COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State reports 374 new COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths

Positivity rate statewide continues to drop

The state of Alaska reported 374 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with two additional deaths of Alaska residents tied to the novel coronavirus.

The two people who died were residents of Kodiak Island Borough and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The peninsula resident who died did not live on the southern peninsula. With the two recent deaths, the count of Alaskans whose deaths have been related to the virus is now at 202.

Of the new cases reported Wednesday, 368 of them are among Alaska residents, while six are among nonresidents, according to state data. The state now has had a total cumulative of 46,483 COVID-19 cases, 1,517 of which have been among nonresidents.

The numbers reported out each day by the state represent the cases that got reported the state the day before.

The state has reached a total of 997 hospitalizations of Alaska residents for COVID-19 treatment, along with 20 total hospitalizations of nonresidents. Those numbers include people who have since died or since recovered.

As of Wednesday, there were 69 people being actively hospitalized for COVID-19, along with four people being hospitalized for suspected cases of the illness. The state’s hospitalization rate was 9.6% on Wednesday.

The state also reported 10 people on ventilators statewide on Wednesday. There are 40 adult ICU beds available across the state. In Anchorage, there are only 14 available.

Of the new cases reported Wednesday, there is only one involving a resident of the southern peninsula, in the “other” category used for communities in the borough with populations of less than 1,000.

The southern peninsula, measured from Ninilchik south, has had 45 new cases of COVID-19 over the last two weeks. That represents a drop in new cases compared to mid November, when case rates were steadily climbing on the peninsula.

Homer has had 420 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, and the peninsula as a whole has had a cumulative total of 3,422, with 70 peninsula residents needing hospitalization. A total of 16 peninsula residents have died with COVID-19, according to state data.

The alert level for the Kenai Peninsula is now an average daily rate of 32.55 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. Statewide, the alert level is 37.89 cases per 100,000. Anything more than 10 cases per 100,000 is considered to be in the high alert level status.

Of the other new cases reported Wednesday, there were 113 in Anchorage, 69 in Wasilla, 29 in Eagle River, 25 in Palmer, 23 in Fairbanks, 19 in the Bethel Census Area, 14 in Bethel, 12 in Kodiak, eight in Utqiagvik, five each in Cordova, the Chugach region and Juneau, four each in Chugiak, Soldotna and North Pole, three each in the North Slope Borough, Ketchikan and Chevak, two each in the Copper River region, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Big Lake, Unalaska and the Dillingham Census Area, and one each in Kenai, Nikiski, Tok, the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Willow, Nome, the None Census Area and the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area.

Of the new nonresident cases of COVID-19 reported by the state Wednesday, there were two in Anchorage, one in Soldotna and three that are unknown.

So far, the state has conducted 1.26 million COVID-19 tests, with a seven-day average positivity rate of 4.82%. This positivity rate is down from a high of 9.36% in mid November.

The current average turnaround time for tests processed at the state laboratory is 1.7 days.

Online scheduling has started for the next tier of health care workers eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has created a web page with information on the vaccine, including sign-up information, vaccine site locations and eligibility. For more information, visit http://covidvax.alaska.gov.

Testing on the Kenai Peninsula:

Free COVID-19 tests are offered 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week at the lower level of the South Peninsula Hospital Specialty Clinic, at 4201 Bartlett Street, Homer. Please use the Danview Avenue access. Tests are for those who have had recent travel out of state, have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, have new onset of any symptom related to COVID-19, or have a provider referral. See the complete list of eligible individuals at www.sphosp.org or call the COVID information line at 235-0235. Please call and pre-register before coming if and when possible.

Testing is also available through the SVT Health & Wellness clinics in Homer, Seldovia and Anchor Point. Call ahead at 907-226-2228.

In Ninilchik, NTC Community Clinic is providing testing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The testing is only for those traveling, symptomatic, needing testing for medical procedures, or with a known exposure after seven days. Only 20 tests will be offered per day. To make an appointment to be tested at the NTC Community Clinic, call 907-567-3970.

On the central peninsula, testing is available at Capstone Family Clinic, K-Beach Medical, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, Central Peninsula Urgent Care, Peninsula Community Health Services, Urgent Care of Soldotna, the Kenai Public Health Center and Odyssey Family Practice. Call Kenai Public Health at 907-335-3400 for information on testing criteria for each location.

In Seward, testing is available at Providence Seward, Seward Community Health Center, Glacier Family Medicine and North Star Health Clinic.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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