Alaska ended another week breaking its own records for daily COVID-19 cases, with the state’s Department of Health and Social Services reporting 504 cases on Friday and another 604 on Saturday. Altogether, 2,951 cases were reported this week.
The state also reported 46 new hospitalizations and two additional deaths this week, for a cumulative total of 478 and 84, respectively. On Saturday, the number of concurrent COVID-19 hospitalizations reached 100 patients for the first time. Another 10 currently hospitalized patients are suspected of having COVID. Eight of the hospitalized COVID patients are on ventilators. As of Saturday, 9.9% of all hospitalizations statewide are COVID-related.
At this time last week, there were 76 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, as well as 18 under investigation for the disease, with six of those patients on ventilators.
Statewide testing information was unavailable on Friday and Saturday. DHSS spokesperson Clinton Bennett said in an email to the Clarion Saturday that the data team temporarily disabled the testing dashboard to troubleshoot a problem with the data, which is anticipated to be fixed by “early next week.”
As of Thursday, Nov. 5, 781,826 COVID-19 tests had been conducted statewide for a seven-day positivity rate of 7.15%.
There were 208 new COVID-19 cases identified on the Kenai Peninsula this week, including 50 reported on Saturday alone. The region’s 14-day average case rate is currently higher than the statewide rate. The Kenai Peninsula is reporting an average of 56 cases per day per 100,000 people compared to 55 cases per day per 100,000 statewide.
In response to the ongoing increase in cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced at a press conference on Friday that he would be extending the statewide emergency declaration — which is set to expire on Nov. 15 — for another 30 days. Alaska’s Legislature must convene in order to extend the emergency declaration beyond 30 days.
This information is based on data reported by Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services between Oct. 31 and Nov. 7.
School risk levels
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.
In determining whether to reopen a school to on-site learning, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and their Medical Advisory Team analyze 14-day positive case counts and the seven-day positivity trend, consult with medical providers and review their school decision matrix.
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.
Central Peninsula — High Risk: The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had 27 resident cases reported by the state Friday and 44 cases on Saturday, for a total of 405 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.
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 nine resident cases reported by the state Friday and another four on Saturday, for a total of 41 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. 13. As of Thursday, the southern peninsula would need to lose 14 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 one resident case reported by the state Friday and two cases on Saturday, for a total of 16 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. 13.
Eastern peninsula schools include Moose Pass School, Seward Elementary, Seward High School and Seward Middle School.
Testing locations on the 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.