Club Information
Welcome to the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay - Celebrating Over 37 Years Serving Homer and the World
Homer-Kachemak Bay

Four Way Test: True, Fair, Goodwill & Beneficial to All

We meet In Person
Thursdays at 12:00 PM
Best Western Bidarka Inn
575 Sterling Hwy
PO Box 377
Homer, AK 99603
United States of America
Currently meetings are being held both "in person" and by Zoom.
It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of our longtime member, Will Files on July 27, 2021. Will was a devoted husband and father. Will was a constant champion for our community and raised thousands of dollars for youth programs such as the SPARC. Will was a 2017 Recipient of Rotary's Service Above Self Award. Our thoughts are with Martha Ellen and the family during this difficult time. 
 
The Lambda Variant: What You Should Know And Why Experts Say Not To Panic
 
July 22, 2021 3:09 PM ET
Laurel Wamsley at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., November 7, 2018. (photo by Allison Shelley)
 
A medical assistant administers a coronavirus test last week in Los Angeles. COVID-19 cases are on the rise as the highly transmissible delta variant has become the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
 
While the delta variant of the coronavirus has quickly become the dominant strain in the United States, it's not the only variant circulating in the population.
 
The lambda variant, first identified in Peru, is also making headlines as it has started to be identified in several states. Houston Methodist Hospital reported its first case of the variant this week. Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina recently announced they had found the variant in a virus sample taken in April.
 
According to a database for scientists tracking coronavirus variants, fewer than 700 cases of the lambda variant have been sequenced in the U.S. so far out of more than 34 million coronavirus cases reported to date. But the U.S. has sequenced only a tiny fraction of its cases, so that number does not reflect the actual number of lambda cases in the country
.
Fewer than 1% of U.S. cases in the last four weeks have been identified as the lambda variant, according to GISAID, a repository for genome data.
 
So do we need to add lambda to our list of big worries in the U.S.? Not yet, according to public health officials and experts.
The delta variant, which is more than two times as transmissible as the original strain of the coronavirus, now accounts for 83% of new coronavirus cases in the United States. Delta continues to be the central concern for public health officials.
 
What we know about the lambda variant
The lambda variant was first identified in Peru in August 2020, according to the World Health Organization. Cases with the variant have now been identified in 28 countries, according to GISAID — though many of those have identified only a handful of lambda cases.
 
Dr. Stuart Ray is a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he specializes in infectious diseases. Ray opened one of the first COVID-19 wards at Johns Hopkins in March 2020, and he has also overseen Johns Hopkins' COVID-19 sequencing efforts.
 
He tells NPR that lambda is "sort of a cousin of the alpha variant" — one of the earliest identified variants of concern.
 
Lambda spread until it became a dominant sequence in people with COVID-19 in Peru. The WHO noted last month an elevated presence of lambda in other South American countries, including Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. And now we know it's present in the United States.
 
The lambda variant carries a number of mutations with suspected implications, such as potential increased transmissibility or possible increased resistance to neutralizing antibodies, the WHO says. But it says the full extent of those mutations' impact isn't yet well understood and will need further study.
 
While there hasn't been clear head-to-head data, the evidence so far does not suggest the lambda variant has any great advantage over the delta variant, Ray says.
"Delta is clearly dominating right now. And so I think our focus can remain on delta as a hallmark of a highly infectious variant. And there's some evidence that it might cause greater severity per infection, although that's still a developing story," he says.
 
A doctor checks a lung X-ray while visiting a patient with COVID-19 in Comas, in the northern outskirts of Lima, Peru.
Ernesto Benavides/AFP via Getty Images
 
The COVID-19 vaccines work well against variants
There isn't yet full data on vaccine effectiveness against the lambda variant. But so far, studies have found that the vaccines available in the U.S. provide protection against the major strains of the virus, including the highly transmissible delta variant.
 
"We know that vaccination almost uniformly protects people," Ray says.
 
The vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. now are among unvaccinated people.
 
