COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

State adds 24 resident deaths to COVID count, with 1 recent

23 deaths were from death certificate reviews over the past several months

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 167 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, including 10 new cases on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with four cases, Homer with three cases, Kenai with two cases and Kenai Peninsula Borough South with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 52,393, including 50,732 residents and 1,661 nonresidents.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 965 tests and saw a positivity rate of 2.59%. To date, the borough has conducted 58,857 tests.

As of Wednesday, Central Peninsula Hospital had conducted 11,163 tests with 10,405 negative, 725 positive and 17 pending results. On Wednesday, CPH was treating two patients who were COVID-19 positive with none on ventilators and no new resident cases at Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility.

Of the 114,800 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the State of Alaska received for the months of December and January, 59,392 initial doses have been administered and 13,270 vaccinations series have been completed. Meaning, 13,270 people have received both doses of their COVID vaccine.

The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the past two weeks, is high at 33.59. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s rate is also high at 18.11.

The state also reported seven new hospitalizations and 24 deaths, one of which was recent. DHSS began including “probable deaths” in the death and case counts on Jan. 4. To date, 1,146 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 251 have died. The person who died recently was a North Pole woman in her 70s.

The 23 deaths were from death certificate reviews over the past several months and include a North Pole man in his 80s, two Bethel Census Area women in their 70s, two Wasilla men in their 60s, a Wasilla man in his 40s, a Palmer woman in her 80s, a Palmer man in his 60s, an Eagle River man in his 60s, three Anchorage men aged 80 or older, two Anchorage men in their 70s, three Anchorage women in their 70s, an Anchorage woman in her 60s, a Kenai man in his 70s, a Homer woman in her 60s, a Kodiak man in his 70s, a Kodiak man in his 70s, a Kodiak woman in her 60s and a Kodiak Island Borough woman in her 60s.

As of Wednesday, 57 people were hospitalized in Alaska who were COVID-positive or who were considered persons under investigation for the disease. Nine of the patients were on ventilators.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 26,034 tests have been conducted is 3.77%. To date, 1,420,122 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 10 new cases on the Kenai Peninsula, the state also reported 49 cases in Anchorage, 22 in Wasilla, 20 in Fairbanks, 11 in Kusilvak Census Area, eight in Palmer, six in Eagle River, six in North Pole, four in Bethel Census Area, three in Kodiak, three in North Slope Borough, three in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, two in Juneau and one each in Bethel, Big lake, Cordova, Dillingham, Dillingham Census Area, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Mat-Su Borough, Sutton-Alpine, Unalaska and Willow.

Ten nonresident cases were also reported. Five have locations still under investigation. One was reported in Anchorage. One was reported in Seward. One was reported in Unalaska and one was reported in Wasilla.

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.

Appointments for people in Phase 1b Tier 1, meaning Alaskans who are 65 and older, had their first appointments on Jan. 11.

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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