COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State records largest single-day case increase

760 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Alaska on Thursday, including 67 on the Kenai Peninsula

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 760 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Thursday, including 67 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with 27 cases, Kenai with 11 cases, Homer with seven cases, Sterling with seven cases, Seward with four cases, Nikiski with two cases, Anchor Point with one case and Other South with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 34,563, including 33,291 residents and 1,272 nonresidents.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,034 tests and saw a positivity rate of 9.38%. The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high at 81.93. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is higher at 103.04.

The state also reported 15 new hospitalizations and eight new deaths. To date, 768 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 129 have died. Currently, there are 157 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation. Twenty four of the patients are on ventilators.

Locally, Central Peninsula Hospital has conducted 9,406 tests with 8,784 negative, 571 positive and 47 pending results. As of Thursday, CPH was treating six patients who were COVID-19 positive, including one who was on a ventilator. Twenty nine of CPH’s total staff of around 1,000 were in quarantine. Additionally, there were 15 COVID-positive residents at CPH’s Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility.

South Peninsula Hospital has conducted 14,054 tests with 13,491 negative, 387 positive and 176 pending results.

The eight deaths were all recent and include a Bethel woman in her 80s, a Bethel woman in her 50s, a Kusilvak Census Area man in his 30s, an Anchorage man in his 80s and four Anchorage men in their 70s.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 19,018 tests were conducted, is 6.66%. To date, 1,040,505 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 67 cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 272 new cases in Anchorage, 160 in Wasilla, 57 in Kodiak, 34 in Eagle River, 33 in Palmer, 17 in Fairbanks, 16 in Bethel, 15 in Chugiak, 12 in North Pole, 11 in Utqiagvik, seven in Delta Junction, seven in Sitka, six in Ketchikan, five in Nome, four in Bethel Census Area, four in Juneau, two in Aleutians East Borough, two in Big Lake, two in Craig, two in Ketchikan Gateway Borough, two in Kodiak Island Borough, two in Kotzebue, two in Kusilvak Census Area, two in Valdez, two in Valdez-Cordova Census Area and one each in Chevak, Denali Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Girdwood, Nome Census Area, Northwest Arctic Borough, Petersburg, Willow, Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area and one with a location still under investigation.

Five nonresident cases were also reported: one each in Soldotna, North Slope Borough and Prudhoe Bay. Two have locations still under investigation.

Schools update

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District announced last week that remote learning would be extended for central, southern and eastern peninsula schools through the end of the academic quarter on Dec. 18.

Pre-K, kindergarten and special education intensive needs students, who shifted to remote learning following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s statewide alert on Nov. 12, resumed on-site learning Dec. 2, with increased COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place.

After a Nov. 2 school board meeting that saw several parents, teachers and students voice their opposition to the repeated extension of remote learning, the district announced that they would be reviewing their SmartStart plan to determine how students could be brought back into school safely during high-risk operations.

KPBSD Superintendent John O’Brien said earlier this month that any new reopening plans will be sent to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for review and then to the school board for approval and adoption.

In a Nov. 24 announcement, the district said that an update to the SmartStart plan will be presented to the Board of Education at their Dec. 7 meeting.

In determining whether to reopen a school to on-site learning, the district and their Medical Advisory Team analyze 14-day positive case counts and the seven-day positivity trend, consult with medical providers and public health and review their school decision matrix. The district said their medical advisory team now includes a mental health professional.

Small district schools, which include Susan B. English School, Cooper Landing School, Hope School, Nanwalek School, Port Graham School and Tebughna School continue to be open for on-site learning and operate at low-risk level.

During 100% remote learning, Get-It and Go meals are free for all students and can be picked up daily at school.

Operational risk levels, case incidence rates and case numbers by community are updated daily on the district’s risk levels dashboard at

Central Peninsula — High Risk

The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had 54 resident cases reported by the state Thursday for a total of 638 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. As of Thursday, the central peninsula will need to lose 586 cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Central peninsula schools include Aurora Borealis Charter School, K-Beach Elementary, Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Sciences, Kenai Alternative School, Kenai Central High School, Kenai Middle School, Marathon School, Mountain View Elementary, Nikiski Middle-High School, Nikiski North Star Elementary, Redoubt Elementary, River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna Elementary School, Soldotna High School, Soldotna Montessori Charter School, Sterling Elementary and Tustumena Elementary.

Southern Peninsula — High Risk

The southern peninsula, or Homer, Fritz Creek, Anchor Point and “other South,” had nine resident cases reported by the state Thursday for a total of 171 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. As of Thursday, the southern peninsula will need to lose 152 cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Southern peninsula schools include Chapman School, Fireweed Academy, Homer Flex School, Homer High School, Kachemak Selo School, McNeil Canyon Elementary, Nikolaevsk School, Ninilchik School, Paul Banks Elementary, Razdolna School, Voznesenka School and West Homer Elementary.

Eastern Peninsula — High Risk

The eastern peninsula, or Seward, had four resident cases reported by the state Thursday for a total of 34 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. As of Thursday, the eastern peninsula will need to lose 27 cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Eastern peninsula schools include Moose Pass School, Seward Elementary, Seward High School and Seward Middle School.

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.

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