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COVID-19 Update: Contact tracers at the health dept. and expanded visitor privileges at SPH


Homer's COVID -19 Incident Command addressed Homer City Council during Monday's meeting.

Nurse Lorne Carroll told the Council that of the three public health nurses on the Southern Peninsula, one
is completely dedicated to contact tracing and his own time is over 90 percent occupied by contact tracing.

Nurse Carroll says the Homer Public Health Center is working toward resuming their work on opioids, TB and
other concerns that have not gotten as much attention lately.
“At this point in the pandemic, we feel that the contact tracing is particularly important and we're
continuing to build a surge workforce. And what I mean by that is folks that can maybe take the place of
the health nurses that are doing thatcontact tracing. Other threats continue in the community and in
Alaska, like TB opioids, overdoses throughout the state, all the same health threats from pre COVID,” said Nurse Carroll.
Derotha Ferraro, spokesperson for South Peninsula Hospital told that council that since the hospital has
not identified any COVID cases through the hospital in over 25 days, they are expanding the number of
visitors allowed in the hospital.
“Hospitalized patients in acute care who are not COVID positive, are now permitted up to two visitors at
a time by invitation. Those visitors must mask and be a household member or a close contact of that
patient. OB patients and patients who are COVID positive or are under investigation can have one
designated visitor. ER.,surgery, radiology patients, they all remain at one visitor can accompany them per
visit as needed. And the PT rehab department does permit a visitor, only if essential for the patient's visit.
And it must be pre-approved proof by staff,” Ferraro said.
SPH Long Term Care remains closed to visitors. Ferraro also reported to the council that SPH can now
process COVID antibody tests at the hospital. The tests were previously sent out of state.
Although there have been two positive COVID cases reported in residents of the Southern Peninsula in
the last two weeks, the cases were not identified at the South Peninsula Hospital. The case count in
Homer is very low, prompting Mayor Castner to ask the Incident Command Team if they have any recommendations for opening Homer City Hall and other public spaces to visitors.
“But when we go 26 days without a case here... I want to go out and congratulate all the people that have
been cooperating in masking, in showing some tolerance with their neighbors. And I also want to start
working into some sort of a plan. At what point do we say we can ease things up? We can open up city
hall again, we can open the library again,” Mayor Castner said.
Nurse Carroll was encouraging, but recommended caution considering that schools recently
started in-person classes.
“You know, when we haven't had a real obvious prevalence of COVID-19, that would be indicative that
perhaps the virus is not circulating as much as it was back in June, but also validating, yeah, the virus is
still out there. And I think that we're going to see plenty of spikes come and go in the future," said Nurse Carroll.
The Homer COVID Incident Command Team will be taking questions live on KBBI on Thursday
morning at 9 a.m. During their regular, weekly COVID-19 Brief. If you have any questions you'd like to
hear addressed, you can email questions for the team to, or call-in this Thursday
morning during the show.

Kathleen Gustafson came to Homer in 1999 and has been involved with KBBI since 2003