A reader board sign on the Sterling Highway announces COVID-19 testing and vaccines at the South

No current COVID-19 patients at South Peninsula Hospital

Test rates, ER visits and admissions are dropping for Homer

As another sign that the delta surge of the COVID-19 pandemic may be slowing, South Peninsula Hospital on Monday had some encouraging news.

“For the first time in almost five months, we do not have anyone hospitalized with COVID,” SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro said Monday.

Homer also achieved another milestone: Last Friday there were no reported positive tests of COVID-19 in Homer for that day.

Last Wednesday, SPH reported two patients hospitalized with COVID-19. There was one new patient admitted last week, but as of Monday, there are no COVID patients at the hospital.

Based on test positivity rates, the Homer area again saw a decline in positive COVID-19 tests done through the hospital, according to an email Tuesday from Ferraro. The positive percentage rate dropped to 3% from 4% last week.

Also over the last week, COVID-19 booster shots have now been approved and are now available for anyone age 18 and older.

The Kenai Peninsula again saw no new COVID-19 deaths reported over the past week. In Monday’s report from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for the weekend, there were no new deaths. DHSS did report 20 new deaths on Nov. 19 for the period of April through October. Those deaths came about through death certificate reviews, with most of the fatalities in October. As of Monday, the current death total is 832 Alaskans.

Statewide, 61% of Alaskans age 5 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, and 55% are fully vaccinated. The fully vaccinated rate for the Kenai Peninsula is 46%.

In Tuesday’s report, Alaska had 117 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and another five considered persons under investigation with COVID-19 for a total of 122. As of Monday’s report, 3,001 Alaskans have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic. There were five new hospitalizations on Monday, with 13 on ventilators. The percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is 9.8%.

Alaska remains in the high alert level at 355.1 cases per 100,000 people. For Monday’s report, 744 new Alaskans tested positive, as did six nonresidents, for 143,454 Alaskans and 5,371 nonresidents total. The statewide test rate is 6.85%.

On the Kenai Peninsula, for Tuesday’s report there were 18 new cases in Kenai, 11 for Soldotna, three for Homer, two for Kenai Peninsula South, two for Sterling and one for Kenai Peninsula North.

For the reporting period of Nov. 18-23, according to DHSS, the southern Kenai Peninsula has seen 67 cases, with 32 for Homer, 21 for Anchor Point, 14 for the Kenai Peninsula South and 21 for Anchor Point. That’s a decrease over the 70 positive cases reported by DHSS for the week before, though Anchor Point and Kenai Peninsula South saw increases in cases.

According to the Kenai Peninsula School District’s COVID-19 dashboard, the southern peninsula on Wednesday had 157 cases per 100,000 or 22 actual compared to 264 cases per 100,000 or 98 actual for the central peninsula. The eastern peninsula had 117 cases per 100,000 or six actual.

South Peninsula Hospital has done 427 COVID-19 tests with 13 positive for the week of Nov. 18-22, Ferraro wrote in an email on Tuesday. That’s a 3% positivity rate. In the same time period, there was one COVID-19 related visit to the emergency department and one new hospitalization.

At South Peninsula Hospital, because of the level of community spread of COVID-19, entrance to its facilities is limited to those with appointments for medical care, persons seeking care and one visitor per patient for their visit or stay. Visitors for patients who are COVID-19 positive or are under investigation of having COVID-19 will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Long Term Care is open to pre-approved visitors by appointment.

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 1 p.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Normal office hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. On Nov. 27 and 28, walk-in vaccinations are not available.

Testing is 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

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.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and boosters are offered daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Janssen vaccines are offered only on Sundays and Tuesdays.

Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11 are available by appointment on Wednesday and Saturday. A pediatric clinic only is Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27 and 28, to provied second doses for children who received vaccines at the Nov. 6 clinic.

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. Pediatric appointments only are offered 1 – 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, and 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3.

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 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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