COVID-19. (Image courtesy the CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy the CDC)

Hospital staff, Friendship Terrace clear of COVID-19 as statewide case count grows

Setting a new record for the largest single-day increase in new cases of COVID-19 for Alaska residents, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 38 new cases among residents and four new cases among nonresidents Wednesday.

This brings the cumulative total number of Alaska residents with cases of COVID-19 to 978. A total of 198 nonresidents in Alaska have also contracted the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, according to data on the state’s coronavirus response hub website. There was one new case in Homer reported.

The 38 new resident cases announced Wednesday are from the Municipality of Anchorage (17), the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (seven), the Kenai Peninsula Borough (five), the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area (three), the Fairbanks North Star Borough (three), the Northwest Arctic Borough (one), the Nome Census Area (one) and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough (one). Of the four new nonresident cases, one is a visitor in the Anchorage Municipality, one is a seafood industry worker in the Sitka City and Borough, and the location is not yet listed in DHSS data for the other two.

Cases reported each day reflect the cases that were reported to DHSS the previous day.

So far, 528 people have recovered, according to Wednesday’s data, while the state now has 436 active cases. There has been a cumulative total of 68 hospitalizations of people with confirmed cases of COVID-19. That includes people who have since died or who have since recovered and gone home. As of Wednesday, there were 20 people being actively hospitalized for either confirmed cases of the disease or suspected cases, according to state data.

There have been no additional deaths of Alaska residents associated with COVID-19.

The Kenai Peninsula has 62 active cases, with 87 people having recovered so far. Homer still leads peninsula cities in terms of the highest number of cumulative cases, with 42. There are 19 active cases in Homer.

Seward, which is in the midst of an outbreak of cases among both visitors and residents, has 19 active cases, and four recovered cases. Six of those active Seward cases are visitors. There was one new case in Seward on Wednesday.

The breakdown of cases on the peninsula, as of Wednesday, is as follows: 42 cases in Homer, 28 cases in the “Other South” category for communities on the southern Kenai Peninsula that have populations less than 1,000, 23 cases in Seward, 20 cases in Soldotna, 17 cases in Kenai, eight cases in Anchor Point, five cases in Nikiski, three cases each in Sterling and Fritz Creek, and two cases in the “Other North” category.

According to the DHSS website, a total of 114,400 tests have been performed in Alaska as of Tuesday. Locally, South Peninsula Hospital had administered a total of 4,266 tests as of Wednesday, with 4,097 of those having come back negative so far, and with 92 still pending. SPH has had a total of 77 positive test results as of Wednesday. The most recent information published by SVT Health & Wellness shows that the group of clinics have conducted a total of 511 tests so far, with 499 coming back negative and one test still pending. The clinic has had a total of 11 positive rest results to far.

In June, South Peninsula Hospital had reported that six of its staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro said Wednesday that no additional cases have been confirmed within the hospital staff since then. The last employee remaining at home due to the disease was cleared to return to work on June 25, Ferraro wrote in an email.

“There was no known exposure or risk to residents or patients from these cases,” Ferraro wrote. “The hospital continues to use the highest levels of infection prevention measures to ensure the safety for all patients, residents and staff.”

Also reporting no further cases since a scare of its own, Friendship Terrace, the assisted living center operated by Homer Senior Citizens Inc., announced in a Tuesday press release that the facility and the senior center have been cleared and are COVID-19-free.

All residents and staff at the assisted living facility were tested twice consecutively over the last two weeks, and all have had two consecutive negative test results, said Executive Director Keren Kelley.

“Thank you to the dedicated, loyal, and compassionate staff who have kept the virus out of our facility by practicing ‘wearing masks and six-foot distancing’ even when they are not caring for our residents,” Kelley wrote in the press release.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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