COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State announces COVID death of resident in 20s

Alaska State Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said she has been seeing more cases among younger demographics.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported a new COVID-19 death in Alaska on Thursday: a Fairbanks man in his 20s. This brings the total statewide fatalities to 343.

Alaska State Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said in a press briefing on Thursday that she has been seeing more cases among younger demographics.

“Unfortunately we continue to see young, healthy people getting quite ill,” she said. “Some require hospitalization and unfortunately, a few [are] dying.”

Additionally, the state announced 92 new COVID-19 cases and two new hospitalizations, bringing the statewide totals to 68,762 and 1,508. As of Thursday, there were 54 total COVID-related hospitalizations in Alaska, with seven of the patients on ventilators.

“As previously mentioned, 98% of our hospitalizations are in unvaccinated individuals, and so we really want to encourage … to vaccinate as soon as possible,” Zink said in Thursday’s briefing. “When the system becomes overwhelmed, like they’re becoming in Fairbanks, then heart attacks and strokes and motor vehicle accidents and other things become impacted as well.”

The new case count includes four on the Kenai Peninsula. Soldotna reported two and both Kenai and Nikiski reported one.

The DHSS also saw 30 new cases in Anchorage, 13 in both Fairbanks and Wasilla, nine in Ketchikan, seven in North Pole, two each in Craig, Delta Junction, Eagle River, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Juneau and Petersburg, and one each in Big Lake, Chugiak, Houston and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

Alaska remains at high-alert level, with 17.27 cases per 100,000 people.

Vaccination rates

Almost half of Alaska residents 16 and up — 47.9% — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data updated on Thursday. 54.5% have received at least one dose.

This comes during the launch of Alaska’s “Sleeves Up for Summer” campaign, which sets a goal of a 25% vaccination rate increase for each census area by June 1.

“We’d like to build as much energy and excitement around this as we possibly can,” Zink said during Thursday’s press briefing.

She said she’s hoping that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration soon for use in 12- to 15-year-olds, so that more of the population will be eligible for vaccination.

Bryan Fisher, the director at the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said he’s received multiple requests “from around the globe,” including East Asia, Europe and Canada, asking about the state’s new summer travel vaccination program.

Starting on June 1, travelers will have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at airports in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Ketchikan.

“We’re looking for folks to come visit our beautiful and safe state,” Fisher said. “I think things are looking up.”

Although the rate of vaccination has been increasing at a slower pace, Zink said during the press briefing that she wouldn’t consider it a plateau.

“Every day those numbers keep going up,” she said. “There’s a lot of people — who it’s about accessibility, it’s about additional questions, and we continue to meet Alaskans where they’re at.”

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 41.3% of Alaskans 16 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 45.8% have received at least one dose. Over half of peninsula seniors — 67.6% — are fully vaccinated. Across all age groups, 32.7% of peninsula residents are fully vaccinated.

The borough also moved down to the intermediate risk tier, categorized by having an average of between 4.8 to 10 positive COVID cases per 100,000 people. As of Thursday, the Kenai Peninsula had 9.57 positive cases per 100,000.

The borough remains No. 9 out of 11 regions in vaccine rollout. The Juneau Region leads the state at a 70.2% vaccination rate for those 16 and older.

Researchers estimate anywhere from 70% to 85% of the population will need to be immune to COVID-19 through vaccination in order to stop the spread of the virus.

State Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin said during Thursday’s press briefing that the likelihood of reaching something similar to “herd immunity” will likely depend on the spread of the COVID variants. The B.1.1.7 strain, first detected in the United Kingdom, is the dominant variant in the U.S.

“The good news about that, though, is that all three of the EUA authorized vaccines that are available in the U.S. have really good vaccine efficacy against that strain,” he said. “A lot of it will depend on which variants are coming in and how widely they’re spread.”

McLaughlin said that if officials see an uptick in vaccination rates in the coming months, it may be possible to achieve herd immunity.

The DHSS reported that there were 62 total cases of the U.K. variant in Alaska as of May 4, along with 11 of the P.1 from Brazil and three of the B.1.351 from South Africa.

Getting vaccinated

Around 200 COVID-19 vaccination appointments were available across multiple central peninsula clinics as of Monday, according to PrepMod, the online portal through which appointments can be scheduled. PrepMod can be accessed at

These include Kenai Public Health, and the Soldotna Professional Pharmacy at Soldotna Prep School, CES Kasilof and the Sterling Community Center.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at Many providers are using the state’s program to schedule appointments, which can be accessed at Instructions on how to schedule an appointment through alternative entities can be found on the map by clicking the icon of the preferred provider. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at

People who would like assistance with scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.

The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab. 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.

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, Dena’ina Health Clinic, 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 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 from noon to 4 p.m. 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 Camille Botello at

Reach reporter Camille Botello at

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Alaska Senate President Peter Micciche, left, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, right, meet with reporters in Micciche’s office in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska, after the Legislature ended its regular session. Micciche, a Republican, and Begich, a Democrat, discussed their working relationship, as well as well as parts of the session they were either pleased with or disappointed with. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
After House balks at bigger figure, budget OK’d with $3,200 payout per Alaskan

Budget finishes as second-largest in state history by one measure, but Dunleavy could make cuts

Loren Reese, principal at Kenai Alternative High School, gives Oliver Larrow the Mr. Fix It award Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Kenai Alternative High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Alternative graduates 22, says goodbye to principal

The ceremony included special awards customized for students

Graduates throw their caps into the air at the end of Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘We never fell down’

Soldotna High School honors more than 100 graduates

Brandi Harbaugh gives a presentation during a joint work session on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Mill rate decrease, max school funding included in proposed borough budget

The final document is subject to approval by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

Most Read