COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State reports 4 new deaths, 144 new cases

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough conducted 524 tests and saw a 4.58% positivity rate.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 144 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, of which 143 are residents. Affected communities include Anchorage with 89 cases, Eagle River with 11 cases, Fairbanks with 11 cases, Juneau with five cases, Nome Census Area with four cases, Utqiagvik with four cases, Kotzebue with three cases, Chugiak with two cases, North Pole with two cases, Wasilla with two cases and one case each in Fritz Creek, Homer, Kenai Peninsula South, Soldotna, Palmer, Northwest Arctic Borough, Sitka, Bethel, Bethel Census Area and Bristol Bay/Lake and Peninsula.

One nonresident case was reported in Anchorage. The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide total to 11,183, including 10,171 residents and 1,012 nonresidents.

The statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks is high, at 21.82 per 100,000. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is intermediate, at 9.79 cases per 100,000 population.

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

The state reported four new deaths: a Juneau woman in her 60s, an Anchorage man in high 80s, an Anchorage man in his 70s and an Anchorage woman in her 20s. To date, 338 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Alaska and 64 people have died. Currently, there are 56 people hospitalized because of COVID-19 in the state, including 16 who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Seven of the patients are on ventilators.

The average daily positivity rate in Alaska for the past seven days, during which 15,673 tests have been conducted, is 4.48%. To date, 517,177 tests have been conducted in Alaska. Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough conducted 524 tests and saw a 4.58% positivity rate, according to DHSS’ Coronavirus Response Hub.

Statewide 5,324 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Risk levels

Risk levels are one of the major tools the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District uses to determine the status of schools.

KPBSD also uses input from seven-day averages of positive cases, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Learning, and the COVID-19 Community Risk Level Medical Advisory Group.

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.

The Alaska School Activities Association has game and practice guidelines for schools to consider when writing mitigation plans for any risk level.

With proper mitigation plans, the district allows practices to take place at any risk level. The district allows competitions to take place at medium- and low-risk levels. Competitions are not allowed at high-risk levels, with exceptions for season- and state-culminating events.

Central Peninsula — High Risk: The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had one resident cases reported by the state Wednesday for a total of 59 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.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at high risk, buildings are closed to students and learning is 100% remote.

Southern Peninsula — Medium Risk: The southern peninsula, or Homer, Fritz Creek, Anchor Point and “other South,” had three resident cases reported by the state Wednesday for a total of 12 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.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at medium risk, “Buildings are open with possible social (physical) distancing protocols in place. Parents may select for students to learn remotely.”

Eastern Peninsula — High Risk: The eastern peninsula, or Seward, had no resident cases reported by the state Wednesday for a total of 10 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.

According to the district’s Smart Start plan, at high risk, buildings are closed to students and learning is 100% remote.

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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