Homer leads peninsula cities in number of COVID-19 cases

Borough announces three Nikiski Fire personnel have tested positive, 11 crew members quarantined

Homer gained another four cases of COVID-19, according to data posted on the state’s coronavirus response hub on Wednesday.

Homer is now leading the peninsula cities in terms of COVID-19 cases with 15, just ahead of Kenai, which has 13 cases. There are 10 cases in the “other” category for those living in the borough in a community with less than 1,000 people, nine cases in Soldotna, three cases each in Anchor Point, Nikiski, Seward and Sterling, and one case in Fritz Creek.

The state reported 18 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with six of them being on the Kenai Peninsula. Cases reported each day reflect the cases that get reported to the state the previous day. The other new cases reported in Alaska Wednesday were in the Mat-Su Valley and in Anchorage.

Of the cases in Homer, 11 are active with four people having recovered so far. Of the three total cases in Anchor Point, two are people who died and one is an active case. The Fritz Creek case has recovered.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough revealed in a Wednesday press release that all three cases in Nikiski are members of the Nikiski Fire Department. The borough reported that 11 members of the department have been quarantined “due to the possibility of COVID-19 exposure.” Of those 11, three tested positive for the disease, and are the three Nikiski cases the state has already reported.

Every member of the department’s personnel has been tested, according to the release. Because the 11 members that are quarantined represent one of the department’s three response shifts, a “continuity of operations” plan has been enacted and Central Emergency Services and the Kenai Fire Department have agreed to assist the Nikiski Fire Department, according to the release.

“Our first priority is to ensure that all of our personnel and their families have the resources they need during this time,” said Nikiski Fire Chief Bryan Crisp in the press release. “We’ll continue to follow the CDC protocols as well as the recommendations of the borough’s physician director.”

The total number of cases on the Kenai Peninsula is 60, as of Wednesday. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Alaska broke 500 on Wednesday with the announcement of 18 new cases, bringing the total to 505. Of those, 373 people had recovered as of Wednesday, according to the state. There have been a total of 23 nonresidents who have tested positive for the disease as well, many of them seafood industry employees.

There have been a total of 47 hospitalizations, according to the state. That number includes people who have since died or since gotten better and gone home. As of Wednesday, there were 11 people actively being hospitalized for either confirmed cases of the disease or suspected cases.

Locally, South Peninsula Hospital had conducted 1,749 total COVID-19 tests as of Wednesday. Of those, 1,485 have come back negative and 235 were still pending. As of Wednesday, the hospital has had a total of 29 positive tests results so far from testing both at the hospital and out on the Homer Spit.

SVT Health & Wellness, owned and operated by Seldovia Village Tribe, also reported one new positive case through its testing at its Homer clinic location. The other clinics are located in Anchor Point and Seldovia.

The new case identified by SVT is a resident of the southern Kenai Peninsula and was tested at the Homer location earlier this week, the clinic announced in a press release.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.