Providence announces 6 more cases at Anchorage transitional care center; state tally grows by 21

The Providence Transitional Care Center shares a campus with Providence Extended Care in East Anchorage. On Monday it was quiet outside of the campus with a security vehicle parked at the entrance. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases at the Providence Transitional Care Center in Anchorage has grown by six to 23, according to an update Tuesday afternoon from its operator, Providence Health & Services Alaska.

It’s the largest reported cluster of coronavirus cases at a single facility in Alaska since the state started tracking the virus in March. The first case at the center was confirmed on Friday after a patient tested positive. 

Since then, Providence has tested all of the patients and employees at the transitional center, as well as the long-term care facility it shares a campus with, Providence Extended Care, according to Providence spokesman Mikal Canfield.

“We’re still waiting for test results back from some caregivers,” Canfield said Tuesday afternoon. “Hopefully we’ll have all the test results back by tomorrow or later today.”

RELATED: Anchorage transitional care center reports 5 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 17

Meanwhile, the state’s tally of coronavirus cases in Alaska continues to spike.

The number of Alaskans diagnosed with the virus increased by 20, to 487, by the end of the day Monday, according to the latest update from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. About three-quarters of those diagnosed have recovered so far.

The 20 new positive tests include six cases from the transitional center, five of them that Providence announced on Monday. Plus, a young Alaskan who was recently admitted to the McLaughlin Youth Center, a juvenile detention center in Anchorage, tested positive for the virus.

Of the 20 cases, 15 of the Alaskans are from Anchorage and five are from the Kenai Peninsula Borough, according to the state.

Related: Young Alaskan at McLaughlin Youth Center among new coronavirus cases

Also, another nonresident, seafood industry worker has tested positive for the virus in the Valdez-Cordova area, the department reports.

The state’s updated tally comes more than a week after Gov. Mike Dunleavy lifted capacity restrictions for businesses and allowed for larger gatherings. The state’s two-week quarantine for people traveling into Alaska is expected to end later this week, with testing required instead.

The state reported its largest daily spike of coronavirus cases on Sunday, at 27. By the end of the day Monday, more than 56,000 tests had been administered in the state.

The state updates its count of coronavirus cases daily based on the prior day’s numbers. Meanwhile, other agencies, such as Providence Health & Services Alaska, are announcing them sooner.

Canfield said Providence will do another round of testing at its East Anchorage campus later this week. 

He said all of the 23 cases are linked to the transitional care center, which has 48 patients and about 145 employees. There have been no cases yet at the extended care facility that serves about 100 residents, mostly seniors, and has about 190 employees.

The 23 cases include both patients and staff. Providence has declined to break down the number further citing privacy concerns.

Providence’s regional chief medical officer said Monday that patients who test positive for the virus are staying in their rooms and the employees are staying home. Visitors are not allowed unless it’s an end-of-life visit. Providence says it has purchased several iPads that patients and residents can use to help connect them with family and friends.

The transitional care center is a midway point for patients moving from hospitalizations to their homes or assisted-living facilities. Its patients range in age, and often stay there for weeks to recover from serious illness or surgeries.

Providence and other health officials are investigating how the virus got into the facility. Strict procedures have remained in place since March, including the no-guest policy, Providence says.

The coronavirus has been shown to spread in similar settings, where people live in a confined space. The virus is particularly deadly among older people and those with underlying medical conditions.

As Alaska Public Media continues to report on the coronavirus cluster at Providence Transitional Care Center, we’re looking to connect with workers, patients and/or their families to learn more about what it’s like there. If you’re interested to speak with a reporter, please contact Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447