COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC) COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

Resident cases pass 9,000, deaths reach 60

DHSS announced 129 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Thursday.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 129 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Thursday, of which 123 are among residents. Affected communities include Anchorage with 52 cases, Fairbanks with 15 cases, Bethel Census area with 12 cases, Eagle River with six cases, North Pole with six cases, Palmer with five cases, Kenai with three cases, Wasilla with three cases, Utqiagvik with three cases, Kenai Peninsula Borough North with two cases, Kodiak with two cases, Yukon Koyukuk Census Area with two cases, Northwest Arctic borough with two cases and one case each in Seward, Sterling, Cordova, Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Valdez, Nome, Nome Census Area, North Slope Borough, Juneau and Ketchikan.

Six new nonresident cases were reported. One was in Anchorage, three were in Wasilla and the other two have locations still under investigation. The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 9,996 cases, including 9,005 residents and 991 nonresidents.

The statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high.

The state reported one new death in Anchorage. To date, 314 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Alaska and 60 people have died. Currently, there are 46 people hospitalized because of COVID-19 in Alaska, including 14 who are considered persons under investigation. Six of the patients are on ventilators.

The average daily positivity rate in Alaska for the past seven days, during which 9,987 tests were conducted, is 4.53%. To date, 491,171 tests have been conducted in Alaska. Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough conducted 429 tests and saw a 2.8% positivity rate, according to DHSS’ Coronavirus Response Hub.

Locally, Central Peninsula Hospital has conducted 6,224 tests with 6,016 negative, 128 positive and 76 pending results.

Statewide 5,048 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Risk levels

Risk levels are one of the major tools the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District uses to determine the status of schools.

KPBSD also uses input from seven-day averages of positive cases, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Learning, and the COVID-19 Community Risk Level Medical Advisory Group.

DHSS created risk levels as part of a plan to reopen long-term care facilities to visitors, but DHSS says risk levels also can be used to inform decisions by other entities, including schools, institutions of higher learning and businesses.

The Alaska School Activities Association also is using risk levels to make determinations on practices and games for activities and sports.

Central Peninsula — Medium Risk

The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had six resident cases reported by the state Thursday for a total of 28 cases in the last 14 days.

The central peninsula is high risk when there are 52 or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are 51 to 26 cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are 25 or fewer cases in the last 14 days.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at medium risk, “Buildings are open with possible social (physical) distancing protocols in place. Parents may select for students to learn remotely.”

For sports, ASAA allows practices and competitions to take place at medium-risk level, but more restrictions are in place than at low-risk level.

Southern Peninsula — Low Risk

The southern peninsula, or Homer, Fritz Creek, Anchor Point and “other South,” had no resident cases reported by the state Thursday for a total of two cases in the last 14 days.

The southern peninsula is at high risk when there are 20 or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are 19 to 10 cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are nine cases or fewer in the last 14 days.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at low risk, “Buildings are open and learning is conducted with additional protocols for health, safety, and continuity. Parents may select for students to learn remotely.”

For sports, ASAA allows practices and competitions to take place at low-risk level, but fewer restrictions are in place than at medium-risk level.

Eastern Peninsula — Medium Risk

The eastern peninsula, or Seward, had one resident case reported by the state Thursday for a total of nine cases in the last 14 days.

The eastern peninsula is at high risk when there are eight or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are four to seven cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are three or fewer cases in the last 14 days.

The region is remaining at medium-risk levels even though the 14-day positive case count indicates high-risk levels.

“If positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the eastern peninsula over the next few days, there is a high likelihood we will shift to 100% Remote Learning on Monday, October 12, 2020, for a minimum of one week,” the district announced Wednesday. “A decision will be made no later than Sunday.”

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at medium risk, “Buildings are open with possible social (physical) distancing protocols in place. Parents may select for students to learn remotely.”

For sports, ASAA allows practices and competitions to take place at medium-risk level, but more restrictions are in place than at low-risk level.

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.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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