This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)

State cases numbers remain high

686 COVID cases reported statewide on Thursday

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 686 positive cases statewide on Thursday, including 74 on the peninsula and four additional peninsula nonresident cases under investigation.

According to the state sequencing report, as of Tuesday there have been a total of 876 delta variant cases reported throughout the state, increasing by 299 since the last notice. State officials say delta accounts for almost all newly detected cases.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is still in the high transmission risk category for spreading COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that everyone, despite vaccination status, wear masks indoors when in areas with a high risk of transmission.

In Alaska, 26% of all hospitalizations in the Gulf Coast — which includes the Kenai Peninsula — were COVID-related as of Thursday, compared to the statewide average of 13.3%. Only three adult beds remained unoccupied in the region.

Slightly over half — 53.6% — of eligible Alaskans 12 and older were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on Thursday. For those 65 and older, that number reached about 72.3%.

The peninsula is one of the census regions with the lowest total number of vaccinated people. As of Wednesday 45.5% of those ages 12 and older were fully vaccinated and 64.9% of those 65 and up had received their full doses.

The Kenai Peninsula is second to last for vaccine rollout, only above the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s 37.6% inoculation rate.

Getting a vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.

Vaccines are available through the Kenai Fire Department by calling 907-283-8270, by walk-in every week at the Soldotna Wednesday Market, and for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

Many different businesses on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart and Walgreens, offer vaccines.

Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

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.

Testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

In Kenai, testing is available at the Chignik Lagoon Clinic, Odyssey Family Practice, Kenai Public Health Center, Capstone Clinic and Central Peninsula Urgent Care.

In Soldotna, testing is available at the Central Peninsula Hospital, Peninsula Community Health Center, Urgent Care of Soldotna, Walgreens and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.

In Seward, testing is available at Providence Medical Center, Chugachmiut-North Star Health Clinic, Glacier Family Medicine, Seward Community Health Center and the Safeway pharmacy.

In Homer, testing is available at South Peninsula Hospital, or through other area health care providers at Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, Kachemak Medical Group and Homer Medical Center.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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