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Demand for Covid Tests Ease, Though Positives Remain Elevated


Updated mitigation plan coming from school district.

Covid-19 indicators continue to trend in encouraging directions, not just nationally and statewide, but locally, too. South Peninsula Hospital spokesperson Derotha Ferraro reported on the figures from SPH on yesterday morning’s Covid Brief with Jay Barrett.

“In the last week we had six ER visits related to covid, and we had one Hospital, one new hospitalization related to covid. And then as far as testing goes, we collected 580 tests and of those, 88 were positive, that puts our positivity rate right at about 15 percent which is up a percent from last week. But as far as, like, the number of swabs being collected, dropped a lot last week, we, the week prior we had collected 720 and in the last week, we've only collected 580. So that shows a slowdown of the number of people seeking testing, and most people who seek testing are seeking it because they're either symptomatic, or they've been told that they were a close contact. So just seeing that really lay down, and trend downward,” Ferraro said.

Nurse Lorne Carroll of the Alaska Division of Public Health said that figures seem to show the Omicron variant isn’t as deadly as previous strains, though youth seemed to be affected more.

“I think the concerning thing throughout this particular wave, for Omicron, is that hospitalizations for kiddos zero through seventeen years of age have been higher during this peak than any other peak. Now that's on a downturn now, but we've experienced more hospitalizations for, for that group than any other time during the pandemic,” Carrol said.

He said death rates are definitely lower with Omicron.

“In regards to Omicron here in our state, deaths aren't adding up as bad as they were during Delta. So the Delta wave, which began, kind of roughly in July, and, and ended in the last part of December when Omicron got going on. There was a lot of deaths throughout that time frame, and we're just not seeing as many deaths associated in our state, or in the country with, with Omicron, and that's really great,” Carrol said.

Homer High School last week ended its month-long masking mandate due to low transmission numbers, and Kenai Peninsula Borough School District spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff said more schools are as well.

I think we're down to three that are operating with universal masking, and one that is operating because of where the location is, that they are required to, outside of kpbsd. So that's been a dramatic change from a couple weeks ago. And our covid dashboard, I looked, and yesterday we had zero student positives and one staff positive. And those are some of the lowest numbers I've seen for quite a long time. So we're very encouraged that this downward trend is occurring in our schools, is what we're seeing,” Erkeneff said.

Erkeneff said when students and staff return from spring break, there will be a new Covid mitigation plan handed down from the administration. She said the updates should be released by Monday.

Jay Barrett, KBBI's new News Director should be a familiar voice to our listeners. He's been contributing to Kenai Peninsula news for the last three years out of KDLL Kenai, and was the voice of The Alaska Fisheries Report from KMXT for 12 years. Jay worked for KBBI about 20 years ago as the Central Peninsula Reporter at KDLL.