Homer man dies of COVID-19

Homer man in his 50s did not die recently; 17 other Alaskans reported dead.

A Homer man in his 50s has been reported dead of COVID-19, according to a data summary last Wednesday, May 18, from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Seventeen other Alaskans also were reported to have died.

Three of the recent deaths happened in May, according to an email from DHSS Communications Manager Elizabeth Manning. The Homer death was not recent, but for privacy reasons she could not disclose the month of date. According to the DHSS COVID-19 dashboard, the most recent Kenai Peninsula deaths were in March.

Of the new deaths reported, in 2021, one happened in September, one in October, one in November and one in December. In 2022, there was one death in January, two in February, one in March, six in April and the three in May.

The case rate for Homer increased over the last week, from 42 to 50 positive cases.

South Peninsula Hospital recorded 52 positive cases at its facilities for the week of May 18-24, according to SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro. DHSS releases its weekly data summary late on Wednesday afternoon, too late for press, while the hospital provides more recent information on Wednesday morning.

SPH had four new ER visits but no admissions of patients with COVID-19.

The number of tests and the positivity rate increased, according to the SPH report, with 441 new tests done, of which 52 were positive, an 12% positivity rate.

The Alaska death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic now stands at 1,252 resident deaths.

The hospital’s Bartlett Street Vaccine and Testing Clinic now offers second boosters of mRNA vaccines to adults age 50 or older, people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, or people who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for their first shot and booster. People should talk to their health-care providers for advice on if and when they should get the second booster. For full information on eligibility and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance, visit www.sphosp.org. Vaccines and second boosters are offered on Sundays and Mondays. Because of the increased demand for second boosters, appointments are strongly encouraged.

For the latest report on May 18 for the period of May 11-17, the state reported 1,675 new resident COVID-19 cases and 279 new nonresident cases. Nonresident cases continue to rise. Six of those nonresident cases were for Homer.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html#anchor_82254 shows the risk levels by county using metrics like numbers of people hospitalized and staffing levels. According to that link, the Kenai Peninsula Borough is in the low-risk or green category. At this level, CDC recommends people stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms. People may choose to wear facemasks at any time, and people with symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask. People at high risk for severe illnes should talk to healthcare providers about whether or not they should wear a mask and take other precautions.

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, May 17-24:

Alert level: High (KPB)

New total tests: 441 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)

New positive tests: 52

Test positivity rate: 12%

New COVID-related Emergency Room visits: 84

New COVID hospitalizations: 0

Monoclonal antibody infusions: 3

Vaccinations: 82

Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, May 18-24): 464 per 100,000 or 65 actual; high alert level

Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, May 18-24): 132 per 100,000 or 49 actual; high alert level

Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, May 18-24): 137 per 100,000 or seven actual; substantial alert level

New peninsula deaths: 1 (Homer)

Cumulative deaths: 27 residents (12 in Homer, 10 in Anchor Point, five in Kenai Peninsula South)

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

State numbers, May 18

Alert level: High, 229.8 per 100,000

New cases: 1,675 residents, 279 nonresidents

Kenai Peninsula cases (May 17-24): Homer, 50; Kenai, 15; Soldotna, 29; Seward, 7; Anchor Point, 9; Nikiski, 0; Kenai Peninsula South, 5; Kenai Peninsula North, 3; Sterling, 2; Fritz Creek, 1.

Cumulative cases: 249,522 residents and 8,517 nonresidents

Total hospitalizations: 3,762 (8 new hospitalizations)

Current hospitalizations: 44 confirmed positive

Patients on ventilators: 1

Hospitalization rate: 3.4%

State cumulative deaths: 1,252 residents, 33 nonresidents

Vaccination information: 72.1% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 65% 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. Sundays and Mondays. Because of increased demand, appointments are recommended.

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 Moderna 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).