COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)

State announces 197 new COVID-19 cases

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide total to 10,844, including 9,877 residents.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 197 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Monday, of which 191 are residents. Affected communities include Anchorage with 98 cases, Fairbanks with 42 cases, Eagle River with eight cases, Kotzebue with six cases, Palmer with six cases, Utqiagvik with six cases, North Pole with five cases, Wasilla with four cases, Juneau with three cases, Bethel Census Area with three cases, Kusilvak Census Area with two cases, Chugiak with two cases and one each in Kenai, Cordova, Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Nome, Northwest Arctic Borough and Chevak.

Two nonresident cases were reported in Anchorage. One was reported in Haines and three have locations still under investigation. The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide total to 10,844, including 9,877 residents and 1,007 nonresidents.

The statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high at 21.41 per 100,000 people. The Kenai Peninsula Borough is considered “intermediate risk” with 7.95 cases per 100,000 population.

High risk is defined as more than 10 cases per 100,000 people, intermediate risk is five to 10 cases per 100,000 people and low risk is fewer than five cases per 100,000 people.

The state reported no new deaths. To date, 327 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Alaska and 60 people have died. Currently, there are 52 people hospitalized because of COVID-19 in Alaska, including 16 who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Eight of the patients are on ventilators.

The average daily positivity rate in Alaska for the past seven days, during which 13,139 tests were conducted, is 4.6%. To date, 505,927 tests have been conducted in Alaska. Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough conducted 541 tests and saw a 3.33% positivity rate, according to DHSS’ Coronavirus Response Hub.

Locally, South Peninsula Hospital has conducted 10,196 tests with 9,789 negative, 124 positive and 283 pending results. Central Peninsula Hospital has conducted 6,425 tests with 6,159 negative, 128 positive and 125 pending results.

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 nine resident cases reported by the state Sunday and Monday for a total of 47 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 one resident case reported by the state Sunday and Monday for a total of nine cases in the last 14 days.

The district announced Sunday that McNeil Canyon Elementary School would shift to 100% remote learning on Monday after a positive COVID-19 was found to be connected to someone at the school.

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 — High Risk: The eastern peninsula, or Seward, had four resident cases reported by the state Sunday or Monday for a total of 11 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.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at high risk, buildings are closed to students and learning is 100% remote.

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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