(Black Press stock photo)

Homer man dies of COVID-19

Homer man’s death announced as part of reporting backlog.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Tuesday reported a Homer man in his 60s died of COVID-19. That announcement came as part of 66 Alaskan deaths reported on Oct. 19, but only 10 of those deaths were recent. In its data summary, DHSS noted some deaths go back to April, but most happened in September and October. That brings the death total to 659.

Because of patient privacy, DHSS does not identify deaths by the exact age and date of death.

The latest report of deaths also included other Kenai Peninsula COVID-19 victims, including a Kenai Peninsula North man in his 60s, Kenai Peninsula North woman in her 30s, a Kenai man 80 or older, two Kenai women in their 60s and a Seward man 80 or older. For the southern peninsula, the death total is now 13, with five from Anchor Point and eight from Homer. For the entire peninsula, 52 people have died of COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 728,125 Americans have died of COVID-19, about the entire population of Alaska at 730,000.

Alaska remains in the high alert level at 811.1 cases per 100,000 people. However, one area of the state is in the substantial alert level, two are in the moderate alert level and one is in the lower alert level.

From the reporting period of Oct. 12 through Oct. 18, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the southern Kenai Peninsula has seen 93 cases, with 59 for Homer, 19 for Anchor Point, 12 for the Kenai Peninsula South and three for Fritz Creek. That’s an increase over the 72 positive cases reported by DHSS for the week before.

According to the Kenai Peninsula School District’s COVID-19 dashboard, the southern peninsula on Wednesday had 664 cases per 100,000 compared to 1,043 cases per 100,000 for the central peninsula. The eastern peninsula has the lowest rate of cases per 100,000 at 157.

For the reporting period of Oct. 15-18, on Tuesday, Oct. 19, DHSS reported 2,785 new residents tested positive for COVID-19 and 57 new nonresident cases, for a total of 125,445 resident cases and 5,145 nonresident cases. There has been a total of 2,637 Alaskans hospitalized with COVID-19, with 35 new hospitalizations reported for the weekend. Currently, 213 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and 11 considered persons under investigation are hospitalized, with 28 on ventilators. The percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is 18%. The testing rate is 11%.

South Peninsula Hospital has done 713 COVID-19 tests with 57 positive for the week of Oct. 13-19 , hospital Public Information Officer and Director of Marketing Derotha Ferraro wrote in an email on Wednesday. That’s an 8% positivity rate. In the same time period there were seven COVID-19 related visits to the emergency department. The hospital did 24 outpatient monoclonal antibody infusions and administered 152 new vaccinations, including 77 at a mass vaccination clinic last Friday. In the same time period, five new COVID-19 patients were admitted. As of Wednesday morning, three COVID-19 patients were hospitalized. At last Friday’s vaccination clinic, 160 influenza shots also were given, as were 72 COVID-19 booster shots.

Ferraro said mass COVID-19 booster events for Moderna and Janssen vaccines are scheduled for November, with final dates and times based on the number of people who become eligible and when eligibility begins. SPH is still waiting for federal approvals and guidance for those vaccines. Visit www.sphosp.org for more updates or call the city vaccine line at 907-435-3188.

Pfizer boosters are currently available for the approved groups seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Test and Vaccine Clinic on Bartlett Street. Appointments are strongly encouraged and can be done online at www.sphosp.org.

At South Peninsula Hospital, because of the level of community spread of COVID-19, visitors are not allowed except for those with appointments. Long Term Care is open to approved visitors by appointment. One designated visitor per patient per stay is permitted for pediatric patients, obstetric patients, surgery patients and end of life care.

Testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

Testing is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the SPH COVID-19 clinic on Bartlett Street 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 to anyone 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

South Peninsula Hospital continues to offer walk-in vaccines daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 4201 Bartlett Street, and by appointment at www.sphosp.org.

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 at Homer Medical Center, call 235-8586

To make appointments at the South Peninsula Family Care Clinic, call 235-0900. The Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen vaccines are offered.

People who are immunocompromised can now get a third dose by either a provider’s referral or by submitting an attestation form. People qualify for the third dose if they are receiving active cancer treatment, if they received an organ transplant and take medicine to suppress the immune system, if they have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years and take medicine to suppress the immune system, if they have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, if they have an advanced or untreated HIV condition, or if they take high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune response.

The FDA has approved by Emergency Use Authorization the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for specific groups. South Peninsula Hospital is currently offering COVID-19 booster shots of Pfizer brand to individuals who were fully vaccinated with Pfizer at least six months earlier and fall into one of the following categories: People 65 years or older, residents in long term care settings, people 50-64 years of age with underlying medical conditions. Additional groups may receive the booster based on individual benefits and risks. Check www.sphosp.org for complete details, call your healthcare provider or call 235-0235. A mass Pfizer booster vaccine event will take place 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15 at Homer High School. Flu shots will be offered at the same time of visit. Appointments are encouraged; go to www.sphosp.org.

SPH will also offer free flu shots at a community flu shot event on Friday, Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. No appointment needed.

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 marmstrong@homernews.com.

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