COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

New COVID cases continue downward trend

Alaska remained at a high COVID transmission alert level Monday.

The Alaska State Department of Health and Social Services announced 750 new COVID cases over the weekend.

This is down from slightly more than 1,000 new cases reported a week ago, on Nov. 15.

COVID cases and hospitalizations have been trending downward statewide, but Alaska remained at a high COVID transmission alert level Monday — with an estimated rolling average of 351.1 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

The threshold for high alert level is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people in the span of one week. The seven-day rolling average, although still considered high, has dropped by almost 46% in the past month. On Oct. 25, the state reported an average of 660.9 new cases for that week.

This weekend’s new case count includes 18 in Kenai, 11 in Soldotna, three in Homer, two each in the Kenai Peninsula Borough South, Seward and Sterling, and one in the Kenai Peninsula Borough North.

Statewide there were 122 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Monday, with 13 patients on ventilators.

As of Monday, Central Peninsula Hospital had fewer than 11 COVID inpatients. To protect individuals’ identities, CPH does not report COVID hospitalizations if the number of inpatients dips below 11.

Health officials widely agree that vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID.

As of Monday, 55% of Alaskans 5 and older were fully vaccinated, and another 61% had received at least one dose. The Kenai Peninsula Borough reported 46% of people 5 and older fully vaccinated and 50% with at least one shot as of Monday.

Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for everyone 5 years and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are approved for anyone 18 and older.

Pfizer and Moderna boosters and additional doses are also available for anyone 18 and older.

Getting a vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.

Many organizations on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart, Walgreens, the Kenai Fire Department and Kenai Public Health, offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

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. The clinic has extended its hours to Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 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.

Testing locations

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 and Capstone Clinic.

In Soldotna, testing is available at the 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. The Seward Community Health Center at 417 First Avenue is offering drive-thru testing Tuesdays only. Bring a face covering and photo ID.

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 Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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