At last night’s Homer City Council meeting, the council extended the City of Homer Disaster Emergency Declaration to October 27, 2020. And, they inched closer to a mask mandate.

Mayor Ken Castner said he spoke with Governor Dunleavy on several teleconferences last Wednesday through Monday, about a letter the council sent last month to the governor, requesting a statewide mask mandate or the power to declare masks mandatory in Homer. Dunleavy declined to mandate masks for the whole state but affirmed that the City of Homer can require masks.

Icicle Seafoods/screengrab KBBI

    The State of Alaska announced Wednesday evening that over one-third of the employees at a seafood processing plant in Seward have tested positive for COVID-19.

    The plant is owned by OBI Seafoods, the new company formed by the merger of Ocean Beauty and Icicle seafood companies. The Department of Health and Social Services reported that 96 of the plant’s 262 employees were positive for COVID-19 after being tested this week.

Tusty rides (the waves) again

Jul 1, 2020

    The Alaska State Ferry Tustumena will set sail again Thursday morning. 

    After more than three weeks tied up to the dock in Homer due to a Covid-19 outbreak on the ship’s second voyage, the Alaska Marine Highway System reports that the Tusty has been commercially cleaned and is cleared to sail.

    It’s voyage will be a short one -- a day trip to Seldovia, departing Homer at 11:45 a.m., and returning this evening at 5:45 p.m.


Jenny Carroll, Information Officer for the City of Homer, Nurse Lorne Carroll from the Homer Public Health Clinic, Pegge Erkeneff from Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and Derotha Ferraro of South Peninsula Hospital discuss the latest from the Homer Unified Command and answer listener questions about COVID relief funds, the fall semester and who qualifies for a COVID test.
Go to the City of Homer's COVID-19 page for links and information.

State of Alaska

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink was the special guest of the Homer City Council at Monday night’s regular meeting, with Mayor Ken Castner moving a question and answer session with her to the top of the agenda.
    Frustration was clear in Castner and council member’s questions as they pointed out how Homer and the South Peninsula have become the hottest Covid-19 spot in the state, second only to Anchorage.


    After one crewmember tested positive for COVID-19 on the state ferry Tustumena’s second voyage of the year, the ship was returned to Homer and has been tied up ever since.

    As soon as the Tusty returned, six more crewmembers were tested positive for the highly-contagious infection. When asked what further steps the Alaska Marine Highway System was going to take, Capt. John Falvey said they were going to continue to rely on their pre-sailing contingency plan.

KPB School District planning for schools reopening

Jun 19, 2020

Kenai Peninsula Borough Schools Superintendent John O’Brien announced the district’s planning for opening up school again in the fall.
    In an announcement posted to the district web site Thursday, O’Brien said a 20-person team has been designing a safe start-up plan, with the planning goal of opening all 42 schools in the borough for on-site and in-person teaching and learning.


Six employees of South Peninsula Hospital have been diagnosed positive with COVID-19 over the past three weeks. That information came from SPH spokeswoman Derotha Ferraro Thursday morning on KBBI’s COVID Brief.
     “So we have six employees, since late May, it's actually three weeks today. And of those six, that represents one percent, just over one percent of our 480 employees,” Ferraro said. “And these six employees work in five different departments. And none of these employees reported close contact with patients or residents.”


Homer's COVID-19  Incident Command Team takes listener questions.  Jenny Carroll from the City of Homer and  DHSS Nurse Lorne Carroll talk about what causes a  false positive and if differences in level of  exposure to  COVID-19  affect the severity of patients' response to the virus.

South Peninsula Hospital Spokesperson Derotha Ferraro talks about the six cases of COVID-19 among workers at SPH that were confirmed by The Homer News this week.


Residents of Homer thought the worst when it was announced last week that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 had reached Friendship Terrace, the assisted living arm of Homer Senior Citizens, Inc. Two employees had tested positive, and on Friday it was announced that a resident had tested positive for the disease.
    Cases of COVID-19 have run rampant in such congregate living centers around the nation, hitting Anchorage earlier this month.


The City of Homer has started receiving reports back from the COVID-19 study it is participating in, trying to gauge the incidence of the disease in the population by sampling the city’s sewer.
    City spokesperson Jenny Carroll explained on Thursday’s COVID Brief.
     “It is a study, just trying to figure out how to see it in the wastewater and then extrapolate that to our population numbers,” Carroll said. “So it is a study, it's a rough estimate of the number of people in the community, but it is confirming the presence of COVID-19 in our community.”

Friendship Terrace resident positive for COVID-19

Jun 12, 2020

    A case of COVID-19 has been detected in a resident of Friendship Terrace assisted living facility in Homer. In an announcement today, Homer Senior Center, Inc., Executive Director Keren Kelley said they were notified shortly before midnight Thursday night of the positive result. 

    That is in addition to two cases of Covid-19 that have been discovered in the staff at Friendship Terrace this week, as first reported by The Homer News. 


Anticipation was high when the State Ferry Tustumena turned around in Dutch Harbor on Saturday and made a beeline back for Kodiak after a crew member was diagnosed with COVID-19, but when it pulled into Homer shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday, healthcare professionals were already prepared to test the remaining crew and the six passengers onboard.
    During Thursday’s Covid Brief on KBBI, Alaska Public Health Nurse Lorne Carroll and South Peninsula Hospital’s Derotha Ferraro discussed what happened after the Tusty arrived.


After the Alaska State Ferry Tustumena returned to Homer Monday night a bit past 7 p.m., healthcare personnel from South Peninsula Hospital boarded in protective garb to take COVID-19 test samples from 40 crew members and the six passengers on board.
    According to the Alaska Department of Transportation, all were kept aboard the Tustumena overnight while the rapid tests were analyzed at SPH.


The Alaska State Ferry Tustumena steamed into Homer Monday night at 7 p.m., but there wasn’t the usual rush of cars and people disembarking. In fact, the 51 people aboard, 35 crew and 6 passengers, were asked to stay aboard as health officials screened them for exposure to coronavirus after a crew member tested positive for COVID-19 while the ship was in Dutch Harbor on Saturday.