COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State reports 1st COVID death this month

The state announced 365 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported a new COVID-related death on Monday, an elderly Eagle River man, pushing the statewide death count to 310. This is the first reported death this month. This compares to the four deaths among Alaskans in March, eight in February and 35 in January.

Additionally, the state announced 365 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days, bringing the statewide total to 65,574. Alaska remains at high-alert level, with 22.1 cases per 100,000 people.

The new case count includes 20 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with 10, both Kenai and Homer with three, and one each in Anchor Point, Kenai Peninsula Borough North, Nikiski and Seward.

This is slightly down from 24 new peninsula cases last Monday.

Alaska also reported 119 new cases in Anchorage, 72 in Wasilla, 28 in Palmer, 27 in Fairbanks, 15 in Eagle River, 13 in the Dillingham Census Area, eight in the Bethel Census Area, seven in Chugiak, six each in Juneau, Ketchikan and Valdez, four in North Pole, three each in Big Lake, Kodiak, Sitka, and Wrangell, two in both Willow and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, and one each in the Cooper River Census Area, Delta Junction, Girdwood, Healy, Sutton-Alpine, and Unalaska.

There was one new hospitalization reported on Monday, bringing the statewide total to 1,389. As of Monday, there were 47 total COVID-related hospitalizations in Alaska, with seven of the patients on ventilators. According to state data, over 75% of adult intensive care unit beds are occupied statewide. Only 31 remain available in Alaska.

Over 206,000 people in Alaska — 27.6% of the population across all ages — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Over 257,000 people — 34.2% — have received at least one dose, according to state data updated on Monday. That’s compared to an estimated 67.6% of Alaskans 65 and older who are fully vaccinated and 73.8% who have received at least one dose.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 31.7% of Alaskans 16 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 37.7% have received at least one dose. Over half of seniors — 58.8% — are fully vaccinated. Across all age groups, around one quarter — 25.3% — of peninsula residents are fully vaccinated.

NPR reported on Monday that the country has met President Joe Biden’s original goal — administering 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days — by day 58 in office. Biden now hopes to have 200 million vaccines distributed by the end of April.

Alaska dropped down to sixth nationwide in vaccine rollout on Monday, according to NPR, with 27.2% of its total population fully vaccinated. The state now trails New Mexico, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Maine, and Connecticut. According to the report, researchers estimate 75% to 80% of the U.S. population will need to be fully vaccinated to fully stop the spread of the disease.

Getting vaccinated

More than 150 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 myhealth.alaska.gov.

These clinics include the Nikiski Senior Center and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy at the Sterling Community Center, CES Kasilof and Soldotna Prep School.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov. Many providers are using the state’s program to schedule appointments, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov. 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 walmart.com/covidvaccine.

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, 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 to the hospital at 907-235-0235 and to the SVT clinics at 907-226-2228. Testing is also available at Homer Public Health Center daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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 camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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