Case rates doubles for southern peninsula

Fifteen Alaskans reported dead of COVID-19.

Fifteen more Alaskans have been reported dead of COVID-19, according to a data summary last Wednesday, May 11, from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. None of them were from the Kenai Peninsula. A Seward woman in her 70s is the only Kenai Peninsula person reported to have died.

The case rate for Homer doubled over the last week, from 21 to 42 postive cases.

South Peninsula Hospital recorded 45 positive cases at its facilities for the week of May 11-17, according to SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro. DHSS releases its weekly data summary late on Wednesday afternoon, too late for press, while the hospital provides more recent information on Wednesday morning.

SPH had four new ER visits but no admissions of patients with COVID-19.

The number of tests and the positivity rate increased, according to the SPH report, with 414 new tests done, of which 45 were positive, an 11% positivity rate.

However, Homer has better access to testing, and residents may be more proactive about getting tested if they have symptoms, so comparisons with other areas may not be accurate.

The Alaska death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic now stands at 1,235 resident deaths. DHSS has gone to a weekly reporting schedule, with data summaries every Wednesday.

The hospital’s Bartlett Street Vaccine and Testing Clinic now offers second boosters of mRNA vaccines to adults age 50 or older, people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, or people who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for their first shot and booster. People should talk to their health-care providers for advice on if and when they should get the second booster. For full information on eligibility and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance, visit Vaccines and second boosters are offered on Sundays and Mondays. Because of the increased demand for second boosters, appointments are strongly encouraged.

Because the BA2 variant is becoming more common, SPH now offers the Bebtelovimab monoclonal antibody infusion, the only MAB available under an emergency use authorization. Supplies of Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment, are now available in Homer.

For the latest report on May 11 for the period of May 4-10, the state reported 1,525 new resident COVID-19 cases and 104 new nonresident cases. Two of those nonresident cases were for Homer.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at shows the risk levels by county using metrics like numbers of people hospitalized and staffing levels. According to that link, the Kenai Peninsula Borough is in the low-risk or green category. At this level, CDC recommends people stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms. People may choose to wear facemasks at any time, and people with symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask. People at high risk for severe illnes should talk to healthcare providers about whether or not they should wear a mask and take other precautions.

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, May 11-17:

Alert level: High (KPB)

New total tests: 414 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)

New positive tests: 45

Test positivity rate: 11%

New COVID-related Emergency Room visits: 8

New COVID hospitalizations: 0

Monoclonal antibody infusions: 4

Vaccinations: 66

Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, May 11-17): 350 per 100,000 or 49 actual; high alert level

Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, May 11-17): 135 per 100,000 or 50 actual; high alert level

Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, May 11-17): 78 per 100,000 or four actual; substantial alert level

New peninsula deaths: 1 (Seward)

Cumulative deaths: 26 residents (11 in Homer, 10 in Anchor Point, five in Kenai Peninsula South)

Vaccination information: 76.4% of Homer’s population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 71.4% of eligible residents have completed a full vaccination series. In Anchor Point, 51.7% have received a first dose and 47.8% are fully vaccinated. In the other Kenai Peninsula south, 25.5% have received a first dose and 23.3% are fully vaccinated.

School cases: Chapman School, 0; Fireweed Academy, 0; Homer Flex School, 0; Homer High School, 1; Homer Middle School, 0; McNeil Canyon, 0; Paul Banks Elementary, 0; West Homer Elementary, 0; small communities (census regions less than 1,000), 2.

State numbers, May 11

Alert level: High, 209.22 per 100,000

New cases: 1,525 residents, 104 nonresidents

Kenai Peninsula cases (May 11-17): Homer, 42; Kenai, 28; Soldotna, 12; Seward, 4; Anchor Point, 3; Nikiski, 1; Kenai Peninsula South, 3; Kenai Peninsula North, 6; Sterling, 3; Fritz Creek, 1.

Cumulative cases: 247,865 residents and 8,222 nonresidents

Total hospitalizations: 3,754 (one new hospitalizations)

Current hospitalizations: 33 confirmed positive

Patients on ventilators: 0

Hospitalization rate: 2.7%

State cumulative deaths: 1,220 residents, 33 nonresidents

Vaccination information: 71.8% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 64.7% 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. Sundays and Mondays. Because of increased demand, appointments are recommended.

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).