COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State reports 8 new COVID deaths, cases up in Kenai-Soldotna area

The Alaska Department of Health reported Wednesday that 78 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19. Eleven of these patients are on a ventilator. This is an increase from last week, when DOH reported that 86 patients were hospitalized. At that time, 10 patients were reported to be on a ventilator.

According to state data, as of Wednesday five patients were hospitalized in the Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak and the Chugach census area. This is down from seven last week.

Eight new Alaska resident deaths were reported by the state this week, though these are reported in batches and are not updated weekly. These deaths ranged from April to July and included four residents of Anchorage, two from Fairbanks and one each from Ketchikan and Wasilla. The last update was two weeks ago, when 21 deaths were confirmed, spanning mostly from May to July of this year.

Due to the widespread availability of at-home COVID testing, officials say hospitalization and recent death data is a more effective indicator of the spread of the virus than case counts.

For the period of Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2,435 new COVID-19 cases were reported, with 1,684 being Alaska residents. The number of statewide cases is up from last week, when officials reported 2,103 new cases for the period of Aug. 10 to Aug. 16.

For the most recent week, 185 cases were reported between Kenai, Soldotna and Nikiski, a sharp increase from 100 cases reported in the same area last week. Homer had 24 new cases and Seward had 13.

Officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines to minimize the infection’s impact on communities. At this point, anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a primary vaccination series and everyone 5 and up can receive a booster.

Everyone 50 or older is eligible for a second booster. The second booster is also available to certain individuals who are immunocompromised. Boosters are recommended whether or not a person has already contracted the virus.

As of Wednesday, 67.7% of Alaskans have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 28.2% have received the first booster. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, only 23.4% of residents are up to date on their COVID vaccination, according to state data.

Officials recommend that Americans get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and boosters. The FDA has said the Johnson & Johnson shot should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or who specifically request it.

For more information on vaccine eligibility, visit https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/covid-19/vaccineinfo.aspx.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DOH’s COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

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