percentage of 13.6%, as reported by NPR’s COVID vaccine tracker. The state with the second-highest rate is New Mexico, where 19.4% of the population has received at least one dose.
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 150 vaccine appointments were available at a clinic scheduled for March 13 at Beacon Occupational Health in Kenai.
The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab. The city council approved $5,000 for the program at their Jan. 20 meeting. Rides will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis until the budgeted funds run out. In order to participate in the program, people must be going from an address located in Kenai to a clinic in Kenai and will need to provide proof of vaccination.
The state reported 190 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Thursday, including 41 among nonresidents. One new case was reported on the Kenai Peninsula, in Soldotna. To date, 58,179 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Alaska, including 55,886 among residents and 2,293 among nonresidents.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough had the second lowest 14-day case rate in the state on Thursday, at 5.09 cases per 100,000 population. That is compared to the overall state rate of 16.1.
The state announced 11 new hospitalizations and no new deaths on Thursday, bringing statewide totals to 1,233 and 287, respectively. There were 45 people hospitalized in Alaska due to COVID-19 on Thursday, including four who were considered persons under investigation for the disease. Five of the patients are on ventilators.
COVID-19 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. Testing is also available at Homer Public Health Center daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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 email@example.com.