Three die of COVID-19 on southern peninsula

Recent death reports include one Homer man and two other Kenai Peninsula men.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services last Friday reported a Homer man in his 30s, a Kenai Peninsula Borough South man in his 60s and a Kenai Peninsula Borough South man in his 70s died of COVID-19. That makes the 10th Homer person to die from the pandemic. In all, 20 people have died of COVID-19 on the Southern Kenai Peninsula.

The death announcements came as part of a batch of 57 new deaths reported Dec. 17, most of them through death certificate reviews from August to November. Two more deaths were reported last Wednesday, Dec. 15, bringing the Alaska death total to 915 as of Dec. 20.

DHSS encourages Alaskans to get vaccinated, noting that it is the single most important action that can be taken to protect yourself and your community.

According to an explanation of the death certificate review process on the DHSS website, all reported Alaska COVID-19 deaths have the virus listed on a death certificate as an immediate or underlying cause of death (Part I of a death certificate) or as a contributory cause of death (Part II).

“Most Alaskan deaths have listed COVID-19 somewhere in the lethal chain of conditions within Part I,” the website notes.

Last Friday’s data summary also reported other peninsula deaths: a Kenai man in his 40s, two Kenai men in their 60s, a Soldotna woman in her 70s and three Soldotna men aged 80 or older.

Because reporting deaths by date could identify victims, DHSS reports deaths by month and borough. In October, 19 peninsula residents were reported to have died and six in November.

Locally, Homer showed a slight decrease in the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests, with a drop from 5% last week to 4.5% this week. South Peninsula Hospital also showed a decrease in both tests and positive tests, with 535 tests done, of which 24 were positive, according to an email from SPH Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro.

Homer has the highest rate per 100,000 people on the Kenai Peninsula, at 186 cases per 100,000 compared to 140 cases per 100,000 for the central peninsula and 78 cases per 100,000 for the eastern peninsula.

Emergency room visits were stable over the last week, with three for last week, the same as the week before. In a positive note, there were no hospital admissions last week for COVID-19, and as of Wednesday morning, no one was hospitalized at SPH for or with COVID-19, Ferraro wrote.

Southern Kenai Peninsula numbers, Dec. 15-21

Alert level: High

New total tests: 535 (tested through South Peninsula Hospital)

New positive tests: 24

Test positivity rate: 4.5%

Cumulative cases: 2,314 residents

New Emergency Room visits: 3

New hospitalizations: 0

Monoclonal antibody infusions: 10

Vaccinations: 214

SPH staff vaccination rate: 71%

Southern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Dec. 12-21): 186 per 100,000 or 26 actual; high alert level

Central Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Dec. 12-21): 140 per 100,000 or 52 actual; high alert level

Eastern Kenai Peninsula cases (7-day rate, Dec. 12-21): 78 per 100,000 or four actual; substantial alert level

New deaths: 3

Cumulative deaths: 20 residents (10 in Homer, eight in Anchor Point, two in Kenai Peninsula South)

Vaccination information: 74.4% of Homer’s population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 69.2% of eligible residents have completed a full vaccination series. In Anchor Point, 50.3% have received a first dose and 46.5% are fully vaccinated. In the other Kenai Peninsula south, 24.7% have received a first dose and 22.5% are fully vaccinated.

School cases: Homer High School, 2; McNeil Canyon Elementary School, West Homer Elementary School, 1.

State numbers, Dec. 12-21

Alert level: High, 159.1 per 100,000 (Dec. 20)

New cases: 1,167 residents, 14 nonresidents

Kenai Peninsula cases: Homer, 20; Kenai, 14; Soldotna, 21; Seward, 4; Anchor Point, 6; Nikiski, 1; Kenai Peninsula South, 0; Kenai Peninsula North, 10; Sterling, 6.

Test positivity rate: 3.41% (Dec. 20)

Cumulative cases: 149,591 residents and 5,471 nonresidents

Total hospitalizations: 3,204

Current hospitalizations: 65, five under investigation; 54 new hospitalizations since Dec. 15.

Patients on ventilators: 11

Hospitalization rate: 5.5%

New deaths: 4

Cumulative deaths: 857 residents, 30 nonresidents

Vaccination information: 67.2% of Alaska’s eligible population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 60.1% of eligible Alaskans have completed a full vaccination series.

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 6 p.m. daily and 9 a.m.-noon Christmas Eve; closed Chirstmas Day.Home kits are avaiable for pick up. 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 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.

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