Studies have found that the vaccines are less effective at generating neutralizing antibodies against the variants of concern than against the original strain of the virus. But T cells also play a significant role in the body's immune response, and T cell response isn't measured in neutralizing-antibody clinical tests — meaning that the vaccines could be more effective against the variants than is suggested by tests of antibody response alone.
 
WHO says lambda is a variant of interest. CDC does not
The WHO now assigns Greek letters to strains of the coronavirus that are classified as variants of concern or variants of interest. A variant of concern is one that has characteristics such as being significantly more transmissible or more virulent.
 
The alphabetical order of the variants' Greek-letter names indicates the order in which they were identified as potentially important — they are not in any particular alphabetical order of severity.
 
The alpha, beta, gamma and delta variants are all considered variants of concern by the WHO.
 
The WHO classified lambda last month as a global "variant of interest" — a step below variant of concern. That means it exhibits genetic changes suspected of affecting its transmissibility and disease severity and has been identified as causing significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps its own list of variants of concern and interest within the United States. Notably, lambda is not on the CDC's list as being a variant of interest, concern or high consequence.
 
Ray says tracking variants is important so that we don't get blindsided by one's sudden arrival.
 
"We have to be vigilant for these new variants and track them. Genomic epidemiology remains an important activity for us to understand this epidemic," Ray says. "But I think right now lambda is a variant of interest, and we'll see whether it becomes a variant of concern."
 
The things we need to do to counter new strains are the same things that we already know to do to against the coronavirus — and the stakes are high because delta is so transmissible.
 
That means vaccination is more important than ever, Ray says: "As the variants become more infectious, then the proportion of vaccinated people required to control the epidemic increases."
By   JUL 20, 2021 KBBI
 
CREDIT CDC
 
COVID-19 case numbers are surging upward in the state causing the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to put Alaska back in High Alert status. KBBI's Kathleen Gustafson has the story.
 
KBBI's Kathleen Gustafson and Derotha Ferraro, spokesperson for South Peninsula Hospital - COVID Update, broadcast on KBBI on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services data show over 500 new cases of COVID-19 in the state over the last four days.

Providence Medical Center and Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage currently have no room in their Intensive Care Units due to a combination of the surge in positive cases and a shortage of healthcare workers. 

 The Kenai Peninsula Borough data is showing 7 out of 11 ICU beds full as of Monday.
 South Peninsula Hospital Spokesperson Derotha Ferraro said, high patient volume in Anchorage is a concern here in Homer.

"Three patients over the last three and a half days have been delayed in their transfer to a higher level of care to an Anchorage hospital. But, all three of those patients have been transferred," Ferraro said.

SPH testing data is currently showing an 18%, positivity rate along with an increase in COVID tests performed. At the end of last week, the SPH Test and Vaccine Clinic collected between 50 and 60 swabs.

"And, yesterday we did 83 total tests and today we've already exceeded that by two o'clock. I did the math over the last six days which is when volume really started picking up - 70 positives out of 389 swabs," said Ferraro.

 As of this week, South Peninsula Hospital is prohibiting visitors to the hospital and long term care facility.

 State data show 52% percent of Alaskans have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine is available seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and COVID-19 tests are available seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the COVID Test and Vaccine Clinic at 4201 Bartlett Street. Local health care providers and Safeway pharmacy are also administering the vaccine.


For information about COVID-19 vaccine and testing, go to South Peninsula Hospital's website, or if you want to speak to the hospital's 24 hour, on duty COVID Nurse, call 235-0235.

Testing Isn't Just for the Unvaccinated.
 
By KATHLEEN GUSTAFSON  KBBI
 
CREDIT CDC
 
COVID-19 positivity rates continue to climb and demand for tests at South Peninsula Hospital's Vaccine and Test Site has more than tripled in the last 7 days. KBBI's Kathleen  Gustafson has this update.
 
From July 13-19,  531 test swabs administered through South Peninsula Hospital  resulted in 91 positive cases identified or a 17% positivity rate. 

That's up from about a 3% positivity rate this time last month.

On Tuesday the 20th,  158 total swabs yielded 14 positive cases of COVID-19.

SPH has hospitalized four patients so far in July for COVID, and four monoclonal antibody infusions have been administered to COVID patients this month.

