Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and other state health officials address members of the media during a remote press conference on Thursday, Feb. 18. (Screenshot)

Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and other state health officials address members of the media during a remote press conference on Thursday, Feb. 18. (Screenshot)

Over 200,000 vaccine doses administered; more than 55,000 total resident cases reported

Alaska continues to lead the nation in the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose

On the same day Alaska passed 200,000 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered, the state also passed 55,000 COVID-19 cases among Alaska residents. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 213 new COVID-19 cases in the state on Thursday, including eight on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Kenai with three cases, Seward with two cases, Soldotna with two cases and Nikiski with one case.

Alaska’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitoring Dashboard also showed Thursday that 206,682 doses of the COVID vaccine had been administered, including 133,221 initial doses and 73,461 second doses, though those numbers are expected to be higher due to a lag in reporting. For the months of December, January and February, Alaska received an allocation of 174,400 pairs of vaccine, or 348,800 total doses including first and second doses. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 13,858 doses had been administered as of Thursday, including 9,246 initial doses and 4,612 second doses.

Alaska continues to lead the nation in the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to NPR’s COVID vaccine tracker, 17.9% of Alaska’s population has received at least one dose, compared to 12.1% nationwide. NPR also notes that their population figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau and include children, for whom the vaccine is not yet recommended.

The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab, though Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said during Wednesday’s Kenai City Council meeting that the program has seen a mild response. 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. Ostrander said Wednesday that no rides had been scheduled through CARTS and that, from conversations with Alaska Cab Owner Brent Hibbert, he’s learned that they have provided around five or six rides.

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. People interested in receiving their COVID vaccine can determine whether or not they are eligible to receive it at covidvax.alaska.gov. Instructions on how to schedule an appointment and a map of vaccine providers in the state can also be found at covidvax.alaska.gov.

In addition to the eight new cases on the Kenai Peninsula, DHSS also announced 57 cases in Wasilla, 47 in Anchorage, 20 in Palmer, 16 in Fairbanks, 15 in Bethel Census Area, 10 in Ketchikan, nine in Eagle River, six in North Pole, four in Big Lake, three in Kusilvak Census Area, two in Chugiak, two in Fairbanks North Star Borough, two in Sutton-Alpine and one each in Girdwood, Healy, Nome Census Area, Petersburg, Sitka, Tok, Utqiagvik and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

Four new nonresident cases were also reported, all in Aleutians East Borough in the seafood industry.

More regions in the state saw decreased 14-day case rates on Thursday. The Kenai Peninsula Borough has the fourth-lowest rate in the state at 6.36 cases per 100,000 population and was considered to be at “intermediate risk.” Alaska as a whole was still considered to be at high risk, with a 14-day case rate of 17.12.

The state announced five new hospitalizations and no new COVID deaths in Alaska on Thursday, bringing the state’s totals to date to 1,207 and 286, respectively. As of Thursday, there were 37 people hospitalized in Alaska due to COVID-19, including four who were considered persons under investigation for the disease. Three of the patients were 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 ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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