Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreal at the Residence in Mission (TRIM). (Image courtesy CDC)

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreal at the Residence in Mission (TRIM). (Image courtesy CDC)

State reports 1,009 cases, 4 deaths from COVID

The state Department of Health and Social Services reported another four COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, which pushes the statewide total to 546 since the pandemic began.

They recently reported deaths were an Anchorage woman in her 70s, an Anchorage woman in her 60s and two Anchorage men in their 40s.

There have been over 693,000 COVID deaths nationwide according to The New York Times, as Alaska remains the state with the highest number of new per capita cases in the country.

The state Department of Health and Social Services announced another 1,009 positive COVID cases Wednesday as Alaska remained at a high alert level — estimating a seven-day rolling average of 1,167.2 cases per 100,000 people across the state.

The threshold for high alert level is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people. The state has surpassed that metric more than 10 times over.

Wednesday’s new case count included 20 in Kenai, 15 in Soldotna, 13 in Seward, 10 in Homer, nine in Anchor Point, two in the Kenai Peninsula Borough North and one each in Fritz Creek and the Kenai Peninsula Borough South.

Statewide, there were 214 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Wednesday.

At Central Peninsula Hospital there were 18 COVID patients on Wednesday morning — 16 unvaccinated — with five of them in the intensive care unit and three on ventilators. The intensive care unit was operating at 100% and the hospital as a whole was at 122% capacity.

Health officials widely agree that choosing to get vaccinated is the single best tool there is to protect the people in each community.

The Pfizer-BioNTech, now marketed as the Comirnaty vaccine, received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration last month for anyone 16 and older.

Pfizer is still available via emergency use authorization in accordance to FDA guidelines for kids 12 to 15 years old, and the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson/Janssen shots have an EUA for anyone 18 and older.

Across the state, 60% of everyone 12 and up was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Another 63.1% had received at least one shot.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s vaccination rate continues to lag behind many other regions.

As of Wednesday, 49.9% of people 12 and older were fully vaccinated and another 52.5% had received at least one dose. The only census area to have a lower vaccination rate was the Matanuska-Susitna region on Wednesday, at 41.6%.

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

Getting a COVID vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.

As an incentive to get the shots, the DHSS and Alaska Chamber of Commerce launched a lottery program for newly vaccinated eligible residents that offers weekly winners a prize of at least $49,000. To find out the eligibility requirements or to enter into the giveaway sweepstakes, visit giveakashot.com. The lottery lasts through Oct. 30.

Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart, Walgreens and the Kenai Fire Department offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

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.

COVID 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 and Capstone Clinic.

In Soldotna, testing is available at the 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. Starting Sept. 14, the Seward Community Health Center is offering drive-through testing Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

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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