7-day COVID rates creeping up

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s seven-day COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people is going up. That’s according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ weekly case update, which shows trends in state COVID data from Dec. 19 to Dec. 25.

The bulletin shows that the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s rate declined in the first few weeks of December — from 198.5 on Dec. 6, to 125.6 on Dec. 13, to 122.2 on Dec. 20. By Dec. 27, however, the rate of cases was 132.4. A COVID update sent by DHSS Wednesday reported the rate had further grown to 135.7. A region is considered to be at high risk when its seven-day case rate per 100,000 people is greater than 100.

Statewide, the rate steadily decreased throughout December, from 235.3 on Dec. 6 to 139.9 on Dec. 27. The bulletin distributed Thursday, however, showed that the rate had jumped back up to 237.7. The state announced nearly 1,000 new cases reported in Alaska from Dec. 27 to Dec. 28.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised quarantine guidelines for people infected with COVID-19 or who are identified as a close contact of someone infected with the virus. The CDC said Monday that people with COVID-19 should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic, wear a mask when around others to minimize risk of transmission, citing data that show most transmission occurs “early in the course of illness.”

A five-day quarantine is also recommended for close contacts who are unvaccinated or who are more than six months out from completing their vaccine series and are not yet boosted. More quarantine guidance is available at

DHSS announced last week that Alaska will no longer offer on-site COVID-19 testing at airports next year. Currently, testing is available at some Alaska airports for ticketed passengers. After Jan. 31, all airport testing will transition to “other testing resources within each community,” the department said.

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Health officials widely agree that vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID.

Getting a vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for everyone 5 years and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are approved for anyone 18 and older. Pfizer and Moderna boosters and additional doses are also recommended for anyone 18 and older and six months out from their second dose. The J&J vaccine booster is recommended two months after the primary dose.

Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart, Walgreens, the Kenai Fire Department and Kenai Public Health, offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways. The clinic has extended its hours to Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which can be accessed at A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at

People who would like assistance with scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.

COVID testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

In Kenai, testing is available at the Chignik Lagoon Clinic, Odyssey Family Practice, Kenai Public Health Center and Capstone Clinic.

In Soldotna, testing is available at the Peninsula Community Health Center, Urgent Care of Soldotna, Walgreens and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.

In Seward, testing is available at Providence Medical Center, Chugachmiut-North Star Health Clinic, Glacier Family Medicine, Seward Community Health Center and the Safeway pharmacy. The Seward Community Health Center is offering drive-thru testing Tuesdays only. In Homer, testing is available at South Peninsula Hospital, or through other area health care providers at Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, Kachemak Medical Group and Homer Medical Center.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

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