COVID rate continues dropping

Reported death was one of 27 new deaths reported last week.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported a Southern Kenai Peninsula man in his 60s died of COVID-19. Since the man lived in a census area of less than 1,000 people, he was not identified as living in an area other than “Kenai Peninsula – South.” That death was one of 27 new deaths from COVID-19 reported last Wednesday, Feb. 16. That brings the southern peninsula death toll to 23 and 1,108 for Alaska.

DHSS now only reports new confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday. Because of the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, there was no report then.

Locally, the positivity rate of tests dropped to 10% compared to 15% last week, another sign that the pandemic has begun to decline after a surge in late December and early January. The seven-day rate also has dropped to 60 cases on the southern peninsula.

Starting Tuesday, March 1, the South Peninsula Hospital testing and vaccine clinic will start offering COVID-19 vaccines only on Sunday and Monday due to a marked decline in vaccinations recently, said SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro. Vaccines will be given from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days. That can be adjusted if demand increases, Ferraro said.

SPH COVID nurses also will be making another change effective March 1: they will no longer call people who test positive for COVID-19. That’s in alignment with State of Alaska Public Health decisions, Ferraro said. All individuals who test at the SPH COVID site will be instructed to check the patient portal for results, and if they are positive, rely on detailed printed instructions that are given to them at time of testing. Patients also can contact their providers or, if they don’t have a regular provide, the SPH COVID-19 clinic or public health.

For the latest report on Feb. 18 for Feb. 16-17, the state reported 1,131 new resident COVID-19 cases and 19 nonresident cases, a drop in cases compared to last week. According to testing of cases through Jan. 30, 100% of all new positive cases have been the highly infectious omicron variant. Alaska also is seeing some cases of the omicron BA.2 variant.

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, Feb. 16-23:

Alert level: High

New total tests: 527 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)

New positive tests: 52

Test positivity rate: 10%

New COVID-related Emergency Room visits: 5

New COVID hospitalizations: 1

Monoclonal antibody infusions: 9

Vaccinations: 27

Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 16-23): 428 per 100,000 or 60 actual; high alert level

Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 16-23): 474 per 100,000 or 176 actual; high alert level

Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 16-23: 548 per 100,000 or 28 actual; high alert level

New peninsula deaths: 1

Cumulative deaths: 23 residents (10 in Homer, 10 in Anchor Point, three in Kenai Peninsula South)

Vaccination information: 76.1% of Homer’s population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 71.1% of eligible residents have completed a full vaccination series. In Anchor Point, 51.4% have received a first dose and 47.6% are fully vaccinated. In the other Kenai Peninsula south, 25.4% have received a first dose and 23% are fully vaccinated.

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

State numbers, Feb. 16-17

Alert level: High, 519.5 per 100,000

New cases: 1,131 residents, 19 nonresidents (one Kenai nonresident case)

Kenai Peninsula cases (Feb. 16-23): Homer, 48; Kenai, 78; Soldotna, 68; Seward, 28; Anchor Point, 4; Nikiski, 8; Kenai Peninsula South, 5; Kenai Peninsula North, 14; Sterling, 8; Fritz Creek, 3.

Cumulative cases: 228,237 residents and 7,719 nonresidents; 31% of all Alaskans have now tested positive

Total hospitalizations: 3,574 (seven new hospitalizations)

Current hospitalizations: 106 confirmed positive, one suspected positive

Patients on ventilators: 4

Hospitalization rate: 8.9%

State cumulative deaths: 1,108 residents, 33 nonresidents

Vaccination information: 64.3% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 58.9% 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.

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. today-Monday. Effective next Tuesday, March 1, vaccines will only be given 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and Mondays.

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 Modern 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).

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