A Kenai Peninsula South man aged 80 or older is one of seven more Alaskans reported to have died of COVID-19, according to a data summary last Wednesday, April 13, from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. However, of those cases, only two were for this year — one in January and one this month. The other cases were one each from August, September, October and December.
The case count for the Southern Kenai Peninsula seemed to take a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases reported, with 165 reported on the Kenai Peninsula School District dashboard for the period of April 13-19. That was a glitch, however, as DHSS updated its dashboard from a backlog last week. In an email, DHSS communications manager Elizabeth Manning wrote that the southern peninsula had 43 positive cases for that period. South Peninsula Hospital recorded 32 positive cases at its facilities, according to an email from SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro— a slight drop in positive cases compared to last week.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District uses state data for its COVID-19 dashboard. According to the school district dashboard, the southern peninsula is at the high risk level.The risk level rises to the high alert level when case counts per 100,000 people are 100 or more. The school district reported 1,178 cases per 100,000 people.
However, South Peninsula Hospital saw a drop in the number of tests done and the positivity rate for the week of April 13-19, with 441 new tests done, of which 32 were positive, a 7% positivity rate. That’s down from 12% for last week.
The Alaska death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic now stands at 1,202 resident deaths. DHSS has gone to a weekly reporting schedule, with data summaries every Wednesday.
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 increase demand for second boosters, appointments are required.
Because the BA2 variant is becoming more common, SPH now offers the Bebtelovimab monoclonal antibody infusion, the only MAB available under an emergency use authorization. Supplies of Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment, are now available in Homer.
For the latest report on April 13 for the period of April 5-12, the state reported 1,274 new resident COVID-19 cases and 16 nonresident cases.
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.
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, April 13-19:
Alert level: Highl (KPB)
New total tests: 441 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)
New positive tests: 32
Test positivity rate: 7%
New COVID-related Emergency Room visits: 2
New COVID hospitalizations: 1
Monoclonal antibody infusions: 2
Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, April 13-19): 307 per 100,000 or 43 actual; high alert level
Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, April 13-19): 84 per 100,000 or 31 actual; high alert level
Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, April 13-19): 196 per 100,000 or 10 actual; high alert level
New peninsula deaths: 1
Cumulative deaths: 26 residents (11 in Homer, 10 in Anchor Point, five in Kenai Peninsula South)
Vaccination information: 76.4% of Homer’s population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 71.4% of eligible residents have completed a full vaccination series. In Anchor Point, 51.7% have received a first dose and 47.8% are fully vaccinated. In the other Kenai Peninsula south, 25.5% have received a first dose and 23.3% are fully vaccinated.
School cases: Chapman School, 0; Fireweed Academy, 0; Homer Flex School, 0; Homer High School, 4; Homer Middle School, 5; McNeil Canyon, 0; Paul Banks Elementary, 0; West Homer Elementary, 30; small communities (census regions less than 1,000), 0.
State numbers, April 13
Alert level: High, 174.8 per 100,000
New cases: 1,274 residents, 16 nonresidents
Kenai Peninsula cases (April 13-19): Homer, not available; Kenai, 12; Soldotna, 14; Seward, 10; Anchor Point, NA; Nikiski, 1; Kenai Peninsula South, NA; Kenai Peninsula North, 2; Sterling, 2; Fritz Creek, NA.
Cumulative cases: 240,674 residents and 8,001 nonresidents
Total hospitalizations: 3,742 (one new hospitalization)
Current hospitalizations: 26 confirmed positive
Patients on ventilators: 1
Hospitalization rate: 2.1%
State cumulative deaths: 1,195 residents, 33 nonresidents
Vaccination information: 71.6% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 64.4% of eligible Alaskans have completed a full vaccination series.
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).