Young Alaskan at McLaughlin Youth Center among new coronavirus cases

Electron scanning microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 in blue (Image from NIAID)

A young Alaskan at the McLaughlin Youth Center in Anchorage has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the state health department.

The positive test is among 21 new cases announced by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Tuesday.

It’s the first young Alaskan at one of the state’s youth detention centers to test positive for the virus. In early April, a staff member at McLaughlin had tested positive.

The state health department says the young person was recently admitted to McLaughlin and was not showing symptoms.

As part of the protocols implemented in late April, the person was tested for the virus upon arrival and then required to quarantine for 14 days. State health officials say the person was still in quarantine when the test result came back.

After getting the result, the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice “immediately began medical isolation measures for the resident,” the health department said in a statement.

The department declined to give the individual’s age, citing privacy concerns. There are 86 youth at McLaughlin between six units. They are usually between ages 12 and 18.

There are also about 160 staff working at the detention center, according to the health department.

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

The juvenile justice division’s nursing director is working with state and city health officials “to promptly determine which staff and residents should receive testing, as well as acting on all other recommended protective measures,” said the health department’s statement.

The other 20 cases announced on Tuesday include six from the Providence Transitional Care Center in Anchorage and a nonresident seafood worker in the Valdez-Cordova area.

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447.