A poll worker is seen disinfecting a voting booth at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 3 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A poll worker is seen disinfecting a voting booth at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 3 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Virus hits home

A look back at COVID in 2020

Alaska’s first case of COVID-19 was reported on March 12, 2020 in Anchorage. The first cases on the peninsula emerged later that month. On Dec. 31, 2020, 46,986 cases had been reported statewide, including 3,267 on the Kenai Peninsula. The virus has killed 205 Alaska residents, including 16 from the Kenai Peninsula. The first death of an Alaskan was reported on March 24 in Washington.

Mid-November saw a surge in COVID statewide. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate peaked on Nov. 17 at 9.36%. On Dec. 5, the state reported a record daily case increase of 933 statewide, including 908 residents and 25 nonresidents.

The borough broke a record on Nov. 13, when it reported a daily case increase of 90, affecting nearly every borough community. On the same day, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District announced the extension of 100% remote learning for 34 schools through the end of the month. Most district students were learning 100% remotely due to high COVID case counts in the community for the entire second academic quarter.

More than 1.2 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Alaska, including more than 50,000 on the Kenai Peninsula. South Peninsula Hospital has conducted more than 15,000 tests and Central Peninsula Hospital has conducted more than 10,000.

Like many hospitals throughout the country, Central Peninsula Hospital bore the brunt of the COVID-19 in its community. More than once, the hospital was forced to surge into overflow spaces to accommodate the number of patients they were treating. CPH also faced staffing issues due to workers having to quarantine. As of Dec. 31, CPH was treating six patients who were COVID-positive, with none on ventilators.

The hospital has also been proactive in administering the COVID-19 vaccine over the past weeks. The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Alaska on Dec. 14 and on the Kenai Peninsula on Dec. 16. The hospital held its first vaccination clinic for eligible health care personnel on Dec. 18, where 112 people were vaccinated. This included 11 residents and 17 staff at CPH’s Heritage Place Skilled nursing facility, which experienced an outbreak that saw more than half of all residents test positive.

As of Jan. 1, 13,722 initial vaccine doses had been administered in Alaska, including about 12,500 of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine and about 1,300 of Moderna’s vaccine, according to the state Vaccine Monitoring Dashboard. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced on Dec. 31 that the state would be receiving 52,900 more initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the month of January. This includes 27,300 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and 25,600 of Moderna’s. Allocations for the Indian Health Service are included in the new numbers.

Worldwide, almost 85 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported as of Jan. 1, according to John Hopkins University. More than 20 million of those were in the United States.

The pandemic also saw an influx in money sent to the state and to municipalities via the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which signed into law on March 27, 2020 and is the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history. Included in the CARES Act was the Coronavirus Relief Fund, via which the State of Alaska received $1.25 billion. The Kenai Peninsula Borough received $37,458,449.47. The federal government extended the deadline by which CARES Act dollars must be spent last week to Dec. 31, 2021. This gives municipalities more time to figure out what they are going to do with their leftover funds.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

Mollie Kirk and her daughter, Peyton, pose for a photo from kindergarten teacher Cynthia Fudzinski on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, at Mountain View Elementary School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Mollie Kirk and her daughter, Peyton, pose for a photo from kindergarten teacher Cynthia Fudzinski on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, at Mountain View Elementary School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski High School seniors Hamilton “Hammie” Cox, left, and Martin Cox III, right, smile for the camera during the 2020 Nikiski High School Graduation Commencement Ceremony in Nikiski, Alaska on May 19, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski High School seniors Hamilton “Hammie” Cox, left, and Martin Cox III, right, smile for the camera during the 2020 Nikiski High School Graduation Commencement Ceremony in Nikiski, Alaska on May 19, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers distribute bags of food for Soldotna Residents thanks to a grant program from the city at the Soldotna United Methodist Church on Oct. 14, 2020. From left: Cosette Kilfoyle, Director of the Soldotna Food Pantry; Sandy Sandoval and Leroy Sandoval, Food Bank Volunteers; Kathy Carson, member of Christ Lutheran Church. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers distribute bags of food for Soldotna Residents thanks to a grant program from the city at the Soldotna United Methodist Church on Oct. 14, 2020. From left: Cosette Kilfoyle, Director of the Soldotna Food Pantry; Sandy Sandoval and Leroy Sandoval, Food Bank Volunteers; Kathy Carson, member of Christ Lutheran Church. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

The 2022 graduating class of River City Academy celebrates Tuesday, May 17, 2022, outside of Skyview Middle School just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
River City Academy says goodbye to 19 grads, 2 original staff members

Tuesday’s graduation was the last for two staff members who have been with the school since its beginning

Lawmakers from both bodies of the Alaska State Legislature mingle in the halls of the Alaska State Capitol on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, the last day of the legislative session, following the Senate’s passing of the state’s budget bill. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Senate agrees to budget, House has until midnight

With hours left in session, House members remain divided

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly OKs new tax exemptions for independent power producers

The ordinance was brought forth in response to a proposed solar farm on the Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Central High School graduates throw caps at the end of their commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Make a great life’

Kenai Central High School graduates more than 75 students

A black bear gets into a bird feeder in April 2005 at Long Lake, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
Watch out for bears, moose

Take precautions to keep attractants away from bears and give moose and calves space

Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank, left, and Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander present during a budget work session on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Flat mill rate, sales tax included in Kenai budget proposal

The budget proposal is subject to final approval by the Kenai City Council

t
Senate effectively kills restrictive transgender sports bill

Bipartisan group of senators votes to table controversial bill

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, chair of the bicameral conference committee tasked with hammering out differences in the state’s budget bill, signs the committee report as members finished their work on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Committee compromises on PFD in budget plan

Members of the conference committee agreed Tuesday to a payment of about $3,800

Most Read