COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

First Homer resident death tied to COVID-19 reported

State reports 24 new resident COVID-19 deaths, 167 new cases Wednesday

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported a record of 24 new deaths of Alaska residents tied to COVID-19, and 167 new cases of the virus on Wednesday. Among the reported deaths was the first resident of Homer whose death has been tied to COVID-19.

The state’s death count for Alaska residents jumped from 229 Alaska residents on Tuesday to 251 on Wednesday. Though the state identified 24 additional COVID-related deaths, it also removed one death from the total count after further review of the man’s death certificate, according to a state press release. It also moved one death previously identified incorrectly as an Anchorage resident to the nonresident death category.

There have now been a total of two nonresidents who have died with COVID-19 while in Alaska. The second nonresident to die inside Alaska with the virus died in Anchorage, state data shows.

The Homer resident whose death was COVID-related was a woman in her 60s.

Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said in a virtual meeting about vaccines on Wednesday that the 24 additional COVID-related deaths were discovered as “part of the death certificate review process.”

Alaska’s death rate due to COVID-19 still remains low when compared to the rest of the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the press release, the people who died with COVID-19 over the last several months were from North Pole, the Bethel Census Area, Wasilla, Palmer, Eagle River, Anchorage and Kodiak, with the addition of the Homer resident who also died. Of the 24 newly identified deaths, one of them was a recent death — a North Pole woman in her 70s.

Of the new cases announced Wednesday, 10 of them are among nonresidents.

Alaska has now had a total of 52,393 cases of COVID-19, 1,661 of which were in nonresidents. There have been a cumulative total of 1,146 Alaska residents and 24 nonresidents hospitalized for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Those numbers include people who have since died or since recovered.

As of Wednesday, state data showed there are 55 people currently being hospitalized for the illness, along with another two people hospitalized with suspected cases of COVID-19. Of all the people currently hospitalized in the state of Alaska, 6.5% of them are being hospitalized for COVID-19. That percentage is down from 7.7% last week.

There are nine people across the state currently on ventilators, and state data shows there are 50 adult ICU beds out of 123 available statewide. In the Gulf Coast region that includes the peninsula, five out of 13 adult ICU beds are taken.

According to the state’s vaccine data dashboard, 59,392 people have gotten their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 13,270 have gotten their second dose as well.

The state has conducted more than 1.4 million COVID-19 tests so far, with a seven-day average positivity rate of 3.77%. The seven-day average positivity rate for the peninsula is 2.59%.

Of the new cases reported Wednesday, there were 49 in Anchorage, 22 in Wasilla, 20 in Fairbanks, 11 in the Kusilvak Census Area, eight in Palmer, six each in Eagle River and North Pole, four each in the Soldotna and the Bethel Census Area, three each in Homer, Kodiak, the North Slope Borough and the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, two each in Kenai and Juneau, and one each in Cordova, Big Lake, Sutton-Alpine, Willow, Bethel, Dillingham, the southern Kenai Peninsula, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the Mat-Su Borough, Unalaska and the Dillingham Census Area.

Of the new nonresident cases announced Wednesday, there are two in Anchorage, one in Seward, on is Wasilla, one is Unalaska and five that are unknown.

Testing 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. 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 Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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