First Alaska inmate tests positive for COVID-19 in Mat-Su Valley

Cases also reported in North Pole, Sitka on Sunday

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The state of Alaska announced confirmation on Sunday of the first positive COVID-19 case of an inmate at a Department of Corrections facility. The case is at the Goose Creek Correctional Center in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and will be included in tomorrow’s case count for April 26, according to a DHSS press release.

The inmate plus two cases announced Sunday by DHSS bring Alaska’s total case count to 342.

“DOC is acting quickly to investigate the case and is working closely with the Division of Public Health which is assisting with the contact tracing and investigation,” the press release said.

On Sunday, DHSS also announced two new positive cases. One is for a Sitka patient that had been reported on Saturday by the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. That patient was immediately isolated and transferred to a hospital. According to a DHSS database, that patient was a man aged 60-69. It is the first case in the Sitka community.

“The facility is working with the DHSS Section of Epidemiology to assess the risk to other residents and staff, as well as implementing additional infection control measures,” according to the DHSS press release.

The other case reported by the state on Sunday was of a North Pole man aged 40-49. DHSS reports cases for the previous 24-hour period of midnight to 11:59 p.m. That brings the total number of state-reported cases to 341. Adding the Goose Creek Correction Center case makes 342. Of those, 217 have recovered and there have been 36 total hospitalizations of people with confirmed cases of the disease, and nine deaths. There are currently 14 people being hospitalized who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who have symptoms but who have not yet tested positive.

Last week, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration started its phased approach to reopen parts of the economy and society. Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum announced the loosening of restrictions for social and religious gatherings on Friday. People will now be allowed to gather both outside and indoors, as long as those groups are kept to 20 people or less, or 25% of a building’s maximum capacity, whichever number is smaller. People from different households still must maintain social distancing of 6 feet and attendees must wear cloth face coverings “when possible.” If outdoors, people must be 10 feet apart if they are singing or projecting their voices.

On the Kenai Peninsula, 19 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the following communities: Anchor Point (one), Homer (two), Kenai (four), Seward (three), Soldotna (six) and Sterling (three). This includes an Anchor Point resident who died while out of state and a Homer resident who was tested and treated in Anchorage.

The Anchorage municipality has 168 residents who have confirmed positive for COVID-19, which includes five Chugiak residents, eight Eagle River residents and three Girdwood residents. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 63 Fairbanks residents have tested positive, as well as 16 North Pole residents and one additional resident of an unspecified community within the borough. In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Wasilla has 11 cases and Palmer has nine. In the Southeast, Juneau has 27 cases, Ketchikan has 16, Petersburg has three, Craig has two and Sitka has one. Delta Junction, Nome, Bethel, Kodiak, and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area each have one case. Communities with fewer than 1,000 residents are included in the total for their borough or census area but not individually reported.

Locally, South Peninsula Hospital has sent off 238 total samples for testing as of Sunday morning. Of those, 223 tests have come back negative so far, according to hospital Public Information Office Derotha Ferraro, and 14 are pending. The hospital has had only one positive test result so far.

Reach Megan Pacer at Reach Michael Armstrong at