News

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Brittany Brown identifies getting Kenai and its businesses safely back to normal as both a hurdle and first priority in her first months on the job. But she’s well equipped for remote work, if need be.

“Being in public relations, community relations in rural Alaska, that’s been a lot of my career,” she said. “And it hasn’t always been possible for us to get out there. And, so, a lot of what we did was virtual. … I have a feel for how technology works and how we can really use it to accomplish our goals.”

Residents Kenai and Soldotna with income affected by COVID-19 can get help with their rent or mortgage payments through the end of the year.

The cities are partnering with the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to localize an assistance program AHFC started this summer.

City residents can apply for up to $1,200 each month, to be paid directly to the mortgage holder or landlord. The relief amount will be the lesser of the household’s drop in income or whatever their housing payment is each month. It’s for households that earn less than 80 percent of the median area income. For the Kenai Peninsula Borough, that’s $71,760. Households must be able to show income has been negatively affected by COVID.

“Their income has to have been impacted by COVID 19,” said Laura Rhyner, assistant to the Soldotna city manager. “So, either they’ve lost employment or they had a reduction in hours. Or maybe they had to leave work to stay home and care for kids that aren’t able to attend school — something like that.”

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Driving through Cooper Landing lately, it’s hard not to notice the swath of trees cut down north of the highway. Or what will become the old highway as the new alignment of the Sterling Highway is built between miles 45 and 60.

This is the first year of noticeable construction on the project.

Project Manager Sean Holland, with the Alaska Department of Transportation, says it’s going well, all things considered.

“We were struck with a fire last year so our survey got shut down for six or eight weeks, and then we come up with a pandemic this year so I don’t know if it could get any worse next year but we’re still making good progress anyway,” Holland said.

Businesses and nonprofits hoping to mitigate the financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic got disappointing news last week — the $290 million Alaska CARES grant program has been “oversubscribed.” Meaning, the amount of grant requests still waiting review is greater than the amount of money left in the program.

CDC

There are more ways than one that the flu shot might protect people against COVID-19.

There’s the fact that getting vaccinated will reduce an individual’s likelihood to experience the flu and coronavirus concurrently. Furthermore, protection against the flu will lessen the risk that influenza cases stress Alaska’s hospital capabilities.

But widespread efforts to administer the flu shot might also prove handy in prepping the peninsula for the eventual arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine. Think of it as a “dry run,” said Bud Sexton of the Borough Office of Emergency Management.

“Since we know there’s going to be a large percentage of the population who will want to get vaccinated with COVID, there’s a lot of timing that goes underway to make sure everything goes well whenever the vaccine is ready for distribution,” Sexton said.

Pages