The state Department of Health and Social Services announced another 1,239 positive COVID cases Wednesday as Alaska remained at a high alert level — with an estimated seven-day rolling average of 829.3 cases per 100,000 people across the state. Alaska remained the state with the most per capita COVID cases in the country.
The threshold for high alert level is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people. The state has surpassed that metric more than eight times over.
Wednesday’s new case count included 40 in Soldotna, 22 in Kenai, 16 in Homer, six in Sterling, three in both the Kenai Peninsula Borough North and Seward and two each in the Anchor Point and the Kenai Peninsula Borough South.
Statewide, there were 220 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Tuesday.
No new Alaska deaths were reported Wednesday. Alaska hit 590 COVID fatalities this week. There have been over 716,000 COVID deaths nationwide, according to the New York Times.
At Central Peninsula Hospital there were 22 COVID patients on Wednesday morning — 17 unvaccinated — with five in the intensive care unit and four on ventilators. The hospital as a whole was operating at 118% capacity.
Health officials widely agree that choosing to get vaccinated is the single best tool there is to protect the people in each community.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, now marketed as the Comirnaty, received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for anyone 16 and older in August.
Pfizer is still available via emergency use authorization in accordance to FDA guidelines for kids 12 to 15 years old, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen shots have an EUA for anyone 18 and older.
Additionally, the FDA approved a third dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for emergency use in immunocompromised people in August.
And in September the FDA approved a booster dose for the Pfizer shot. They are available for anyone 65 years or older, anyone 18 and older living in long-term care facilities, anyone 18 and older with underlying health conditions and anyone 18 and older working in high-risk settings.
Primary care providers can determine eligibility for an initial vaccine series, as well as immunocompromised third shots and booster doses.
Across the state, 58.8% of everyone 12 and up was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday; 64% had received at least one shot.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s vaccination rate continues to lag behind many other regions.
As of Wednesday, 49.3% of people 12 and older were fully vaccinated and another 53.3% had received at least one dose.
Getting a COVID vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.
As an incentive to get the shots, the DHSS and Alaska Chamber of Commerce launched a lottery program for newly vaccinated eligible residents that offers weekly winners a prize of at least $49,000. To find out the eligibility requirements or to enter into the giveaway sweepstakes, visit giveakashot.com. The lottery lasts through Oct. 30.
Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart and Walgreens, and the Kenai Fire Department 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 Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 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 with 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.
COVID 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. Starting Sept. 14, the Seward Community Health Center is offering drive-thru testing Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.