Recent change in CDC recommendations prompts a shift in local protocols
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed guidance related to COVID-19 last week, and the Lower Kenai Peninsula followed suit, despite maintaining a high alert status.
Annie Garay, a local nurse and nurse health educator, said South Peninsula Hospital emergency room visits, along with the local positivity rate, have gone down.
She said in the past week, ending Aug. 16, there were 11 visits to the ER – down from 22 the previous week, and no new hospital admissions related to COVID-19.
After conducting 246 tests at the Bartlett Street testing site, SPH reports 42 produced a positive result, setting the local positivity rate at around 17%, down from the previous week's 20%.
Meanwhile, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has updated its protocols relating to testing and response to COVID-19. The district is now implementing what they call the “symptom-free” protocol – which asks that students and staff not come to school if sick, and eliminates many COVID mitigation protocols. That change is in line with the CDC’s recent shift in recommendations.
Public Health Nurse Lorne Carroll said Thursday the CDC is no longer recommending people quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 – regardless of vaccination status.
“The newer updated guidance really focuses on individuals doing their own assessment regarding personal risk and the steps that they take to prevent infection," Carroll said. "So one of the most significant changes there is that folks who are exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and are not up to date on vaccines are no longer recommended to be quarantined. So that's a big change.”
In accordance with the CDC’s changes, local schools have stopped in-school testing and subsequently ended the online school COVID Dashboard.
District officials say schools will no longer be enforcing the use of face masks, but the district will still require sick students and sick staff to stay home.
Superintendent Clayton Holland told KDLL the only place where certain COVID restrictions might be enforced is in the villages of Tyonek, Port Graham and Nanwalek. All three communities require individuals to be tested for COVID before coming in.
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