COVID rate dropping in state

No new hospitalizations reported for state in latest report.

COVID-19 positive tests and hospitalizations began to drop in the latest reports from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. In Monday’s report for the Feb. 4-6 period, Alaska saw no new hospitalizations. However, South Peninsula Hospital reported one new hospitilzation of or with COVID-19 from Feb. 2-8.

No new deaths were reported, but on Monday DHSS announced it is now reporting any new or confirmed deaths of COVID-19 only in its Wednesday report. At press time, that report had not been sent.

South Peninsula Hospital has received a new shipment of Sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody treatment effective for the omicron variants, and can offer it to more tiers of patients, SPH spokesperson Derotha Ferraro wrote in an email on Wednesday. That treatment can be given for these groups of patients:

• Tier 1a: Immunocompromised individuals not expected to mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 infection due to their underlying conditions, regardless of vaccine status,

• Tier 1b: Individuals not up to date on vaccine AND are aged ≥75 years OR anyone aged ≥65 years with risk factors OR currently pregnant,

• Tier 2a: Individuals not up to date on vaccine AND are aged ≥65 years OR anyone aged ≥50 years with risk factors,

• Tier 2b: Anyone aged ≥75 years OR anyone aged ≥50 years with clinical risk factors.

On Jan. 31, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the second approval of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna vaccine received full approval and will be marketed as Spikevax for the prevention of COVID-19 in people ages 18 and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week also announced new recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Those people should talk to their healthcare providers about the new recommendations and vaccine dose timing. First, second, third and booster shots are available at South Peninsula Hospital’s Bartlett Street COVID-19 vaccine and testing clinic.

The total number of positive cases for the southern peninsula as of Wednesday stands at 3,114.

For Feb. 4-6, the state reported 3,021 new resident COVID-19 cases and 61 nonresident cases. According to testing of cases through Jan. 9, about 98% of all new positive cases have been the highly infectious omicron 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. 1-8:

Alert level: High

New total tests: 720 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)

New positive tests: 100

Test positivity rate: 14%

New COVID-related Emergency Room visits: 3

New COVID hospitalizations: 1

Monoclonal antibody infusions: 7

Vaccinations: 58

Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 1-8): 1,163 per 100,000 or 163 actual; high alert level

Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 1-8): 1,213 per 100,000 or 430 actual; high alert level

Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Feb. 1-8): 1,566 per 100,000 or 80 actual; high alert level

New peninsula deaths: 0

Cumulative deaths: 20 residents (10 in Homer, eight in Anchor Point, two in Kenai Peninsula South)

Vaccination information: 75.9% of Homer’s population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 74.6% of eligible residents have completed a full vaccination series. In Anchor Point, 51.3% have received a first dose and 47.5% are fully vaccinated. In the other Kenai Peninsula south, 25.2% have received a first dose and 22.8% are fully vaccinated.

School cases: Chapman School, 9; Homer High School, 4; Homer Middle School, 2; Homer Flex School, 3; Fireweed Academy, 2; Paul Banks Elementary, 1; McNeil Canyon, 0; West Homer Elementary, 5; small communities (census regions less than 1,000), 14.

State numbers, Feb. 4-6

Alert level: High, 1,485.93 per 100,000

New cases: 3,021 residents, 61 nonresidents

Kenai Peninsula cases (Feb. 3-8): Homer, 101; Kenai, 173; Soldotna, 191; Seward, 80; Anchor Point, 23; Nikiski, 19; Kenai Peninsula South, 33; Kenai Peninsula North, 41; Sterling, 26; Fritz Creek, 6.

Cumulative cases: 220,338 residents and 7,607 nonresidents; 30% of all Alaskans have now tested positive

Total hospitalizations: 3,478 (no new hospitalizations)

Current hospitalizations: 127 confirmed positive, four suspected positive

Patients on ventilators: 6

Hospitalization rate: 13%

State cumulative deaths: 1,060 residents, 33 nonresidents

Vaccination information: 64.1% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 58.6% 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.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and boosters are offered daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Janssen vaccines are offered only on Sundays and Tuesdays.

Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11 are available by appointment on Wednesday and Saturday.

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 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