Test rate drops in Homer area

No new deaths reported for Kenai Peninsula.

Based on test positivity rates, the Homer area saw a decline in positive COVID-19 tests done through South Peninsula Hospital, according to an email Wednesday from SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro. The positive percentage rate dropped to 4% from 6% last week.

The Kenai Peninsula also has seen no new COVID-19 deaths reported over the past week. In Tuesday’s report from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for Monday, there were seven new deaths: a Kusilvak Census Area man in his 60s, two Anchorage men in their 60s and 70s, two Anchorage women in their 60s and 30s, a Juneau man in his 20s and a Hoonah-Angoon/Yakutat area woman in her 40s.

According to a weekly report from DHSS, Alaska has the fourth highest number of cases per 100,000 over the past week. The recent deaths of younger people are evidence of a trend noted by DHSS of more younger Alaskans being hospitalized. The median age of persons hospitalized from COVID-19 is 5 years younger now than in 2020. Among those hospitalized, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients had a median age 14 years younger than fully vaccinated patients.

Statewide, 60% of Alaskans age 5 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, and 54% are fully vaccinated. The fully vaccinated rate for the Kenai Peninsula is 46%.

In Tuesday’s report, Alaska had 152 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and another five considered persons under investigation with COVID-19 for a total of 157. As of Tuesday’s report for Monday, Nov. 15, 2,924 Alaskans have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic. There were 20 new hospitalizations on Monday, with 20 on ventilators. The percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is 13.8%.

Alaska remains in the high alert level at 381.9 cases per 100,000 people. For Tuesday’s report, 362 new Alaskans tested positive, as did six nonresidents, for 141,249 Alaskans and 5,349 nonresidents total. The statewide test rate is 6.85%.

On the Kenai Peninsula, for Tuesday’s report there were 11 new cases in Soldotna, 10 for Kenai Peninsula South, eight in Anchor Point, four in Kenai, two in Homer, two in Kenai Peninsula North, two for Sterling and one for Nikiski.

For the reporting period of Nov. 10-17, 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 478 cases per 100,000 or 67 actual compared to 291 cases per 100,000 or 108 actual for the central peninsula. The eastern peninsula had 117 cases per 100,000 or six actual. That puts the southern peninsula with the highest number of cases per 100,000 for the peninsula.

South Peninsula Hospital has done 700 COVID-19 tests with 31 positive for the week of Nov. 10-17, Ferraro wrote in an email on Wednesday. That’s a 4% positivity rate, down from 6% last week. In the same time period, there were six COVID-19 related visits to the emergency department, the same as last week. The hospital did nine outpatient monoclonal antibody infusions and administered 255 vaccinations at its clinic. In the same time period, two new COVID-19 patients were admitted.

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.

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

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 65 years and older, age 18+ who live in long-term care settings, age 50 years and older with underlying medical conditions, or anyone who is at least two months after their Janssen vaccine.

Boosters are also available to anyone who is six months or more after their initial series of the Pfizer or Moderna series based on their individual health benefit and risk evaluation for individuals: age 18+ who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 exposure because of their work or live in high-risk settings or age 18 years and older who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and boosters also 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.

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.

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.