The infusions are currently done in the hospital's emergency room but SPH is preparing to administer infusions outside of the hospital through home health nurses.  

Due to high COVID transmission rates, visitation is closed at South Peninsula Hospital and long term care. Exceptions include end of life, pediatrics, surgery and obstetrics patients.

Universal masking is still required at the hospital, regardless of vaccination status.

SPH spokesperson Derotha Ferraro said anyone with COVID symptoms, travel plans, pre-hospital procedures, or  possible exposure to the virus should come in for a test.

If you have visitors in your home or work with people who travel from out of state, they might not be aware that testing is readily available.

"Testing is free and it's fast and it's for anybody, pretty much, for any reason. Because we have so many summer residents, so many visitors as well as the  14,000 of us that live here."

Ferraro said there is some vaccine breakthrough in positive cases, so even people who are vaccinated, should get tested if they show any symptoms of illness. State data show that fully vaccinated people do not show symptoms as severe as unvaccinated people. 
 
"A fully vaccinated person might have a runny nose or might have a headache and think - it's no big deal, I'm vaccinated. Still pay attention to your symptoms. This is not just a message for the unvaccinated," Ferraro said.

 49 vaccines were administered in the last week at the COVID Vaccine and Test Site at 4201 Bartlett Street, bringing the total to: 7,969.   Statewide, 52% of Alaskans are fully vaccinated. 


 Vaccines are offered daily, 9am-5pm.
 Testing is offered daily, 9am-6pm.

 
 Vaccines are also available from your family's  health care provider and from your local pharmacy.

 For more information, go to the hospital website, sphosp.org.

 If you have questions about testing, vaccines or if you want to speak to the 24-hour COVID nurse on duty for any reason, call the South Peninsula Hospital COVID Careline at (907) 235-0235.     
 
 From the Desk of President Bernie
 
We are off to a great Rotary year. I appreciate each of you and your dedication to our community. I want to commend prior President Lori Evans for her hard work this past year. Lori's leadership was instrumental for our club during a difficult year and her approach and dedication made this difficult job look easy. A big thank you you to Craig Forrest for his years of service as the editor of the newsletters. Craig's energy and dedication to our club is infectious and I appreciate his service. 
 
Committee Chairs have been appointed. If you are interested in serving on a committee please contact the chair listed below.  

Committee Chairs

Membership: Bernie Griffard (Acting)
Community Service: Lori Evans
Vocational/Scholarships: Cinda Martin
Health Fair: Van Hawkins
Youth Services: Beth Trowbridge
International: Vince Greear
Foundation: Vivian Finlay
Sunshine: Sherrie Hartley, Susie Quinn, Lorna Olson, Denice Clyne
Public Image: Dennis Weidler

Enjoy your week. See you Thursday.

With gratitude,

Bernie

Bernie Griffard

2021-22 President

Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Summer has arrived. The great potato contest is underway. Don't forget to feed, water and fertilize those spuds. We will also kick off our Peony Sales on Saturdays in July. 
 
This Week's Speaker -- Rick Abboud, City Planner, City of Homer 

Next Week's Speaker -- Doug Waclawski, Principal, Homer High School 

Speakers and Invocators are needed - contact me with your recommendations 

 
Speakers
Bernie Griffard
Aug 12, 2021 12:00 PM
Club Day
Jerry & Lou Scholand
Aug 19, 2021 12:00 PM
Service to Asylum Seeker Immigrants
Adam Hays
Aug 26, 2021 12:00 PM
Rotary Life
Liz Pileckas
Sep 02, 2021 12:00 PM
REC room/Peer Educators
Ceryl Metiva
Sep 23, 2021 12:00 PM
DG Annual Visit
Mike Miller
Oct 14, 2021 12:00 PM
Homer Foundation
Dennis Weidler
Oct 28, 2021 12:00 PM
Homer Food Pantry
Brad Janorschke
Nov 04, 2021 12:00 PM
Homer Electric Association Strategic Plan for 50% renewable goal by 2025
Bernie Griffard
Nov 11, 2021 12:00 PM
Club Day
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