COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

44 new positive cases reported for Homer on Thursday

DHSS: four additional deaths tied to COVID-19

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Thursday reported 50 new cases of COVID-19 on the Southern Kenai Peninsula, including 44 in Homer alone.

Added to other cases on the central and eastern peninsula, there were 147 new cases reported for the entire peninsula. Homer had the second highest number of cases reported, behind Anchorage at 227 new cases.

DHSS also reported four new deaths and 563 new cases of COVID-19 statewide.

Cases are entered after they are confirmed by state labs, and because of delays in testing and data entry, do not necessarily reflect a dramatic increase in cases that might have been caused by a superspreader event such as a large gathering or event. For example, on Tuesday the state reported 50 new cases for the Kenai Peninsula, but on its chart on the COVID-19 dashboard showing the onset of cases by date, there were 22 actual cases reported as starting on that date.

Of the new cases reported Thursday, six of them were among nonresidents. Cases reported out by DHSS each day reflect the number of cases that get reported to the state the day before.

Alaska now has a cumulative total of 28,892 resident cases of COVID-19 and 1,210 total nonresident cases.

The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate over 14 days per 100,000 people, remains high. The statewide level is 79.8 cases per 100,000, and 104 cases per 100,000 for the Kenai Peninsula. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region has the highest case rate of 148.2 per 100,000, followed by the Municipality of Anchorage at 116.3 cases per 100,000.

As of Wednesday, South Peninsula Hospital had conducted a total of 13,377 COVID-19 tests, with 12,717 of those coming back negative and 323 still pending. The hospital has had a total of 337 positive rest results since the pandemic began, up 53 cases from the 284 positive cases in Monday’s report. Those cases are not necessarily Homer or southern peninsula residents, since people from anywhere can get tested at the hospital.

The four new deaths of Alaska residents added to Thursday’s data on the state’s coronavirus response hub are two Anchorage men in their 70s, a Southeast Fairbanks Census Area woman in her 70s and a Valdez-Cordova Census are man in his 70s who died out of state. DHSS removed from the dashboard the death of an Anchorage man in his 70s after doing a death certificate review. The total number of deaths is now 118.

DHSS also reported a cumulative total of 675 people who have been hospitalized in the state for COVID-19, including 24 new hospitalizations. Those numbers do not include those who have recovered or those who have since died.

On Thursday, the state reported 131 people are actively being hospitalized for COVID-19, while another nine are being hospitalized for suspected cases while awaiting test results. As of Thursday, 22 people statewide were on ventilators.

Alaska’s percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is now 15%. In the Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, Cordova and Valdez, there were 16 people being hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Thursday, and one person hospitalized for a suspected case. In the Gulf Coast region, only four adult ICU beds were available as of Thursday, though 27 ventilators remained available, with just one patient on a ventilator.

The state reports a total of 118 Alaska residents whose deaths were tied to COVID-19.

On the Kenai Peninsula, the state reported 44 new COVID-19 cases in Homer, 42 new cases in Kenai, 38 new cases in Soldotna, nine new cases in Niksiki, five new cases in Kenai Peninsula-North, three new cases in Sterling, three new cases in Anchor Point, two new cases in Kenai Peninsula South and one in Fritz Creek.

In the state as a whole, DHSS reported 227 new cases in Anchorage, 40 in Wasilla, 18 in the Bethel Census Area, 16 in Fairbanks, 13 in Eagle River, 11 in Delta Junction, 10 in Kodiak, 10 in Juneau, nine in Palmer, 8 in Chugiak, six in Ketchikan, five in Bethel, five in North Pole, five in Utqiagvik, four in Girdwood, three in the Kusilvak Census Area, two in Big Lake, two in Chevak, two in Willow, and one each in Houston, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Nome, Northwest Arctic Borough, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Sitka, Sutton-Alpine, Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Yakutat and Hoonah-Angoon, Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area and three unknown locations.

Of the new nonresident visitor cases reported Thursday, two were in Anchorage, one was in Fairbanks and three were unknown.

The state has now conducted 969,573 COVID-19 tests, and has a seven-day average positivity rate of 6.42%.

Testing locations on the Kenai Peninsula

Free COVID-19 tests are offered 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week at the lower level of the South Peninsula Hospital Specialty Clinic, at 4201 Bartlett Street, Homer. Testing is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. Please use the Danview Avenue access. Tests are for those who have had recent travel out of state, have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, have new onset of any symptom related to COVID-19, or have a provider referral. See the complete list of eligible individuals at www.sphosp.org or call the COVID information line at 235-0235. Please call and pre-register before coming if and when possible.

Testing is also available through the SVT Health & Wellness clinics in Homer, Seldovia and Anchor Point. Call ahead at 907-226-2228.

In Ninilchik, NTC Community Clinic is providing testing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The testing is only for those traveling, symptomatic, needing testing for medical procedures, or with a known exposure after seven days. Only 20 tests will be offered per day. To make an appointment to be tested at the NTC Community Clinic, call 907-567-3970.

On the central peninsula, testing is available at Capstone Family Clinic, K-Beach Medical, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, Central Peninsula Urgent Care, Peninsula Community Health Services, Urgent Care of Soldotna, the Kenai Public Health Center and Odyssey Family Practice. Call Kenai Public Health at 907-335-3400 for information on testing criteria for each location.

In Seward, testing is available at Providence Seward, Seward Community Health Center, Glacier Family Medicine and North Star Health Clinic.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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