COVID-19. (Image courtesy the CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy the CDC)

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Homer, elsewhere

Homer’s tally of COVID-19 cases continues to grow along with that of other cities and towns, as the state announced 20 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus on Wednesday.

The 20 new cases bring Alaska’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 696. There are also 82 cumulative cases of nonresidents with the illness in Alaska, with the majority of them being seafood industry workers.

The new cases announced Wednesday represent cases that were reported to the state on Tuesday. According to data on the state’s coronavirus response hub website, six of the new cases reported Wednesday are in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, four are in the Municipality of Anchorage, two are on the Kenai Peninsula, two are in the Matanuska-Sustina Borough, and one case each is in the Wrangell City and Borough, North Slope Borough, Sitka City and Borough, Kodiak Island Borough, Juneau City and Borough and Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

Out of Alaska’s 696 total cases, 246 of those cases are active and 438 people have recovered so far, according to data on the coronavirus response hub.

So far, there have been 12 deaths of Alaska residents associated with COVID-19, and 55 total cumulative hospitalizations of people with confirmed cases. That number includes people who have since died or have since recovered and gone home. As of Wednesday, there were 23 people actively being hospitalized, either with confirmed cases of COVID-19 or suspected cases.

Homer itself is up to 34 total cases of COVID-19, the most of any city on the Kenai Peninsula. Twenty-one of those cases are active, while 13 people have recovered. The peninsula has a cumulative total of 115 cases, the second-highest number after the Municipality of Anchorage. The Fairbanks North Star Borough has the third most cases with 102.

On the peninsula, the majority of people (57) have recovered, while 56 cases are still active.

The COVID-19 case breakdown on the peninsula is as follows: 34 in Homer, 27 on the southern Kenai Peninsula in communities with fewer than 1,000 people, 16 in Soldotna, 14 in Kenai, eight in Anchor Point, five in Nikiski, four in Seward, three each in Sterling and Fritz Creek, and one on the northern peninsula in a community of less than 1,000 people.

The state uses the boundaries of the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area to separate the north peninsula from the south. A map of the service area boundaries can be viewed on the Kenai Peninsula Borough website at kpb.us/rds-service-area/about-rds/261-borough/gis/printable-maps/661-hospital-service-areas. Seldovia is not in the hospital service area, but is included as an “other” community of the South Kenai Peninsula in DHSS reporting.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services began separating cases in the “other” category used for people in small communities of less than 1,000 people after requests from the City of Homer, the Homer News and area residents to make the category more specific.

Statewide, more than 77,700 COVID-19 tests have been performed since the arrival of the virus, according to the state data hub. Locally, South Peninsula Hospital has conducted 3,225 total tests as of Wednesday, according to hospital Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro. Of those, 2,999 tests have come back negative so far and 163 are still pending. The hospital has had 63 total positive test results so far.

SVT Health & Wellness, the group of clinics owned and operated by Seldovia Village Tribe, has performed 490 tests so far, with 478 of those coming back negative, according to the clinic website on Wednesday. One test result is still pending and SVT Health & Wellness has identified 11 positive cases so far.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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