Signs on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at the main entrance to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska, warn visitors not to enter until they have been met by hospital staff. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Signs on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at the main entrance to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska, warn visitors not to enter until they have been met by hospital staff. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

New cases announced in Homer, Anchor Point

One case is from community transmission, the other still under investigation

Friday update:

Of the two new cases of COVID-19 announced yesterday on the southern Kenai Peninsula, one is a Homer woman and the other is an Anchor Point man.

Data on the state’s COVID-19 information website shows that Homer now has three cases of the disease attributed to people who live there, while Anchor Point has two. Of the Homer cases, only two are actually within the Homer community. The other was a Homer resident who was tested and isolated in Anchorage.

Of the two Anchor Point cases, only one is a case actually within that community. That community’s first case was that of an Anchor Point man in his 30s who died from the disease while outside of the state.

Homer’s unified command announced Thursday that, of the two new cases, one patient is being hospitalized and one is at home. Data on the state COVID-19 website shows that the person being hospitalized is a man aged 80 or older, while the person who is not being hospitalized is a woman in the age 60-69 range.

The Homer News has identified the Homer case as a woman age 64. She asked that her name not be used for medical privacy reasons. Homer Public Health Nurses have already conducted their initial interview with the woman and have begun contact tracing. Both she and people she had contact with will quarantine for 14 days. The woman has been in Homer since the pandemic started.

The woman said she has been on work furlough since mid-March, and other than trips for groceries, has stayed isolated at her apartment. She wore a face mask while shopping, and has been washing her hands and using sanitizer, she said. The woman said she believes she contracted the disease from within the community.

The woman was tested at South Peninsula Hospital earlier this week after developing symptoms. She is now recovering at home.

Original story:

The Alaska State Public Health Laboratory reported two new positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday that were identified through testing at South Peninsula Hospital.

Statewide, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services announced no new COVID-19 cases for Wednesday.

According to a Thursday press release from the City of Homer’s unified command, one of the cases is still under investigation. The other case involved community transmission, meaning it was contracted within the Homer area. This is the first community transmission case identified through South Peninsula Hospital. Both patients were tested “earlier this week” at the hospital.

Of the two patients, one is currently being hospitalized and one is in their home, according to the release.

“There is no information indicating these cases are related,” the release states.

It was not immediately clear if both cases are actually from Homer, or in other communities on the southern Kenai Peninsula. The South Peninsula Hospital service area includes areas the peninsula from Ninilchik south. The Homer News has requested more information regarding these two new cases, including the dates they were tested, which communities they are located in and where the hospitalized patient is being treated. South Peninsula Hospital Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro said there was no additional information at this time.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

This makes five total cases attributed to residents of the southern Kenai Peninsula. Before now, Homer had only one case of a person within the community, and one case of a Homer resident who was treated and isolated in Anchorage. One Anchor Point man in his 30s died from the disease while out of state.

Nurses with Homer Public Health are conducting investigations into both of the new cases, and will notify anyone who had significant contact with either person. The nurses will provide instructions for quarantine, self isolation and getting tested if necessary.

“This reinforces the importance for all individuals to do their part to prevent the spread, especially as more businesses and services reopen their doors and we start spending more time together,” Homer Public Health nurse Lorne Carroll is quoted as saying in the press release. “The individual actions of each one of us are important to prevent, slow and disrupt the spread of the virus, both in our community and across Alaska. Alaskans proved over the last month that our individual behaviors can keep each other healthy and save lives. We must not lose sight of that.”

While South Peninsula Hospital has two new positive cases, DHSS reported the state had no new cases reported on Wednesday. The South Peninsula Hospital cases bring the state’s total number of cases to 357, but those will be included in tomorrow’s official count on the state’s COVID-19 website, coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com.

As of Thursday, the state reports that 252 Alaskans have recovered from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. There have been a total of 36 hospitalizations of people with confirmed cases of COVID-19, but there are 19 people who are currently being hospitalized, according to state numbers. Those are people either with a confirmed case of the disease or who have not yet tested positive but are showing symptoms.

There have been no new deaths of Alaska residents associated with the disease. That total number is still nine.

As of Wednesday, the state has conducted 19,562 tests for COVID-19, according to the state website data.

The 357 cases are spread across 25 different communities in Alaska. In the Municipality of Anchorage, 159 cases have been identified in Anchorage, six in Chugiak, 11 in Eagle River and three in Girdwood. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 63 cases have been identified in Fairbanks, 17 in North Pole, and one in an unidentified community. In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, nine cases have been identified in Palmer and 12 in Wasilla. In the Southeast, Juneau has 27 cases, Ketchikan has 16, Petersburg has four, Craig has two and Sitka has one. Kodiak, Delta Junction, Nome, Bethel and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area each have one case. Cases within communities with fewer than 1,000 people are included in the counts for their borough or census area.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough now has 21 positive cases, with one from Anchor Point, two from Homer, four from Kenai, three from Seward, six from Soldotna and three from Sterling. Sixteen out of the 19 cases on the peninsula have recovered. The two new cases announced Thursday have not yet been attributed to a specific community.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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