For the third week in a row, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported no new deaths from COVID-19 in its report from last Wednesday, June 8. Statewide and locally, case rates have increased, however.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention risk level for the Kenai Peninsula Borough remains at medium or yellow.
South Peninsula Hospital recorded 88 positive cases at its facilities for the week of June 8-14, a jump of 33 cases over last week, according to an email from SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro.
Starting July 1 at its Bartlett Street testing and vaccine clinic, SPH will no longer be open on weekends, and the hospital will bill insurance companies for tests.
Effective July 1, the hours of operation of the SPH Test and Vaccine Clinic at 4201 Bartlett Street will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and closed on weekends. PCR COVID-19 testing will be offered at the walk-up clinic, no appointment necessary. Insurance will be billed for testing. Those uninsured or not using insurance will be charged $50, and can pay at time of service or be billed. Test results will be provided on the hospital’s electronic health portal, and are normally available within 24 hours.
Testing is recommended for individuals experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, for those with known exposure to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, for travel requirements, with a provider referral and in advance of medical appointments. In addition to the PCR testing offered at the hospital’s walk-up clinic, free home-test kits are available at the hospital’s main entrance 24/7, at the Homer Chamber of Commerce, and for purchase at numerous local retailers.
According to an email from Ferraro, this is just one step in operationalizing COVID-19.
“With the expiration of Alaska’s public health emergency at the end of this month, the reduction of free test supplies, and ample access in our community to treatment, vaccines and PPE, it is time to shift away from emergency response and incorporate COVID-19 response into our regular health-care offerings,” she wrote. “Adjusting the schedule and delivery of services is necessary to ensure sustainability of the service.”
COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be offered for free through June at the site on Bartlett Street, and effective July 1 vaccines will be offered on Thursdays and Fridays by appointment only. Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are available for individuals ages five and over, and boosters are offered to eligible groups as recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and as made available by FDA under emergency use authorizations.
In addition to the stand-alone clinic on Bartlett Street, both COVID-19 testing and vaccinations are offered by appointment at Homer Medical Center and the hospital’s Family Care Clinic. For more information on SPH Covid-19 services and care, visit www.sphosp.org and click on the covid tab, or call 907-235-0235.
Over the last week, SPH had 11 new ER visits and two new admissions of patients with COVID-19.
The positivity rate increased, according to the SPH report, with 499 new tests done, of which 88 were positive, an 18% positivity rate, up from last week’s 13% positivity rate.
The Alaska death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic remains at 1,252 resident deaths.
The hospital’s Bartlett Street Vaccine and Testing Clinic 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 www.sphosp.org. Vaccines and second boosters are offered on Sundays and Mondays. Because of the increased demand for second boosters, appointments are strongly encouraged.
For the latest report on June 8 for the period of June 1-7, the state reported 2,226 new resident COVID-19 cases and 493 new nonresident cases. Ten of the nonresident cases were for Homer and 404 were at sea for tourists.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html#anchor_82254 shows the risk levels by county using metrics like numbers of people hospitalized and staffing levels. According to that link, the Kenai Peninsula Borough remains in the medium-risk or yellow 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 at high risk for severe illness should talk to healthcare providers about if they need to wear a mask or 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, June 1-7:
Alert level: High (KPB)
New total tests: 499 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)
New positive tests: 88
Test positivity rate: 18%
New COVID-related Emergency Room visits: 11
New COVID hospitalizations: 2
Monoclonal antibody infusions: 2
Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, June 1-7): 635 per 100,000 or 89 actual; high alert level
Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, June 1-7): 140 per 100,000 or 52 actual; high alert level
Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, June 1-7): 176 per 100,000 or nine actual; high alert level
New peninsula deaths: 0
Cumulative deaths: 27 residents (12 in Homer, 10 in Anchor Point, five in Kenai Peninsula South)
State numbers, June 1
Alert level: High, 305.39 per 100,000
New cases: 2,226 residents, 493 nonresidents
Kenai Peninsula cases (June 1-7): Homer, 74; Kenai, 14; Soldotna, 26; Seward, 9; Anchor Point, 6; Nikiski, 1; Kenai Peninsula South, 7; Kenai Peninsula North, 9; Sterling, 2; Fritz Creek, 2.
Cumulative cases: 2535,425 residents and 10,216 nonresidents
Total hospitalizations: 3,767 (no new hospitalizations)
Current hospitalizations: 45 confirmed positive
Patients on ventilators: 1
Hospitalization rate: 3.7%
State cumulative deaths: 1,252 residents, 33 nonresidents
Vaccination information: 72.4% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 65.3% of eligible Alaskans have completed a full vaccination series.
Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.
Through June 30, the SPH COVID-19 testing 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).