2 more die of COVID-19 on southern peninsula

Latest deaths were reported following death certificate reviews.

Two more Southern Kenai Peninsula people have been reported to have died of COVID-19, according to last Wednesday’s March 2 release from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. A Homer woman in her 60s and a man 80 or older from the Kenai Peninsula South region were among the 28 deaths reported last week.

That brings the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic on the south peninsula to 25. Two more peninsula deaths also were reported, a Soldotna man in his 60s and a Soldotna woman age 80 or older. The number of Alaskans who died during the pandemic is now 1,158. DHSS reports deaths every Wednesday following death certificate reviews, but it does not report when the deaths happened.

Locally, the positivity rate of tests dropped to 3% compared to 8% last week.

For the latest report on March 7 for March 4-6, the state reported 457 new resident COVID-19 cases and six nonresident cases, a drop in cases compared to last week.

Although South Peninsula Hospital now offers COVID-19 vaccines on just Sunday and Monday, that did not lead to a dramatic drop in vaccinations, SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro wrote in an email. Nineteen vaccines were given for the period from March 3-8.

“It seems the shift of offering vaccines only two days a week, on Sunday and Monday, has worked,” she wrote. “The number of vaccines done this past week stayed consistent with the prior two weeks of 29 and 27. We are happy the community was able to embrace this change.”

Ferraro also wrote that there are plenty of supplies of Sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody approved for the omicron variant. Staffing levels and personal-protective equipment supplies also are good.

A CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html#anchor_82254 shows the risk levels by county. According to that link, the Kenai Peninsula Borough remains in the medium-risk category.

DHSS encourages Alaskans to get vaccinated and to get booster shots, noting that it is the single most important action that can be taken to protect yourself and your community.

Southern Kenai Peninsula numbers, Feb. 24-March 1:

Alert level: High

New total tests: 326 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)

New positive tests: 10

Test positivity rate: 3%

New COVID-related Emergency Room visits: 4

New COVID hospitalizations: 0

Monoclonal antibody infusions: 1

Vaccinations: 19

Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, March 3-8): 121 per 100,000 or 17 actual; high alert level

Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, March 3-8): 237 per 100,000 or 88 actual; high alert level

Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, March 3-8): 176 per 100,000 or nine actual; high alert level

New peninsula deaths: 4

Cumulative deaths: 25 residents (11 in Homer, 10 in Anchor Point, four in Kenai Peninsula South)

Vaccination information: 76.1% of Homer’s population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 71.1% of eligible residents have completed a full vaccination series. In Anchor Point, 51.4% have received a first dose and 47.6% are fully vaccinated. In the other Kenai Peninsula south, 25.4% have received a first dose and 23% are fully vaccinated.

School cases: Chapman School, 1; Fireweed Academy, 0; Homer Flex School, 0; Homer High School, 0; Homer Middle School, 0; McNeil Canyon, 0; Paul Banks Elementary, 0; West Homer Elementary, 0; small communities (census regions less than 1,000), 0.

State numbers, March 7

Alert level: High, 225.4 per 100,000

New cases: 463 residents, 6 nonresidents

Kenai Peninsula cases (Feb. 24-March 2): Homer, 12; Kenai, 32; Soldotna, 37; Seward, 9; Anchor Point, 1; Nikiski, 8; Kenai Peninsula South, 3; Kenai Peninsula North, 4; Sterling, 10; Fritz Creek, 1.

Cumulative cases: 233,394 residents and 7,862 nonresidents

Total hospitalizations: 3,654 (one new hospitalizations)

Current hospitalizations: 66 confirmed positive, four suspected positive

Patients on ventilators: 3

Hospitalization rate: 4.6%

State cumulative deaths: 1,158 residents, 33 nonresidents

Vaccination information: 64.6% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 59.2% of eligible Alaskans have completed a full vaccination series.

Testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

The SPH COVID-19 testing and vaccine clinic is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at its Bartlett Street site. Testing is for people with symptoms, traveling, for pre-procedure screening and for exposure six days after exposure of after being at social gatherings. Test results can be accessed on the SPH patient portal within 24 hours.

SVT Health & Wellness offers testing at its three SVT Health & Wellness locations: 880 East End Road, Homer (226-2228); 72351 Milo Fritz Ave., Anchor Point (226-2238), and 206 Main Street, Seldovia (907-435-3262).

Where to get vaccinated

Following current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for anyone who is six months or more after their initial series of the Pfizer or Moderna series and are age 18 and older or anyone who is at least two months after their Janssen vaccine.

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be given 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today-Monday. As of March 1, vaccines will only be given 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and Mondays.

Vaccines also are offered by appointment at Homer Medical Clinic and the SPH Family Care Clinic. For more information at the Bartlett Street clinic, talk to your doctor or call 235-0235 for additional information. To make appointments, call 235-8586.

To make appointments at the South Peninsula Family Care Clinic, call 235-0900. The Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen vaccines are offered.

Safeway – Homer, 90 Sterling Highway, offers clinics Monday-Friday by appointment or walk-ins. Call 226-1060 for appointments. The Moderna vaccine is available Monday-Friday by walk-in or appointment. The Pfizer vaccine is available daily for ages 12 and older by walk-in or appointment.

Ninilchik Clinic, 15765 Kingsley Road, Ninilchik offers Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment. Call 907-567-3970.

SVT Health & Wellness offers Moderna and Pfizer by appointment for established medical patients of the three SVT Health & Wellness locations: 880 East End Road, Homer (226-2228); 72351 Milo Fritz Ave., Anchor Point (226-2238), and 206 Main Street, Seldovia (907-435-3262).

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.