Sound Publishing file photo

Sound Publishing file photo

Voices of the Peninsula: Too little COVID testing on the Kenai

Limited testing means dangerous decisions.

  • Saturday, August 15, 2020 6:54pm
  • Opinion

As my husband and I consider in-person school for our daughter, we came across some alarming information: if the data reported from the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB) and the state is true, we are being kept in the dark about the spread of COVID in our community.

Not enough testing is being done. Limited testing means dangerous decisions. While Alaska is doing a respectable job of testing overall, that effort excludes the Kenai Peninsula — particularly the central peninsula. The testing done here is insufficient, below any target using basic mitigation methodology.

The KPB has about 1/12th of the state’s population. However, it has only generated about 1/27th of the COVID testing. As of Sunday, 277,919 tests have been done in Alaska, 10,257 from the KPB.

This should be concerning.

It means as parents, we are unable to make informed decisions about school and other matters. According to the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), the center that developed the methodology for making these numbers make sense in our communities, the KPB needs to generate at least 335 tests a day.

That would give us a sufficient amount of data needed to discern community spread, and thus, impel safety. The extrapolated information would also satisfy inquiries about the opening of school. Unfortunately, according to the DHSS COVID data hub, we are only generating about 72 tests a day (average for a two-week period), and most of those are from the Homer area.

In comparison, Anchorage and Juneau are generating a sufficient number of COVID tests (around target .0056 of population). Having accurate data enables leaders to make decisions that will keep the community out of harm’s way.

Where are our leaders hiding to ensure enough testing so that we may make informed decisions as parents? We call on the Borough Mayor and the Borough Assembly, Rick Davis, the CEO of the hospital we own, and other health leaders in the community to steer us in the right direction for a safe community.

We call on our superintendent to make sound decisions that affect the lives of so many children and adults in the community.

— Angie Clark , Soldotna

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