COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State reports 382 new cases, 21 on peninsula

Affected communities include Soldotna, Kenai, Homer, Fritz Creek and ‘other North.’

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 382 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Tuesday, including 21 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Soldotna with eight cases, Kenai with five cases, Homer with three cases, Seward with three cases, Fritz Creek with one case and “other North” with one case.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,022 tests and saw a positivity rate of 9.59%. Locally, Central Peninsula Hospital has conducted 7,601 tests with 7,282 negative, 263 positive and 50 pending cases. CPH is currently treating seven patients who are COVID-19 positive and has no patients on ventilators.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide total to 17,448, including 16,360 residents and 1,088 nonresidents. According to DHSS’ Coronavirus Response Hub, there are currently 10,251 active cases of COVID-19 in the state and 621 active cases in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high at 47.4. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is also high at 45.16.

High risk is defined as more than 10 cases per 100,000 people, intermediate risk is five to 10 cases per 100,000 people and low risk is fewer than five cases per 100,000 population.

The state reported six new hospitalizations and no new deaths. To date, 450 Alaska residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 23 on the peninsula. Eighty four Alaskans have died, including four on the peninsula.

Currently, there are 97 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Nine of the patients are on ventilators.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 23,860 tests were conducted, is 6.58%. To date, 624,755 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 21 cases reported on the peninsula Tuesday, the state also reported 176 cases in Anchorage, 32 cases in Wasilla, 22 cases in Fairbanks, 19 cases in Juneau, 18 cases in Chevak, 14 cases in Bethel Census Area, 13 cases in North Pole, 11 cases in Bethel, 11 cases in Kotzebue, ten cases in Palmer, seven cases in Eagle River, six cases in Utqiagvik, three in Chugiak, two in Bristol Bay/Lake & Peninsula Boroughs, two in Valdez-Cordova Census Area and one each in Aleutians West Census Area, Big Lake, Dillingham Census Area, Douglas, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Fritz Creek, Girdwood, Healy, Hooper Bay, Nome Census Area, NW Arctic Borough, Sitka, Sutton-Alpine and one with a location under investigation.

Two nonresident cases were also reported. One was reported in Fairbanks and the other has a location still under investigation.

Statewide 6,465 Alaska residents have recovered from COVID-19.

Risk levels

Thirty five Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools continue to operate 100% remotely due to high case numbers reported on the peninsula.

Five smaller district schools, including Cooper Landing School, Hope School, Nanwalek School, Port Graham School and Tebughna School are currently operating at low-risk level, but may shift to 100% remote learning when there is a local positive COVID-19 case.

When schools operate at high risk level, learning is conducted 100% remotely and buildings are closed to students.

In determining whether to reopen a school to on-site learning, the district and their Medical Advisory Team analyze 14-day positive case counts, analyze the seven-day positivity trend, consult with medical providers and review their school decision matrix.

DHSS created risk levels as part of a plan to reopen long-term care facilities to visitors, but DHSS says risk levels also can be used to inform decisions by other entities, including schools, institutions of higher learning and businesses.

During 100% remote learning, Get-It and Go meals are free for all students and can be picked up daily at school. Pre-K, kindergarten and special education intensive needs students can still attend classes in-person during 100% remote learning.

Operational risk levels, case incidence rates and case numbers by community are updated daily on the district’s risk levels dashboard at covid19.kpbsd.org/dashboard.

Susan B. English School in Seldovia shifted to 100% remote learning on Oct. 27 after the district confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 in the community. It will continue operating remotely through at least Nov. 6.

Central Peninsula — High Risk

The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had 14 resident cases reported by the state Tuesday for a total of 331 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.

100% remote learning will continue for central peninsula schools through at least Nov. 13. As of Tuesday, the central peninsula will need to lose 279 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 four resident cases reported by the state Tuesday for a total of 32 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.

100% remote learning will continue for southern peninsula schools through at least Nov. 6. As of Tuesday, the southern peninsula will need to lose 13 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 three resident cases reported by the state Tuesday for a total of 12 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.

100% remote learning will for eastern peninsula schools will continue through at least Nov. 6. As of Tuesday, the eastern peninsula will need to lose five 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.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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