(Black Press file image)

(Black Press file image)

COVID-19 cases decline slightly

No new southern Kenai Peninsula deaths reported.

No new COVID-19 deaths were reported last week for the southern Kenai Peninsula, and though the area remains in high alert status, according to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s dashboard, the seven-day case rate dropped from 98 news cases earlier to 63 for the last week.

For the reporting period of Oct. 4, on Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 835 new residents tested positive for COVID-19 and 36 new nonresident cases, for a total of 113,857 resident cases and 4,941 nonresident cases. Three people were reported to have died of COVID-19: a Soldotna man in his 70s, an Anchorage woman in her 40s and a Northwest Arctic Borough man in his 70s. That brings the death total to 561. Since last Wednesday, 19 more Alaskans were reported to have died of COVID-19,

There has been a total of 2,465 Alaskans hospitalized with COVID-19, with 12 new hospitalizations reported for Monday. Currently, 194 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and 14 considered persons under investigation are hospitalized, with 37 on ventilators. The percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is 17.4%. The testing rate is 9.86%.

According to the state’s dashboard, the seven-day rolling COVID-19 case average has dropped from a peak last week of 1,273,6 per 100,000 people to 855.12 per 100,000 on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, 58.3% of Alaska residents 12 and older were fully vaccinated. The Kenai Peninsula Borough falls below that average, reporting that almost half of its eligible residents — 48.9% — had received their full dose series. In the Homer area, 63.7% are fully vaccinated. In Anchor Point, 42.8% are fully vaccinated and in the other Kenai Peninsula South area only 20.1% are vaccinated.

South Peninsula Hospital has done 710 COVID-19 tests with 49 positive for the week of Sept. 30 to Oct. 5, hospital Public Information Officer and Director of Marketing Derotha Ferraro wrote in a text on Wednesday. That’s a 7% positivity rate. In the same time period there were eight COVID-19 related visits to the emergency department out of 94 total visits. In the same time period, three new COVID-19 patients were admitted. The hospital did 38 outpatient monoclonal antibody infusions and administered 183 new vaccinations, with 54 given to health care workers. Of all staff, 67% are fully vaccinated.

In an email, Ferraro wrote that the hospital has signed on to adopt the Patient Care Strategies for Scarce Resource Situations, the criteria Alaska hospitals have adopted to manage crisis care when there are shortages of staff or resources because of the increased demand for treating COVID-19 patients. However, Ferraro noted that SPH has not yet had to implement those strategies.

“We supported the state adoption of this document in a unified response to the increased need for health care statewide, and to have a framework we all could utilize,” Ferraro wrote. “We would use this as guidance if needed. Our medical staff ethics committee is reviewing and will activate components only if and as needed, but it us not necessary at SPH at this time.”

At South Peninsula Hospital, because of the level of community spread of COVID-19, visitors are not allowed except for those with appointments. Long Term Care is open to approved visitors by appointment. One designated visitor per patient per stay is permitted for pediatric patients, obstetric patients, surgery patients and end of life care.

Testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

Testing is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the SPH COVID-19 clinic on Bartlett Street for people with symptoms, traveling, for pre-procedure screening and for exposure six days after exposure of after being at social gatherings.

SVT Health & Wellness offers testing to anyone 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

South Peninsula Hospital continues to offer walk-in vaccines daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 4201 Bartlett Street, and by appointment at www.sphosp.org.

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 at Homer Medical Center, call 235-8586

To make appointments at the South Peninsula Family Care Clinic, call 235-0900. The Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen vaccines are offered.

People who are immunocompromised can now get a third dose by either a provider’s referral or by submitting an attestation form. People qualify for the third dose if they are receiving active cancer treatment, if they received an organ transplant and take medicine to suppress the immune system, if they have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years and take medicine to suppress the immune system, if they have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, if they have an advanced or untreated HIV condition, or if they take high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune response.

The FDA has approved by Emergency Use Authorization the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for specific groups. South Peninsula Hospital is currently offering COVID-19 booster shots of Pfizer brand to individuals who were fully vaccinated with Pfizer at least six months earlier and fall into one of the following categories: People 65 years or older, residents in long term care settings, people 50-64 years of age with underlying medical conditions. Additional groups may receive the booster based on individual benefits and risks. Check www.sphosp.org for complete details, call your healthcare provider or call 235-0235. A mass Pfizer booster vaccine event will take place on Friday, Oct. 15 at Homer High School. Flu shots will be offered at time of visit. Appointments are encouraged; go to www.sphosp.org.

SPH will also offer free flu shots at a community flu shot event on Friday, Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. No appointment needed.

Safeway – Homer, 90 Sterling Highway, offers clinics 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday by appointment or walk-ins. Call 226-1060 for appointments. The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are offered.

Kachemak Medical Group, 4129 Bartlett Street, offers vaccines by appointment. Call 235-7000.

Ulmer’s Pharmacy, 3858 Lake Street, offers Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines by appointment of walk-ins. Call 235-7760.

Ninilchik Clinic, 15765 Kingsley Road, Ninilchik offers Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines by appointment and Pfizer on demand. Call 907-567-3970.

SVT Health & Wellness offers Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen and Moderna vaccines 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).

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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