Resident in Homer assisted living home tests positive for COVID-19

Total number of COVID-19 cases in Homer up to 29

A resident at an assisted living home in Homer has tested positive for COVID-19, the day after it was announced two members of the staff there had the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Friendship Terrace is an assisted living home that’s part of Homer Senior Citizens Inc. Executive Director Keren Kelley confirmed Friday that a resident has tested positive after being given a test with a roughly 48-hour wait time. After the first staff member at the living home tested positive on Wednesday, a group of other staff and residents who were identified as close contacts were given tests via a rapid testing machine at South Peninsula Hospital. That process revealed one additional positive staff member.

All remaining staff and residents who were not identified as close contact were also given tests, but not rapid ones. That process revealed the first resident who is positive for the virus, and Kelley wrote in a follow up email that all remaining residents have tested negative.

The resident has been moved into an “Isolation Zone,” Kelly wrote in an email. The organization has begun practicing full isolation precautions with that person, she said.

“All residents have been asked to remain in their apartments,” Kelly wrote. “We have increased our sanitizing efforts to minimize the risk of the spread.”

Additionally, all staff will wear personal protective equipment when interacting with all residents, Kelly wrote. Residents will be asked to wear a mask when receiving assistance, if their health tolerates it.

Homer Senior Citizens Inc. is getting support and guidance from Homer Public Health, South Peninsula Hospital and the state Section of Epidemiology, according to Kelly’s email.

“We appreciate all the families’ support that have been sent to us via email and phone calls,” she wrote. “We encourage all individuals who are in the public to wear masks to prevent the rapid spread of the virus throughout our community.”

Homer Senior Citizens Inc. sent out an email to the family members of all its residents notifying them of the new positive case. One family member forwarded that email to the Homer News. It expands on the isolation practices Kelley mentioned, stating that they include N95 masks, a face shield, gowns, foot covers and a head cap for staff.

The positive resident case comes on the same day that the state has announced a 12th death of an Alaska resident associated with COVID-19. Data on the state coronavirus response hub website shows 15 new cases reported statewide since Thursday, for a total of 625 cases. Of those cases, 403 have recovered and 210 are active.

Homer has the most cases on the Kenai Peninsula: 29, with eight of those cases having recovered so far. Also on the southern peninsula, there are eight cumulative cases in Anchor Point, three cases in Fritz Creek and 23 cases in small communities of less than 1,000 people on the southern peninsula.

The peninsula as a whole is up to 102 cumulative total cases, with 67 of those still active. It’s the second-highest number of total cases after the Municipality of Anchorage.

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