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Homer Community Food Pantry resumes walk-through shopping

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There are two changes coming up to the City of Homer’s economic relief grant programs that folks should be aware of. First, the oldest program for small businesses, called S-BERG, will stopped taking applications on Sept. 25. The second is the introduction of a household grant program.
     “That’s actually the fifth economic relief program, in a series of programs that the city has launched over the last several weeks,” said City spokesperson Jenny Carrol).
    “It's supposed to come out on -- we're hoping on Monday the 28th -- and the application deadline is October 16th. So that gives people almost three weeks to get an application, and the applications are pretty straightforward,” Carrol said. “The program is intended to help households who have experienced economic hardship due to COVID-19, to be able to stabilize their families and their household, either through rent relief, it could go for medical payments, childcare payments, those kinds of things.”
    South Peninsula Hospital spokesperson Derotha Ferraro said she noticed a surge of people on Monday seeking a Covid-19 test.
    “And when I saw that, I realized that people must think we're not open on Sunday. So it's really important to know we are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Ferraro said. “So you can test any day of the week here at the hospital, at the moment just come up to the main entrance. That's where we are located through the rest of the month.”
    With Covid-19 case incident slowing, and the summer rush ending, Ferraro said SPH will be demobilizing the alternate care site it established in the spring.
    “But we've learned a lot since we put that up. When we set that up, we expected masses and hundreds and we've learned so much. And one of the important things we've learned is the value of individual mitigation strategies, business, and collective community strategies and testing,” Ferraro said. “So we are blessed right now with tremendous testing resources and we are blessed with a community that values these mitigation strategies of wearing masks. Physical distancing, limiting crowd sizes, keeping our bubbles small and just remembering our close contacts so that we are able to trace if necessary.”
    Soldotna High School has reported an active Covid case, as has Seward, according to district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff.
    “I can confirm that both at Soldotna High and Seward Elementary, we did have a positive case in each of those schools. And, everybody's been doing such a great job with the mitigation strategies and safety protocols that we put into place that we received phone call directly from the person or persons that tested positive, and that went straight to the school principal, school nurse, or Nurse Iris. So we were able to start contact tracing immediately,” Erkeneff said. “And we found out early enough in the day that we were able to complete that, so there was no worry about keeping school open the next day. So anybody that was considered a close contact is now in quarantine 14 days, and school continues to be open and both of those sites”
    She added that the “decision matrix” the school district central office put together over the summer has guided the response to the two infections. Erkeneff pointed out that a single case in a school doesn’t constitute an outbreak.
    “That's determined in part by the 14 day actual positive cases, as well as seven day trends and looking at what type of cases they are, if it's an isolated case, or if it's widespread community spread, and throughout businesses and schools and everywhere. So there's a lot of decisions that go into determining the high risk,” Erkeneff said. “We are working with the office of emergency management and our cities to really look at closely at how do we determine that risk level in alignment with the guidelines that's really solid that we spent all summer developing and put in place.”
    Covid Brief host Kathleen Gustafson also had an update from the Homer Community Food Pantry that walk-through client shopping would resume on Sept. 28.

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