COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State reports over 4,200 cases this week, 504 on the peninsula

Weekly COVID update

Alaska finished the week by reporting a record 735 new cases on Friday and another 656 cases on Saturday, for a total of 4,199 new cases this week.

As of Friday, Central Peninsula Hospital had conducted 9,083 tests with 8,539 negative, 520 positive and 21 pending results. CPH was also treating nine patients who were COVID-19 positive, with none of the hospital’s ventilators in use. Fifty of CPH’s total staff of approximately 1,000 were in quarantine either because they tested positive for COVID-19 or because they were identified as a close contact. Additionally, there were 17 COVID-positive residents at CPH’s Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility. Ten residents have recovered from the virus.

The state also reported 52 hospitalizations and 11 new deaths this week, for a total of 706 and 120, respectively. As of Saturday, there were 153 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alaska, including 12 who are considered persons under investigation for the disease. Twenty five of the patients are on ventilators. As of Saturday, 17.1% of all hospitalizations in Alaska were COVID-19 related.

Over the last week, the state conducted 27,518 COVID-19 tests and saw a positivity rate of 6.9%. As of Saturday, the state had conducted 999,054 tests. During the same time period, the Kenai Peninsula Borough conducted 1,676 tests and saw a positivity rate of 12.9%. To date, the borough has conducted 43,412 tests.

There were 460 cases reported by the Kenai Peninsula Borough over the past week, including 97 reported on Friday and 42 on Saturday.

Schools update

The district announced Tuesday that remote learning would be extended for central, southern and eastern peninsula schools through the end of the academic quarter on Dec. 18.

Pre-K, kindergarten and special education intensive needs students, who shifted to remote learning following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s statewide alert on Nov. 12, will be allowed to resume on-site learning on Dec. 2, with increased COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place.

After a Nov. 2 school board meeting that saw several parents, teachers and students voice their opposition to the repeated extension of remote learning, the district announced that they would be reviewing their SmartStart plan to determine how students could be brought back into school safely during high-risk levels.

KPBSD Superintendent John O’Brien said earlier this month that any new reopening plans will be sent to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for review and then to the school board for approval and adoption.

In their Tuesday announcement, the district said that an update to the SmartStart plan will be presented to the Board of Education at their Dec. 7 meeting.

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 public health and review their school decision matrix. The district’s medical advisory team now includes a mental health professional.

Small district schools, which include Susan B. English School, Cooper Landing School, Hope School, Nanwalek School, Port Graham School and Tebughna School continue to be open for on-site learning and operate at low-risk level.

During 100% remote learning, Get-It and Go meals are free for all students and can be picked up daily at school.

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 80 resident cases reported by the state Friday and 37 on Saturday for a total of 640 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. As of Friday, the central peninsula will need to lose 579 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 14 resident cases reported by the state Friday and three on Saturday for a total of 189 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. As of Friday, the southern peninsula will need to lose 170 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 Friday and two on Saturday for a total of 38 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. As of Friday, the eastern peninsula will need to lose 31 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.

This information is based on data reported by Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services between Nov. 21 and Nov. 28.

More in News

Kenai City Hall on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai passes voucher program to boost small business

The $350,000 program is dubbed “Shop Here all Year in Kenai”

Image via Kenai Peninsula School District
Eastern peninsula students to return full time on Monday

Includes Seward Elementary, Seward Middle, Seward High and Moose Pass schools,

Kenai Peninsula Borough Superintendent John O’Brien (courtesy photo)
School board to interview superintendent candidates

The new superintendent, who will replace Superintendent John O’Brien, will begin serving on July 1.

Protesters march for women’s rights in Juneau in 2020. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, announced a bipartisan bill Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 to move forward the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, granting equal legal protection to the sexes, stalled in its ratification stage since 1972. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Murkowski co-sponsors bipartisan bill to affirm ratification of Equal Rights Amendment

Stalled since 1972, the ERA would guarantee equal legal protection to all sexes.

Volunteers Bill Kelley and Frank Alioto prepare bags of food to be distributed during the upcoming Project Homeless Connect even at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Soldotna, Alaska on Jan. 23, 2021. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
A community effort

Volunteers prepare for Project Homeless Connect

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)
CPH treating no COVID patients; more than 70,000 vaccinated

Central Peninsula Hospital was treating no patients who were COVID-positive for the first time in months

Retired school nurse Tracy Silta adminsters the COVID-19 vaccine to Raymond Schoessler at the Soldotna Prep School in Soldotna, Alaska on Jan. 23, 2021. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Hundreds vaccinated in central pen clinics

The vaccine is currently available to front-line health care workers and residents over the age of 65.

Soldotna Prep School is pictured on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 in Soldotna, Alaska. The school was recently shuttered and classes combined with Soldotna High School. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Prep lease authorized for Boys and Girls Clubs

The short-term lease will last for the rest of the school year and continue on a month-to-month basis

Most Read