COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

New record set for largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases

141 new cases driven in part by seafood industry outbreaks

Alaska on Monday recorded a new record high in the daily increase of COVID-19 cases, with 141 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Of those 141 new cases, 75 are Alaska residents and 66 are nonresidents. Cases published daily by the state reflect the cases that were reported to the state the previous day. The state now has a total of 1,949 resident cases and 465 nonresident cases.

Monday’s case count includes 41 of the cases associated with an outbreak aboard the American Triumph, an American Seafoods vessel. In total, 85 American Seafoods employees on board have tested positive, out of a total of 119 who were on board the vessel owned by the Seattle-based company.

The trawler arrived in Unalaska on Thursday, July 16, according to a press release from the City of Seward. It had set out for Alaska on June 17, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Now, the employees who tested negative are being flown from Unalaska to Anchorage via charter flights, where they will quarantine. The trawler is headed for Seward with the employees who tested positive and is set to arrive on Wednesday, according to the Seward press release.

“Immediately upon docking in Seward, all crew aboard the American Triumph will load directly onto waiting buses to travel directly to their Anchorage isolation location for further care and monitoring,” the release states. “The vessel will remain in Seward’s port to be professionally cleaned and disinfected.”

Once the vessel is cleaned, a new “skeleton” crew will be put onboard. Those people have been quarantining in Anchorage, according to the press release.

“Arrangements have been made so that no members of the crew will depart the vessel while in port,” the release states.

This plan for the American Triumph was formed with coordination from the cities of Seward and Unalaska, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Emergency Management Services, American Seafoods, the Seward Medical Community, State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and others.

“Alaskans have a long legacy of helping those in need,” Seward Mayor Christy Terry is quoted as saying in the press release. “Seward is willing and able to respond to this request for assistance, knowing that risks have been mitigated to protect our community and our own health care system.”

Also adding to the number of new COVID-19 cases is a smaller outbreak in Juneau, stemming from the seafood processing company Alaska Glacier Seafoods. The company tested all 113 of its employees after nine of them initially tested positive last week — that testing revealed an additional 26 employees who were positive for COVID-19, the Juneau Empire reported. The City of Juneau said it’s not clear how many of those employees are Alaska residents and how many are nonresidents, according to Empire reporting. Monday’s new case count on the state’s coronavirus response hub website shows that 21 of the 66 new nonresident cases are in Juneau.

Six of the new resident cases reported Monday are on the Kenai Peninsula: two in Kenai, and one each in Homer, Seward, Sterling and the “Other North” category used for communities on the northern peninsula with populations of fewer than 1,000 people.

The peninsula now has a total of 245 cases — 148 of those cases are still active, while 95 people on the peninsula have recovered. Statewide, 712 people have recovered so far and there are 1,219 active cases of COVID-19.

There have been 100 total cumulative hospitalizations in Alaska for people with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state’s data hub. That includes people who have since died or since recovered and gone home. As of Monday, there were 29 people being actively hospitalized for either confirmed cases of the disease or suspected cases.

There have been a total of 18 deaths of Alaska residents related to COVID-19.

As of Sunday, the state had conducted a total of 175,586 COVID-19 tests through the state lab, commercial labs and hospitals and medical facilities. Alaska has a three-day rolling positivity rate of 2.5%, according to the data hub.

Locally, South Peninsula Hospital has conducted a total of 5,529 tests, with 5,315 of them coming back negative so far, according to Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro. There have been a total of 87 positive tests results out of SPH, and 127 tests are still pending.

South Peninsula Hospital will conduct a free testing day for certain groups of people on Wednesday, according to a release from the hospital. The testing will take place from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Boat House Pavilion on the Homer Spit.

Testing will only be available to the following people:

  • those working in critical infrastructure or the fishing industry
  • those who have had recent travel out of state (residents and non-residents)
  • those who have had known exposure to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • those with new onset of any symptom related to COVID-19
  • ferry passengers with ticketed long-distance voyage within the next five days

Testing continues to be available at South Peninsula Hospital as well as through SVT Health & Wellness clinics in Homer, Seldovia and Anchor Point. Call ahead at the hospital at 907-235-0235 and at the SVT clinics at 907-226-2228.

Testing is also available at the NTC Community Clinic in Ninilchik. The NTC Community Clinic is the Indian Health Service provider for the Ninilchik Tribe. The clinic is providing testing with a rapid testing machine to those with symptoms, travelers and asymptomatic people. There are currently no restrictions on who can get tested. To make an appointment to be tested at the NTC Community Clinic, call 907-567-3970.

On the central peninsula, testing is available on the Central Peninsula at Capstone Family Clinic, K-Beach Medical, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, Central Peninsula Urgent Care, Peninsula Community Health Services, Urgent Care of Soldotna, the Kenai Public Health Center and Odyssey Family Practice. Call Kenai Public Health at 907-335-3400 for information on testing criteria for each location.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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