The Alaska State Department of Health and Social Services announced six more COVID-19 deaths and 487 new cases Wednesday.
The deaths, which included a Kenai woman in her 40s, pushed the total to 840 since the pandemic began.
COVID cases and hospitalizations have been trending downward statewide, but Alaska remained at a high COVID transmission alert level Wednesday — with an estimated rolling average of 316.6 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.
The threshold for high alert level is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people in the span of one week. Wednesday’s new case count included 11 in both Kenai and Soldotna, six in Seward, five in the Kenai Peninsula Borough South, two each in Anchor Point, Homer and the Kenai Peninsula Borough North and one in both Nikiski and Sterling.
Statewide there were 104 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Wednesday, with 11 patients on ventilators.
Health officials widely agree that vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID.
As of Wednesday, 55% of Alaskans 5 and older were fully vaccinated, and another 61% had received at least one dose. The Kenai Peninsula Borough lags behind a bit, with 46% of people 5 and older fully vaccinated and 50% with at least one shot as of Wednesday.
Pfizer is approved for everyone 5 years and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are approved for anyone 18 and older.
Pfizer and Moderna boosters and additional doses are also recommended for anyone 18 and older and six months out from their second dose. The J&J vaccine booster is recommended two months after the primary dose.
Getting a vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.
Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including Walmart, Walgreens, the Kenai Fire Department and Kenai Public Health, 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. The clinic has extended its hours to Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and opened Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 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.
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. The Seward Community Health Center is offering drive-thru testing Tuesdays only. Bring a face covering and photo ID.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.