By Jake Dye
COVID-19 hospitalizations remain unchanged both statewide and in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Department of Health reported Tuesday.
According to the Alaska COVID-19 Data Hub, 40 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, with one on a ventilator. That number matches data reported last week.
According to state data, as of Tuesday, one patient was hospitalized in the Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak and the Chugach census area. That number includes the one patient who is on a ventilator.
The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week. Deaths are reported in batches, as they are confirmed by the state. No information is provided about when these deaths occurred. The last update was last week, when 19 deaths were confirmed. To date, there have been 1,418 deaths statewide from COVID-19 and 120 in the borough.
Due to the widespread availability of at-home COVID testing, officials say hospitalization and recent death data are more effective indicators of the virus’ spread than case counts.
For the period of Dec. 18 to Dec. 24, 332 new resident COVID-19 cases were reported. Case counts are down from last week, when officials reported 374 new resident cases for the period of Dec. 11 to Dec. 17.
For the most recent week, 24 cases were reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. This is up from 19 last week.
Officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines to minimize the infection’s impact on communities. At this point, anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a primary vaccination series and can receive a booster.
An updated bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine is available in Alaska. These are designed to tackle both the original COVID-19 strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron. State health officials say that BA.5 is being detected in the majority of COVID-19 cases in Alaska.
This new booster is available to eligible individuals at least two months after their last shot, whether that was a booster dose or their primary vaccine series.
Boosters are recommended whether or not a person has already contracted the virus.
As of Tuesday, 57.2% of Alaskans have completed a primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 10.6% are up to date on their vaccine and have received the bivalent booster. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 10.0% are up to date on their vaccine. In the borough, 48.8% — nearly half of all individuals — have not received even a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
In Homer, a walk-up COVID clinic operated by South Peninsula Hospital will be closing in the next few weeks. The South Peninsula Hospital Testing and Vaccine Site on Bartlett Street will no longer offer COVID vaccines starting Sunday. The clinic will close entirely on Jan. 13. Vaccines will be available through Homer Medical Clinic, Family Care Clinic and Specialty Clinic, or through Safeway pharmacy. Testing will be available at SPH through “Request-A-Test” at the hospital laboratory.
For more information on vaccine eligibility, visit https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/covid-19/vaccineinfo.aspx.
To find a COVID-19 or Influenza vaccine provider, visit vaccines.gov.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org.