551 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday

Alaska reached its 100th death due to pandemic this week

Alaska reached its 100th death tied to COVID-19 this week as hospital capacity inched closer to critical on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 551 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday — 549 of them being among Alaska residents and two cases among nonresidents.

Of those, 67 new cases are among residents of the peninsula, and five are residents of Homer. There were no new cases reported Wednesday for residents of Anchor Point, Fritz Creek or the rest of the southern peninsula, but the southern peninsula as a whole (from Ninilchik south) has had 92 new cases of COVID-19 over the last two weeks.

DHSS reported no new deaths on Wednesday, but the state hit 100 total deaths on Tuesday. In all, 99 Alaska residents have died with COVID-19, as has one nonresident. The person whose death was announced Tuesday was a man in his 90s whose residence was Anchorage.

The nonresident who died was hospitalized and died in Soldotna, according to state data.

Alaska’s death rate is still one of the lowest in the country, but has been on the rise.

The state has now had a cumulative total of 25,588 COVID-19 cases, 1,169 of which are nonresident cases. As of Wednesday, 549 total Alaska residents and 11 nonresidents had been hospitalized for COVID-19. Those numbers include people who have since recovered or since died.

According to data on the state’s coronavirus response hub website, there are 129 people being actively hospitalized for the illness, and another 18 who are being hospitalized for suspected cases. Alaska’s rate of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has risen to 15.1%, according to the data hub.

As of Wednesday, there were 15 people statewide on a ventilator. None of them are on the Kenai Peninsula. However, the data hub showed Wednesday that there was only one adult ICU bed left available in the Gulf Cost region that includes the peninsula, Kodiak Island, and the Valdez-Cordova Census Area. Out of the 12 total beds, 11 were occupied.

There were still 74 non-ICU beds available out of 129 in the Gulf Coast region on Wednesday. The Peninsula Clarion reported earlier this week at Central Peninsula Hospital was at capacity and had opened nine surge beds on Tuesday to make more room.

Central Peninsula Hospital was treating 15 patients for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, the Clarion reported.

South Peninsula Hospital has no currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients, but did have four hospitalizations recently, according to Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro.

DHSS has removed the number of active and recovered cases from the data hub because areas of data entry are “lagging far behind” real-time cases, according to a note on the hub website.

“We have removed the active and recovered case counts from the data hub today to prevent inaccurate or outdated information from being reported,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ann Zink explained in a Tweet on Tuesday. “… We recognize the public and may communities follow these data points closely, however, incomplete or misleading information can lead to misinformation and loss of confidence in our data.”

Of the new cases announced statewide Wednesday, there were 251 in Anchorage, 35 in Bethel, 27 in Wasilla, 26 in Kenai, 25 each in Fairbanks and Eagle River, 21 each in Soldotna and the Bethel Census Area, 11 each in Kodiak and North Pole, 10 in Chugiak, nine each in Sterling, Palmer and the Kusilvak Census Area, seven in Juneau, six each in Delta Junction and Utqiagvik, five in Homer, four in Cordova, three each in Seward and the Yakutat and Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, two each in the northern Kenai Peninsula, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Big Lake, the Mat-Su Borough and Kotzebue, and one each in Girdwood, Nikiski, Tok, Sutton-Alpine, Willow, the North Slope Borough, the Northwest Arctic Borough, Ketchikan, Sitka, the Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula Census Area, and Chevak.

Of the two new nonresident cases, one is in Anchorage and the other is unknown.

The state of Alaska has conducted a total of 885,558 COVID-19 tests so far, and has a seven-day average positivity rate of 8.26%, according to the data hub.

Testing locations on the Kenai Peninsula

Free COVID-19 tests are offered 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week at the lower level of the South Peninsula Hospital Specialty Clinic, at 4201 Bartlett Street, Homer. Testing is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26.Please use the Danview Avenue access. Tests are for those who have had recent travel out of state, have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, have new onset of any symptom related to COVID-19, or have a provider referral. See the complete list of eligible individuals at www.sphosp.org or call the COVID information line at 235-0235. Please call and pre-register before coming if and when possible.

Testing is also available through the SVT Health & Wellness clinics in Homer, Seldovia and Anchor Point. Call ahead 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.

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 Seward, testing is available at Providence Seward, Seward Community Health Center, Glacier Family Medicine and North Star Health Clinic.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.