COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State reports 2 new deaths as cases continue downward trend

DHSS reported 62 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a drop from over 100 reported a week ago.

State officials reported two new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday — a Fairbanks man in his 50s and a Palmer male in his 70s. This brings the statewide fatalities to 345.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services also announced nine new hospitalizations, bringing the total to 1,519 since the pandemic began. As of Tuesday, there were 42 total COVID-related hospitalizations in Alaska, with four of the patients on ventilators.

The DHSS reported 62 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a drop from over 100 reported a week ago. Alaska remains at high-alert level with about 14.4 positive cases per 100,000 people. The new case count includes seven on the Kenai Peninsula. Kenai reported four, Anchor Point reported two and Homer reported one with cause under investigation.

Additionally, four new nonresident cases were reported among people in Anchorage, Prudhoe Bay and another unknown location.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough remains among five census areas in the intermediate risk division, which is categorized by having between 4.8 and 10 positive COVID cases per 100,000 people. The borough reported 9.09 cases. The Southwest region is the lowest risk of all 11 census regions, with only 3.48 cases per 100,000 people.

Alaska also saw 12 new cases in Anchorage, nine in Palmer, eight in Wasilla, five in Ketchikan, two each in the Bethel Census Area, Fairbanks, Hooper Bay and the Kusilvak Census Area and one each in Eagle River, Juneau, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Metlakatla, Nome, North Pole, the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Unalaska, Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

Vaccination rates

Slightly over half of Alaskans 16 and older — 51.8% — had received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday, and 46.1% were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This comes one day after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in kids between the ages of 12 and 15. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are both expected to sign off on the approval this week.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 43.7% of people 16 and up had received at least their first shot, and 39.9% of eligible peninsula residents were fully vaccinated. Almost two-thirds of the borough’s seniors — 63.7% — were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday.

Out of 11 Alaska regions, the Kenai Peninsula Borough ranks No. 9 in vaccine rollout at 39.9%, according to state data updated on Tuesday. The Juneau Region leads the state with a 66.6% vaccination rate for those 16 and older.

Alaska is No. 19 in the country for percent of the population vaccinated, according to NPR on Tuesday. The U.S. also dropped in global rankings in the last week, to No. 11 according to CNN.

Getting vaccinated

Over 400 COVID-19 vaccination appointments were available across multiple central peninsula clinics as of Tuesday, according to PrepMod, the online portal through which appointments can be scheduled. PrepMod can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

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

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said during a press briefing on Monday that guardians can start making vaccine appointments for their kids ages 12 to 15 starting on Wednesday afternoon.

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. To schedule a ride, Alaska Cab can be reached at 907-283-6000 and CARTS can be reached at 907-262-8900.

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 camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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