COVID rate continues dropping

‘We’re on the back side of the omicron wave,’ Public Health nurse tells Homer City Council.

Monday marked the two-year anniversary for when local public health officials first started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic — a date remarked upon by South Peninsula Hospital Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro at Monday’s Homer City Council meeting.

“The next city council meeting would really mark the beginning of year three,” she said. “…We’ve come a long way.”

In their presentation, Ferraro and Public Health Nurse Lorne Carroll presented some good news: the omicron variant wave of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be waning. An updated chart Ferraro later sent to the council showed a decline over the past month in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, monoclonal antibody infusions, emergency room visits and hospital admissions.

“We’re on the back side of the omicron wave, and that’s looking good,” Carroll said.

Carroll also mentioned new guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention on face mask wearing and assessment of pandemic community health risk. The CDC guidelines take into account admissions to hospitals, number of hospital beds available and cases in a community. Using that information, the CDC ranks communities as high, medium and low risk. Communities that are medium and low risk don’t need to wear face masks in public settings. People at high risk for severe illness or who are immunosuppressed who live in communities ranked “medium” should talk to their health providers about the need to wear masks or take other precautions.

A CDC website at shows the risk levels by county. According to that link, the Kenai Peninsula Borough is in the medium-risk category.

In last Wednesday’s report of Feb. 23, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 22 more Alaskans had died of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 1,130 deaths. No peninsula deaths were reported.

Locally, the positivity rate of tests dropped to 8% compared to 10% last week.

For the latest report on Feb. 28 for Feb. 25-27, the state reported 758 new resident COVID-19 cases and 14 nonresident cases, a drop in cases compared to last week.

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. 24-March 1:

Alert level: High

New total tests: 470 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)

New positive tests: 37

Test positivity rate: 8%

New COVID-related Emergency Room visits: 1

New COVID hospitalizations: 0

Monoclonal antibody infusions: 3

Vaccinations: 29

Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 24-March 2): 314 per 100,000 or 44 actual; high alert level

Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 24-March 2): 625 per 100,000 or 232 actual; high alert level

Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 24-March 2: 352 per 100,000 or 18 actual; high alert level

New peninsula deaths: 0

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

State numbers, Feb. 28

Alert level: High, 302.0 per 100,000

New cases: 758 residents, 14 nonresidents (one Kenai nonresident case)

Kenai Peninsula cases (Feb. 24-March 2): Homer, 35; Kenai, 82; Soldotna, 112; Seward, 18; Anchor Point, 1; Nikiski, 8; Kenai Peninsula South, 8; Kenai Peninsula North, 9; Sterling, 21; Fritz Creek, 0.

Cumulative cases: 231,645 residents and 7,849 nonresidents

Total hospitalizations: 3,6234 (one new hospitalizations)

Current hospitalizations: 91 confirmed positive, three suspected positive

Patients on ventilators: 3

Hospitalization rate: 6.5%

State cumulative deaths: 1,130 residents, 33 nonresidents

Vaccination information: 64.5% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 59.1% 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. 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. 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).

Reach Michael Armstrong at