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As Covid Infections Decline, Mitigation Calculations Change


Fewer people have tested positive locally in the past week, matching Covid decline elsewhere.

As infections from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that cause Covid-19 continue to wane, institutions are adjusting their response. As previously reported, hours for vaccinations at the SPH Bartlett Street Clinic have been reduced to Sundays and Mondays, though testing remains available seven days a week.

Likewise, according to the school district’s Pegge Erkeneff, changes are coming to measures at schools, including to masking policy.

“Two of the bigger things that will happen are, we won't be doing any contact tracing in schools anymore and we haven't been doing that as much, but we definitely are making that update to the mitigation plan. And then the other piece that will happen, is a shift with face coverings that will shift to schools recommending face coverings, but it's a personal choice for students and staff, and, as, visitors and volunteers as well, will have a choice to wear a mask or not,” Erkeneff said.

During this transition period, it will be likely that some situations will require a mask and others might not. SPH Spokesperson Derotha Ferraro said we should respect people’s decisions to continue wearing masks if they choose.

“It's complicated in people's heads, when to mask and when not, and what to do, and it just, to make no assumptions or presumptions when you see somebody massed or not because you have no idea how their day was or what what drove their decision so just really yeah really understanding that there's a lot of decision making that that happens for folks for some it's super easy and for others, they really spend a lot of time calculating that,” Ferraro said.

Nurse Lorne Carroll of the Homer Public Health Center said that individuals must keep evaluating their own risk tolerance into the future.

"And so, into the future of what we don't know, but it's important to continue to be flexible is, will the next variant be more harmful to individuals and communities, or will it transmit less effectively or more effectively. So, you know, we've talked several times on this particular show, about how the virus has passed. It really only has three variables, like a susceptible host, like a person can get it, the environment in which everything is contained in, and the virus is actually present. So those are three important things to consider, but also the variants, so Omicron, very different ballgame, and Delta, and we just can't know what's going to pop up next,” Carrol said.

You can hear the full Covid Brief online at KBBI dot org, and as a convenient podcast on your favorite app.

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.