COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

Peninsula reported 28 cases last week

COVID-19 weekly update

Alaska finished the week by reporting 184 new COVID-19 cases in the state on Friday and another 140 on Saturday. In total, 990 new cases were reported in the state this week, a decrease from last week, when the state reported 1,418 new cases. The Kenai Peninsula Borough reported just 28 new cases this week, including four on Friday and four on Saturday.

As of Friday, people eligible to receive the vaccine included most health care workers and Alaskans over the age of 65. State health officials have said that vaccinations for Alaskans 65 and older are expected to continue through the end of February. People can check their eligibility on the DHSS COVID vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

In total, the state has been allocated 174,400 initial vaccine doses for the months of December, January and February. Of the doses Alaska had already received as of Friday, 115,273 had been administered, though that number is expected to be higher due to a lag in reporting. According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 5,596 people in the “Kenai Region” had received the COVID-19 vaccine and 1,606 had already received both doses. As of Friday, 90,777 Alaskans had received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, with 24,495 having already received both.

At least three large-scale vaccine clinics on the central peninsula had been planned for the month of February, including two in Kenai and one in Soldotna. All three are being offered by Soldotna Professional Pharmacy. As of Friday afternoon, almost 250 appointments were still available for the pharmacy’s Feb. 13 clinic, which will be held at Soldotna Prep School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The pharmacy’s two other clinics will be held on Feb. 6 at Beach Occupational Health in Kenai. A clinic in the morning will run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and will offer the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. A clinic in the afternoon will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and will offer the Moderna clinic.

The City of Kenai is providing free transportation to and from Kenai vaccination clinics for people departing from a Kenai address. The city council approved $5,000 for the program at their Jan. 20 meeting and was able to successfully partner with CARTS and Alaska Cab. People using the city’s transportation services, which will offer rides on a first-come first-served basis until the budgeted funds run out, will be asked to provide proof of vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be scheduled at myhealth.alaska.gov.

As of Friday, Central Peninsula Hospital was treating one patient who was COVID-positive, with no patients on ventilators and no new cases at Heritage Skilled Nursing facility, External Affairs Director Bruce Richards said. The hospital had also conducted 11,467 COVID-19 tests with 10,703 negative, 728 positive and 12 pending results. Richards said Friday the hospital is planning to order another tray of 975 COVID-19 vaccine doses from the state.

Among residents and nonresidents, the state also reported 13 new hospitalizations and three new deaths, for a total of 1,203 and 262, respectively. As of Saturday, there were 39 people in Alaska who were hospitalized due to COVID-19, including one who was considered a person under investigation for the disease. Ten of the patients were on ventilators. As of Saturday, 4% of all hospitalizations in Alaska were related to COVID-19.

The borough dropped from “high” to “intermediate” risk on Thursday for the first time in months when its 14-day case rate dropped to 9.91. As of Saturday that rate had dropped even lower to 8.8. The state remains at high risk.

As of Saturday, the borough’s seven-day COVID-19 test positivity rate had dropped to 1.28%, with 1,094 tests conducted in the last week. Statewide, 30,013 have been conducted over the past week, which saw a 2.54% positivity rate.

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. 4.0

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.

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.

This information is based on data reported by Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services between Jan. 23 and Jan. 30.

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